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Previous Winners of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award

2014 Winners And Honorees

etched in clay cover   About 2014's winner, Etched in Clay,a judge said, “In direct, forthright verse from multiple perspectives, embellished with her own simple woodblock prints, Andrea Cheng crafts a careful, human portrait of a man of extraordinary resilience and strength, himself a poet and an artist.”

Honor Awards for 2014 went to Ron Koertge for Coaltown Jesus (Candlewick) and Marilyn Singer for Rutherford B., Who Was He? Poems About Our Presidents, illustrated by John Hendrix (Disney-Hyperion).

coaltown jesus cover   rutherford b cover


2013 Winner

water sings blue cover

  "All poetry is musical, but this collection really SINGS—and bellows and hums and warbles and more. Sea shanties, operas, jingles, hymns; a haiku aria here, a fishy rap there, " one judge stated. "The interdependency of the sea is wonderfully depicted in the verse, especially on the Coral, Shark, and Nudibranch trio," says another. "Push away from the shore with the first poem in this collection and return with the tides at the end." And, "The swirling watercolors and book design (the whale and shipwreck page) are the perfect gorgeous accompaniment."


2012 Winner and Honoree

The judges for Won Ton stated," “Not just for cat lovers, this book is for anyone who has ever been charmed by the antics of a pet,” says one judge. Says another, “The whimsical, lyrical haikus are integral to the delight and progress of this story. Each haiku stands on its own; together, they tell an insightful and joyous story that will be enjoyed for many years to come.” Another judge offers this praise, “Lee Wardlaw has done a magnificent job of using haiku to tell a compelling story about a shelter cat and his adjustments to his new home and adoptive family. It is funny, heartwarming, and grand!”

  button cover

hidden cover   The 2012 Honor Award was presented to Helen Frost for Hidden (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)


2012 Judges


2011 Winners and Honorees

ink garden cover


The judges commented on this 2011 collection, "On my very first reading the sound and rhythm of C.M. Millen's wonderful narrative verse took me by the hand and led me right into the happy world of Brother Theophane." and "[Children] will enjoy his free spirit as he skips down the stairs, secretly places crumbs on the windowsill for the birds, and finally experiments with colors to brighten up the 'simple brown words on simple brown pages in a simple brown world.'"

The 2011 Honor Award went to Joyce Sidman for Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, illustrated by Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)   dark emperor cover


2011 Judges


2010 Winners and Honorees

About this collection, judges said"Button Up! is chock full of whimsy and humor, and so delightfully written from the point of view of pajamas, a pair of shoes, a sweatshirt, galoshes, etc." and "children will relate to these poems about clothing from 'hang loose laces,' to 'Emily's undies/fit for a queen' ..." "The inside jacket cover actually sums it up best, 'Do the clothes in your closet have a life all their own?'  To hear the clothing speak in these poems will draw children in with laughter and  love."

  button cover

2010 Honor Awards went to Betsy Franco for A Curious Collection of Cats (Tricycle Press), Helen Frost for Crossing Stones (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), and Mary Ann Hoberman and Lnda Winston selctors for The Tree That Time Built; A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination (Sourcebooks)

cats cover   stones cover

trees cover

2010 Judges


2009 Winners And Honorees

diamond willow cover   About 2009's winner, Diamond Willow, judges said, “Frost's use of diamond shapes and bold-faced print to reveal Willow's thoughts on several levels is pure genius. This work of art has universal appeal and will be read for generations.” and “a beautifully crafted story of a young girl's search for acceptance, forgiveness, and hopefulness.”

Honor Awards for 2009 went to Patricia C. McKissack for Stitchin' and Pullin' a Gee's Bend Quilt (Random House Children's Books) and Margarita Engle for The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom (Henry Holt and Company).

stictchin cover   tree cover

2009 Judges


2008 Winners and Honorees

About this collection, judges said "Told from the viewpoint of a ten year-old narrator, Birmingham, 1963 is an intimate look at the events that preceded the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.” and "The free verse is interspersed with photos in soft gray and sets a somber tone for this tragic event."

  birmingham cover art

2008 Honor Awards went to John Grandits for Blue Lipstick (Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint) and Joyce Sidman for This is Just to Say (Houghton Mifflin Company).


2008 Judges

2007 Winner and Honorees

jazz cover art   The 2007 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award was once again presented to Walter Dean Myers, this time for his musical poetry collection, Jazz. Judges' comments include "Jazz is a joyful, sensual celebration of creativity and the human spirit.  His poems resonate with musicality and heart as they bring to life the diverse sounds and rhythms of jazz musicians making music.  This book warms the soul."

Honor awards were presented to Jack Prelutsky for Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems (Greenwillow), Helen Frost for The Braid (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux), and Diane Siebert for Tour America (Chronicle Books).

behold cover art   braid cover art

tour cover art

2007 Judges

2006 Winner and Honorees

The 2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award was given to Joyce Sidman for Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems. This delightful collection inspired judges to comment "Upon first read one is struck by the perfect marriage of the poetic art and science of nature that embodies Song of the Water Boatman. Each poem delights the reader of any age with its ability to capture the details of pond-life inhabitants" and "The combination of exquisite poetic images, solid science, and lush and lovely woodcuts speaks to young nature lovers and awakens their curiosity about the world around them."   song of the water boatman book cover

Joyce Sidman accepts the Hopkins award and reads one of the poems from Song of the Water Boatman


Honor awards were presented to Naomi Shihab Nye for A Maze Me (Greenwillow) and Marilyn Nelson for A Wreath for Emmett Till (Houghton Mifflin).


a maze me book cover

Naomi Nye accepts an honor award and reads a poem from A Maze Me









wreath for emmett till book cover audio

Marilyn Nelson and Andrea Pinkney discuss A Wreath for Emmett Till and Ms. Nelson reads the poem

2006 Judges

2005 Winner and HonoreesHere in Harlem

The award in 2005 was presented to Walter Dean Myers for his book, Here in Harlem. The judges praised this as a "collection of diverse and outstanding poems (which) draw the reader into a community where one feels as if s/he has lived there amongst these people" and "a rich tapestry of characters that come to life on the page." A poem from this collection, "Gerry Jones, 14, Student," was also featured on a Public Poetry Project poster this year. Click here to view the poster.



Walter Dean Myers receiving his award from committee chair, Mary Napoli


Additionally, judges gave honor awards to Naomi Shihab Nye for Is This Forever, or What?: Poems and Paintings from Texas (Greenwillow) and Marilyn Singer for Creature Carnival, illustrated by Gris Grimly (Hyperion).

Is This Forever, or What?

Naomi Nye's acceptance speech.

Marilyn Singer's acceptance speech.

2005 Judges

Stephen Mitchell
acceptance speech

2004 Winner and Honorees

The 2004 winner was Stephen Mitchell for The Wishing Bone and Other Poems, illustrated by Tom Pohrt (Candlewick). One judge described The Wishing Bone as “vastly entertaining and utterly accessible to children” and “thought provoking.” “It is destined to become a children's classic,” said another judge. The award and a $500 prize was presented to Mitchell on May 7, 2004, at the Children's Literature Matters Conference at Penn State.

Judges also gave honor awards to Diane Ackerman for Animal Sense, illustrated by Peter Sís (Knopf); Walter Dean Myers for Blues Journey, illustrated by Christopher Myers (Holiday House); Samuel Jay Keyser for The Pond God and Other Stories, illustrated by Robert Shetterly (Front Street); and Hope Anita Smith for The Way A Door Closes, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Henry Holt).

The Pond God and Other Stories Animal Sense The Way a Door Closes
Blues Journey

2003 Winner and Honorees

Splash! The winner in 2003 was Constance Levy for Splash! Poems of Our Watery World, illustrated by David Soman (Orchard Books). One judge called Levy's poems “highly original, imaginative—they wake us up, make us see water in new ways such as an iceberg as 'a glacier's child.'” Another judge described the poems as “beautifully crafted with imagery that perfectly reflected the topic of the book, and while the crafting was sophisticated, the poems were very accessible to children.” The award and a $500 prize were presented to Levy on April 11, 2003, at the Children's Literature Matters Conference at Penn State.

Constance Levy signs copies of her award-winning book.

Additionally, judges gave honor awards to April Halprin Wayland's Girl Coming in for a Landing-A Novel in Poems, illustrated by Elaine Clayton (Alfred A. Knopf); Maria Testa's Becoming Joe DiMaggio (Candlewick Press); and Jaime Adoff's The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth, illustrated by Martin French (Dutton Children's Books).

Girl Coming in for a Landing Becoming Joe DiMaggio The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth

The 2003 Winners
The 2003 Winners pictured from left to right: April Halprin, Maria Testa, Constance Levy and Jaime Adoff

2002 Winner and Honorees

Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts The 2002 winner was Anna Grossnickle Hines for Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts (Greenwillow Books). Along with the award, Grossnickle received a $500 prize. The award was presented on April 5, 2002 at the Children's Literature Matters Conference at Penn State University.

2002 Winners
Pictured from left to right: Paul Janeczko, Bev Gallagher, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Anna Grossnickle Hines and Linda Oatman High.

Additionally, judges gave honor awards to Linda Oatman High for A Humble Life: Plain Poems, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.); Paul Janeczko for A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems, illustrated by Chris Raschka (Candlewick Press); and Charles R. Smith Jr. for Short Takes: Fast-break Basketball Poetry (Dutton Books).

A Humble Life: Plain Poems Short Takes A Poke in the I

2001 Winner and Honorees

Light-Gathering Poems The 2001 winner was Liz Rosenberg for the anthology Light-Gathering Poems (Henry Holt & Company, Inc.), a collection featuring authors such as Dickinson, Frost, Stafford and Keats. Rosenberg arranged the poems alphabetically and included biographical notes for those who wish to learn more about a poet or poem in the anthology.

The judges explained their selection of Light-Gathering Poems with the words “expansive, beautiful, classical, great choices, accessible—just the kind of poems to turn children on to the music and sound of the words.” One judge remarked, “This is the kind of book I could see a young person keeping and cherishing and returning to over and over again.”

Stone Bench in an Empty Park Judges also selected Paul B. Janeczko to receive an honor award for Stone Bench in an Empty Park (Orchard Books)—a collection of haiku poems that celebrate city life, illustrated with black-and-white photos by Henri Silberman.

“I love the clean lines and open spaces of this book, and the subtlety of the haiku and the pristine black and white photos of mostly city scenes. I like the premise of discovering poetry in the ordinary things around us,” wrote one judge about Stone Beach in an Empty Park.

2000 Winner and Honorees

What Have You Lost? What Have You Lost?
selected by Naomi Shihab Nye
photographs by Michael Nye
New York : Greenwillow Books, c1999.
An Old Shell An Old Shell: Poems of the Galapagos
by Tony Johnston
pictures by Tom Pohrt
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.
The Rainbow Hand The Rainbow Hand: Poems about Mothers and Children
by Janet S. Wong
illustrated by Jennifer Hewitson
New York : M.K. McElderry Books, c1999.


1999 Winner

1999 Winner The Other Side
by Angela Johnson
New York : Orchard Books, 1998.


1998 Winner

1998 Winner The Great Frog Race and Other Poems
by Kristine O'Connell George
Pictures by Kate Kiesler
New York : Clarion Books, c1997.


1997 Winner

1997 Winner Voices from the Wild
by David Bouchard
paintings by Ron Parker
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 1996.


1996 Winner

1996 Winner Dance With Me
by Barbara Juster Esbensen
illustrated by Megan Lloyd
New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, c1995.


1995 Winner

1995 Winner Beast Feast
by Douglas Florian
paintings by Douglas Florian
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, c1994.


1994 Winner

1994 Winner Spirit Walker
by Nancy Wood
paintings by Frank Howell
New York : Doubleday Books for Young Readers, c1993


1993 Winner

1993 Winner Sing to the Sun
by Ashley Bryan
pictures by Ashley Bryan
New York: HarperCollins, c1992.
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