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Founded in 1980 by illustrators’ agent and art director Dilys Evans, this The Original Art showcases original art from the year’s best children’s books as determined by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, and editors. The jury also selects Gold and Silver Medal recipients for the year’s exhibit. This year’s Gold Medal is awarded to Jose Ramirez for When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana (Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum). Silver Medals are award to Blexbolex for Vacation (Enchanted Lion Books) and Jessica Love for Julián Is a Mermaid (Candlewick).

The Original Art honors exceptional children’s book artists with two other awards each year. The Dilys Evans Founders Award celebrates the year’s most promising new talent in the field. This year’s winner is Luisa Uribe for The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize artists whose body of work documents an innovative and pioneering contribution to the field. Nominees for the Lifetime Achievement Awards are put forward by past chairs of The Original Art, and the winners are selected by artists whose work has been juried into the show in the previous five years. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners are Paul O. Zelinsky and Wanda Gág (posthumously).

Paul O. Zelinsky’s has said that he wants the pictures he creates for his children’s books to speak in the same voice as the words. This commitment has led him to explore and master an impressive array of art styles, techniques, and media—everything from pastels to colored pencil, watercolor, gouache, oil paint, and Photoshop. He won the Caldecott Medal for his retelling of Rapunzel and has received three Caldecott Honors: one for Hansel and Gretel, retold by Rika Lesser, one for Rumpelstiltskin, which he retold, and one for Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs (all Dutton Children’s Books). His sly humor and love of slapstick are evident in his international bestseller The Wheels on the Bus, a moveable-parts book based on the popular song (Dutton), and in the two Moose books he illustrated: Circle, Square, Moose and Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham (Greenwillow Books). His work has been consistently selected by Kirkus, SLJ, CBC/IRA, Bank Street, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times for awards and best books lists, and he is a recipient of a Carle Honor in the Artist category.

Wanda Gág (1893–1946) was a fine artist, printmaker, graphic designer, and illustrator, and a pioneer in the development of the picture book form. Unlike most children’s book artists of her day, who placed text on one page and a single image on another, she integrated the text with the pictures, creating spot art and double-page spreads and using hand lettering with dramatic results. Her very first author/illustrator project, Millions of Cats, was published in 1928 and won the Newbery Medal. (The Caldecott Medal wasn’t awarded till 1938.) Widely recognized as the first modern picture book, it is still in print, as are several other prize-winning books that she wrote and illustrated. The ABC Bunny also received a Newbery Medal, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Nothing at All were both named Caldecott Honor books. Other iconic books she created include The Funny Thing, Snippy and Snappy, and Gone is Gone. (All published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.) In recognition of her long-lasting influence and achievements in children’s literature, she was posthumously honored with the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 and with the Kerlan Award in 1977.

A full list of featured artists can be found online here.

Selected books, medal recipients, and award winners will be recognized and honored during the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, held at the Society of Illustrators (128 East 63rd Street, NYC), on Thursday, November 8, beginning at 6:00 pm. Tickets are on sale for $25 members/ $30 nonmembers. An After-Party dinner will take place following the ceremony. Seats are limited and reservations are required.

The Society will also be hosting several community events and programs in conjunction with the exhibit. Dates and descriptions will be posted soon.

Image credit information:

Jose Ramirez
When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana
Gold Medal Winner

Silver Medal Winner

Julián Is a Mermaid
Silver Medal Winner

Luisa Uribe
The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just
Dilys Evans Founders Award Winner

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