Bookmaking competition winners announced

Brooklyn and Manhattan students took home the top awards at the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s annual Bookmaking Competition for grades third through 12.

Citywide and borough-winning books, honorable mentions, and all school-wide winning books were on exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library (at Grand Army Plaza) in May. The citywide and borough winners and honorable mention recipients were given medals at an awards ceremony at the library. In addition, the citywide winners received $500 and the borough winners $100 from the Foundation.

The competition is divided into three categories: elementary (grades three through five), middle (grades sixth through eighth) and high school (grades nine to 12). This includes elementary, middle and high school winners from District 75.

Citywide elementary winner:

“Journey to the Stars,” by Gianluca Pellegrini, illustrated by Ping Wen Lin (fifth grade at PS-IS 229, the Dyker School in Brooklyn).

The students were inspired by a story they saw about Voyager I.

Gianluca Pellegrini was a city-wide elementary winner for “Journey to the Stars.”

“One day, Ping Wen and I were reading the New York Times and saw a story about Voyager I. That’s how we came up with the idea for ‘Journey to the Stars,” explains Gianluca. “It was really fun trying to find words that were descriptive and interesting and would work with Ping Wen’s illustrations. My teacher helped me fix any writing mistakes, which is okay because everyone makes mistakes!”

Ping Wen explained that in their creative process, the illustrations came first.

“The illustrations for our book came before the story. I decided to draw Voyager I with a smile — I thought he’d be a happy spaceship because he was leaving the solar system. I used paint, special papers that my teacher got for me and pencils to do the drawings in the book. Voyager I had so many parts to his body that I’d have to say he was the most challenging part to make. It was fun working with a friend.”

Citywide middle school winner:

“New York City,” written and illustrated by Alex Trinidad and Brian Tzic (Grade eight at PS 77K in District 75, Brooklyn).

The co-winner of this transportation story had a creative take on New York Harbor.

“One of my favorite pages to draw was the Staten Island Ferry with sharks in the water!” says Alex. “I also liked using printmaking. First, we picked a color of ink. Second, we rolled the ink onto the foam plate. Then, we printed the foam plate onto the book page. I am really proud of the book we made together.”

Ping Wen Lin was a city-wide elementary winner for “Journey to the Stars.”

Brian spoke about the fun they had learning about new mediums in art class.

“New York City is the first book I ever made!” he says. “Our art teacher, Ms. Amie, showed us many different kinds of books. I liked the accordion book best because it showed all the pages at once. To make the accordion, we had to fold the pages and glue them together. We drew on Styrofoam plates instead of paper because you can print your drawings in many different colors. It was fun working on the book with Alex. I am really good at drawing trains and buses and he is good at drawing boats and cars.”

Citywide high school winner:

“In Praise of Plants: Part V,” illustrated by Aleksandra Stanisavljevic (Grade 12 at Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan).

The winner was inspired to interpret a poem she found.

“ ‘In Praise of Plants: Part V’ is an excerpt from a poem by the noted Serbian poet Branko Miljkovic — I discovered an English translation of it on a field trip that my poetry class took to a Poetry Center,” says Aleksandra. “I was moved by the images and colorful descriptions. I decided to interpret the poem artistically, which resulted in many elaborate pop-ups that I created, painstakingly, with an X-acto knife and mixed media. But the effort was worth it!”

• • •

Brian Tzic and Alex Trinidad won city-wide middle school winner honors for “New York City.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina praised the program.

“Getting kids excited about reading and writing is critical for their long-term academic success. And I want to congratulate all of the talented student bookmakers who have shown that they understand and appreciate the link between narrative and image,” she said. “We know that teachers are the keys to our students’ success, and I thank all of the teachers and librarians who have supported these young authors and illustrators. And I also want to thank the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation for creating and supporting this program for almost 30 years.”

The annual Bookmaking Competition begins each fall. Public school students are invited to come up with an intriguing theme, create engaging text, and integrate illustrations using a range of media. Expressive writing and artwork are strongly encouraged.

The process is integrated into classroom instruction with a strong emphasis on the study of picture books. Student books are created under the supervision of a teacher or librarian.

For a complete list of citywide and borough winners, visit 2014 Bookmaking Competition Winners at

Aleksandra Stanisavljevic clinched the title of city-wide high school winner with her illustrations in “In Praise of Plants: Part V.”

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