Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Winner of the 2014 Tomie dePaola Award is Announced!


Tomie has chosen the winner and runners-up of his 2014 Tomie dePaola Award! Here is the announcement, directly from Tomie:


Tomie dePaola300(2) copyThis year there were over 200 entries for the Tomie dePaola Award.  For me, that means that over 200 illustrators took the chance and created an image that was a personal interpretation of an assigned text with specifications of size, color and age group.  I want to applaud everyone who entered.  Believe me, I know what it takes to put yourself and your abilities on paper to be judged by someone else, in this case, a grumpy old man that’s been in the business for a very long time, me.

That said, let me comment on the entries in general.  Almost everyone (except for two or three) did their pictures the right size.  This may seem like a small feat, but in the real world of publishing the “specs” are really of the utmost importance.

Color was a non-issue.

The tricky part of the assignment was age group.  As was stated, “The target age is two months to two years.”

The entries were all over the place.  Here I am going to get a little critical.  Some pictures were way too busy.  Some bordered on the grotesque.  I really worried that some images might have frightened little ones.  There were a bunch of “up the nostrils” point of view.  Really?  But the thing that bothered me the most was the apparent need many of you had to illustrate an actual sneeze with all kinds of “stuff” flying out of noses.  Hey, this is FLU season.  Another note: Quite a few elephants – intriguing, maybe?  Enough said.

On to the winner and a few other entries I want to mention.

Remember, the decisions are mine, and mine alone.  So, take it for what it is worth, please.


First, I’d like to recognize the five runners-up:


5th Runner-up:  LISA CINELLI

I like the freshness, simplicity and bold quality of this image.  The black line, however, looks a bit “mechanical” to me.  I’d like to see more of a personal hand-drawn line.  Look at Ben Shahn, David Stone Martin and, of course, Sendak.


4th Runner-up:   JACOB GRANT


I like the composition of this very much.  The character of the tree is great!  A couple of friends looked at this and had an initial hard time recognizing the little girl.  I didn’t.  Color might have helped as well as maybe not upside down.


3rd Runner-up:  ANNE DAWSON

Anne Dawson_sm

This picture is charming.  Very reminiscent of early Will Hillenbrand’s work, who I like a lot.  The composition is a bit tricky to “read” though, and the word “nose” almost gets lost.  One way to maybe make this work a bit better would be to use the old comic strip thing – a sequence of boxes with art spilling out of the edges – just a thought.


2nd Runner-up:  ALICE RATTERREE


Very nostalgic, beautifully done.  I wish the little girl was a bit younger or maybe she could be holding a baby or toddler who is offering the handkerchief.  I’d love to see some “classic” poems or rhymes by Alice.


1st Runner-up:

         NINA GOEBEL


This entry stood out right away because of its readability and directness.  I think the simple imagery would be very easy for very young eyes to “decipher.”

It’s also nice to see a baby and a grown-up.  And multi-racial at that.

One small caveat.  Please get rid of the lace edging on the handkerchief.  A simpler border would have been more “modern” and younger.


And the winner is…drum-roll….


         AKIKO WHITE


I like this picture very, very much.  It grabbed my eye right away and I kept putting it aside over and over.  It’s not the first time I’ve seen clay or super sculpy work, but the shapes, the composition, the decorative breeze all work.  And I really love this elephant, all gussied up and ready to perform.  Of course, there has to be a mouse – right!  And I just was told, this was done with CAKE!!!!!

Congrats, Akiko.


One last word for everyone:

I hope when you entered this task, you looked at it as an opportunity to try your hand at an “assignment,” not so much as winning a competition.

I really believe that it is in doing and experiencing the work, with specific limitations that is important and can help you teach yourself how to be better and better, how to grow, how to find your inner vision and then be ready to enter the arena of Children’s Book Illustration.

I’ll be announcing the next Tomie dePaola Award task soon.  I think you’ll be interested.  I’m excited with what I’m coming up with.










Here at SCBWI we want to congratulate Akiko White, and all of the runners-up, as well as everyone who submitted an entry. Visit to see the online gallery of the Tomie dePaola Award submissions! If you have any questions about the Tomie dePaola Award, please contact

More information about the Tomie dePaola Award