The New York Times is holding a contest to select the best illustrated children’s books of the 21st century.
There is no entry fee, and entries can be submitted online or in the newsroom during the summer of 2018 through July 31, 2019. Last year’s winners will be announced in the spring of 2019.
This is a two-year contest, and prizes will be awarded in three age categories: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade.
The winners will each receive a $1,000 prize. In addition, two winners will be chosen as finalists. Three finalists will also receive $500 prizes. The two finalist winners will receive $500 prizes. All winners will receive a limited edition lithograph (5 X 7″), signed by the artists. Each winner’s images will be printed in an ad for The New York Times.
Up for the Challenges
It is no secret that all the artwork submitted is highly elaborate and far removed from the contours of typical children’s books. There have been challenges in the past to reduce the amount of artwork shown.
In 2005, since he was nearing retirement as art director of The New York Times, Frank Laub answered the call to submit 40 images to the Young Reader Section.
Mr. Laub had just done a large project for the New York City Department of Education, where he created illustrations for posters and invitations for a world education conference.
“I realized there was a book to be done,” he said.
Laub had just learned how to use Illustrator Pro, so he started using the software to create artwork.
That led to a meeting at The New York Times headquarters with then-art director Janice Fiori. Fiori told Laub that the department was looking for entries for an illustrated children’s book that was going to be included in The New York Times Reader Magazine.
Laub presented his students and did a photoshoot at home in front of a classroom mirror, “no dolls or toys,” he recalled. “They were reading very well, and that is something that has always remained very important to me.”
“I did an illustration that compared the world to a grand castle,” he added.
To finish, he turned to the master illustrator Milton Caniff, who had done the illustrations for “The Thief of Bagdad.” Caniff drew the grandiose picture of himself in a navy blue suit on the Buckingham Palace balcony, as a young Caniff would once have looked from the window of his family’s tenement in Rochester, New York.
Caniff’s picture of himself wearing a red beret went a long way to earn Laub a special honor at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Laub’s work in both Caniff and Laub illustrations earned a spot in “Rembrandt: The Painter’s Eye,” by New York Times Arts Critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. The exhibition won an Independent Booksellers Association Award for Children’s Book Illustration.
Laub’s art student Alice Tunney helped translate a Caniff image into a series of U.S. passports that she printed as art under the cover of glass in the New York Times annual best-seller package, and for a special edition for public schools.
At the time, Laub was between jobs. “What it proves is that even after I retire,” he said, “my artwork can make a difference.”
By the way, Laub created two additional books, “My World” for the New York City Department of Education, and an artist’s rendering of Abraham Lincoln’s hand as a baby for the Museum of Modern Art.
Kindergarten winner, Jackie Gately.Kindergarten winner, Jackie Gately.
2018: Jane A. Harris., “Fern,”
Kindergarten winner, Jane A. Harris., “Fern,”
First grade winner, Diana Harris.Failed first grade winner, Diana Harris.
First grade winner, Samantha Magana.Failed first grade winner, Samantha Magana.
First grade winner, Yan Wang.Second grade winner, Ethan Myint.Failed second grade winner, Ethan Myint.
Second grade winner, Matthew Cox.Failed second grade winner, Matthew Cox.
Second grade winner, Chad Ginder.
Second grade winner, Michael Darnell.
Second grade winner, Henry George.
Second grade winner, Lynse Gader.
Second grade winner, Samuel Howl.Failed second grade winner, Samuel Howl.