A Different Pond, written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, published by Capstone Young Readers, is the winner of the twenty-first annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.
A graceful accounting of details shapes Bao Phi’s exquisitely crafted text in which a Vietnamese American boy goes on a predawn fishing outing with his dad. The beautifully weighted sentences (“I feel the bag of minnows move. They swim like silver arrows in my hand.”) describe their time together and also the experience of an immigrant child (“A kid at my school says my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.”); a hard-working family’s economic hardship (“‘If you got another job why do we still have to fish for food?’ I ask.”); and bittersweet memory as the boy’s dad recalls fishing at a similar pond as a child in Vietnam with his brother, who died during the war. Running through it all is the boy’s contentment spending time with his dad, a pleasure that extends to feelings about his entire family when they gather at day’s end. Illustrations masterfully and movingly reveal details of character, setting, and action while superbly reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the story.
The 2018 Zolotow Award committee named five Honor Books:
- Baby Goes to Market written by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank (Candlewick Press)
- Buster and the Baby written by Amy Hest, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick Press)
- Herbert’s First Halloween written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Steven Henry (Chronicle Books)
- Jabari Jumps written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall (Candlewick Press
- Niko Draws a Feeling written by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin (Carolrhoda Books).
The 2018 Zolotow Award committee also cited eight highly commended titles:
- All the Way to Havana written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato (Godwin Books / Henry Holt)
- Before She Was Harriet written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome (Holiday House)
- Big Cat, Little Cat written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper (Roaring Brook Press)
- In the Middle of Fall written by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins)
- Little Wolf’s First Howling written by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee (Candlewick Press)
- The One Day House written by Julia Durango, illustrated by Bianca Diaz (Charlesbridge)
- Round written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- When’s My Birthday? written by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson (A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press).
The award is sponsored by the CCBC and the Friends of the CCBC. An award ceremony will take place at a date to be determined.