Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Sugarman Awards 

Melissa Sweet on a rowboat with a dog

2018 Sugarman Award Winner Melissa Sweet

On September 20, Cleveland Public Library will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award with a special reception featuring 2018 winner Melissa Sweet, author and illustrator of Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White. The award, which was established in 1998 and is presented biennially at the Library, is the only prize in the nation that honors biographies written for children. Register now to attend the reception.

Some Writer! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is an illustrated biography for young readers that explores the life of author E.B. White. Through illustrations, photographs, documents, and White’s own words, Sweet’s book paints a compelling, artfully constructed portrait of a beloved American writer. Sweet completed exhaustive research on White’s life and work, and the resulting biography touches on everything from White’s childhood trips to Maine to his earliest writing efforts, his lifelong love of dogs, his time as a staff writer at The New Yorker, the publication of Stuart Little, the creative evolution of Charlotte’s Web, and much more.  

“When I realized this book was too big for a picture book, I decided to make the kind of biography I wanted to read as a kid, which would have been filled with pictures and illustrations and photographs,” Sweet said of Some Writer!  “The book became a hybrid. It’s a 176-page picture book biography.” 

 Some Writer! includes an afterword from Martha White, E.B. White’s granddaughter, and has been widely celebrated by readers and critics alike. The biography received numerous starred reviews, is a New York Times Bestseller, and has been included on a multitude of “best of” book lists. Cleveland Public Library is proud to honor Sweet, who is also a two-time Caldecott Honor recipient, as the 2018 winner of the Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award. Sweet will receive a prize of $5,000 and will be in attendance at the September 20 award ceremony and reception, where she will participate in a panel discussion about her book and the writing and illustration process.   

 Additional 2018 honorees include Carole Boston Weatherford for Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library and Duncan Tonatiuah for Danza! Amalia Hernández and Mexico Folkloric Ballet. Weatherford’s book surrounds Arturo Schomburg, who amassed a groundbreaking collection of books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora—a collection that eventually evolved into New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Tonatiuah’s book, meanwhile, is the first picture book to explore the life of Amalia Hernandez, dancer and founder of El Ballet Folkloric de Mexico. 

Annisha Jeffries

“We are so pleased with our winner and honorees this year,” says Annisha Jeffries, Chair of the Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Committee and Youth Services Manager at Cleveland Public Library. “Since the inception of the Sugarman Award, we’ve been able to bring national attention to a genre of children’s books that is sometimes overlooked. Each of the authors we’re honoring this year is doing important work, and we’re proud to recognize and celebrate these wonderful books.” 

Founded in 1998, the Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award was first bestowed in 2000, with new winners announced every two years. Joan G. Sugarman established the award in memory of her husband, Norman A. Sugarman, a prominent tax attorney who was born and raised in Cleveland and later served in Washington, D.C. This national award is presented to the writer of a new biography for children (kindergarten through eighth grade). An award committee appointed by the Cleveland Public Library evaluates the nominations and selects winners. 

The 2018 Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award ceremony will be held on Thursday, Sept. 20 in the Learning Commons in the Library’s downtown Louis Stokes Wing. A special reception honoring the 2018 winners and the award’s anniversary will be held from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., followed by the discussion and award ceremony. This event is free and open to the public. 

Learn more about the Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award


Past Winners of the Norman A. Sugarman
Children’s Biography Award
 

2016


Winner

Untamed
by Goodall, Jane


Honor

Funny Bones
by Tonatiuh, Duncan


Honor

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Woodson, Jacqueline

 

 

 

2014


Winner

Monsieur Marceau
by Schubert, Leda


Honor

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
by Montgomery, Sy


Honor

Chuck Close: Face Book
by Close, Chuck

 

 

 

2012


Winner

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China
by Young, Ed

 

 


Honor

Black & White: The Confrontation Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor
by Brimner, Larry Dane

 


Honor

Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World’s Greatest Escape Artist
by Weaver, Janice

 

 

2010


Winner

George Washington Carver
by Bolden, Tonya

 


Honor

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary
by Fleming, Candace

 

 

 

2008


Winner

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
by Brimner, Larry Dane

 


Honor

Dizzy
by Winter, Jonah

 


Honor

Delicious: The Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud
by Rubin, Susan Goldman

 


Honor

Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali
by Smith, Charles R.

 

 

2006


Winner

Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing
by Rumford, James

 

 


Honor

Jazz A-B-Z
by Marsalis, Wynton


Honor

Reaching for the Moon
by Aldrin, Buzz

 

 

 

2004


Winner

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson : the Voice of A Century
by Ryan, Pam Muñoz


Honor

Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer
by Byrd, Robert

 

 


Honor

Jack: The Early Years of John F. Kennedy
by Cooper, Ilene

 

 

 

2002


Winner

Savion! My Life in Tap
by Glover, Savion

 

 

 

2000


Winner

Chuck Close, up Close
by Greenberg, Jan