Cleveland Public Library Announces 2022 Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award Winner

Cleveland Public Library is proud to announce critically-acclaimed author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Cozbi A. Cabrera are the recipients of the 2022 Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award for their book, Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Established in 1998, the Sugarman Award is the only prize in the nation that honors biographies written for children. The virtual awards presentation will take place on Thursday, September 29.

Published by Abrams Books, Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooksis about the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. Brooks received the prestigious award for poetry in 1950. Slade and Cabrera’s inspirational picture-book biography showcases the power of language. Exquisite tells Brooks’ life story from childhood to adulthood and her desire to write poetry amid race, gender, and the poverty of the Great Depression.  

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks has earned Slade and Cabrera national recognition including the 2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award Illustrator Honor Book, the 2021 Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book, and the 2021 Association of Library Service to Children Notable Children’s Book.

Suzanne Slade has written more than 150 children’s books including The Universe and You, A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, and Astronaut Annie which was read by NASA astronaut Anne McClain for Storytime from the International Space Station.

Caldecott and Sibert honor award-winning illustrator Cozbi A. Cabrera is also known worldwide for her cloth dolls or muñecas that were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Cabrera has also written and illustrated several acclaimed children’s picture books including the 2021 Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Me and Mama.

Additionally, four authors received Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Honor Awards:

“The 2022 Sugarman Award winner and honor books truly captured the essence of what this award represents to children’s biographies,” said Annisha Jeffries, Chair of the Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Committee and Youth Services Manager at Cleveland Public Library. “We are elated to acknowledge a gifted group of authors and illustrators whose work introduces children to the bond between animals and our community, the significance of inquisitiveness, endurance in challenging times, encouragement through the arts, and taking a stand for justice.”

The Sugarman Award is given biennially and presented to a writer and/or illustrator of a new biography for children in kindergarten through 8th grades. The award recipient is chosen by a committee appointed by Cleveland Public Library. Criteria are based on age-appropriateness of the book, quality of writing, and content ‘worthy of emulation’.

This year’s committee included Jeffries, Erica Marks, Youth Services Program Director at Cleveland Public Library, Tracy Isaac, Lending Assistant Supervisor at Cleveland Public Library, Hough Reads Coordinator Rhonda Crowder, Glenville Branch Children’s Librarian Peter Roth, Memorial-Nottingham Branch Librarian Joanna Rivera, Lan Gao, Youth Services Librarian at Cleveland Public Library, and Charles Ellenbogen, an English teacher at Campus International High School.

The Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award was established by Joan G. Sugarman 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.