Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Margaret Wise Brown historic photo

The annual award showcases the best picture book manuscript as selected by a panel of judges and is among the few children’s book honors with a cash prize.

Hollins announces winner of the 2023 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored Chana Stiefel, an award-winning author of more than 30 books for children, as the recipient of the eighth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

Stiefel will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for her nonfiction picture book The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs. Illustrated by Susan Gal and published by Scholastic Press, The Tower of Life is the true story behind the Tower of Life exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. As a young girl, Yaffa Eliach’s home in Poland was invaded by Nazi soldiers and nearly 3,500 family members, friends, and neighbors were erased. Eliach made it her life’s mission to recover thousands of the town’s photographs from around the world, and she used them to construct the Tower of Life exhibit.

“This book will leave a powerful impression on every reader,” stated the judges for this year’s prize, acclaimed children’s book authors Mượn Thị Văn, Don Tate, and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. “Its story reminds us that that horrific and destructive acts cannot and do not succeed as long as we remember and as long as we rebuild, sometimes ‘not brick by brick, but photograph by photograph, story by story.’ The Tower of Life reminds us to always seek the light, and to always share the light.”

The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is just the latest honor for The Tower of Life. It won the 2023 Sydney Taylor Book Award, a Robert F. Sibert Honor, and the SCBWI Russell Freedman Nonfiction Award for a Better World.

Judges for this year’s Margaret Wise Brown Prize also named one Honor Book: Too Early, written by Nora Ericson, illustrated by Elly MacKay, and published by Abrams Books. “This book makes the most of a small moment shared between an early-rising child and their father,” the judges said. “Ericson’s lyrical, imaginative text is infused with soothing sounds and quiet humor, perfect for a cozy morning read aloud that will happen, surely, on repeat, and, probably, way too early.”

More Information about the Margaret Wise Brown Prize

About the prize: Recognizes the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. Winners receive:

  • $1,000 cash prize
  • An engraved bronze medal conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke.
  • Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books.
  • An invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature

About the selection process: Hollins will request nominations from children’s book publishers. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, will review the nominations and choose a winner.

Margaret Wise Brown Prize medalAbout Margaret Wise Brown: Graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952.

About the cash prize: Comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

About Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature: Summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study, writing, and illustrating of children’s literature, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.