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Congrats to the 2018 HSS Award Winners!

2018 First place winners of the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award with their books
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To view photos from the event, please click here.

On Monday evening, April 23rd, Emma Clark Library, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School district, and guests from the community gathered to honor the winners of the fourth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award:

First Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Racing Star by Rebecca Blumenthal
First Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Wally’s Wild Ride Nicole Freeley
Second Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category):  I Can Help! by Eliana Sasson
Second Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Freddy the Fish and His First Election Day by Samuel Kim

At the ceremony in the Vincent R. O’Leary Community Room, Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners’ books – bound and added to the library’s Local Focus Collection – along with $400 scholarships to first prize winners Rebecca Blumenthal and Nicole Freeley and $100 check for second prize winners Eliana Sasson and Samuel Kim.  Mr. Gutmann explained that the event “really helps us to showcase the wonderful talent we have here, and we thank the authors and their parents for encouraging that and being here tonight.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartight, and Carol Nucci (representing Senator John Flanagan) spoke at the event, and the winners also received certificates from Senator John Flanagan, Legislator Kara Hahn, and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright.  Library Board Treasurer Deborah Blair and Trustee Richard Russell were there to congratulate the winners.  And Three Village Central School District President of the Board of Education William Connors, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kevin Scanlon, Ward Melville High School Principal Alan Baum, Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher, Murphy Junior Junior High School English Department Chair Cathy Duffy and Murphy Junior High School Librarian Betsy Knox were all in attendance.

Guests enjoyed special treats donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village-owned business.  Ward Melville High School teen volunteer Madison Buddine photographed the event.

The Helen Stein Shack Book Contest called for teens in grades 7 through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book.  Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort of an author and an illustrator.  The contest was divided into two grade categories, grades 7 through 9 and grades 10 through 12, with one First Prize Winner and one Second Prize Winner selected from each group.  This award is given in memory of Helen Stein Shack by her family.

“As Ms. Shack clearly knew, children’s literature does a lot for the community, as well as the young children themselves.  It helps to promote brain development, it helps to promote language development, literacy skills, as well as creating an important bonding moment for families,” said Councilwoman Cartright.

Two of the grandsons of the late Helen Stein Shack spoke at the ceremony.  Regan Kelly flew all the way from California for the event.  Tamir Taylor grew up in Three Village and attended Murphy Junior High School and Ward Melville High School.

“A lot of people thank us a lot for creating this event,” mentioned Mr. Taylor. “But we really want to thank you guys because our grandmother, mother, was really important to us and by you guys participating and making this event happen and the library for making this happen, you guys give us the opportunity to remember and honor her, which is really special to us.”

The Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award brings together a large part of the Three Village community – the Library, school district, local elected officials, teenagers and their families, and all of the children that read these books.  As Legislator Kara Hahn remarked, “What a great way to encourage teenagers to think about…what’s important to them and how to express that in a way that will resonate with children.”

The Library is grateful to the children of the late Mrs. Shack who have established a substantial endowment with the Library to cover the cost of the winning scholarships.  And all at the Library are very appreciative of the support from all involved in this unique and special contest.

Photo: First Place Winners Nicole Freeley and Rebecca Blumenthal with their books

Past Winners


First Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category):  We Can Still Be Friends! by Eliana Sasson
First Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Claire and Her Bear by Katie Zhao
Second Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Sammy the Sock Monkey by Nicole Freeley
Second Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Color Your World by Cassidy Oliver


Grand Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Good Night, Judy by Katie Zhao
Grand Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Sal the Sock by Michelle Pacala
Honorable Mention (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Rainbow by Nicole Freeley
Honorable Mention (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Honu by Samantha White


Grand Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Lenny the Lion by Leah Cussen
Grand Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Lilabet by Wendy Wahlert
Honorable Mention (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Red Books for Rainy Days by Anny Weisenberg
Honorable Mention (Grades 7 – 9 category):  Freddy the Fish and the First Day of School by Daniel Kim
Honorable Mention (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Heal Our Mother Earth by Kiera Alventosa
Honorable Mention (Grades 10 – 12 category):  Pengy Goes on an Adventure by Sarah Jiang and Karen Jiang


The public may view past winning entries at emmaclark.org/picturebookaward/ or the 2015 winners at emmaclark.org/picturebookaward2015.