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8th Annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award Winners Announced

Setauket, NY – March 10, 2022 –

Emma Clark Library is thrilled to reveal the winners of the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award, an annual contest for junior high and high school students in the Three Village Central School District:

First Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category): Pete the Penguin Goes to the Library by Matthew Blumenthal (9th grader at Murphy Junior High School)

First Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category): The Raccoon Jug-Band written by Amelia Grant and illustrated by Anna Grant (Homeschooled 10th and 11th graders)

Second Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category): The Big Carrot by Julia Hou (8th grader at Gelinas Junior High School)

Second Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category): Mareld by Ammella Een (Homeschooled 12th grader)

The Raccoon Jug-Band, written by Amelia Grant and illustrated by Anna Grant, has handsomely colored and textured illustrations, along with a sing-song, uplifting story about music and celebration. Pete the Penguin Goes to the Library by Matthew Blumenthal is a fun story about all of the places you can “travel” to – such as medieval castles, outer space, the forest, and a city with superheroes – just by taking a trip to the library and being immersed in a book. Mareld by Ammella Een transports the young reader to an island with a girl who is trying to find her way home, and the book is done in gentle pen and beautiful watercolor that shows off both the landscape and the girl’s facial features.  The Big Carrot by Julia Hou has charmingly delicate drawings of two bunnies who plant carrots together and tells of how they grow not just carrots, but in moral character.

Contest winners will be celebrated at a private awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 7:00 p.m.  Each First Prize award recipient will receive a $400 scholarship, and each Second Prize award recipient will receive a $100 scholarship. For those that are a collaborative effort, the prize money will be split between the author and the illustrator.  The newly bound books – made into hardcover by the Library – will have the honor of being added to the Library’s Local Focus Collection, and winners will also receive copies of their books to cherish in their own home libraries. Light refreshments will be served at the reception, and desserts are being generously donated by The Bite Size Bakes Shop, a local Three Village business.

Past ceremonies have had Library trustees, teachers and top school district administrators, as well as elected officials from New York State, Suffolk County, and the Town of Brookhaven, all in attendance to honor the winners. Emma Clark Library is delighted to once again hold a special ceremony honoring these talented young authors and illustrators and to add their original books to the Library’s collection of local authors.


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 a teacher, Mrs. Shack was committed to the education of children, and she especially loved literature written for them.  She was a frequent visitor to Emma Clark Library where, even in retirement, she kept current with the latest children’s books.  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 prizes.


The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, located at 120 Main Street in Setauket and online at www.emmaclark.org, provides public library service to all residents of the Three Village Central School District.

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