Arts and Entertainment

Lois Lowry to receive Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award on Oct. 20

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Lois Lowry, two-time Newbery medalist and celebrated children’s author, will receive the 2021 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20. During the virtual presentation via Zoom, Lowry will speak about her writing and read from her winning selection, “On the Horizon: World War II Reflections.”

Co-sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the online event will be hosted by Jury Chair Cindy Dobrez, who will introduce the jury and discuss the process for choosing the winner and honor books for 2021 before introducing Lowry. The public is encouraged to attend at the event at this Zoom link.   

The New York Times bestselling children’s author of “The Giver,” Lowry will be presented with a commemorative plaque and $1,000 prize during the event, in celebration of her book “On the Horizon,” illustrated by Kenard Pak and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.  

“This novel-in-verse is both historical memoir and poetic fiction, relaying accounts of World War II from both sides of the horizon,” wrote one juror. “In subtle and beautiful poems that explore the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Lowry builds a house of empathy and understanding we all could live in, even in the midst of so much trouble. Lowry’s delicate investigation of memory and history and the horrors of human self-destruction convey both sides of a complicated issue. Ultimately, this gem of a book transports us into the realities of war, violence, and the mass destruction they bring.”

Additionally, two books were awarded honors: “Ice! Poems about Polar Life,” written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, published by Holiday House, and “Punching the Air” by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, published by Balzer + Bray HarperCollins. 

The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award is named for the internationally renowned educator, poet, anthologist and passionate advocate of poetry for young people. Established in 1993, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was the first award of its kind in the United States. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Penn State University Libraries, and Lee Bennett Hopkins share joint administration of the annual award, which was established in 1993. The winner of the award is selected each year by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars.

The 2021 judges for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award were Cindy Dobrez, chair, Bookends blog co-author, Grand Haven, Michigan; Tony Medina, professor of creative writing at Howard University, Hyattsville, Maryland; Marilyn Nelson, poet, translator and children's book author, East Haven, Connecticut; Karen O’Connell, coordinator of the Arkansas Center for the Book, Little Rock, Arkansas; and Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian, Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book established in 1977 at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, it also administers the Public Poetry Project, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel PrizePoems from LifeLetters about LiteratureA Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy, and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Hopkins Award, contact Caroline Wermuth at or 814-863-5472, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website.

Last Updated October 15, 2021