Michigan Reading Association
Promoting Literacy Across Michigan
In 2006 the Michigan Reading Association established a Board Award that would honor a Michigan author and/or illustrator. The candidate must have strongly influenced literacy in Michigan in any dimension of literacy: which may include but is not limited to: children's fiction/nonfiction, young adult fiction/nonfiction, adult fiction/nonfiction, drama, song, poetry, newspaper, magazine or multimedia. The past recipients of the Gwen Frostic Award are listed below:
2006 – Gloria Whalen, poet, short story writer and novelist
2007 – Wendy Anderson Halperin – author and illustrator.
2008 – Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen – illustrator and naturalist
2009 – Shirley Nietzel -children's author
2010 - Patricia Polacco - author and illustrator
2011 - Margaret Willey - children's author, folklorist, and novelist
2012 - Ryan Hipp - author and illustrator
2013 - Gary Schmidt - author
2014 - Kelly DiPucchio - author
2015 - Christopher Paul Curtis - author
*Nominations must come from an MRA Board Member by December 20th.
The Gwen Frostic Award is presented each year at the MRA Past Presidents Dinner during our Annual Conference.
Bio of past recipients
2015 Christopher Paul Curtis
Christopher Paul Curtis was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. The summer after graduating from high school, he became a member of a Lansing-based theatrical/musical group called Suitcase Theater. The group was directed by Powell Lindsay and performed musical numbers and the works of Langston Hughes. Soon after he graduated from Flint Southwestern High School, he worked in an assembly line at Flint's Fisher Body Plant, and wrote during his breaks to escape the noise of the factory. His most famous stories include The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy. Bud, Not Buddy received the Newberry Award in 2000. He was the first African American author to win this award. In 2013, The Watson's Go to Birmingham was made into a movie. He has received numerous awards, and the Michigan Reading Association is honored to add the Gwen Frostic Award to Christopher Paul Curtis' honors.
2014 Kelly DiPucchio
The Gwen Frostic Board Award was established in 2006 to honor Michigan authors and/or illustrators. This year’s recipient of this prestigious award, Kelly DiPucchio, was strongly encouraged by a Michigan State University professor to submit books for publication. It wasn’t until after her children were born that she became interested in writing children’s books. In her own words, “They taught me everything about becoming a picture book writer.” “They taught me important things like underpants are funny, arm pits make fine musical instruments, and “poop” rhymes with “soup.” We are all so lucky that she has taken this path. Kelly has authored several children books of which Grace for President and The Sandwich Swap made the New York Times bestseller’s list. Looking at her other wonderful books such as How To Potty Train Your Monster, Sipping Spiders though a Straw and Bed Hogs, readers can understand how reviewers have praised her work as “hilarious” and with “rollicking rhythm.” Her books have been honored on The View and Martha Stewart shows. Kelly has been described as the most down-to-earth and humble human being. She enjoys writing about anything except her own bio. The Michigan Reading Association Board is honored to add Kelly DiPucchio to the list of Gwen Frostic Award recipients.
2013 Gary Schmidt Grand Rapids, Michigan
“Books can ignite fires in your mind, because they carry ideas for kindling, and art for matches,” these words from Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary d. Schmidt, this year’s Gwen Frostic Award recipient, capture the heart of all who love books. His novels are written so well that readers find themselves caring about the characters, laughing at the humorous situations that are always woven into serious storylines, and crying with the realities of an unjust world. He has two Newbery Honor books, The Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy which also won the Michael L. Printz Honor Book as well as the Michigan Author Award from the Michigan Center for the Book. Gary lives on a farm in Alto with his wife and six children and is a Professor of English at Calvin College. Michigan can be proud to count Gary Schmidt as one of its most accomplished authors.
2012 Ryan Hipp Grand Rapids, Michigan
This year’s recipient of the Gwen Frostic Award cares about animals, loves comic books, science fiction and fantasy, collects toys, plays video games, and skateboards. Ryan Hipp states he is a “kid at heart” and this comes out in his whimsical drawings. One of Ryan’s books, A Curious Glimpse of Michigan, which he co-illustrated with Kevin Kammeraad, was nominated for the 2005 Michigan Reading Association's Great Lakes Great Books Award. His art has appeared on the cover of On the Town Magazine. In 2009 Ryan held top ranking in the inaugural Grand Rapids ArtPrize. The six wonderful paintings submitted titled Museum depicts his favorite museum exhibits from his youth. The paintings are now part of the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s permanent collection and are on display in the museum's café. Ryan strongly believes drawing and writing should be obtainable for kids everywhere, and is dedicated to helping kids achieve this goal. Comics, being one of his passions, have helped him develop workshops for teens, teachers and media specialists. Sharing his artwork and books with students help them understand that he is really no different than they are, and that every student has the power to make their dreams come true.
2011 Margaret M. Willey Grand Haven, Michigan
The Bigger Book of Lydia, Clever Beatrice, and A Summer of Silk Moths are just a few of the books by a Michigan author who has touched the hearts of children, teenagers and adults. Speaking of her Michigan childhood, Margaret Willey says, "As the eldest daughter in a family of eleven children, I was prematurely adult, very much involved in taking care of younger children—watching them, listening to them and in some ways identifying with them. This was my boot camp for writing, especially writing about teenagers."
Her first published young adult novel, The Bigger Book of Lydia, received critical acclaim. Margaret wrote more acclaimed young adult novels, before starting to write folktales, and the award-winning Beatrice series was created. All of Margaret's books are set in Michigan and the Beatrice books celebrate the unique history and geography of the Upper Peninsula. Her latest book, A Summer of Silk Moths, is a tribute to a novel Margaret loved as a girl, A Girl of the Limberlast, by Gene Stratton Porter. This novel, set in Buchanan on the St. Joseph River, reflects Margaret's long-standing belief that damaged children can find emotional healing in the natural world. Gwen Frostic would be pleased that Margaret Willey is receiving the award.