2023 Children's Book Awards PDF Print Email


2023 Awards Announcements

The Children’s Book Award Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association’s Youth Services Section annually selects outstanding books for youth by Wisconsin-connected authors and awards the Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award, Outstanding Books of the Year, and Notable Wisconsin Authors/Illustrators.

Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award

Awarded to the most distinguished work in children’s and young adult literature written and/or illustrated by a Wisconsin book creator. The Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award is made possible by the Worzalla Publishing Company, Stevens Point, through a contribution to the WLA Foundation.

Cover of the book "Ice Breaker" by A.L. Graziadei

Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is part of a family hockey empire. His grandfather and father played for the NFL, so as a college freshman, he’s feeling the pressure to make it. With five older sisters, continuing his family’s hockey legacy is on his shoulders. Mickey has led a privileged life, and expectations are high to earn the number one draft pick.

Unbeknownst to his family, however, Mickey is struggling with depression and his family’s expectations. In the midst of his mental struggles, a rival hockey player joins his college team. Jaysen Caufield, an African American teen, is giving Mickey some real competition for the number one draft pick. He also doesn’t like all the attention and handouts Mickey gets. As their rivalry intensifies, their relationship gets more complicated as they realize their mutual attraction to each other.

From debut author A.L. Graziadei comes this fresh new take on the complexity of young adulthood, through a stunning combination of romance, mental health, and the sport of hockey.

About the Author: 

Debut author A.L. Graziadei was born and raised in Buffalo, New York on Buffalo Sabres hockey and video games. Now living in Wisconsin, A.L. uses these interests as inspiration for their writing. Icebreaker is their first book and was named a 2023 Printz Honor Book.  

Notable Wisconsin Author - Charly Palmer

Charly “Carlos” Palmer was born in 1960 in Fayette, Alabama. When he was four years old, his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his formative years, Palmer focused his attention on art and attended the Magnet Program at the Art Museum taught by Carolyn White Travanti. Travanti recognized Palmer’s talent and potential and ultimately encouraged his art journey.

 After graduating from Custer High School, Palmer enrolled in the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. He initially struggled during this time with undiagnosed ADHD. Today, he states this is his superpower that allows his “mind to be everywhere always.” He eventually transferred to the American Academy of Art where he earned his bachelor’s degree.

 Palmer has received numerous commissions, including the 1996 Olympics and the Atlantic Convention and Visitor's Bureau. His artwork can be found in esteemed institutions such as the McDonald's Corporation, Miller Brewing Company, Coco-Cola Company, and in various private and public collections. His piece, In Her Eyes, was on the July 6, 2020, cover of TIME and his art piece, His Story, belonged to the Maya Angelou estate until auctioned in 2015. He also designed the cover of John Legend’s Bigger Love and has paintings in Lambeau Field Stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In addition, he has lectured at several American colleges and universities, including Spelman, Morehouse, Brown, UCLA, and most recently Fisk. The objective of Palmer’s work is to uplift Black individuals by celebrating and embracing their uniqueness, strength, and contributions to the world outside of the mainstream gaze.

 As an illustrator, Palmer has made an impact in the children’s literature world. He received the 2018 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for his illustrative work, Mama Africa! His goal is to create literature and illustrations where children of color can see themselves in everyday situations, allowing them to see themselves in relatable narratives. His debut as a children's author, The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale, which he also illustrated, addresses the stories of unsung basketball players whose skills were so magnificent only tall tales could adequately capture their greatness.

When asked if he has been successful in his life and career, he stated, “Success is a journey, it’s not a destination. So for me it’s never been ‘I’ve gotten there.’ It’s like I’m trying to get there, and I will be trying to get there for the rest of my life.”

 Palmer currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Dr. Karida Brown, and two pugs named, Blu and Pugsley. He will be a theater speaker at ALA’s LibLearnX in Baltimore, Maryland in 2024.


Outstanding Books of the Year

Noteworthy honor titles are selected for Outstanding Achievement in children’s literature, written and/or illustrated by Wisconsin book creators. 

  • Rhino & Dino in: Lemonade by Erin Kant Barnard
  • Meet Me Halfway by Anika Fajardo
  • The Star That Always Stays by Anna Rose Johnson
  • Something Beautiful by Lita Judge
  • A Friend for Ghost by Suzanne Kaufman
  • Inaugural Ballers: The True story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team by Andrew Maraniss 
  • Torch by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
  • Vermilion Emporium by Jamie Pacton
  • The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale by Charly Palmer
  • Lolo’s Light by Liz Garton Scanlon