New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

2017 Empire State Award Winner is Announced

Submitted by Terry Rabideau, Chair of the Empire State Award Committee

The Youth Services Section (YSS) of the New York Library Association (NYLA) is excited to announce that the winner of the 2017 Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People is James Howe. Mr. Howe will be honored at a luncheon on Friday, November 10, 2017 during the Association’s annual conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.

James Howe is a resident of Yonkers, NY and a multi-award-winning author of over ninety books for children and young adults. He is most known for Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery, his humorous book about a vampire rabbit that sucks vegetable juice published in 1979. He received more than ten Children’s Choice Awards for Bunnicula and went on to write six sequels and several spinoff series. The Misfits, published by Howe in 2001, inspired the creation in 2004 of the anti-bullying initiative No Name-Calling Week by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network). In 2006, Howe was honored with GLSEN’s Respect Award. In 2007, he was awarded the E.B. White Read Aloud Award for his book Houndsley and Catina, which was illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay.

The span of ages for which Howe writes is wide -- ranging from preschool-age through teenage years. Though primarily a writer of fiction, Howe is also known for several works of nonfiction, including The Hospital Book, which he wrote following the death of his wife, Deborah Howe, due to cancer. The Hospital Book was a finalist for the 1982 National Book Award (then called the American Book Award) as well as the recipient of numerous other honors.

His most recent works include the crossover juvenile and young adult fiction book, Also Known as Elvis published in 2014 and picture book, Big Bob, Little Bob, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson and published in 2016. Upcoming in Fall 2017 is a personal essay entitled "How Miracles Begin" in the young adult anthology about music, Behind the Song edited by K. M. Walton.  Two more Houndsley and Catina books are due out in 2018 and 2019. Mr. Howe is currently working on a memoir and a graphic novel version of Bunnicula.

The underlying theme of the majority of Howe’s books is celebrating individuality and accepting difference. He feels strongly that his responsibility to those young readers who feel they do not fit in, is to educate their minds and hearts, provide them with hope, and help them find their voices. He often does this through humor.
First awarded in 1990, the Empire State Award is given to an author and/or illustrator currently residing in New York State to honor a significant body of work in the field of literature for young people.  Past recipients of this award include Maurice Sendak, Madeleine L’Engle, Vera Williams, Donald Crews, Jean Craighead George, Jerry Pinkney, Joseph Bruchac, Linda Sue Park, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Bruce Coville,  Laurie Halse Anderson, Jacqueline Woodson, Vivian Vande Velde and last year’s honoree, Steve Sheinkin.  The Empire State Award committee is pleased to welcome James Howe to this group.