Patricia C. McKissack, Never Forgotten

The PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing was established in memory of Steven Kroll to acknowledge the distinct literary contributions of picture book writers. Kroll, a former PEN Trustee and long-time Chair of PEN’s Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee, was also a prolific author of books for children. His 100th and final book was published in March 2012.

The annual award will be confered for the first time in 2012 and will award a prize of $5,000. It acknowledges an American or U.S.-based writer for exceptional writing in an illustrated children’s book. The winner will be chosen by a panel of three judges, who will be selected by the PEN’s Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee, as well as the donor for the award, Kathleen Beckett, Kroll’s widow.

2012 Judges

Carmen Agra Deedy, Susan Kuklin, and Vera B. Williams

From the Judges’ Citation


     Hear the moans and groans of their

     Hundreds, thousands, stolen

     We rarely speak of The Taken

     But I will, just once, because you asked.

In Never Forgotten, Patricia McKissack has given us an inspiring griot-like tale of a West African blacksmith whose beloved son is “taken” into slavery. Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water fail to free him. Only the boy himself can bring dignity and hope to his life, casting an unexpected light on this dark tale.  Never Forgotten has the heart, rhythm, and grandeur that may kindle an appetite for history in children, compassion for its victims, and outrage at one of its great crimes.