Phoenix Award

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The Phoenix Award annually recognizes one English-language children's book published twenty years earlier that did not then win a major literary award. It is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its own ashes, signifying the book's rise from relative obscurity.[1]

The award was established and is conferred by the Children's Literature Association (ChLA), a non-profit organization for the advancement of "the serious study of children's literature", based in the United States. The winner is selected by an elected committee of five ChLA members, from nominations by members and outsiders. The token is a brass statue.[1]

It was inaugurated in 1985 by the award to Rosemary Sutcliff and The Mark of the Horse Lord (Oxford, 1965). Beginning 1989, as many as two runners-up have been designated "Honor Books"; 31 in 25 years through 2013.[1][2]

A parallel award for children's picture books, the Phoenix Picture Book Award was approved in 2010 and inaugurated in 2013. There are two awards if the writer and illustrator are different people. "Books are considered not only for the quality of their illustrations, but for the way pictures and text work together to tell a story (whether fact or fiction). Wordless books are judged on the ability of the pictures alone to convey a story."[3]

Latest rendition[edit]

The 29th annual Phoenix Award was presented at the 40th ChLA Conference, June 13–15, 2013, which was hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi in Biloxi Mississippi.[4]


Gaye Hiçyilmaz, The Frozen Waterfall (Faber and Faber, 1993)

  • Honor Book: Walter Dean Myers, Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary (Scholastic, 1993), a biography

The Frozen Waterfall features a 12-year-old girl, the top student in Izmir, Turkey, whose family relocates to Switzerland. Beside the shock, she recognizes that the Swiss and the Turkish immigrants are both ambivalent about cultural assimilation.[1]

Picture Book[3][4]

Kevin Henkes, Owen, (Greenwillow, 1993)

  • Honor Book: Denise Fleming, In the Small, Small Pond (Henry Holt, 1993)

ChLA calls Owen "a perfect picture book in which text and pictures together tell the story". It features a mouse child whose parents and neighbor try to separate from his yellow blanket.[3]

Winners and runners-up[edit]

There have been 29 Award winners and 31 Honor Books through 2013.[1][2]

Year Winner Honor Books
2013 Gaye Hiçyilmaz, The Frozen Waterfall Walter Dean Myers, Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary
2012‡[5] Karen Hesse, Letters from Rifka Michael Dorris, Morning Girl
Frances Temple, Taste of Salt: A Story of Modern Haiti
2011‡ Virginia Euwer Wolff, The Mozart Season Mary Downing Hahn, Stepping on the Cracks
Eloise McGraw, The Striped Ships
2010 Rosemary Sutcliff, The Shining Company
2009 Francesca Lia Block, Weetzie Bat Sylvia Cassedy, Lucie Babbidge’s House
2008‡ Peter Dickinson, Eva Jane Yolen, The Devil's Arithmetic
2007 Margaret Mahy, Memory Sheila Gordon, Waiting for the Rain
2006 Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle Margaret Mahy, The Tricksters
Philip Pullman, The Shadow in the Plate (The Shadow in the North)
2005 Margaret Mahy, The Catalogue of the Universe Diana Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock
2004‡ Berlie Doherty, White Peak Farm Brian Doyle, Angel Square
2003 Ivan Southall, The Long Night Watch Cynthia Voigt, A Solitary Blue
2002‡ Zibby Oneal, A Formal Feeling Clayton Bess, Story for a Black Night
2001‡ Peter Dickinson, The Seventh Raven Kathryn Lasky, The Night Journey
2000‡ Monica Hughes, Keeper of the Isis Light Jane Langton, The Fledgling
1999 E.L. Konigsburg, Throwing Shadows Rosa Guy, The Disappearance
Ouida Sebestyen, Words by Heart
1998 Jill Paton Walsh, A Chance Child Robin McKinley, Beauty
Doris Orgel, The Devil in Vienna
1997 Robert Cormier, I Am the Cheese
1996 Alan Garner, The Stone Book William Steig, Abel's Island
1995 Laurence Yep, Dragonwings Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
1994 Katherine Paterson, Of Nightingales That Weep James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier, My Brother Sam is Dead 
Sharon Bell Mathis, Listen for the Fig Tree
1993 Nina Bawden, Carrie's War E.L. Konigsburg, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver
1992 Mollie Hunter, A Sound of Chariots
1991 Jane Gardam, A Long Way from Verona William Mayne, A Game of Dark
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan
1990 Sylvia Engdahl, Enchantress from the Stars William Mayne, Ravensgill
Scott O'Dell, Sing Down the Moon
1989 Helen Cresswell, The Night Watchmen Milton Meltzer, Brother Can You Spare a Dime?
Adrienne Richard, Pistol
1988 Erik Christian Haugaard, The Rider and his Horse 
1987 Leon Garfield, Smith
1986 Robert J. Burch, Queenie Peavy
1985 Rosemary Sutcliff, The Mark of the Horse Lord
‡ Seven acceptance speeches have been published online in one of two locations:[1][6] Monica Hughes, 2000; Peter Dickinson, 2001; Zibby Oneal, 2002; Berlie Doherty, 2004; Peter Dickinson, 2008; Virginia Euwer Wolff, 2011; Karen Hesse, 2012.

Multiple awards[edit]

Three authors have won two of the 28 Phoenix Awards through 2012.

  • Rosemary Sutcliff, 1985, 2010
  • Peter Dickinson, 2001, 2008
  • Margaret Mahy, 2005, 2007

Mahy of New Zealand was also a runner up in 2006.

Several of the winners have also received the British Carnegie Medal for other books: Sutcliff (1959); Garner (1967); Garfield (1970); Southall (1971); Hunter (1974); Dickinson (1979, 1980); Mahy (1982, 1984); Doherty (1986, 1991).

Three of the winners have also won the American Newbery Medal for other books: Konigsburg (1968 and 1997); Paterson (1978, 1981); Hesse (1998).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "(Phoenix Award)" (top page). Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  2. ^ a b "The Phoenix Award" (brochure). ChLA. 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  3. ^ a b c "Phoenix Picture Book Award". ChLA. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  4. ^ a b "Children's Literature Association 2013 Phoenix Award panel". Call for Papers, 40th Annual Children's Literature Association Conference, University of Southern Mississippi, Biloxi, Mississippi, June 13–15, 2013. Call for Papers ( Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  5. ^ "Literary Slipstreams: Children's Literature Association Conference" (2012). Children's Literature at Simmons. Simmons College. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  6. ^ "List of Phoenix Award Papers". ChLA. Retrieved 2012-08-24.