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Catherine Reef 2020 Nonfiction Award Winner

The 2020 Nonfiction Award Committee of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, is pleased to announce Catherine Reef as the Nonfiction Award Winner for 2020. Reef will be honored at the Children’s Book Guild Award Luncheon on May 30, 2020, at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, Washington, DC. Tickets are available through our website.

Through dozens of nonfiction books for young adults and middle school students, Ms. Reef has produced a body of distinguished and award-winning work, notable for impeccable research, insightful interpretations, and writing that keeps readers engaged.

Catherine Reef’s biographies offer an in-depth study of legendary figures who represent different eras and fields of endeavor such as Queen Victoria, Frida and Diego, and Sigmund Freud. Ms. Reef’s carefully hewn character portrayals are evident in all her biographies.  Her ability to weave intricate research into a compelling narrative keeps youthful readers involved in the lives of authors such as E.E. Cummings and Ernest Hemingway.  Her historical studies mainly cover topics in African American history: Buffalo Soldiers, Black Explorers, Civil War Soldiers, Africans in America, and the resettlement of African Americans in Liberia.

Twenty-one of her books written from 1996 to 2018 have all received significant distinctions. For example, her 2018 publication Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator, received the Junior Library Guild Selection 2018; NOBLE Book Award for Young Adult Nonfiction, 2018; YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction, 2019; Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2019; and Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2019.  The number of books honored show Catherine Reef to be a prolific writer who produces highly regarded works.  Her newest book is Sarah Bernhardt: The Divine and Dazzling Life of the World’s First Superstar which will become available in June of 2020.
Nonfiction Award Committee members Liane Rosenblatt, Winifred Conkling, and Rashin Kheiriyeh, and adviser Maria Salvadore marveled at Catherine Reef’s ability to hook readers early and place characters in complex emotional and political contexts.  Many thanks to them for their spirited discussions about Ms. Reef’s books.

Catherine Reef will be honored at the Children’s Book Guild Award Luncheon on May 30, 2020 at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, Washington, DC. Please note the date and bring family and friends to the Celebration.  Download event flyer.

2019-2020 Lecture Series Schedule.

Superhero! Telling T'Challa's Story

Who Is the Black Panther coverOn February 20, at Busboys and Poets, authors Jesse Holland (The Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther?) and Ronald Smith (Black Panther: The Young Prince) will join in conversation with educator Jabari Sellars to talk about (among other things) writing the superhero narrative from their perspectives as chroniclers of the Marvel Comics hero T'Challa, the Black Panther.

Jesse Holland

Award-winning writer and journalist Jesse J. Holland currently serves as distinguished visiting scholar in residence at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress and weekend host for C-SPAN Washington Journal. In addition to The Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther?, a prose novel, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2019, he has written The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slavery Inside The White House, Star Wars: The Force Awakens--Finn's Story and Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C.

Ronald SmithRonald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novels Black Panther: The Young Prince, The Mesmerist and The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, a Junior Library Guild Selection. His first novel, Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest novel for middle grade readers is Gloomtown. Before becoming a full-time writer, Smith worked in advertising, helping to sell everything from cheeseburgers to automobiles to airlines. 

Jabari SellarsJabari Sellars teaches English at the Siena School, an independent school for students with diagnosed language-based learning differences. He also facilitates book clubs and panel discussions at Fantom Comics in Washington, DC. He has moderated conversations with such creators and professors as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dr. Greg Carr and Jason Reynolds.

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2019 Nonfiction Award Photo Gallery

1 Admiring Crystal
Carole Boston Weatherford receives the Award crystal
2 Liz Bicknell
Candlewick Press Editorial Director Liz Bicknell introduces Weatherford


Carole Boston Weatherford Speaking“My books are tailor made for critical literacy.”
Carole Boston Weatherford SpeakingOn growing up in Baltimore: "Living in a port city expands your horizons."


Maria Salvadore and Rhoda TrooboffWeatherford with Nonfiction Award Selection Committee Chair Maria Salvadore and Guild President Rhoda Trooboff
Carole Weatherford Viewing Nonfiction Award Crystal


Carole Boston Weatherford's mother CarolynWeatherford’s mother Carolyn, who received her daughter’s earliest dictated poems
Weatherford’s son, author-illustrator Jeffrey Boston WeatherfordWeatherford’s son, author-illustrator Jeffrey Boston Weatherford


Guild President Rhoda TrooboffGuild President Rhoda Trooboff
Carole signing copies of her new book, The Roots of RapWeatherford signs her newest book, The Roots of Rap




Author Visits

Book Trailers