Presented by the Wisconsin Library Association for distinguished achievement in children's literature.


  • Books to be considered for this award must be published in the calendar year preceding the presentation of the award.
  • The award is given for a single publication, not for the body of an author/illustrator's work.
  • The work must be written or illustrated by a person who was born in Wisconsin, or is currently living in Wisconsin, or who lived in Wisconsin for a significant length of time.
  • The work must be notable and contribute to the world of children's literature.
  • Only original works written or illustrated for children or young adults will be considered. Books that are traditional in origin will be eligible if they are the result of original research and if the retelling or interpretation is that of the author or illustrator.
  • Textbooks will not be considered.

Submissions Title, author and/or illustrator, date of publication and author's/illustrator's connection to Wisconsin can be submitted to the current Committee Chair via email. Though not required for consideration, a copy of the nominated book can be mailed to the Children's Book Award Committee c/o the WLA office. Copies sent will not be returned. Nominations must be received by April 15 of their eligible year.

Children's Book Award Committee
Wisconsin Library Association
4610 South Biltmore Lane, Suite 100
Madison, Wisconsin, 53718-2153


Elizabeth Burr made outstanding and important contributions to library services for children and young adults during her 27 years of service in the state of Wisconsin. Naming this prestigious award for her, assures that her leadership, her dedication and commitment to the library profession, and her efforts in promoting an appreciation of children's literature will be remembered for years to come.

The Wisconsin Library Association honored Elizabeth Burr with the first Librarian of the Year Award in 1956. In 1973, she retired from a career which included positions with the Wisconsin Free Library Commission, the Wisconsin Library Commission, the Division for Library Services in the Department of Public Instruction where she was the Consultant for Children's and Young People's Services. Miss Burr was instrumental in founding the Cooperative Children's Book Center in Madison and directed the development of the library's collection and services throughout its first decade. She served as President of the Children's Services Division of the American Library Association and chaired the Newbery-Caldecott Committee in 1969. In addition she provided valuable service to the Wisconsin Library Association and its divisions and sections.

Elizabeth Burr was a champion of library services for children and young people, and her distinguished achievement continues to be an inspiration to all who knew her. The authors and illustrators who have been and will be named as recipients of the Elizabeth Burr Award for distinguished achievement in children's literature have the opportunity to extend the legacy of Elizabeth Burr and provide inspiration to librarians, children and young people in the future.


The Cardboard Kingdom
Chad Sell

In a society where the lines that divide people have only seemed to deepen, there’s one thing that can bring an entire neighborhood of kids together: cardboard. With enough cardboard, you can make anything. A noble knight’s sword. The headdress of an evil enchantress. A robot. A mad scientist’s lab. What starts as a game between brother and sister soon grows into a sprawling kingdom, where imagination is only limited by how much cardboard you can get your hands on.

A neighborhood of refreshingly diverse characters each has their own personal quest to fulfill. A young boy who is drawn to the glamor of dressing up as an evil sorceress. A girl who uses her big voice to transform into a gentle but powerful monster. A bully who makes fun of the game he desperately wants to be a part of. As more kids are invited to play in the cardboard kingdom, unique and genuine characters begin to emerge as kids find courage in their fantasy world to truly be themselves.

Through the refreshingly diverse cast of characters, this compassionate gem of a graphic novel rejects stereotypes and teaches lessons about acceptance, understanding and identity without being heavy-handed. Readers will love the bold, colorful illustrations and imaginative, character-driven story that will no doubt have kids asking adults for spare cardboard boxes this summer.

About the Author

Chad Sell, cartoonist and comic book artist, is known for his unique style of portraits, which range from superheroes to reality television stars. The Cardboard Kingdom is an impressive debut from Sell, who grew up in Wisconsin and currently lives in Chicago.

2018 Awards Announcement

Written by Darcy Miller

The summer before sixth grade, Lauren (“Ren”) Hall’s parents move him out of the city and into his grandparents’ old country home. Separated from his best friend, who is suddenly running with the popular crowd, and struggling to pick up his dad’s hobby of cross-country running, Ren keenly senses the gulfs growing in his friendship and family. Then he meets his new neighbor, a spunky girl named Sutton, who is training a kit of Birmingham Rolling pigeons for competition and his coming-of-age story begins in earnest. Both deeply emotional and extremely relatable, Roll’s sweet, funny, flawed, but functional characters make this a Bildungsroman that will appeal to all readers who love honest, well-written fiction.

Published by HarperCollins, 2017.

About the Author

Darcy Miller is also the author of Margot and Mateo Save the World. She lives in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, with her two children and librarian husband. Their cat, Jeffreys, deserves his own sentence. Their kitten, Stompy, does not. You can visit Darcy online at www.darcyamiller.com.

2017 Awards Announcement

Deadly Flowers: A Ninja’s Tale
Written by Sarah L. Thomson

Kata, a fifteen-year-old orphan, has trained many years alongside other young girls to become a “deadly flower” – feudal Japan’s female ninjas. She is the most promising student of Madame Chiyome, but when she embarks on her first mission, a dangerous twist complicates her assignment. Kata is tasked with sneaking into a warlord’s estate and assassinating a young boy, Ichiro. However, she fails to complete the mission, and by doing so throws herself, Ichiro and his older sister, Saiko, into an epic adventure. Kata struggles with knowing who she can trust as the trio fight demons, dark ninjas and samurai in this unique coming-of-age tale.

Thomson’s timely, middle-grade novel successfully pairs two girls at either end of the Feudal Japan social spectrum; each using their strengths and knowledge to gain precious control over their lives. Kata’s struggle to balance the inherently solo nature of being a ninja with the need to build friendship and trust with her companions plays out realistically on the page. With fun, sparking dialogue and an action-driven plot, Kata’s story will leave readers ready to practice their ninja and their friendship skills.

Published by Boyds Mills Press, 2016