Thursday, November 21, 2013


Today is the day to share this wonderful news! Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha has been chosen as the 2012-2013 Arkensas Diamond Primary Book Award winner!

The Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award was established by the Arkansas Elementary School Council in 1998 to encourage reading for students in Grades K-3.  The name of the award was chosen because Arkansas is the only diamond producing state.  Like the Charlie May Simon Award, the Arkansas Diamond Award is selected by an annual vote. Children in Grades K-3 must have read at least three of the titles from the annual reading list and may vote for one title. Student voting is done in April each year.  If you have questions about the awards or reading lists, please contact Cathy Howser at the Arkansas State Library, , 501-682-2860.

I'm honored to be the illustrator of this book, Lucky Beans, the 2013 Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award winner.

I'd like to extend my deepest thanks to the Arkansas Department of Education, the Arkansas State Library and the Arkansas Reading Association and all other organizations that support this award. Most especially, I'd like to thank the Arkansas school kids who voted for this book. Having my book loved by children is the greatest reward for all the effort, passion and dedication that goes into creating illustrations.

I'd also like to thank the staff at Albert Whitman & Co., and the author, Becky Birtha, without who this book would be impossible.

Although this book takes place during the depression, I didn't want it to be depressing. Kids are remarkabley resilient, and so I chose brighter colors to reflect an attitude of hope.

Using models is something I often do in picture books. I'd like to thank especially my father-in-law H. Allen Tadgell for playing the part of Mr. Kaplan, as well as describing what may be typical way of life during hard times. 

The house itself is based on memories of my great-gradnmother's bungalow in Detroit.  Special thanks to the folks at the Worcester Historical Museum, who helped with store interior and street scenes of the time.

Readers may find this interview with behind-the-scenes images of interest: 

Thank you all again!