2016 Bock Book Award Goes Bilingual

Image of cover of "Maya's Blanket" the 2016 Bock Book Awardee

Neumann University has selected Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya, a bilingual book written by Monica Brown, as the recipient of the 2016 Frances and Wesley Bock Book Award for Children’s Literature. The award will be presented on Thursday, October 6, at 10 a.m. in the Neumann University Library.


The book tells the story of Maya, the main character, who receives a blanket from her grandmother. Readers then follow Maya through her life as the blanket becomes a dress, a skirt, a shawl, and so on. The story is an exploration of the lasting love in a family and an illustration of sustainability and reuse.


Brown put a Latino spin on a traditionally Yiddish folk tale to reflect her own Jewish and Latina background. After reading her story to an audience of youngsters, she will speak to Neumann students and faculty at a forum on social justice issues in children’s literature.


She has written many award-winning books for children, including Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt), and Waiting for the Biblioburro(Random House). Brown is a professor of English at Northern Arizona University. 

Wesley Bock was co-owner of Kilner’s, a store in north central Philadelphia that provided equipment, clothing, and supplies to religious institutions. As a sales representative to the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, he grew to be quite fond of them and began making contributions to the order. When Wesley and his wife Frances passed away, their estate went to their nephew, who, in consultation with the library, established the Bock Book Award in their memory.

The award acknowledges Franciscan values in children’s books and gives each year’s winner a prize of $750, a plaque, and a gold emblazoned emblem for the book. Criteria for the award include text that is values-oriented, interesting and stimulating for ages 3-8 years, and pleasing and aesthetic. The illustrations should provide support for interpreting the story, instill a reverence for and compassion for all creation, and depict creation in all its diversity. Both the text and illustrations should promote a moral attitude and/or action.

Previous winners include Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston, 2015; The Cat with Seven Names by Tony Johnston, 2014; The Sandal Artist by Kathleen T. Pelley, 2013; The Ocean Story by John Seven, 2012; Mama The O Miti by Donna Jo Napoli, 2011; Felina’s New Home by Loran Wlodarski, 2010; Zen Ties by Jon Muth, 2009; We Are One by Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell, 2008; Brother Juniper by Diane Gibfried, 2007; Daniel and His Walking Stick by Wendy McCormick, 2006; Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming, 2005; The Boy with a Wish by Harry B. Knights, 2004; In the Blink of an Eye by Dieter Wiesmuller, 2003; Where does God Live? by Holly Bea, 2002; Each Living Thing by Joanne Ryder, 2001; and Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd, 2000.