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Pizzoli's 'Watermelon Seed' Wins Seuss Award at ALA Midwinter Meeting

Author and illustrator Greg Pizzoli is the 2014 recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for The Watermelon Seed published by Disney Hyperion Books – An Imprint of Disney Book Group. The Association for Library Service to Children (A.L.S.C.), a division of the American Library Association (A.L.A.), made the announced on Monday, January 27, 2014, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia (January 24-28).

According to a press release from the ALA and ALSC, "The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The award is named for the world-renowned children’s author, Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Award winners are recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading. Award and honor book recipients will receive their awards in Las Vegas during the ALA Annual Conference in June."

A watermelon-loving crocodile becomes distraught after swallowing a seed, believing it will grow inside of him.

Told in straight-forward, accessible vocabulary, this innovative look at a childhood fear by debut author Greg Pizzoli creates engaging three-spot color illustrations that are as fresh as a cool slice of watermelon.

The Watermelon Seed "is innovative but with a retro quality that will embrace the emergent reader in this satisfying treat," said Geisel Award Committee Chairman Penny Peck.

The 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee named three Geisel Honor Books. Ball written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

According to the ALSC, "A ball-obsessed pup desperately waits for his owner to return to continue their play. The earliest reader will be empowered by the one-word text melded with action-packed sequential art."

A Big Guy Took My Ball! written and illustrated by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group. According to the ALCS, "Gerald comes to Piggie’s aid when a big guy takes away the ball she found. The classic schoolyard encounter has a wry twist and satisfying resolution in Willems’ hands. Color coded speech bubbles and expressive cartoon illustrations will delight the reader."

Penny and Her Marble written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers. According to the ALSC, "Penny has second thoughts after picking up a beautiful, blue marble from her neighbor’s yard. Was it wrong to take this treasure? Penny’s moral dilemma is explored with emotional truth in four brief chapters. Henkes’ soft-hued watercolors perfectly capture Penny’s joy and agony."

The members of the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee are Chairman Penny Peck, San Lorenzo, California; Emily Chandler, Lawrence Branch Library, Indianapolis; Christina H. Dorr of the Hilliard Ohio City School District in Ohio; Danielle A. Shapiro of the Brooklyn Public Library's Highlawn Branch; Joanna Lynn Tamplin, Hawks Rise Elementary, Tallahassee, Flaorida; Linda Ward-Callaghan of the Joliet Public Library; and Janet Raelene Weber, Tigard Public Library in Oregon.

In 2012, Johnny Deppy and his sister, Christi Dembrowski, business partners in the production company Infinitum Nihil entered an agreement with Christopher Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment to produce a biopic (biographical motion picture) of Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), to be released by Universal Pictures, as reported by Anthony Breznican in Entertainment Weekly. Illumination Entertainment made the 2012 adaptation of The Lorax (2012), an adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book of the same name on environmentalism.

Depp may star in the film. In 2004, he and his sister founded Infinitum Nihil at Warner Brothers. They produced The Rum Diary (2011) and and helped produce two Tim Burton films which starred Depp: Charley and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Dark Shadows (2012). Marc Graser and Dave McNary reported last year in Variety that the contract with Warner Brothers expired in 2011 and Depp and Ms. Dembrowski had decided to move their production company to Disney, where Depp was separately working on a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film and an adaptation of the musical Into the Woods.