The 2022 Bock Book Award for Children’s Literature will be presented to I Can Help, the tale of a young girl who rediscovers her innate kindness after peer pressure stifles her desire to help others.
In an October 26 ceremony at 10:30 a.m. in the Student Multipurpose Hall, author Reem Faruqi and illustrator Mikela Prevost will accept the prize via Teams from their homes in Georgia and Arizona. Mary Domes will read the book aloud to youngsters from the Child Development Center and second-grade students from Drexel Neumann Academy.
I Can Help tells the story of Zahra, a little girl who enjoys helping others but who starts making choices she regrets when classmates start teasing her for helping a boy with special needs. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “an illuminating glimpse into how a young child learns to trust her instinct and be kind to others.”
School Library Journal says of the book that “Lessons about kindness, regret, and making amends are all here without being the least bit didactic. An excellent conversation starter for any adults who work with groups of children.”
Faruqi is also the author of Lailah's Lunchbox, Amira's Picture Day, Golden Girl, and Unsettled, which is loosely based on Faruqi's own story. Of Pakistani descent, she immigrated to Peachtree City, Georgia, in the United States from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates when she was thirteen years old.
She also has a new non-fiction picture book based on her grandmother, Milloo’s Mind (HarperCollins 2023). She lives with her husband and three daughters in Atlanta.
Mikela Prevost is an author and illustrator currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and their three children. Born and raised in Southern California, she received her BFA from the University of Redlands and an MFA in Illustration from California State University of Fullerton.
Writing and illustrating for children has been her life-long pursuit. She explains that her work is driven “by the desire to capture the whimsical innocence and unique perspective from which a child sees the world.”
The award is named in honor of Frances and Wesley Bock, co-owners of a store in Philadelphia that provided equipment, clothing, and supplies to religious institutions. As a sales representative to the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, they grew to know the Sisters well and began making contributions to the order.
When the Bocks passed away, their estate went to their nephew, William Gagliardi, who was then a Neumann University staff member. In consultation with the university library, Gagliardi established the Bock Book Award for Children’s Literature in their memory.
The award has been presented every year since 2000, with the exception of 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic.