2021 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards

Book of the Year

Graphic showing the cover of the graphic novel along with a photo of the creators

Displacement by Kiku Hughes (Macmillan Publishers)

Mosaic Award

Graphic showing the cover of the graphic novel along with a photo of the creators

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (RH Graphic – Random House Children’s Books Imprint)

EGL Advisory Board

Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand, 2020 EGL Awards Advisory Board

Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand is a Sicangu Lakota and Cherokee artist that hails from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for community and social justice has led her to speak on matters of equality and cultural representation in pop culture. She has spoken on such matters at colleges, schools, conventions, and art festivals. She studied Media Arts and Animation for four years at the Art Institute of Colorado and is an entrepreneur with big dreams. Kristina has started two businesses: Bad Hand Illustrations, in which she works freelance in illustration and as a graphic designer specializing in branding, product and logo design; and áyA Studios LLC, a publishing and media company that focuses on the empowerment and enrichment of independent artists. She has 10 years of experience in after-school and summer programs — most notably for her work with Pop Culture Classroom in their comic-based literacy curriculum and as a Community Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education; providing social-emotional, cultural, and academic support through arts to American Indian students K-12. Currently, she spends her time as a Teaching Artist with Think 360 Arts, works part-time as a Substance Abuse Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education, and collaborates with many different arts and community organizations in the Denver Metro area.

Jim McClain is a writer, game designer, graphic novel creator, and retired middle school teacher. His math superhero graphic novel, Solution Squad, was a finalist in the inaugural Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards. He has spoken on the use of comics to teach mathematics from coast to coast.

Jim McClain - Middle Grade Jury, EGL Awards
JJ Babb, 2020 EGL Awards Advisory Board

JJ Babb has developed, implemented, and presented nationally an integrated Social EmotionalLearning and literature curriculum for high-risk students at one of the nation’s largest school districts. This curriculum relies on graphic novels to drive reluctant readers’ interest. JJ is earning her EdD in Educational Equity at the University of Colorado-Denver

Joe Pascullo is a young adult librarian at the Grand Central branch of the New York Public Library, as well as the host of the podcast Manga Monthly. This is his second year assisting Pop Culture Classroom in bringing you the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.

Joe Pascullo, 2020 EGL Awards Advisory Board

2021 Jurors

Children’s Awards Jury

Tracy Edmunds, Chair - Children's Jury, 2020 EGL Awards

Tracy Edmunds, M.A. Ed. (Chair) is an educational author and curriculum specialist. In her 12 years as an elementary teacher, she experienced first-hand the power of comics in teaching and learning and now works to help other educators put that power to work for their students. Learn more at tracyedmunds.com

Jessica Ruskin (Assistant Chair) received her BA, summa cum laude, from Cornell University and went on to get her Master’s degree in Museum Education from George Washington University. She has been putting her education to good use working at the Smithsonian Institution, Kidspace Children’s Museum, the Exploratorium, and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center where she has worked as the education director for the past 15 years. Jessica also spent time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity through the AmeriCorps national service program and, more recently, with her children’s schools, coordinating their annual fundraisers, teaching art to kids, and designing the yearbook. Jessica lives in Santa Rosa, CA with her two children, two dogs, two cats, a leopard gecko, and beta fish.

Hadiya Evans is a reference librarian at the Denver Public Library, with a MA and MLIS in Library Information. She is a librarian with a passion and commitment to engagement that is rooted in nurturing collaborative partnerships and creating relevant and community-focused programming.

Tia Kimball is a lecturer at the University of North Florida and enjoys reading graphic novels. Discovering new graphic novel titles for the English language learners that she works with at a local elementary school is a hobby of hers. The EGL Awards are her favorite time of the year!

Tia Kimball - Children's Jury, 2020 EGL Awards
Jameka Lewis, Children's Jury, 2020

Jameka B. Lewis is a native of Guthrie, OK. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Langston University and obtained a Master of Library Science degree from Texas Women’s University in 2012. Currently, she is the Senior Librarian at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library. She enjoys educating lifelong learners and has recently begun offering courses related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries. She serves as a regular guest speaker at community events and is a regular talkback guest for the Denver Center of the Performing Arts. In her spare time, Jameka enjoys researching materials and artifacts pertaining to African and African American history. She is an admirer and forever student in the area of Black History. and research. Notably, Jameka is the mother to Corrina and puppy mother to her Shi Chi Max. She is the Founder of Give a Child a Library, an organization that provides free books to K-12 children around the country.

John Shableski is a public library and educational industry veteran who has worked in library & educational wholesale, book distribution, and publishing. He created library grant programs, industry awards, comics conventions, and hundreds of hours of professional development programs for national and international trade shows, conferences, and conventions. He has served as an advisor for Book Expo American and EveryLibrary.org and helped launch the Will Eisner ALA Graphic Novel Pictures. He has been a jury member for Eisner Awards and the 2020 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize. His ultimate objective is to help struggling students discover their joy of learning.

Middle-Grade Awards Jury

Dr. Stergios Botzakis (Chair) is a Theory and Practice in Teacher Education professor at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His areas of expertise are content area literacy, middle school education, working with struggling adolescent readers, and new literacies. His research interests include middle and secondary education, adolescent literacies, popular culture, graphic novels, and media literacy. He has been published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Reading Research Quarterly, Review of Research in Education, English Journal, Language Arts, The ALAN Review, and Teacher Education Quarterly among other venues. He blogs regularly.

Jason D. DeHart has been reading comics since he was seven. DeHart holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and he currently teaches courses in upper-elementary literacy, middle school language arts methods, and adolescent literacy. Dr.DeHart served as a middle school English teacher for eight years

Jason Dehart, Middle Grade Jury, 2020 EGL Awards
Mike Pawuk — Middle Grade Jury, 2020 EGL Awards

Mike Pawuk is a teen services librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library system in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the co-author of the recently published Libraries Unlimited book Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, 2nd edition and contributes to School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids blog. He has been a longtime supporter of graphic novels in libraries with the American Library Association and YALSA, helping to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens award and the Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable, and has also served on award committees including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

Karina Quilantan-Garza, or Mrs. Q. as her students like to call her, is an award-winning librarian, international & keynote presenter, and digital certification enthusiast. Karina maintains a blog, www.cuethelibrarian.com, with her current reads, favorite tech, presentations, and more. When she isn’t saving the world one book at a time she can be found reading comic books and graphic novels or playing Animal Crossing on her comfy couch. Follow Karina Q at @cuethelibrarian.

Karina Quilantan-Garza
Sarah Gaetano

Sarah Gaetano has been teaching English Language Arts for 20 years at Clinton Central School in central New York. She works to increase literacy while making connections with the community. Reading graphic novels did not come naturally to Sarah; she followed the interests of her four children in the graphic novel section in the library and she was hooked. So she brought them to the classroom and immediately saw increased student literacy. Recognizing the value, Sarah worked to introduce graphic novels to the school, in all subject areas.

Elizabeth Palmer is a Young Adult Specialist from the small town of Pinedale, WY, where they wrangle teens, graphic novels, and the occasional preschooler at the Sublette County Library. As of now, they are leveling up in cross-country skiing, hoop embroidery, and last-minute cosplay. Ask them about Dragon Age.

John Meier is a tenured Librarian and the Head of STEM, Engagement, and Outreach at Penn State University. He helped found the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year and served on the inaugural jury. He served on the initial years of EBSCO’s SEE-IT graphic novel award jury. John is a contributing editor to the Graphic Novel Core Collections reference book. He has conducted research and written about comics in academic libraries. John has taught a first-year seminar in Japanese pop culture and is currently teaching course-related instruction for game studies courses.

Young Adult Awards Jury

Cait Zaksheske Chair) has been the librarian at Yuma High School in Yuma, Arizona since 2014. Prior to moving to the high school library environment, she was a librarian at the Mercyhurst University of Pennsylvania. Cait began her adventure into the wonderful world of graphic novels when she won the Will Eisner Foundation’s Graphic Novel Growth Grant for the Yuma High Library in 2015. Thanks to the initial support of the Eisner Foundation grant, she has since expanded her library’s graphic novel collection to be the largest in her school district. This expansive graphic-novel collection has allowed Cait to engage reluctant readers and SEI/ESL students as well as students who may have never considered picking up a graphic novel. Cait’s students devour comics; she enjoys utilizing comics to inspire a love of reading and to help boost her student’s confidence in their own literacy skills. Cait is also the winner of the 2017 Dollar General LiteracyGrant and the 2020 Education Foundation of Yuma County Mini-Grant. Additionally, Cait has participated in multiple panels regarding the benefits of graphic novels to help spread the good word about comics! In previous years she has served on the EGL YA Jury as assistant chair and juror. 

Cait Zaksheske, Assistant Chair - Young Adult Jury, 2020 EGL Awards
Matthew Galloway, Chair, Adult Jury, 2020 EGL Awards

Matthew Galloway (Chair) is a librarian at Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colorado. Part of his job involves choosing which adult fiction materials to purchase for the library system, which includes graphic literature. Prior to joining the library field, he was an archaeologist, a journalist, and a bit of a rover.

Candy Markle has countable years of bookstore and library experience, as well as a background in social justice. As an educator with Pop Culture Classroom, she has taught literacy through graphic novels to all ages, including teens and adults in detention. She was featured in the 2017 book, This Is What a Librarian Looks Like, published by Black Dog & Leventhal.

Candy Markle
Jenny Harmon - Middle Grade Jury, 2020 EGL Awards

Jenny Harmon is a recently retired teacher of pregnant and parenting teens in a California public high school. She taught many subjects through the years, including English and Language Arts. She became a fan of graphic literature when she met Maggie and Hopey in the early 1980s.

Kaitlyn Roach’s bio is coming soon.

Claudia McGivney

Claudia McGivney is an academic librarian. She has taught courses on graphic literature, the hero’s journey, and sci-fi/fantasy. An advocate for the use of comics in education she has spoken on the use of anime and graphic literature at ALA, NYCC, and SDCC. She holds an MSLIS, MA, and is completing a Ph.D. in Literacy with a focus on graphic literature.

Adult Awards Jury

Michael Gianfrancesco (Assistant Chair) has been a high school English teacher in Rhode Island and adjunct professor for 15 years. He advocates for teaching with comics and has curated programming at Harvard, Brown, Fordham, SDCC, NYCC, C2E2, DPCC, ALA, NEATE, NCTE, and other events. He is also a founding member of the LitX teacher cohort.

Michael Gianfrancesco, Assistant Chair, Adult Jury, 2020 EGL Awards
David Serchay, Adult Jury, 2020 EGL Awards

David S. Serchay is a librarian in the Broward County Library (FL) Library System, where his responsibilities include selecting graphic novels. He is the author of The Librarian’s Guide to Graphics Novels for Children and ‘Tweens and The Librarian’s Guide to Graphic Novels for Adults, and co-author of Graphic Novels: A Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, 2nd Edition. He has also contributed to various reference books on graphic novels, including The Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Comics Through Time, Icons of the American Comic Book, and multiple volumes of The Critical Survey of Graphic Novels. He has spoken on the topic of graphic novels and libraries at ALA conferences and the San Diego Comic-Con as well as in libraries around Florida. He has been a reader of comics since childhood and lives in South Florida with his wife and twin daughters. This is his third year as an EGL Juror.

S.E. Fleenor is the managing editor of Bella Media Channel and their writing has appeared in ElectricLiterature, Vice, Xtra Magazine, Upworthy, and them.us. Fleenor co-hosts the podcast Bitches on Comics and is a staff writer for SYFY WIRE’S FANGRRLS. Learn more about them at: SEFleenor.com

S.E. Fleenor, Adult Jury, 2020 EGL Awards
Heidi Lopez Schubert

Heidi Lopez Schubert is a born and raised Chicagoan. A fan of comics since being introduced by her mother to the Archies and Italian Donald Duck comics from local grocery stores around the age of 4, she continues to enjoy a wide variety of graphic literature. Heidi shares her love of graphic literature with her students and is a special education teacher for middle grades at a Chicago Public School.

Kimberly Brosan Kimberly Brosan is the secondary school’s Teacher-Librarian in Williamsport (PA) Area School District. She developed the district’s first graphic collection at Curtin Middle School in 2007 with a district mini-grant to introduce the medium to students and work with the art teacher to help students create their own drawings. She continued to develop collections at the High School when she moved to that building in 2010 and expanded the collection at the Middle School when that building became part of her responsibilities in 2018. She also sponsored the High School Manga and Anime Club until her job was split between two buildings.

Kimberly Brosan

About the Awards

Since 2017, the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards has worked with dozens of prestigious jurors from across the world, received hundreds of submitted titles, and recognized some of the most innovative, exciting, and educational graphic literature being published today!

In addition to receiving the prestigious Excellence in Graphic Literature Award, winning and nominated titles earn the honor of including a cover medallion on all prints. This medallion is also intended to make it easier for families, teachers, librarians, and all-aged readers to identify the highest quality titles, which in turn benefits the entire industry through increased sales and growth.

The goals of the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards are to:

  1. Help educators and librarians identify high-quality graphic literature to bring into diverse educational settings
  2. Help define and grow awareness for quality graphic literature
  3. Help graphic novel publishers increase their sales and growth potential with libraries and schools.

In support of this two-fold vision, the program is designed to create or improve market awareness of new titles, extend the sales windows and increase momentum for existing titles, and amplify and confirm publishers’ content strategies and marketing decisions as they apply to librarians and educators.