Winners of 3rd annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award honored

Winners of 3rd annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award honored

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, center, with the winners, from left, Cassidy Oliver, Eliana Sasson, Katie Zhao and Nicole Freeley. Photo from Emma Clark Library

On April 27, Emma Clark Library, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School district and guests from the community gathered to honor the winners of the third annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

First Prize Winner Eliana Sasson (grades 7 – 9 category) accepting her check from Karen Shack Reid. Photo from Emma Clark Library

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners’ books — bound and added to the library’s Local Focus Collection — along with $400 scholarships to first-prize winners Eliana Sasson (“We Can Still Be Friends!”) and Katie Zhao (“Claire and Her Bear”)and $100 check for second-prize winners Nicole Freeley (“Sammy the Sock Monkey”) and Cassidy Oliver (“Color Your World”).

Karen Shack Reid, daughter of the late Helen Stein Shack, explained how the endowment was started. “My brother had suggested we needed to do something in Mommy’s memory … we threw around some suggestions, kind of talked about it, reached out to my nieces and my nephews … got a lot of great ideas. That’s how supportive this family is. My oldest nephew, my sister’s son, is a librarian, and he said, ‘Why don’t we do something at Emma S. Clark Library that Zafta — that’s grandma in Hebrew — loves so much? … that just fit.”

First Prize Winner Katie Zhao (grades 10 – 12 category) accepting her check from Karen Shack Reid. Photo from Emma Clark Library

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) spoke at the event, and the winners also received certificates from Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station). Library Board President Linda Josephs, along with Trustees Deborah Blair and Richard Russell, were there to congratulate the winners and Three Village Central School District President of the Board of Education William Connors, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kevin Scanlon, Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher and Gelinas Junior High School Librarian Nicole Connelly were all in attendance.

The Book Contest called for teens in grades 7 through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book. Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort of an author and an illustrator. The contest was divided into two grade categories, grades 7 through 9 and grades 10 through 12, with one first-prize winner and one second-prize winner selected from each group. This award is given in memory of Helen Stein Shack by her family.

Englebright remarked to the winners, “It was an extraordinary level of creativity that you brought to this, and you will continue to show that as you develop your own adult lives and careers, which is part of the genius of this family’s gift: to make an investment into young people like this.”

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