By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education
In any other universe, a park bench might just be a park bench. But this is the universe of a children’s book so the sky is limit, the inanimate objects have real feelings, and, of course, there’s a moral to the story.
Containing those very elements, Washington State University elementary education major Grace Ku has won this year’s Inga Kromann Book Award for her book “The Little Bench.”
Inga Kromann was the children’s literature professor at WSU for 38 years. She created an endowment to support the book contest, which was created by her successor, Jane Kelley, associate professor of children’s literature and literacy in the College of Education.
The contest is open to all undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Teaching and Learning on WSU’s Pullman campus. The book selected for the top Medal Award will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a professionally bound copy of the book. The books selected for Honors Awards will receive a $100 Bookie gift certificate.
“I got this idea from a short 10-minute nap after a long day,” said Ku, who begins her senior year in August. “I was thinking about a park bench and how I’ve seen many people who calmly sit on a bench any time of the day just to relax.”
But that was just the spark, because the story isn’t simply about relaxing on a park bench, but the relationship the park bench has with those who use it.
“Many times, stories have a connection with the little things in our lives,” Ku said. “Some things might not seem that important to people, like a park bench, but when it’s needed, it becomes obvious that the little things do actually matter.”
In the small park, right next to the tall tree, the little bench stands there. The little bench sees so many people every day. Who will the little bench see today? The little bench hopes… he will always be here to make people happy with their memories on the little bench.
As a requirement of all books in the competition, the student must not only tell the story, but do all the artwork. Ku did the drawings in “A Little Bench” in pen outline, filled in with colored pencil. She said she’s always had a passion for drawing.
“Drawing helped me cope with my life obstacles, and now it is a part of me.”
All students within the WSU College of Education’ Department of Teaching and Learning are eligible for the competition, which gives a $1,000 scholarship and a professional bound copy of the book to the winner.
- Jane Kelley, associate professor of children’s literature and literacy, College of Education, 509-335-8852, firstname.lastname@example.org