Announcing the 2018 Winners of the Sonia Lynn Sadler Award for Children’s Book Illustrations

Sonia Lynn Sadler Award winners
Award winners Gordon C. James and Daria Peoples-Riley hold their awards, together with Sonia Lynn Sadler’s parents and author Jen Cullerton Johnson.

Children’s book illustrators Gordon C. James  and Daria Peoples-Riley recently received the Sonia Lynn Sadler Awards during Salisbury University’s 17th annual Children’s and Young Adult Literature Festival.

James has illustrated several children’s books, most recently Derrick Barnes’ Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, named a Newberry and Caldecott Honor book. It also has earned the Coretta Scott King and Ezra Jack Keats Book awards.

Other books illustrated by the Charlotte, NC, artist include David Adler’s Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella and several titles in the Scraps of Time series by Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack. He also has illustrated greeting cards for Hallmark, among other projects.

Peoples-Riley is the author and illustrator of This Is It, a picture book celebrating individuality, self-expression and dance, inspired by her daughter. The Las Vegas artist has planned a companion book for  release in 2019. She also is the illustrator of the forthcoming What Gloria Heard, a picture book biography about the life and work of Gloria Steinem, by Jessica Rinker.

Sonia Lynn Sadler

Sonia Lynn Sadler was the illustrator of Seeds of Change (2011), a seminal work promoting environmental stewardship for children. While she died of cancer in 2013, her work continues to inspire many illustrators to explore diversity, social justice and the environment.

The award is given annually in Sonia Lynn Sadler’s honor to illustrators of diverse backgrounds who are starting out in children’s books and addresses social justice themes in ways that engage young audiences. It was initiated by Seeds of Change author Jen Cullerton Johnson, who invited Salisbury University to work with her to launch it.

Sadler’s parents, Wellington and Inez Sadler, presented the awards to James and Peoples-Riley.

For more information about the Sonia Lynn Sadler Award or to nominate a children’s book illustration, go to or contact Jen Cullerton Johnson at