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Annual Fay B. Kaigler Book Festival to Feature Prominent Authors, Illustrators April 7-9 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, March 12, 2010
Contact David Tisdale, 601.266.4499   

Devotees of children’s literature will make their annual pilgrimage to Hattiesburg and The University of Southern Mississippi to celebrate the work of some of the genre’s top authors and illustrators April 7-9 at the Thad Cochran Center.

Now in its 43rd year, the university’s annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival is recognized as one of the top events of its kind. Approximately 500 teachers and librarians from across the country attend each year for two days of workshops and concurrent sessions featuring presentations by renowned authors, illustrators, storytellers and experts in children’s literature. Southern Miss faculty, staff, students and community members are also invited to participate.

Presented by the School of Library and Information Science, the festival annually presents its Southern Miss Medallion in honor of the work of a recognized author or illustrator in children’s literature. This year’s recipient is David Wiesner, illustrator of more than 20 books for children and only the second three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

“The list of people who have received it (Southern Miss Medallion) is certainly a who’s who of authors and illustrators in the field, and many are friends and people I admire. It’s just an amazing honor to be included among them,” said Wiesner.

Children’s literature events like the one at Southern Miss provide opportunities to learn more about and meet the up-and-coming authors and illustrators in the field, according to Wiesner. “I love to go and hear what everyone else is doing. There’s just an incredible range and variety of approaches to the work and the processes that go on for each author and illustrator,” he said.

“It’s an amazingly rich field because the level of creativity is really remarkable.”   

Such events are also opportunities for authors and illustrators to educate the public about what goes into creating award-winning children’s literature, he said. “You still run into audiences that say “wow, I never had any idea about all that went into making a good children’s book,’ so there’s a lingering idea out there that it’s easy, but it takes every ounce of talent and creativity I have to produce one.”

Karen Rowell, assistant director for the festival, said this year’s edition of the event is especially significant with the university celebrating its Centennial anniversary. “The festival has been and is an important event in the life of the university,” she said. “Through it, we support the university’s educational mission by promoting and supporting the work of authors and illustrators who enrich the lives of young people and plant the seed for love of the written word.”

Wiesner’s most recent popular works include “Tuesday,” “The Three Pigs” and “Flotsam” with two more, “Sector 7” and “Free Fall” earning the Caldecott Honor Book award. He is also a three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, only the second person to achieve this feat. Wienser is also a past recipient of an International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) honor the Japan Picture Book Award, and the Prix Sorcieres, the French equivalent of the Caldecott Medal.

This year’s festival will feature a presentation by the event’s first Colleen Salley Storyteller, Walter M. Mayes, a popular performer, writer, children’s literacy advocate and educator whose signature rallying cry is “Love, food, shelter, clothing…BOOKS!” He is the co-author of Valerie & Walter’s Best Books for Children, and the picture book Walter the Giant Storyteller’s Giant Book of Giant Stories, illustrated by Kevin O’Malley.

The Colleen Salley Storyteller designation honors the late Salley, a supporter of the festival who was famed for her colorful personality and enthusiastic support of children’s literature. She served as a distinguished professor of children’s literature at the University of New Orleans for 30 years.

The festival began as a way to showcase Southern Miss’ renowned de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, considered a leading research center in the field of children’s literature. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, it was established to preserve the primary literature of children and young adults and serve as a valuable resource for researchers of children’s literature. It includes some of the original work of H.A. and Margret Rey, creators of “Curious George.”

In 2001, the festival was named in honor of retired elementary school teacher Fay B. Kaigler, a native Mississippian and longtime supporter of the festival and Southern Miss who taught in the public schools of California and Mississippi for 33 years. The festival’s Kaigler-Lamont Award recognizes teachers and librarians for distinguished accomplishments in promoting children's reading.

In addition to Wiesner and Mayes, the distinguished lineup of presenters at this year’s festival includes:

Richard Peck
Peck, the 1991 recipient of the Southern Miss Medallion, tries to “give readers leading characters they can look up to and reasons to believe that problems can be solved.” He has also received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Newbery Award, a Newbery Honor, the Christopher Medal, and an Edgar Award. He was the 1991 Southern Miss Medallion recipient.

Lulu Delacre
Lulu Delacre’s art reflects and celebrates the folktales, songs, and dances of her native Puerto Rico. Her first foray into young adult literature, Alicia Afterimage, holds a unique perspective on grief and loss for both teens and adults. The many accolades she has received include three Pura Belprè honors for illustration for The Storyteller's Candle: La velita de los cuentos; The Bossy Gallito--El Gallo de Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale and Arrorró mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. Her works have also been recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English, the New York Public Library, and the International Reading Association.

Frank McGarvey
After retiring from the United States Postal Service, Frank McGarvey volunteered at a local elementary school in the Columbus, Ohio area. Having always had a love for books and a desire to give back to his community, he felt it was important to help share the love of books and reading to small children. He is currently a member of the Storytellers of Central Ohio and still takes the time to read two or three times a week to children at the elementary school. Every summer Frank and other local storytellers join with community organizations in the area to provide literacy outreach for underprivileged children as part of Columbus Story Adventurers.

Dan Yaccarino
The artistic style of author, illustrator, and television producer Dan Yaccarino is known for its simple designs, primary colors, and 1950s imagery. He considers himself a creator of images and teller of stories and has published over three dozen books and is the producer of such cartoons as “Oswald,” “The Backyardigans,” and “Willa’s Wild Life.” He describes himself as a traditionalist who is only now learning to use Photoshop, but the majority of his published artwork is still created by hand.

Sharon Draper
As a high school English teacher in her native Ohio, Draper once accepted a student’s challenge to “write something sometime” and entered a short story contest for Ebony magazine. To her surprise, her essay “One Small Torch” took first prize, igniting a spark within the teacher and thus beginning her writing career.  In 1994 her first children’s book, Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs, as well as her first young adult novel, Tears of a Tiger, were published. Since then she has produced an extensive list of literary works and received multiple awards and honors for her books.

Draper’s visit to the festival is made possible with assistance from Edie Greene of Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Green produces Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Emmy-winning series “Writers,” which is spotlighting children’s literature authors and illustrators.

Maureen Johnson
As a young girl, Johnson knew she wanted to write. As an author of numerous novels and short stories for young adults, she captures her imagination, her love for the wild and unusual, and her many varied and fantastic experiences, and shapes them into her own stories and novels. She explores the many values of family and friendship in unique, comical, and often fantastic settings in her writing. Her wit and unusual sense of humor, as well as her unique understanding of teenage girls, make her novels both wildly unexpected and comfortingly familiar. She blogs at

Charles Ghigna (Father Goose) is the author of more than 40 books which have been featured on ABC’s "Good Morning America," PBS and NPR, selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club and received the Parents' Choice Book Award and the National Parenting Honor Award. His poems for children and adults have appeared in hundreds of textbooks, anthologies, magazines and even in the national SAT and ACT tests. He has served as poetry editor of The English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English and has presented poetry programs at the Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Library in Paris, and the International Schools of South America, among hundreds of other venues.

For more information about the festival, including a tentative schedule and registration, online visit For more information about the Southern MIss School of Library and Information Science, online visit

David Wiesner, recipient of the 2010 Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival’s Southern Miss Medallion. (Submitted photo)

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at
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