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Released April 19, 2004


By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - For author Lois Lowry, being named the 35th Southern Miss Children's Book Festival Silver Medallion winner is a validation of her work in the field of children's literature.

"It's an award not just for a book, but for a whole body of work, for someone who's been plugging away for many years," she said. "That's really important to an author."

Lowry was awarded the 1994 Newbery Medal for The Giver and the 1990 Newbery Medal for Number the Stars. She lives and writes in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her latest work is The Silent Boy.

She praised the efforts of Southern Miss in hosting the festival. This year the event was held at the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention Center, where Lowry addressed more than 600 visitors at the eventl.

"It's great to see so many people enthused about literature for children," she said.

Lowry cited an increase in honesty and less moralism as some of the biggest changes in children's literature over the years. And in an age of increasing violence both at home and around the world, children are able to turn to books to help them cope. "There's more awareness that children are faced with very uncertain and difficult times now, and can use literature to find ways to deal with those things," she said.

The festival, now known as the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival, includes an award that recognizes the distinguished accomplishments in promoting children's reading by librarians and teachers in Mississippi schools and by children's librarians in the public libraries of Mississippi. The financial support of Kaigler of Gloster, a retired educator, has made the award possible.

This year's winner was Gerrie Weldon, a librarian at Bayou View Elementary in Gulfport. She received $1,000 with the award, half of which she will use to provide additional books for her library. She is the sixth recipient of the award.

"It's an honor to be chosen among such hard-working people who connect children to books everyday of their lives," Weldon said.

Kaigler is well known for her love of children. In retirement, she continues to promote books and reading in her local public library. Her friend, Ruth Lamont, who for many years was a successful school librarian in Baton Rouge, La., shares her passion for making books integral to children's lives. The Kaigler-Lamont Award recognizes distinguished accomplishments in promoting children's reading by librarians and teachers in Mississippi schools and by children's librarians in the public libraries of the state.


OCEAN SPRINGS -- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on Wednesday, March 10.

He will present a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at 7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.

Admission to the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003 photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer questions and sign his books during the reception following his slide show.

The registration fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL. Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees of skill.

"The beginners will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."

Ulrich said participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.

Topics include a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition, use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography, techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide etiquette, the photography business and marketing.

Ulrich grew up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with nature photography for the past 29 years.

His library of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana Outdoors and Life.

He has published six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.

"Tom earns his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural behavior."

The GCRL is home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the laboratory at (228) 872-4200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM