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Released March 18, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- It began 37 years ago, a small event at The University of Southern Mississippi designed to give area school librarians and educators an up-close look at the latest works of authors and artists in the field of children's literature.

The 37th Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival, to be held March 31, April 1 and 2 at the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention Center, will include hundreds of visitors from all over the country, a testament to the growing popularity of the festival. This year's festival will include seven national speakers, 16 workshops, two luncheons, a storytelling performance, and an evening gala.

"The festival is intended to inspire, invigorate, and educate professionals who work with children every day, and to pass along their love of books and reading to children in schools and libraries," said Dr. Rosemary Chance, assistant professor in the Southern Miss School of Library Science.

The festival is sponsored in part by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and by Fay B. Kaigler, a retired elementary school teacher who lives in McComb. All festival events will take place in the convention center. Participants will have two opportunities to visit the Southern Miss campus to view the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection (in McCain Library) and the Children's Book Review Center (in Cook Library).

Festival events begin Wednesday afternoon, March 31, with registration, book sales, and a choice of four one-hour concurrent workshops: "Picture Books and Beyond"; "Storytelling with Pizazz"; "Put a Story in Your Pocket"; and "Coretta Scott King Awards." At 7 p.m., Ann St. Romain, a master storyteller who is also a former children's librarian from Baton Rouge, will present a storytelling performance entitled "Once Upon a Shoe."

Thursday, April 1, will include the largest attendance of the three days. Jerry Pinkney, an award-winning illustrator, is the 36th recipient of the Southern Miss Silver Medallion, which will be presented to him at a general session beginning at 9 a.m. followed by a speech entitled, "A Sense of Place." Pinkney has won five Randolph Caldecott Honor Books for his beautiful illustrations. His most frequently used medium is watercolor.

During the same session Vickie Ross, a branch librarian from Okolona, will be presented with the Kaigler-Lamont Award, which recognizes librarians and teachers who promote children's reading.

Southern Miss students, faculty, and staff may attend four general sessions for no charge, including the storytelling session, the Silver Medallion session, Robert Sabuda's session, and the Keats Lecture. Students, faculty, and staff may register for all sessions, including workshops for $20. There is a $15 charge per luncheon - Thursday and Friday; the charge for the gala evening on Thursday, featuring a speaker and dessert reception, is $10. Southern Miss personnel must be registered to add these food events.

Sumrall High School librarian Joree Bryant, a Southern Miss alumnus who has attended the event in the past, also plans to take part in this year's festival. She believes the event is a great way to show support for the work of children's literature authors and artists, and to provide inspiration for future generations who choose children's literature as a career.

"We're lucky to have this festival in our area," Bryant said. "I've been going since about 1994, and I look forward to meeting the authors and artists, hearing speeches, finding out where they get their ideas and seeing their artwork.

"Another important aspect is getting to network with other school librarians, and find out what works for students in their libraries," she said.

For more information on the festival, including registration information call (601) 266-4228 or visit


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM