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Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival April 10-12 at Southern Miss

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Fay B. Kaigler

One of the most anticipated events celebrating children’s literature, the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi, will be held April 10-12 at the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg campus. 

Highlights of this year’s 46th edition of the festival will include awarding of the 2013 Southern Miss Medallion to recipient Jon Scieszka and a musical performance by Grammy-nominated folk-rock children’s music group Trout Fishing in America that will be open to the public. 

This year’s event will be bittersweet, as the festival’s namesake Fay B. Kaigler passed away in 2012. Kaigler, a longtime supporter of the festival, taught in the public schools of California and Mississippi for 33 years. She first attended the festival at the invitation of her friend Ruth Lamont, a children's librarian from Baton Rouge. 

In 1998, Kaigler generously funded the Kaigler-Lamont Award to be given for distinguished service to children by a librarian or teacher and on December 5, 2001, the festival was renamed in honor of Kaigler, who contributed a planned gift to the festival. Her gift will continue the festival's tradition of encouraging writers to strive for excellence in children's literature and of providing information to teachers and librarians.

“We again look forward to this annual celebration of the very best in children’s literature,” said Karen Rowell, festival coordinator. “And while we are saddened at the passing of our event’s namesake, we know Fay Kaigler would be pleased that we continue our work to honor and recognize those who advance the stories and art of this genre.”

This marks the second year of hosting the Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards, co‐presented by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the Southern Miss deGrummond Children's Literature Collection. The Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards for Children's Books recognizes the contributions and influences of Keats' works and highlights the scope of the de Grummond Children's Collection as a repository for Ezra Keats works.

Known collectively as the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the New Writer Award was established in 1985, and the New Illustrator Award in 2001 to recognize and encourage authors and illustrators starting out in the field of children's books. Many past winners of the EJK Book Award have gone on to distinguished careers creating books beloved by parents, children, librarians and teachers across the country. For more information on this award visit http://www.ezra‐jack‐keats.org/news/ezra‐jack‐keats‐award‐winners

As for the festival keynotes, 2013 Southern Miss Medallion recipient Jon Scieszka graduated from Albion College in 1976 and obtained his MFA from Columbia University in 1980. His first book, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, was published in 1989. This book, as well as The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse, and Robot Zot has won multiple awards. Mr. Scieszka is the founder of Guys Read, a literacy program designed to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.

Scieszka was named the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress in 2008.  He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. with his wife Jeri and two children, Casey and Jake.

Other outstanding authors and illustrators scheduled to appear include:

*Candace Fleming awarded herself the Newbery Medal in fifth grade after scraping the gold sticker off the class copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and pasting it onto her first novel—a 10-page, 10-chapter mystery called Who Done It? She’s been collecting awards (her own, not Elizabeth George Speare’s) ever since.  Today, Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including Ben Franklin's Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Gabriella's Song, and When Agnes Caws, all ALA Notable Books. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

*Kathleen T. Horning is the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books (revised edition: HarperCollins, 2010). With Ginny Moore Kruse, she coauthored Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, 1980–1990, and with Ginny Moore Kruse and Megan Schliesman, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, 1991–1996. Horning is a past-president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) of the American Library Association (ALA), and a past president of the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY).

*Ted and Betsy Lewin are a husband and wife team of writers and illustrators who have collaborated on a number of books based upon their travels. The first, Gorilla Walk, was named a Smithsonian Notable Book. Since then, they have collaborated on four other books, including the award-winning Horse Song. Each is also independently the author and/or illustrator of a number of books. Betsy Lewin’s most recent books include You Can Do It! and Where Is Tippy Toes? and has illustrated a number of books for other authors, including the Click, Clack, Moo series by Darlene Cronin. Ted Lewin recently authored Look! and Stable and illustrated The World’s Greatest Lion (Ralph Helfer) and The Longest Night (Marion Dane Bauer) among many others.

*Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels. Lin's 2010 Newbery Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was chosen for Al Roker's Today Show Kid's Book Club and was a New York Times Bestseller. Ling & Ting, Grace's first early reader, was honored with the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011. Starry River of the Sky, her most recent book, was released in October 2012. An Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the U.S., most of Lin's books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, "Books erase bias, they make the uncommon every day and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal." See more about Lin and her work at www.gracelin.com.

*Wendell Minor is the illustrator of many award-winning picture books for children, such as Mojave by Diane Siebert, Abe Lincoln Remembers by Ann Turner, The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow, and Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin, as well as numerous books about the outdoors with his frequent collaborator, Jean Craighead George, including Luck: The Story of a Sandhill Crane.  The Minors live in Connecticut, where they share their home, and studio, with their cats Sofie and Cindercat.  Minor’s latest title is If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

*Eric Rohmann received a Caldecott Honor in 1999 for Time Flies and the 2003 Caldecott Medal for My Friend Rabbit. Besides being an author, Rohmann is also a painter and a former teacher. When asked why he writes and illustrates children’s books, Rohmann answers, “Children are the best audience: they are curious, enthusiastic, impulsive, generous, and pleased by simple joys. They laugh easily at the ridiculous and are willing to believe the absurd.” Rohmann lives in Chicago, Illinois. (http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/birthbios/brthpage/10oct/10-26rohmann.html)

*Trout Fishing in America has more than 30 years of unique musical experience, capped by their most recent release, a children’s book/CD combo entitled Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important. Over their musical career, they have been nominated for four Grammys, as well as being nominated for numerous other awards. They have been featured on The Today Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, and The Dr. Demento Show, among others.

A discounted registration rate is available for Southern Miss faculty and staff ($75) and students ($40) for the entire three days of the conference, excluding luncheons. For more information about the 46th annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, visit www.usm.edu/childrens-book-festival.