September 30, 2014  

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Keats Book Awards Move to de Grummond Collection at Southern Miss

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The medallion, which features an image of Peter, the main character of Keats’ beloved classic The Snowy Day, is applied to the covers of the winning books. This year’s winners will be announced next April during USM’s Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival.

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation proudly announced today that The Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Book Awards have moved to the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries from the New York Public Library. 

Known collectively as The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the 2012 ceremony will be held in conjunction with The University of Southern Mississippi's Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival next April 12, 2012.

“As the major repository for Ezra’s work and a leader in the world of children’s literature, the de Grummond is a natural partner for us to further Ezra’s legacy through the Book Award,” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.  “Over the years, this Book Award has continued the work Ezra began 50 years ago when he forever changed the world of children’s literature with his Caldecott award-winning book, The Snowy Day—the first book in mainstream literature to feature a child of color.”

Since 1985, the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award has been given annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator of picture books for children (age 9 and under) by The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by the late Keats and dedicated to enhancing the love of reading and learning in all children.

“We are delighted to be co-presenting the Book Award with The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation,” said Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.  “Through his writing and art, Ezra broke down racial barriers to include all children in picture books—a first in the genre. We look forward to supporting the next generation of fine authors and illustrators who will make a difference in children’s lives in their own way, just as Ezra did.”

Pope added, “We are so pleased to have had a part in nurturing the careers of several notable writers and illustrators.”  Such past winners of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award include:

  • Valerie Flournoy—New Writer—The Patchwork Quilt—1986
  • Faith Ringgold—New Writer—Tar Beach—1993
  • Bryan Collier—New Illustrator—Uptown—2001
  • Jerome Lagarrigue—New Illustrator and Deborah Wiles—New Writer—Freedom Summer—2002
  • Sophie Blackall—New Illustrator—Ruby’s Wish—2003
  • Ana Juan—New Illustrator—The Night Eater—2005
  • David Ezra Stein—New Writer—Leaves—2008

The Book Award was created to recognize and encourage budding children’s book authors and illustrators who share Keats’ values—the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. 

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Criteria

To be eligible for The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, writers and illustrators must have published no more than three books. Entries must have a 2011 copyright date, and may be sent at any time during the year prior to the deadline of December 30, 2011.  In addition to the Award, the winners—one children’s book writer and one illustrator—will receive an honorarium of $1,000.  The selection committee is comprised of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children’s literature.

For more information about submissions, visit: http://www.lib.usm.edu/~degrum/html/keats_illus.shtml.

For a complete list of Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winners, visit http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/news/ezra-jack-keats-award-winners/.

About The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, founded by noted children’s book writer and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, is a non-profit that exists solely to bring the joy of reading and learning to all children.  In addition to the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the Foundation sponsors the Ezra Jack Keats/New York Department of Education Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12, and the Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program for public schools and public libraries across the nation, among others.  For information about the Foundation please visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.

About the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection

The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection is one of North America’s leading research centers in the field of children’s literature. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, the Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1300 authors and illustrators, as well as 180,000+ published books dating from 1530 to the present.

The main focus of the Collection is on American and British children's literature, historical and contemporary. The de Grummond Collection is housed in the McCain Library and Archives on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Since 1985, the de Grummond Collection has been the home of the Ezra Jack Keats Archive, which includes manuscripts, typescripts, sketches, dummies, illustrations, and proofs for 37 books written and/or illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. Also included are his personal papers, personal and professional correspondence, fan mail and artwork from children, photographs and childhood memorabilia. Complementing the artwork created for children's books are numerous examples of his easel art, dating back to his high school years.