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Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival

2019 Keynote Lineup

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The Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival is THE place to meet nationally known authors, illustrators, and storytellers! 

Tamora Pierce

2019 Southern Miss Medallion Winner

Tamora Pierce is the award-winning author of over thirty fantasy novels for young adults. Her realistic portrayals of strong young women in non-traditional roles have spoken to countless fantasy readers who see themselves in her characters. Focusing on adding realism to the genre, she doesn't shy away from including the experiences and issues that young women face in daily life in her stories. Her world building has given readers the Tortall and the Circle universes, which include the Song of the Lioness quartet, Circle of Magic quartet, and the Legend of Beka Cooper series, among many others. Her newest series The Numair Chronicles takes her into new territory, exploring the early life of one of her most beloved male protagonists, Numair Salmalin. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Margaret A. Edwards award for her significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature, and is a New York Times #1 Best Seller. She currently resides in Syracuse, New York, with her husband Tim and a small band of cats, pigeons, and woodland creatures. 

Sophie Blackall

2019 de Grummond Lecturer

Sophie Blackall hails from Brooklyn via Australia and recently won her second Caldecott Medal for Hello Lighthouse, a book that she also wrote. An artist with a Bachelor of Design degree, Sophie began her career illustrating for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others, and animated nine television commercials in the UK. A former recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats Award for Illustration (Ruby's Wish, 2002), Sophie has continued to delight everyone with her immense talent over the years. She has illustrated over thirty books for children, including Jacqueline Woodson's Pecan Pie Baby and the New York Times bestselling Ivy and Bean series, written by Annie Barrows. Sophie won her first Caldecott Award in 2016 for Lindsay Mattick's Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

Brian Floca

Trains, trucks, racecars, rockets, and ships: travel and modes of transportation are recurring themes in the books Brian Floca has both written and illustrated. His nonfiction picture book, Locomotive, garnered the 2014 Caldecott Medal and a Robert F. Sibert Honor Award, among other accolades. He also received Sibert Honor Awards for his books, Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 and Lightship, and for his illustrations in Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Though best known for his picture books, Floca has also illustrated novels, most notably Avi's Poppy and the other five books in the Poppy Stories series and Old Wolf. Whether he is creating double-page spreads or spot illustrations, his work conveys impressively precise details, while offering a sense of fluidity and movement that advances each story. Floca resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he writes and illustrates full-time. 

Kevin Lewis

For over two decades, Kevin Lewis has been one of the most highly regarded children's book editors in the industry. At Scholastic Inc., he worked with Dav Pilkey on the original Captain Underpants. At Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, where he served as an Editorial Director, Kevin worked with a veritable who's who of authors and illustrators including Laurie Halse Anderson (Fever 1793, Chains), Spike and Tonya Lee (Please Baby Please), Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), Derek Anderson and Lauren Thompson (Little Quack), Alex Sanchez (Rainbow Boys), Jim Benton (Franny K. Stein) Angela Johnson, Kadir Nelson, Cynthia Rylant, and Loren Long. As an Executive Editor at Disney Press, Kevin developed and produced the Vampirina Ballerina series and edited books by Matthew Cordell, Barney Saltzberg, and Chris Barton. In 2018, Kevin became an agent for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, primarily focusing on writer-illustrators and diverse voices. These days, Kevin lives in Newburgh, New York in a two hundred year old farmhouse with his husband, Phil and dog named Kat. 

 Bweela Steptoe

2019 Ezra Jack Keats Lecture

Bweela Steptoe walks the creative realm with ease. She is the daughter of two very different artists and tells her story through the designs she creates. Her father, the illustrator John Steptoe, gained fame in the 70's and 80's for his children's books. Bweela's mother, Stephanie Douglas, is a collagist and painter whose work speaks to the richness of her urban experience. Bweela is a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, where she received degrees in Accessory and Knitwear Design. At FIT, Bweela acquired knowledge in all aspects of the fashion industry. Since graduating, Bweela has been designing for private clients, as well as selling out of several small boutiques in New York City, including locations in Brooklyn, where the designer also resides. Bweela Steptoe's rags-to-riches style aims to express a kind of inner city resourcefulness she calls "Urban Deconstruction." As the designer likes to say, "Life is about survival, but to do it with style makes the difference." 

Javaka Steptoe Javaka Steptoe won the 2017 Caldecott Medal for his picture book biography Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The book won many other honors, too, including the 2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and multiple starred reviews. His debut picture book, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, earned him a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, in addition to a nomination for Outstanding Children's Literature Work at the 1998 NAACP Image Awards. Since that time, Steptoe has illustrated and/or written more than a dozen books for youth readers, collaborating with some of the top names in the business—Walter Dean Myers, Nikki Grimes and Karen English. Javaka Steptoe travels extensively reading and conducting workshops at schools, libraries, museums, and conferences across the country and internationally. 

 William Joyce

10th Annual Coleen Salley Storytelling Award Winner


William Joyce is the winner of the Coleen Salley Storytelling Award and a well-known author, illustrator, and producer. He is the author of popular titles, such as the Guardians of Childhood series, picture books Dinosaur Bob and Santa Calls, and was the executive producer of the movie based on the series Rise of the Guardians. Joyce was the first children's author to win a Louisiana Writer Award and has helped produce popular shows, such as Rolie Polie Olie and George Shrinks. He also lent his creativity to the blockbuster films, Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Meet the Robinsons, and he wrote and co-directed The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which won an Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film. He owns Moonbot Studios, a production company, though he says that his favorite job is writing and illustrating books. He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. 


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Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival

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Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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