Ezra Jack Keats Awards Move to the de Grummond CollectionBy SLJ Staff December 27, 2011
The Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Book Awards have moved from the New York Public Library to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries.
The annual awards-created to recognize and encourage budding children's book authors and illustrators who share Keats' values of a strong and supportive family and multiculturalism-were started in 1985 by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the late Keats and dedicated to enhancing the love of reading and learning in children.
Known collectively as the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the 2012 ceremony will be held along 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," says Deborah Pope, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation's executive director. "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 (1962)-the first book in mainstream literature to feature a child of color." Since 1985, the de Grummond has been the home of the Ezra Jack Keats archive.
Past winners of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award include new writers Valerie Flournoy for The Patchwork Quilt (1986), Faith Ringgold for Tar Beach (1993) and new illustrators Bryan Collier for Uptown (2001), Sophie Blackall for Ruby's Wish (2003), and Ana Juan for The Night Eater (2005).
"We are delighted to be co-presenting the book Award with the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation," says 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."
To be eligible for the awards, 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, each winner receives an honorarium of $1,000. The selection committee is comprised of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children's literature.