Executive Director Deborah Pope reports:
It was a joy to have so many members of the EJK family on hand to celebrate the 2015 EJK Book Award, which took place April 8-10, during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi. Winners Chieri Uegaki and Chris Haughton and honorees Adam Auerbach and Mike Curato accepted their awards in person, while honorees Evan Turk, Alan Rabinowitz and Misty Copeland sent lovely video messages. The warmth and support flowed freely in all directions, and it seemed that the friendships formed between all the people there were made to last.
It was the first time that many of the children’s book VIPs honored at the festival had a history with the Book Award. The USM Silver Medallion was awarded to Paul O. Zelinsky and the Keats Lecture was delivered by Pat Cummings, both renowned author-illustrators who have each served on the EJK Book Award Committee for 6+ years. Don Tate, a 2013 EJK Book Award honoree, and Deborah Wiles, a 2002 EJK Book Award winner, were featured speakers. And the Coleen Salley Storytelling Award went to Rita Auerbach, a two-time Chair of the EJK Book Award Committee, and yes, she told some fabulous stories.
It was especially lovely to have the awards presented by author Deborah Wiles (pictured, left), who spoke movingly about how much the award meant to her when she received it early in her career. She confirmed, along with this year’s winners, that the award is doing its job. We are giving new writers and illustrators an encouraging push, outstanding picture books a critical boost, and the spirit of Keats a platform to inspire new voices.
“I owe a great debt of gratitude to all of the writers and illustrators, including the superlative Ezra Jack Keats, whose books I have read and pored over and been inspired by. I feel privileged to be able to say I write for children.”
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“I still remember the very first stories my Mum used to tell me as a small boy in Dublin. I feel extremely lucky to be able to make artwork and stories for children…. I hope to continue to do this work with all my heart.”
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