In April, the winners of the EJK Book Award travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to accept their prizes at a luncheon honoring Ezra Jack Keats. The event, part of the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, is hosted by the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi.
The de Grummond and USM have had a long, fruitful relationship with Keats and the EJK Foundation. In 1980 USM awarded Ezra the Silver Medallion for Outstanding Service in the Field of Children’s Literature. In 1985 the Collection became the home of the Keats Archive, the exclusive repository of original Keats artwork and papers. Under the stewardship of curator Ellen Ruffin, the de Grummond has mounted exhibitions of Keats’s work and lent material for others, such as the major retrospective “The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats” (2011-14). The Foundation brought the Book Award to USM in 2012, to be administered by the de Grummond.
The Collection, founded in 1966 by educator Lena de Grummond, is a leading research center in children’s literature. Its holdings include books spanning nearly five centuries, original manuscripts and illustrations, children’s periodicals and games, and bibliographical and critical works. The de Grummond is well-known for its archives of great children’s authors and illustrators, folklore and fairy tales, and African-American illustrated literature.
We are thrilled to work with Ellen Ruffin and her staff and USM to preserve the Keats legacy and contribute to the future of children’s literature.