Associate Director Margot Abel’s first impressions:
I’d been told not to miss the bread pudding.
I hadn’t attended an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Award ceremony since the awards were moved to the University of Southern Mississippi last year, and I was eager to see the Keats Archive and the rest of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection. So this year I joined Executive Director Deborah Pope, Foundation board member Patty Bayer Troup, and Selection Committee Chair Rita Auerbach at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival for three days of presentations, workshops and conversations.
The EJK Book Award ceremony is one of the high points of the Festival, and we were thrilled that Honor Book medalists Don Tate and Jennifer Lanthier were present to join New Writer Award winner Julie Fogliano and New Illustrator Award winner Hye-won Yum. In fact, smack in the middle of Jennifer’s speech, a nearby tornado caused all 350 or so guests to be evacuated to the stairwells, where everyone partied until the all-clear sounded 30 minutes later. Many communities were not so lucky.
My favorite moment was an impromptu tour of a gallery of original illustrations in the de Grummond Collection, led by Curator Ellen Ruffin (right), enhanced by the recollections of renowned illustrator Wendell Minor, this year’s de Grummond Lecturer (wearing cap). I also loved meeting a few past Minigrant recipients, each of whom told me how much the award meant to them. Hearing firsthand about the benefit of our work is especially gratifying.
It was a joy to spend time among children’s book luminaries, librarians and teachers whose dedication and passion is remarkable. (And the bread pudding was delicious.)