32nd annual ezra jack keats book award

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi, will present the 32nd annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Award at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival on April 12. The award is a national award given to a writer and illustrator for their outstanding work.

In 1962, Keats quietly inspired change with his groundbreaking book, The Snowy Day, the first to feature an African American child as the hero in a mainstream picture book. With this book, Keats broke the color barrier in children’s publishing by making it possible for all children, regardless of race or ethnicity, to dream. A Caldecott Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, he went on to create a large body of work, including such well-loved books as Whistle for Willie, A Letter to Amy, Peter’s Chair and Goggles!

When the book award was established in 1986, there were few book awards that celebrated diversity in children’s literature, and none that celebrated new talent in the field. The Keats Book Award aimed to fill that gap and give encouragement to new authors and illustrators of children’s books, who create wonderful books that celebrate and reflect our diverse population. The award recognizes artists who provide, in the spirit of Keats, books that increase familiarity and acceptance in children of the many different cultures that combine to make our country strong.

The University of Southern Mississippi Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival serves as the host event for the award. The festival has a long-standing tradition of promoting excellence in children’s literature through the annual award of The University of Southern Mississippi Medallion, which recognizes individuals for their total body of work and distinguished service in the field of children’s literature.

"It is a joy each year to recognize and encourage new writers and illustrators who create beautiful books for the multicultural children of America, through the Keats Book Award,” said Deborah Pope, executive director of the Keats Foundation.

Award-winning author T.A. Barron, the 2018 de Grummond Lecturer, will present the Keats Book Award. Charlotte Jones Voiklis, author of Becoming Madeleine, will deliver the Keats Lecture.

The 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for New Writer is:

• Derrick Barnes, for Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut ; Illustrated by Gordon C. James; Published by Agate Bolden/Denene Millner Books

The 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for New Illustrator is:

• Evan Turk, for Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters; Written by Michael Mahin; Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award honor winners are:

New Writer Honors

• Rachael Cole, for City Moon  (illustrated by Blanca Gómez, published by Schwartz & Wade)

• Jessixa Bagley, for Laundry Day  (illustrated by Jessixa Bagley, published by Roaring Brook Press)

• Elaine Magliaro, for Things To Do  (illustrated by Catia Chien, published by Chronicle Books)

New Illustrator Honors

• Gordon C. James, for Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (written by Derrick Barnes, published by Agate Bolden/Denene Millner Books)

• Bianca Diaz, for The One Day House (written by Julia Durango, published by Charlesbridge)

• E.B. Goodale, for Windows (written by Julia Denos, published by Candlewick Press) New Writer Honor & New Illustrator

• Bao Phi (writer) and Thi Bui (illustrator), for A Different Pond (published by Capstone Young Readers)