26th Annual Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Book Awards Winners Announced

Mar 06, 2012, 09:31 ET from Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi to Present Awards at Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival on April 12th

NEW YORK, March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in partnership with the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries announced today the winners of the 26th Annual Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Book Awards. The 2012 awards ceremony will be held on April 12th in conjunction with The University of Southern Mississippi's Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival. Margery Cuyler, an award-winning children's book author and publisher at Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, will be guest presenter.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120306/DC64601)

"Fifty years ago, Ezra's book The Snowy Day, which featured an African American child, broke the color barrier in mainstream children's book publishing when it was embraced by families across racial, economic and ethnic lines," said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. "Like Ezra, this year's Book Award winners have, in their own way, celebrated the similarities—and differences—of people whose life experiences are dramatically varied."

Since 1985, the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award has been awarded annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator of picture books for children (age 9 and under) by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by the late Keats and dedicated to enhancing the love of reading and learning in all children. The Book Awards come to the de Grummond for the first time this year from the New York Public Library.

"We are thrilled to be presenting the Book Awards with The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation," said Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. "The success of Ezra's first book, which earned the coveted Caldecott medal, gave him the encouragement to create many more children's books.  It is our hope that this recognition will have the same impact on this year's winners. Who knows—one day their books might join Ezra's in the de Grummond collection."

The Book Award was created to acknowledge and encourage budding children's book authors and illustrators who impart Ezra Jack Keats' values—the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family and the multicultural nature of our world.

The 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Winner Is:

Meg Medina for Tia Isa Wants a Car
Publisher: Candlewick Press

In Tia Isa Wants a Car, first-time picture book author Meg Medina tells the story of Tia Isa, who dreams of buying a car, and the niece who helps her save. As hard as they work, money is tight—especially since everything goes into two piles: one for here and one for family members far away so that they too can come to the U.S. one day.

Medina's idea for the book began with memories of her family's first car. "My aunt's car was a light-blue Wildcat that stalled everywhere and was awful to park on crowded streets," she said. "But that car could take us anywhere we wanted in this new country; it was freedom."

The 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award Winner (and New Writer Honor) Is:

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw for Same, Same but Different
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC

Through vivid illustrations and an inviting point-of-view, Kostecki-Shaw introduces readers to two pen pals—Elliot, who lives in America, and Kailash, who lives in India. By exchanging letters and pictures, the boys learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and ride a school bus.  Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same but different!

In addition, for the first time in the history of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards, honorable mentions were awarded:

2012 New Writer Honor
Nicola Winstanley for Cinnamon Baby
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd.

2012 New Writer and New Illustrator Honor
Anna Witte (writer), Micha Archer (illustrator) for Lola's Fandango
Publisher: Barefoot Books; Rei/Com edition

2012 New Illustrator Honor
David Ercolini for Not Inside this House!
Publisher: Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Criteria
To be eligible for the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, writers and illustrators must have published no more than three books. Entries must have a 2011 copyright date, and have been submitted to the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation by December 30, 2011. The winners receive a gold medallion as well as an honorarium of $1,000.  The selection committee is comprised of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children's literature.

For a complete list of Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winners, visit http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/news/ezra-jack-keats-award-winners/

For information about submissions, visit: http://www.lib.usm.edu/~degrum/html/keats_illus.shtml  

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation supports arts and literacy programming in public schools and libraries across the country, with the goal of bringing the joy of reading and learning to all children while highlighting the importance of diversity in children's books. In addition to the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the Foundation sponsors the Ezra Jack Keats/New York Department of Education Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12, and the Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program, among others.  For information about the Foundation please visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.

About the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi is one of North America's leading research centers in the field of children's literature. The Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1300 authors and illustrators, as well as 180,000+ mostly American and British published books dating back to 1530. Since 1985, the de Grummond Collection has been the home of the Ezra Jack Keats Archive, which includes manuscripts, typescripts, sketches, dummies, illustrations, and proofs for Ezra Jack Keats' books.

Contacts: Sheree Wichard / Donel Young
718-788-9585 / 732-295-2406
swichard@aol.com / donelyoung2@aol.com

SOURCE Ezra Jack Keats Foundation