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Distinguished Children's Authors and Illustrators Coming to USM Children's Book Festival

15 Feb 2016 5:45 PM | Sarah Mangrum (Administrator)

The School of Library and Information Science is pleased to announce the 49th annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, to be held April 6-8, 2016, at the Southern Miss Thad Cochran Center. The highlight of the festival is the presentation of the Southern Miss Medallion awarded to an author or illustrator for his or her body of work. The 2016 Southern Miss Medallion winner is Jacqueline Woodson.

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, a three-time National Book Award finalist, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Other outstanding authors and illustrators scheduled to appear include:

Michael Cart, a columnist and reviewer for Booklist magazine, is a leading expert in the field of young adult literature. The author or editor of 23 books including his history of young adult literature From Romance to Realism and the coming of age novel My Father’s Scar, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, he is a past president of both the Young Adult Library Services Association and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English. He is the 2000 recipient of the Grolier Award and the first recipient of the YALSA/Greenwood Press Distinguished Service Award.

2003 Southern Miss Medallion Winner Lois Lowry is one of the world’s most beloved and versatile authors for children and young adults. She is the author of more than forty books, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has sold millions of books worldwide and twice received the prestigious Newbery Medal, for Number the Stars in 1990 and The Giver in 1994. Other honors she has earned include the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader’s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. For her contributions as a children's writer, she is the U.S. 2016 nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award; she was a finalist in 2000 and nominee in 2004. In 2007 she received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contribution to young adult literature.

George O’Connor’s first graphic novel, Journey into Mohawk Country, used as its sole text the actual historical journal of the seventeenth-century Dutch trader Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, and told the true story of how New York almost wasn’t. He followed that up with Ball Peen Hammer, the first graphic novel written by playwright Adam Rapp, a dark dystopian view of a society’s collapse as intimately viewed by four lost souls. Now he has brought his attention to Olympians, an ongoing series retelling the classic Greek myths in comics form. In addition to his graphic novel career, Mr. O’Connor has published several children’s picture books, including the New York Times best-selling Kapow, Sally and the Some-Thing, and Uncle Bigfoot. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

As Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, Dr. Deborah Pope has directed its work toward increasing diversity in children’s literature and enriching the quality of public education. Through her efforts, the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award is recognized internationally as an imprimatur of quality children’s books for a multicultural audience. Deborah came to the Foundation after an extensive career in theater and arts-in-education. She has two daughters, and lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York.

Joyce Sidman is the winner of the 2013 NCTE Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry and author of many award-winning children’s poetry books, including the Newbery Honor-winning Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and two Caldecott Honor books: Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (also a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner) and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors (which won the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award). She teaches poetry writing to school children and participates in many national poetry events. Her recent book, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings, has been critically acclaimed and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Joyce lives with her husband and dog near a large woodland in Wayzata, Minnesota.

Since entering the world of children’s books with illustrations for the first of James Howe’s Pinky and Rex easy reading series, Melissa Sweet has illustrated many children’s books, from board books to picture books and nonfiction titles. She received a Sibert Medal for Balloons over Broadway and Caldecott Honors for A River of Words by Jen Bryant and The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus also by Jen Bryant, as well as two New York Times Best Illustrated citations. Her collages and paintings have appeared in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Madison Park Greetings, Smilebox and for eeBoo Toys, which have garnered the Oppenheim and Parents Choice Awards. Melissa currently lives in Rockport, Maine, and loves riding her bike and hiking with her two dogs, Rufus and Nellie. Melissa’s newest book, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White is a biography of America’s beloved author, to be published in fall 2016.

Tim Tingle is an Oklahoma Choctaw and an award-winning author and storyteller. His great-great grandfather, John Carnes, walked the Trail of Tears in 1835, and his paternal grandmother attended a series of rigorous Indian boarding schools in the early 1900s. Responding to a scarcity of Choctaw lore, Tingle began collecting tribal stories in the early 90s. His first children’s book, Crossing Bok Chitto, (Cinco Puntos Press, 2005), garnered over twenty state and national awards. In 2010 Tingle released Saltypie and contributed the story "Rabbit’s Tail Tale" to multiple-award winning anthology, Trickster. Both Saltypie and Trickster were selected as 2011 American Library Association Notable Books.

Author of several award winning novels, Rita Williams-Garcia continues to break new ground in young people’s literature. Known for their realistic portrayal of teens of color, Williams-Garcia’s works have been recognized by the Coretta Scott King Award Committee, PEN Norma Klein, American Library Association, and Parents’ Choice, among others. She says, “My readers are always sharper than my characters. They are always telling the characters a thing or two. I like that. That’s why I enjoy writing for teens. Teens think. They question.” Rita recently served on the National Book Award Committee for Young People’s Literature and is on faculty at Vermont College MFA Writing for Children and Young People.

The Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival is Proud to Host the Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards. Since 1985, the Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards have been given to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator of picture books for children who share Ezra’s values: the universal qualities of childhood and multicultural nature of our world. Now in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, the EJK Book Awards continue to encourage the next generation of talent who are committed to celebrating diversity through their writing and art.

For more information, including the tentative schedule and registration information, please visit www.usm.edu/children-book-festival or call the USM School of Library and Information Science at 601.266.4228.

Submitted by

Teresa Welsh, Ph.D.

Professor and Director

School of Library and Information Science

The University of Southern Mississippi



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