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2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Winners Announced
29th Annual Awards for New Writer and New Illustrator
Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and 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 9th
NEW YORK—February 11, 2015—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi announced today the winners of the 29th annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. Each year, a new writer and new illustrator are celebrated. The 2015 award ceremony will be held on April 9th during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The winners receive a gold medallion as well as an honorarium of $1,000.
“The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award celebrates and inspires exceptional new writers and illustrators, who are seldom recognized in the early stages of their careers,” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “These new artists have created books of beauty in the spirit of Keats that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family and the multicultural nature of our world.”
“It is a privilege to administer the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. The de Grummond Collection’s holdings of Keats’ work remind us of the unique contributions he made to the world of children’s literature. We enthusiastically embrace the 2015 EJK Book Award winners, whose own books may one day join Ezra’s in the de Grummond Collection,” said Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.
Deborah Wiles, the 2002 recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for new writer for her picture book Freedom Summer, will be guest presenter; renowned illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky, recipient of the 2015 University of Southern Mississippi Silver Medallion, will keynote.
The 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for new writer is:
Chieri Uegaki for Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
Published by Kids Can Press
A celebration of music, multicultural studies and intergenerational relations, this picture book is the story of a young girl, Hana Hashimoto, who has signed up to play the violin at her school’s talent show. The trouble is that she’s had only three lessons! Hana’s brothers tell her she isn’t good enough, but she is determined to prove them wrong. Inspired by her talented grandfather, or Ojiichan, who played the violin when she visited him in Japan, she practices every day. Though her confidence wavers a bit on the night of the show, Hana surprises everyone, including herself, and delivers her best performance ever.
Uegaki said, “Learning that I would be the recipient of this year’s Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for new writer was one of the most surreal moments of my writing life to date. I wrote Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, because I wanted to pay tribute to my two grandfathers. I also tried to write the kind of story that I would have wanted to read as a child, and to create the kind of main character I would have wanted to see in a picture book. To now have that effort recognized by the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award jury is an honour that is altogether wonderful, humbling and incredibly encouraging.”
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin was illustrated by Qin Leng.
The 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for new illustrator is:
Chris Haughton for Shh! We Have a Plan
Published by Candlewick Press
In a beautiful nocturnal landscape of deep purples and blues, four friends creep through the woods and spot an exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie,” waves one. “Shh! We have a plan,” hush the others. They stealthily make their advance, nets in the air. As one comically foiled plan follows another, it becomes clear that their quiet, observant companion, hand outstretched, has a far better idea. Chris Haughton’s boldly graphic, vibrantly colorful illustrations convey the humor in this simple story of best laid plans going awry.
Haughton said, “It is an honour to be presented with the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. I’m a huge fan of Keats’ work and am very inspired by his collages and deceptively simple graphic approach. More than that though, what I admire most is his forward-thinking spirit and the inclusivity and kindness that emanate from his work. In the central image in Shh! We Have a Plan, the individual colours of the birds surrounding the main character come together to form a hopeful rainbow. The message of the image, and of the book, is the power of kindness and the courage to do things differently and stand up against the status quo. These messages are ones I see throughout Keats’ life and work and it is a huge honour to be associated with him through this award.”
The 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award honor winners are:
2015 New Writer Honor
- Adam Auerbach for Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School (illustrated by Adam Auerbach. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers)
- Alan Rabinowitz for A Boy and a Jaguar ( illustrated by Cátia Chien. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- Misty Copeland for Firebird (illustrated by Christopher Myers. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
2015 New Illustrator Honor
- Evan Turk for Grandfather Gandhi (written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
- Mike Curato for Little Elliot, Big City (written by Mike Curato. Published by Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers)
The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Criteria
To be eligible for the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the author and/or illustrator will have no more than three children’s picture books published prior to the year under consideration.
The selection committee is comprised of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children’s literature, including: Caroline Ward, Chair, Rita Auerbach, Carolyn Brodie, Jason Chin, Pat Cummings, K.T. Horning, Sean Qualls, Lisa Von Drasek and Paul O. Zelinsky.
Ex-Officio members are: Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, and Ellen Ruffin, Curator, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.
About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Founded by the late Caldecott award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries; cultivating new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experience of childhood in our diverse culture; and protecting and promoting the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. Keats. Imagination. Diversity.
For more about the Foundation, please visit the ejkf.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 1,300 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.
For more about the de Grummond, please visit www.lib.usm.edu/degrummond.
Top left, Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin. Text © 2014 Chieri Uegaki, Illustrations © 2014 Qin Leng. Used by permission of Kids Can Press. Top right, Shh! We Have a Plan. Copyright © 2014 by Chris Haughton. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA, on behalf of Walker Books, London.