Ezra Jack Keats Awards Celebrated

The annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, which began in 1961, took place April 10 to 12 at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. For the second year, the Ezra Jack Keats Awards were given out at the festival. The New Author and New Illustrator awards, created to “recognize and encourage authors and illustrators starting out in the field of children’s books,” were presented by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi. This year’s New Writer winner was Julie Fogliano for And Then It’s Spring (Roaring Brook/Porter); honorees were Mara Rockliff (My Heart Will Not Sit Down), Jennifer Lanthier (The Stamp Collector), and Don Tate (It Jes’ Happened). The New Illustrator winner was Hyewon Yum for Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! (FSG/Foster); honorees were K.G. Campbell (Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters) and Sanjay Patel (Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth). L. to r.: Tate, Yum, Fogliano, and Lanthier.

Scieszka Honored at Kaigler Children’s Book Festival

Author Jon Scieszka was on hand in Hattiesburg to receive the Southern Miss Medallion, the Kaigler Festival’s top honor. The Southern Miss Medallion is awarded to one person “for distinguished service in the field of children’s literature.” Scieszka spoke to attendees after receiving the medallion, saying, “I’ve been honored with other awards, but there’s nothing else like this. Where else could I get a medallion with my mug on the front and the Stinky Cheese Man on the back?” Here, Scieszka participates in a book signing at the festival.

Poetry Spotlight at Kaigler Festival

Among the many events at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival was a poetry session (well-timed for National Poetry Month) entitled “Take Five! Create Fun with The Poetry Friday Anthology.” Edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, the Poetry Friday Anthologies (Pomelo Books) offer 36 poems targeted at different grade levels, providing teachers with one poem per week during the school year. Seen here, l. to r., are the presenters at the “Take Five!” session: April Halprin Wayland (New Year at the Pier), Robyn Hood Black (Sir Mike), and Irene Latham (Leaving Gee’s Bend). All three have poems in the K–5 and 6–8 editions of the anthologies.

‘Ratchet’ Revs Up

In non-Mississippi news, author Nancy J. Cavanaugh celebrated the release of her middle-grade novel This Journal Belongs to Ratchet (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) with an event this past Sunday at the Barnes & Noble in Clearwater, Fla. The novel is told through the journal that Ratchet, the daughter of a mechanic, keeps for a homeschool assignment. PW’s review said that Ratchet’s journal “offers an enticing blend of strong social views, family secrets, and deeply felt emotions.” In this photo from the event, two young fans work on “fixing” an engine – Cavanaugh knows her way around an engine herself, and demonstrated how it worked for those in attendance.

Going to Bat for an Author

David LaRochelle’s How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans (Dial), illustrated by Mark Fearing, is being released April 18. In the book, a girl who loathes the title vegetables is forced to confront her distaste when a marauding band of beans kidnap her parents and threaten to take over the town. Back in the real world, the author signs for perhaps the youngest member of Team LaRochelle at Red Balloon Books in St. Paul, Minn. La Rochelle seems to be on a winning streak; last week the Minnesota Book Award in the children’s picture book category for It’s a Tiger! (Chronicle, 2012).