USM to hold children’s book festival, award ceremony

The University of Southern Mississippi will honor children’s literature at the 48th Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival Wednesday through Friday at the Thad Cochran Center. The university’s School of Library and Information Science will host the event and the festival will also recognize new talent in the field during the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award ceremony.

“I’m thrilled to be going into the 48th year of the Festival here at Southern Miss. It’s truly an honor to be a part of this longstanding tradition,” said Karen Rowell in a USM press release, the special events coordinator for the university’s School of Library and Information Science. “It’s such an amazing opportunity to brush shoulders with some of the top authors, illustrators and experts in the field of children’s literature.”

More than 450 attendees, including teachers and librarians from across the country, are expected at the three-day event, the press release reported. Illustrator Paul Zelinsky will be given The University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for his many contributions to children’s literature.

Zelinsky received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of “Rapunzel” and Caldecott Honors for “Hansel and Gretel” (1985), “Rumplestiltskin” (1987) and “Swamp Angel” (1995). Other noted author and illustrators will also attend the festival for lecture, workshops and autograph sessions.

Members of the community are welcome to attend festival events open to the general public.

During the award ceremony, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation will select an outstanding new writer and new illustrator for this year’s EJK Book Award. According to the press release, many previous winners have moved on to distinguished careers and created books loved by parents, children, librarians and teachers around the world.

“Having the Keats Award ceremony here gives us the unique opportunity to get to know these very talented authors and illustrators at the beginning of their careers, and we maintain contact with them going forward,” said Ellen Ruffin in a USM press release, the curator of the university’s de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.

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