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The New York
Public Relations Office
188 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
15th Annual Ezra Jack Keats New Writer & New Illustrator Awards to be Presented at the Donnell Library Center on April 25
Winners are Deborah Wiles and Jerome Lagarrigue, Author and Illustrator of Freedom Summer
New York, March 11, 2002 -- The New York Public Library and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation are pleased to announce that first-time childrens book author Deborah Wiles and illustrator Jerome Lagarrigue have won the 2002 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards. The Awards, which recognize and celebrate promising childrens book authors and illustrators, go to Ms. Wiles and Mr. Lagarrigue for their picture book Freedom Summer, an Anne Schwartz Book, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. The Award is named in honor of childrens book author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (The Snowy Day), winner of the Caldecott Medal.
The Awards will be presented on April 25 at 5 p.m. at a ceremony open to the public at the Central Childrens Room of the Donnell Library Center, 20 West 53rd Street in Manhattan. "It is fitting that the 2002 Ezra Jack Keats Awards are to be presented to the writer and illustrator of Freedom Summer on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Ezra Jack Keats groundbreaking book Snowy Day," said Margaret Tice, Coordinator of Childrens Services at The New York Public Library. "By portraying Peter, the main character of Snowy Day as an African American child, and placing him in everyday circumstances, Keats brought him into the mainstream of universal childhood experiences and created a character with whom generations of children identify. Keats introduction of Peter to the world of children and their literature happened during the racially-charged 1960s, the same time that the events described in Freedom Summer took place."
"This Book Award is important not only because it honors an outstanding book, but because it encourages new talent to enter the important field of childrens literature," said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. "The Award supports publishers in their efforts to expand the range of issues, situations, and peoples represented in their books, and it provides for parents and educators a guide to literature that will enrich the lives of their children."
Both honorees will receive an Ezra Jack Keats silver medallion and a $1,000 cash prize, made possible through the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. The winning books publisher will also be able to affix an adhesive medallion to the cover of each book, identifying Freedom Summer as the 2002 Ezra Jack Keats Award Winner.
Freedom Summer is set in the early 1960s in the American South. It tells the story of Joe and John Henry, two young friends who are a lot alike. They both enjoy shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But theres one important way theyre different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isnt allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then the Civil Rights Act is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change peoples hearts. This stirring account of the "Freedom Summer" that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 powerfully and poignantly captures two boys experience with racism and their friendship that defies it.
Deborah Wiles was born in Alabama and grew up in an Air Force family, moving many times but digging deep roots into the Mississippi soil of her extended family. She still travels "down South" today from her longtime home in Frederick, Maryland, where she lives with her family and works as a freelance writer. She also teaches writing and oral history workshops sharing with children how all history is really biography, and how every persons story is important. Freedom Summer is her first book.
Jerome Lagarrigue was born and grew up in Paris, France, in a family of artists. Mr. Lagarrigue is the illustrator of one previous picture book, My Man Blue, by Nikki Grimes (Dial Books for Young Readers), and his work has also appeared in The New Yorker and on the cover of The New York Times Book Review. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he currently teaches drawing and painting at Parsons School of Design and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards are given annually to an outstanding new writer and illustrator of picture books for children and are presented jointly by The New York Public Library and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. A selection committee consisting of early childhood education specialists, librarians, and experts in childrens literature, review entries, seeking books that portray the goals and values of Keats, as expressed in his multicultural books including: the universal qualities of childhood, a strong belief in family and community, and creativity and love of learning. To be eligible, writers and illustrators must have published no more than five books. For additional information on how to apply for next years award, publishers may contact The New York Public Library at 212-340-0906.
The New York Public Library offers a wide variety of free programs for adults, young adults, and children at all 85 of its branches, located throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Visit the Librarys web site at www.nypl.org for further information.
Contact: Public Relations Office, 212-221-7676