Friday, March 5, 2010

Ezra Jack Keats Awards

This Wednesday I attended one of my favorite events the Ezra Jack Keats Awards held at the main branch of the Public Library at Fifth Ave. These awards are given annually to an outstanding new writer and illustrator of picture books for children (age 9 and under) and are presented jointly by the New York Public Library and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. Ezra Jack Keats was a visionary who created multicultural characters ahead of his time like his classic book, A Snowy Day. He created The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation before he died in 1983. Now his long time friend Martin Pope and his wife, Lillie Pope and daughter Deborah Pope conti
nue to support his vision with special literary projects. Visit

Since I have not been to The Library at Fifth Ave and 42nd, St. in quite a few years I forgot how elegant it is. You know the one with the landmark lions guarding the entrance. The building is being renovated and the Smith Court Auditorium is beautiful. The Children Center is open to visitors. So if you get a chance do visit one of New York’s treasuries -

The stories of the new authors are always special and inspiring. The New Writer Award was given to Tonya Cherie Hegamin for her book Most Loved in All the World. Tonya has this to say about her writing, “… for me, writing has been like falling in love - you're in it, you're out of it, and after a while, when you finally commit to it, you settle into a comfortable pattern that is solid and true.” Despite the tinge of sadness in her story, Most Loved in All the World she feels that the seed of hope pervades her story, “I wanted to write about the lengths mothers will go to for the sake of giving their children a better life. The mother in this long poem is a field slave on a big plantation by day, but at night she is a secret agent for the Underground Railroad. Mama makes a very special gift for her daughter so that even if they can't be together, her child will always remember how much she is loved.” Visit her website

The New Illustrator Award went to Taeeun Yoo for her work on Only a Witch Can Fly. Taeeun was born in Korea and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts Illustration. The Foundation describes her work as exquisite. Check out her work at