Executive Director Deborah Pope reports:
At this year’s Children’s Book Festival, I was thrilled to see the EJK Book Award completely embraced by the University of Southern Mississippi and by the hundreds of librarians, teachers and artists in attendance. There is no question that having the awards administered by the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, at USM, has been a tremendous success.
The EJK award winners were completely caught up in the excitement, and you can hear how thrilled they were in their acceptance speeches! It was especially wonderful to see our medalists conversing with the eminent authors and illustrators also attending the festival. I was sorry that honoree Aaron Meshon couldn’t attend, but Marta Altès, who lives in England, sent a lovely video that was shown at the ceremony.
Christopher Paul Curtis (pictured, in gray shirt), winner of a Newbery and Coretta Scott King Award, was the University of Mississippi Silver Medallist for career excellence. He gave an inspiring speech about how he came to be a writer after having worked for 13 years on a production line of a car factory in Flint, Michigan. Mr. Curtis is perhaps best known for his books The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963, and Bud, Not Buddy.
His award was presented by Dr. Rodney Bennett, USM’s new President. By presiding over this ceremony, President Bennett showed his support for the de Grummond’s work on behalf of literature for children and young adults.
M.T. Anderson, winner of the National Book Award, spoke about how growing up in a small, quiet town led him to write young adult novels. His far-ranging books encompass a future in which people have computers implanted in their brains, and the American Revolution, as an African-American teen tries to understand the colonist’s struggle for freedom while maintaining their right to own slaves.
It was a whirlwind three days that confirmed the importance of encouraging new talent to continue to create wonderful books for all children. I can’t wait to go back next year!