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Ezra Jack Keats Award 2017-2019

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has created many programs that support children and educators as well as public libraries, schools and other institutions. Dedicated to highlighting the importance of diversity in children’s illustrated literature, the Foundation presents the EJK Book Award to up-and-coming children’s book writers and illustrators whose work continues in the spirit of Keats. The Foundation funds scholarships in art and music, and has endowed fellowships in the field of children’s literature. In addition, it protects the quality of production for Keats’s books and administers all business connected with the books and characters. The Foundation is also responsible for the Keats Archive, which resides at the eminent de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And, 50 years after the publication of Keats’s first, groundbreaking book, the Foundation continues to offer educators and parents ways to enrich children’s lives with the simplicity, empathy and beauty of his work.

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      Kitten and the Night Watchman

      by John Sullivan

      Jan 2019

      Pre-Kindergarten Plus

      2019 Winner, Writer
      The night watchman hugs his wife and kids and drives to work.
      All night he is alone.
      Every hour he makes his rounds.

      He sees the stars twinkling. He hears the sounds of the night:
      ki-DEE ki-DEE ki-DEE
      Woof! Woof! Woof!


      When he is joined by a stray kitten, the night suddenly seems different. Has the kitten found a new home?
      Kitten and the Night Watchman is inspired by the true story of author John Sullivan meeting a stray cat while working as a night watchman. The cat, Beebe, was John’s companion for seventeen years.
      Full-color illustrations created using digital and hand-printed textures.

      Thank You, Omu!

      by Oge Mora

      Jan 2019

      Read Aloud Plus

      2019 Winner, Illustrator
      Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?
      Debut author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu's stew, with an extra serving of love. An author's note explains that "Omu" (pronounced AH-moo) means "queen" in the Igbo language of her parents, but growing up, she used it to mean "Grandma." This book was inspired by the strong female role models in Oge Mora's life.
      Author’s note. Full-color illustrations created with acrylic paint, china markers, pastels, patterned paper, and old-book clippings.

      Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre (Alma and How She Got Her Name)

      by Juana Martinez-Neal

      Aug 2018

      Primary Spanish

      2019 Honor Book
      What's in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from—and who she may one day be.

      Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters

      by Michael Mahin

      Oct 2017

      Arts Elementary Plus

      New Illustrator 2018
      This is a picture book celebration of the indomitable Muddy Waters, a blues musician whose fierce and electric sound laid the groundwork for what would become rock and roll. Author's note with photograph. Bibliography. Suggestions for further listening. Full-color illustrations rendered in watercolor, oil pastel, china marker, printing ink, and newspaper collage.
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