T.A. Barron, a Colorado native who left an executive post in the private sector to pursue his passion for writing, will receive the prestigious Southern Miss Medallion at the 44th annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, set for April 6-8 on the university’s Hattiesburg campus.
Barron will be presented the award at the event’s medallion session Thursday, April 7. In the past 20+ years, Barron has written more than 20 books, including children’s books, nature books and novels, with some becoming international best sellers.
Some of the world’s most highly regarded children’s literature authors and illustrators will join Barron at the festival, considered one of the most important events connected with the genre of children’s literature. It is sponsored by the School of Library and Information Science and the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, and offers a full schedule of evening events and exhibits that are open to the public, which can be found online at http://www.usm.edu/bookfest/2011Events.htm
“This year’s book festival promises to be one of the most exciting ones yet. The lineup of speakers is exceptional, and there are several extras this year that will give our participants a feeling of being in Hattiesburg,” said Ellen Ruffin, curator of the university’s de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.
“On Wednesday evening, one of the presenters will be at the downtown Cultural Center, along with an exhibition of original illustrations from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the breakout sessions will offer a diverse opportunity for scholars and library practitioners.”
Barron’s work has earned many honors and much recognition, including the Nautilus Award, given for books inspiring a better world, along with many honors from the American Library Association and the International Reading Association. His books are printed in 12 languages and include The Lost Years of Merlin, currently being developed into a feature film), The Great Tree of Avalon which is a New York Times best-selling series; The Ancient One; and The Hero’s Trail.
In 2000, he founded a national award in honor of his mother, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which is presented to 25 exceptional youth who give their time to help their communities and improve the environment. He recently produced a documentary film, Dream Big, profiling seven winners of the Barron Prize.
Barron serves on many boards including Princeton University, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute, and The Wilderness Society, which recently honored him with its highest award for conservation work.
Other renowned authors and illustrators scheduled to visit this year’s festival include:
· Author and illustrator Derek Anderson, artist for the popular Little Quack series by Lauren Thompson
· Chris Barton, author of Shark vs. Train and Can I See Your I.D.? which comes out this year.
· Author Phil Bidner, winner of the Texas Bluebonnet Award for his bookShoeless Joe & Black Betsy.
· Carmen Agra Deedy, a storyteller and author whose book 14 Cows for America won the 2011 Beehive Award.
· David Diaz, an illustrator who received the coveted Caldecott Medal in 1995 for his art in Eve Bunting’s Smokey Night.
· Gary Schmidt, whose book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy earned the Newberry Honor Book and Printz Honor Book
· Roger Sutton, one of the nation’s leading experts on children’s literature who has served on several national book award committees.
· Joyce Carol Thomas, an author, poet, playwright and motivational speaker with more than 30 children’s books to her credit.
Dr. Eric Tribunella, an associate professor of English at Southern Misswhose areas of expertise include children’s literature, said the festival and the de Grummond Collection make the university one of the premier institutions in the nation for the study of children’s and young adult literature and a vital component of Southern Miss’s national and international reputation in these areas.
“The graduate program in English continues to recruit students from across the country because of these resources, and students have the opportunity to volunteer to help with the Festival and to meet such well known and critically acclaimed writers as David Wiesner, Richard Peck, John Green, and Judy Blume,” Tribunella said.
Supporters of this year’s festival include Fay. B. Kaigler; Southern Miss President Martha Saunders; the city of Hattiesburg; the family of Colleen Salley, University Libraries Dean Carole Kiehl; School of Library and Information Science Director Dr. Melanie Norton; the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection; Southern Miss Provost Robert Lyman; the Hattiesburg Arts Council; and Hattiesburg’s Odd Fellows Art Gallery.
Mississippi educators can earn up to 15.75 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attendance at the festival. For a complete schedule of events for this year’s Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, online visit http://www.usm.edu/bookfest/2011TentativeCEU.htm; or for more information, call the School of Library and Information Science at 601.266.4228.