After several years of working on an auto assembly line and at other jobs, award-winning children’s book author Christopher Paul Curtis took a detour down the road paved with his passion for writing.
That decision has been validated more than once for Curtis. His highly acclaimed work Bud, Not Buddy earned him both the Newberry Medal and Coretta Scott King Author Award, the only book to receive both highly sought honors. His first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, also earned many accolades.
On April 9-11, the list of Curtis’ honors will grow to include the Southern Miss Medallion when he comes to The University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus to accept the award at the 47th annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival. The event is presented by the College of Education and Psychology’s School of Library and Information Science.
The festival also includes the presentation of the prestigious Ezra Jack Keats Awards in children’s literature. Karen Nelson Hoyle, who has served as curator for more than 40 years of the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, is this year’s Keats Lecturer.
“We have an amazing group of authors, illustrators and storytellers this year, and it is a great honor to have Christopher Paul Curtis as the 2014 medallion winner and to once again host the Ezra Jack Keats Awards,” said Karen Rowell, coordinator of the Festival. “It is truly thrilling and so much fun to bring all of this to Southern Miss.”
More than 400 teachers and librarians from across the country will be on the university’s Hattiesburg campus for the event. Some of the top names in children’s literature will serve as guest speakers, including authors, illustrators and scholars in the field who will share their knowledge during a variety of presentations and workshops. Continuing education units will be available for Mississippi educators.
One of those is Hattiesburg resident and retired Louisiana school teacher Virginia Butler. Currently a working writer, Butler became acquainted with the book festival after she learned about the de Grummond Collection as a college student. She has written for the children’s magazine Highlights and for 13 years has served as a volunteer for both the de Grummond Collection and the festival.
“Really, it’s more than a festival,” Butler said. “It’s a community of people who get excited about meeting and hearing from the authors and illustrators who come to talk about their work and the process of producing great children’s literature.”
Highlights of the festival include the following:
Wednesday, April 9
*1:45 – 2:45 p.m.: General session with M.T. Anderson – Thad Cochran Center Ballrooms
*3-4 p.m.: de Grummond Lecture featuring Kathi Appelt – Thad Cochran Center Ballrooms
*7:30 – 8:30 p.m.: Coleen Salley Storytelling Celebration with Mary Hamilton – Thad Cochran Center Ballrooms
Thursday, April 10
* 9-10 a.m.: Medallion Session with Christopher Paul Curtis
*12 – 1:30 p.m.: Ezra Jacks Keats Awards Luncheon
*4:15 – 5:15 p.m.: Ezra Jack Keats Lecture featuring Karen Nelson Hoyle, Thad Cochran Center Ballrooms
Friday, April 11
*9-10 a.m.: General Session with Leda Schubert
*Noon – 1:30 p.m.: Luncheon with David Small and Sarah Stewart
For more information about the 2014 Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, visit www.usm.edu/childrens-book-festival or call 601.266.4228.