In this 400th anniversary year of the King James Bible, lists proliferate of expressions taken from the text that have become part of our language. This last week as I watched the awarding of the Ezra Jack Keats Awards for New Writers and New Illustrators of children’s books, one of my favorite phrases became an ear worm [see “There’s a Name for That” blog]. Over and over, my thoughts repeated, “He being dead, yet speaketh.”
Before his death, Ezra Jack Keats and his close friend Martin Pope established the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation to continue support of schools, libraries, writers, and illustrators who promote the universal qualities of childhood and supportive families in a multi-cultural world. One aspect of this goal is the annual award for new writers and illustrators whose books exemplify these ideals. The celebration moved this year to the Book Festival right here in Hattiesburg with honorees whose works met that criteria:
• Writer Meg Medina with her childhood memory turned into an engaging picture book with Tia Isa Wants a Car
• Writer/Illustrator Jenny Sue Kostechi-Shaw with her penpals from opposite sides of the world inspired from her own time in Nepal and India and her title reflecting an expression she heard often there – Same, Same but Different
• Writer Nicola Winstanley with her charming fable of Cinnamon Baby who does nothing but cry until…
• Illustrator Micha Archer whose dancing skirts seem to swirl right off the page in Lola’s Fandango
The award celebration seemed magical with more than one of the recipients overheard saying, “feel like a princess.”
My mind’s eye pictured Ezra smiling in a corner with button-popping pride in these excellent examples of his lingering legacy.