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2009 Ezra Jack Keats Awards for Excellence in Children's Literature to be Presented to Author Stian Hole and Illustrator Shadra Strickland at The New York Public Library April 30


Author Stian Hole and illustrator Shadra Strickland are the winners of the 2009 Ezra Jack Keats Awards, which recognize excellence in children’s literature by new authors and illustrators, who, like the late author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, offer fresh and positive views of the multicultural world inhabited by children today. Each winner receives a $1,000 cash prize and a bronze medallion. *The awards will be presented jointly on April 30 by The New York Public Library and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in a ceremony at the Library. Mr. Hole is honored for his book Garmann’s Summer, which deals with fear and courage, life and death, beginnings and endings from the point of view of a young boy about to start school. Ms. Strickland wins for her watercolor, gouache, charcoal, and pen illustrations in Bird, which captures the world of a young boy who escapes into art. There he finds an outlet for his emotions and imagination and the resilience to deal with the difficult realities of his life: an older brother who becomes addicted to drugs and the death of his beloved grandfather.

Gramann’s Summer (Eerdmans Books) is the second picture book for children written by Stian Hole, a Norwegian author and illustrator.Published in ten languages, the book was the recipient of the 2007 BolognaRagazzi Award, an international prize for excellence in children’s book publishing, awarded each year in conjunction with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.Touched by a look of anxiety he recognized in his own son’s eyes just before the start of the school year, Mr. Hole remembered that he, too, had been fearful when he began school and this inspired Germann’s story of learning to put one’s fears in perspective..


Shadra Strickland earned her MFA in the Illustration as Visual Essay program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Bird, her first picture book, was named an Editor’s Favorite of 2008 in both The Bloomsbury Review and Kirkus Reviews. Ms. Strickland also received the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award ­­– Illustrator for Bird (Lee & Low Books). Publisher’s Weekly described Ms. Strickland’s illustrations as “A complicated weaving of impressive …drawings amplifies the metaphors and action of the poetic text.”

The selection jury for the 2009 awards was chaired by Miriam Lang Budin of the Chappaqua Library, and included the following authors and illustrators: Emily Jenkins, Nina Crews, Peter McCarty, and Marisabina Russo, as well as Barbara Genco, Director of Collection Development at the Brooklyn Public Library; Ginny Moore Kruse, Emerita Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center; Dr. Karen Patricia Smith, Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Queens College; and ex-officio members John Peters Head of the Children’s Center @ 42nd Street at The New York Public Library; Margaret Tice, Assistant Director forChildren’s Programs at The New York Public Library; and Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.

About the Ezra Jack Keats Awards
The Ezra Jack Keats Awards, established in 1985, are presented jointly by The New York Public Library and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation to talented new children’s book authors and illustrators, who, in the spirit of Ezra Jack Keats, create vividly written and illustrated books for children (age 9 and under). A distinguished selection committee of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators, and experts in children’s literature select books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, strong and supportive families, and, like the works of Ezra Jack Keats, portray the diverse nature of the world.To be eligible, writers and illustrators must have published no more than three books. Past recipients of this award include last year’s winners: author David Ezra Stein for Leaves (G. P. Putnam’s Sons) and illustrator Jonathan Bean for The Apple Pie that Papa Baked (Simon & Schuster).The first Ezra Jack Keats Award went to Valerie Flournoy for The Patchwork Quilt (Dial) in 1986.

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Ezra Jack Keats created the foundation in 1964 as a vehicle for his personal giving. Author of many classic books for children, including the Caldecott-winning book The Snowy Day, Keats determined that his foundation would be dedicated to fostering the talent of the generations of children, artists, and authors who would follow him. When he died in 1983, his will directed that the royalties from his books be used by the Foundation for the support of programs helpful to humanity. It was at this time that Martin Pope became President of the Foundation and the nature of the institution took shape under the direction of Professor Pope and his wife, Dr. Lillie Pope.

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is now known for its pioneering support of bookmaking and storytelling programs, art and scholarly fellowships, portrait projects, book festivals, public libraries and schools, mural projects throughout all of the United States, as well as emerging authors and illustrators of children's books. For more information, visit

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers –The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; the Science, Industry and Business Library; and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building – and 87 Branch Libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The Library serves some 16 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through the NYPL website,



Contact: Rima Corben212.592.7710 |

rc: nypl15: 04.09.09

*The presentations of the 2009 awards will be made on Thursday, April 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Trustees Room in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of The New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. Members of the press who would like to attend the presentation ceremony on April 30 should rsvp to