2010 Ezra Jack Keats Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature to Be Presented to Author Tonya Hegamin and Illustrator Taeeun Yoo at NYPL Ceremony on April 28

 Author Tonya Hegamin and illustrator Taeeun Yoo are the winners of the 2010 Ezra Jack Keats Awards, which celebrate excellence in children’s literature by new authors and illustrators, who, in the spirit of the late author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, offer new and electrifying views of the multicultural world children inhabit today. Each winner receives a $1,000 cash prize and a bronze medallion. The awards will be presented on Wednesday, April 28 at 6:00 p.m. by The New York Public Library and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in a ceremony at the Library. The ceremony is open to the public and will be held in the South Court Auditorium of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd street.

Ms. Hegamin is recognized for Most Loved in All the World (Houghton Mifflin) which tells the story of a little girl whose mother is a secret agent on the Underground Railroad. Before sending her daughter north to freedom, the mother sews a quilt for her daughter, not only to guide her with its symbols of moss and the north star, but also to remind her always that the smiling girl in the center of the quilt is "most loved in all the world." Tonya Cherie Hegamin has worked as a social worker, an educator, a vintage clothing vendor, a vegan soul food caterer, and the program director of a poetry retreat. Tonya is a graduate of Cave Canem and a native of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Yoo wins for her sublime linoleum block prints in Only a Witch Can Fly (Macmillan), about a young witch who tries and tries again to fly one special night. Ms. Yoo received the Founders Award—for the most promising new talent of the year—from the Society of Illustrators for her debut picture book The Little Red Fish, for which Publishers Weekly in a starred review raved, “exhilarating visual images . . . shutting the book feels like awakening from a dream.” Born and raised in Korea, Ms. Yoo came to New York City to study illustration at The School of Visual Arts where she earned her MFA. She lives in New York City.

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 author David Ezra Stein for Leaves (G. P. Putnam’s Sons) and illustrator Jonathan Bean for The Apple Pie that Papa Baked (Simon & Schuster), Janice N. Harrington (New Writer) for Going North, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Gabi Swiatowska (New Illustrator) for My Name is Yoon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux);  and Shirin Yim Bridges (New Writer) for Ruby’s Wish (Chronicle). The first Ezra Jack Keats Award went to Valerie Flournoy for The Patchwork Quilt (Dial) in 1986.

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is known for its pioneering support of bookmaking and storytelling programs, portrait projects, mural projects in public libraries and public schools throughout all of the United States.  In addition to cultivating emerging authors and illustrators of children's books the Keats Foundation supports fellowships and scholarships for students, scholars, young artists and musicians in universities, art schools and other public institutions nationally. For more information, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.

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 SchomburgCenter for Research in Black Culture; the Science, Industry and Business Library; and the StephenA.SchwarzmanBuilding – 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 www.nypl.org.


Contact: Jennifer Lam, 212.592.7708