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Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award

This award, made possible through the generous support of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, will be given for distinguished artwork that creatively and skillfully embodies the essence of the story or text. The award will be given for illustration of a picture book that is rendered in the tradition of Ezra Jack Keats that:

  • Highlights the universal qualities of childhood and the strength of the family
  • Reflects the multicultural nature of our world
  • Unifies illustrations and text (if present)
  • Avoids stereotypes
  • Is respectful of the child's intelligence, sensitivity, curiosity, and love of learning
  • Demonstrates excellent command of the chosen medium
  • Displays freshness and originality in style and/or form of artistic expression

The intent of the New Illustrator Award is to identify and encourage early talent. To be eligible the illustrator will have no more than three children's books previously published. Books that have not already received awards will be given preference. No books by committee members or their immediate families will be considered. View the full guidelines, for more information.

To be eligible, books must have a 2014 copyright date. Entries may be sent at any time during the year prior to the deadline of December 31, 2014.

A cash award of $1,000, coupled with the esteemed Ezra Jack Keats medallion (inscribed with the recipient's name), will be presented to the winning author at the award ceremony, which is held every year in April during the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi. Further, a handsome gold seal with the iconic image of "Peter" in a red snow suit (from The Snowy Day) is made available to the publisher to affix to copies of the book. The Foundation expects that the winning book will carry the seal.

The publishers are asked to:

  • Be sure the books submitted meet the above criteria
  • Ensure and underwrite the appearance of the winning illustrator at the award presentation, along with the editor and publishing house representative
  • Agree to display the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award seal on the winning book
  • Send a copy of each entry to all of the members of the committee

Please email Claire Thompson or Ellen Ruffin for a complete list of the committee members and their addresses.

Deadline for entries will be December 31, 2014. Selection will take place in January 2015 in time for the award presentation in April.