Konigsburg was honored as the 30th recipient of the University
of Southern Mississippi Medallion at the Children's Book Festival
held March 18-20, 1998. Visibly moved during the presentation
of the Medallion, Konigsburg explained why this particular
award is so important to her. She has written eighteen books
and began writing when she was twice eighteen; therefore,
this number has become significant to her. She has also learned
that the number eighteen means "life" in Hebrew.
while allowing the details of a new book to formulate, she
discovered that she had chin hairs. At first this discovery
was bothersome, but when she thought of her chin hairs "as
being akin to the Himalayan mountain goats' hairs, which are
gathered and woven into beautiful fabric for kings" she felt
better, for "they are not lovely, but lovely things have come
perhaps most famous for From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs.
Basil E. Frankweiler, which won the 1968 Newbery Medal.
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth
was designated as a Newbery Honor book in the same year -
a feat not accomplished before or since. Even more astounding
is the fact that these were the first two books she had ever
written! They were published within months of each other,
and the rest is literary history - a history that was recently
enriched by a second Newbery Medal in 1997 for A View from
to being a critically acclaimed author, Konigsburg's artistic
talent allows her to illustrate her own books. Her novels
are illustrated with sparse pen- and-ink drawings, and readers
are cautioned to examine her illustrations closely, as they
often reveal additional dimensions of the stories. Two recently
published picture books, Samuel Todd's Book of Great Colors
and Samuel Todd's Book of Great Inventions, allow
her to express herself in full-color double-page splendor.
to the two Newbery Medals, a number of Konigsburg's books
have been chosen as ALA Notable Children's Books and ALA Best
Books for Young Adults. Several of her works have been adapted
to film. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
was released in 1973 as a motion picture starring Ingrid Bergman;
"Jennifer and Me," based on Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth,
William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth was a television
movie on NBC in 1973; and Father's Arcane Daughter
was adapted as "Caroline?" by the Hallmark Hall of Fame in
her statement,"Nothing is what I'd like to talk to you about,"
her speech was complex and thought-provoking, so much so that
it is impossible to do it justice in this summary. Alluding
to principles of Japanese art, which she learned from a friend,
Konigsburg pointed out the importance of "nothing," "emptiness,"
and "space" in art, literature, and life. "As we are glutted
with information, with sounds, with sights, we need the richness
of emptiness." While Western culture respects doers and busy-ness,
doing nothing is time well spent. She said, "Going too far,
too fast leads to disorientation. We need to determine where
we were, where we are, where we want to be, and what's happening
to ourselves psychologically. We have to step back and create
the space to help us keep in touch with ourselves so that
knowing ourselves, we can help the children (we work with)
know themselves, too."
trained chemist explained that, despite her scientific background,
she had a deep need for the printed word and had a great desire
to write it herself. Her writing career began when her youngest
child entered school. In describing her creative process,
Konigsburg explained she attempts to set aside time each morning,
becoming still, creating a void "pregnant with promise," an
"unpainted corner" of her day. "I spend a lot of my time with
my head slung over the back of my chair, picking at my cuticles,"
she confided. But she also warned that excessive space can
be a burden and so can too much time - there must be a balance
between filled and free time.
Konigsburg remarked, "Because all of us - toolmakers and tool
users- who deal in children's books are shaping the imaginations
and defining the esthetic good manners of the future, I can
think of no kinder service to the future."
marionettes, twirling sculptures, lavish paintings, fabrics,
and strategic lighting dazzled the eyes of Scott Cook's delighted
audiences. To a background of lively, catchy tunes, Cook playfully
paraded his entourage of puppets - Barnaby, the old man; the
lady goose; the frog - and concluded with the acrobatic moves
and high-flying feats of the little teddy bear. His dynamic
performance revived the child- at-heart in one and all.
of Jackson, Mississippi, and former student of Murrah High
School, now living in Sandwich, Massachusetts, Scott Cook
is an extraordinary picture book artist. According to a Booklist
reviewer, his impressionistic oil paintings "are suffused
with a golden glow. The blurred lines and impressionistic
shadings make the art as soft as a kiss, yet filled with energy."
Cook's childhood in Jackson was far from ordinary. He caught
glimpses of esteemed author Eudora Welty shopping at the local
supermarket and shared the stage with Pulitzer prize-winning
playwright Beth Henley when they both played children in a
Jackson Little Theater production of Summer and Smoke.
During junior high and high school, Cook studied art with
the late Jackson artist, Marie Hull and convinced his neighbor,
Katherine Speed Ettl, to share her expertise in sculpture.
that he could make a living with his artistic talents, Cook
tried a number of different professions before being hired
to teach art at Friends' Central School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
An art project designed for his middle school students gave
Cook a new inspiration. He created three-dimensional papier-mfch,
figures of a goose and a frog that he then used as models
for oil paintings. It took only a small leap forward to see
these characters gracing the pages of a children's book, so
Cook sent photographs of his project to Alfred Knopf Publishers
in New York. Editor Anne Schwartz was so impressed with his
work that she immediately contracted him to illustrate The
Gingerbread Boy (1987).
first book was a resounding success, named a "Best Book of
the Year" by School Library Journal and an "Editor's
Choice" by Booklist. His next book, Nettie Jo's
Friends by Patricia McKissack, was also named a best book
of the year by a number of journals and magazines. In addition,
one of the paintings was awarded a prestigious Silver Medal
by the Society of Illustrators. Paintings from the book were
chosen as covers for the spring 1989 Knopf catalogue and the
October 1989 Wilson Library Bulletin. These two successful
titles were soon followed by A Christmas Carol (1990),
Mother Goose (1994), A Net to Catch Time by Sara
Harrell Banks (1996), and, most recently, With a Whoop
and a Holler by Nancy Van Laan (1998). Advance praise
for this compilation of Southern folklore comes from Eudora
Welty, who calls it "delightful - full of energy, wit, and
life. I love the sense of commotion in the illustrations,
and the music of the language, and I imagine it will be enjoyed
by adults every bit as much as children."
was born in Carter's Quarter, deep in the Georgia mountains,
in 1938, and spent her childhood in mill towns and rural areas
of Dalton, Savannah, and Atlanta. These Southern roots, her
childhood memories, and her family's stories are the inspiration
for her books and storytelling.
of economic hardships, her family's lifestyle did not include
running water, electricity, indoor plumbing, automobiles,
or even television. Although she felt deprived and ashamed
of this situation while growing up, as an author she later
came to value the experiences gained through hardship.
the Children's Book Festival, Gibbons shared with her audience
that her parents, both mill workers, were not in favor of
their children getting an education. She did not attend school
until she was nine years old and it was then that, with the
aid of teachers and librarians, she discovered a whole new
world of stories through reading. She read to her four younger
brothers and sisters and even made up her own stories to entertain
them. These stories were not written down but served to express
her dreams of getting an education and leaving the Georgia
mountains far behind. With the moral and financial support
of her teachers, she enrolled in college. One former teacher
even drove her to Berry College.
you can take the time to read to a child, do it," she urged
the audience. Gibbons cited the difference teachers can make
in children's dreams, their awareness of life's possibilities,
and their choices of careers. As an example, she proudly related
that her brother was now the vice president of the mill in
which her parents worked.
attended Oglethorpe University and Emory University and received
her bachelor's degree from Berry College in 1961. She then
went on to graduate study at Auburn University in 1965. She
taught elementary and high school classes at several different
schools in Georgia and Alabama during the 1960s.
writing career did not begin until much later, after college,
teaching, and marriage. Her first story, Some Glad Morning
(1982), is rooted deeply in the Georgia mountains and depicts
the eccentric, colorful country people she had grown up with.
After writing the book, Gibbons was able to acknowledge that
she was part of those people and, more importantly, that she
felt good about it. Favorable reviews in the New York Times,
the Horn Book, and Booklist gave Gibbons the
confidence to begin Mighty Close to Heaven. The idea
for this story came from a trip she made in the 1940s when
she and her parents, unemployed and unable to purchase bus
tickets, traveled by foot through the Georgia mountains to
visit her grandparents. The titles for her first two books
come from gospel songs because of the large part that religion
has played in her life.
works include King Shoes and Clown Pockets (1989),
Night in the Barn (1995), Mountain Wedding (1996),
and Hook Moon Night: Spooky Tales from the Georgia Mountains
(1997). Her work has been recognized by the American Library
Association, USA Today, and the Dixie Council of Authors
and Journalists. In addition, her books have often been nominated
for the Alabama Children's Book Award and the Georgia Children's
of Faye Gibbons dreams have come true. During school visits,
she tells the students to go for their dreams, whether those
dreams are to write, paint, make movies, or fly jets. She
has found through her own personal experience that people
can do all of the wonderful things they want to - if they're
willing to work for their dreams.
of My Heart was Davida Adedjouma's editorial debut in
the field of children's books. A collection of poems written
by forty African American students who define what being black
means to them, Palm of My Heart has won the Coretta
Scott King Award and is an ALA Notable book. Her second "children's"
book, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall, is another anthology
of poems by adult authors writing about the bond between father
and child. Despite these accomplishments, she emphatically
states that she does not write for children, but instead,
writes adult fiction and currently writes erotica. Besides
her editorial skills, she is also a writer, an actor, a director,
and a teacher.
explained that she loves to teach and tithes each year by
doing creative workshops in schools. Palm of My Heart was
the upshot of an intensive nine- month creative writing workshop
grant. Armed with the Kinko-published manuscript, she journeyed
to New York to give it to her funding agency. Months later,
to her amazement, they called her, wanting to publish the
"Black Is" section.
talk was based on tips for teaching students to write. Pointers
included: "Have students read aloud to hear their own voices,
have them read lots of different writers. Provide them with
a safe environment, a different space (the library), and different
paper - colored or butcher paper. Play music, tell them there
are 'no mistakes,' allow them to write in their own languages
and then have them translate to you. They need to talk about
stuff in a safe environment, or they find a way to get it
out. Art may be the only way."
students in the oral tradition. "After writing and revising,
and writing again, there comes that special moment when the
sound and the rhythm, and the texture of words becomes uniquely
yours - your voice .... It's my goal to help students seize
hold of a living language, enabling them to tell their own
stories in their own way."
Coleman acknowledged Faye Gibbons, fellow speaker at the Children's
Book Festival, with nurturing her in the beginning of her
writing career. Coleman, a retired psychotherapist, is author
of The Foot Warmer and the Crow (1994), The Glass
Bottle Tree (1995), White Socks Only (1996), Cymbals
(1995), and To Be a Drum (1998). Due out in fall 1998
is The Riches of Oseola McCarty, a picture book about
the famed Hattiesburg laundress who became a benefactor to
The University of Southern Mississippi. Miss McCarty has been
transformed from a shy, quiet woman to a catalyst for many
people. In the book, Coleman has tried to focus on Oseola's
love of work and love of God. She hopes that her story will
transform children, letting them know that "all they have
to do is be a human being on this earth."
wants her books to touch people's emotions: "when I write,
I want to either make people laugh, cry, or piss them off."
The Southern sense of humor is a joy to her, and she wants
to add new elements to Southern literature, such as Civil
Rights, so that children of today and tomorrow won't make
the same mistakes. Her own parents taught her that she was
of "no color," that it was people's thoughts that separated
people, not their skins. "Children need to be taught to think
for themselves," she urged, " to be aware of who they are,
and then they won't let themselves be abused."
Sutton, editor of Horn Book magazine, was the thirteenth
Ezra Jack Keats Lecturer. Formerly the editor of the Bulletin
of the Center for Children's Books, Mr. Sutton has published
reviews of children's books and articles in national periodicals
and professional journals, including the New York Times Book
Review and School Library Journal.
is a member of the American Library Association and is serving
on the 1999 Newbery Committee. A former consultant for the
Children's Literature Center at the Library of Congress, he
has taught children's literature at Simmons College, Columbia
University, and the University of Chicago. In 1996, he became
editor of Horn Book, considered to be one of the most
authoritative journals in children's literature. Sutton is
also the author of Hearing Us Out: Voices from the Gay
and Lesbian Community (Little Brown), and coeditor of
Evaluating Children's Books: A Critical Look and The Best
in Children's Books 1985-1990: The University of Chicago Guide
to Children's Literature.
credited E.L. Konigsburg with planting the seeds for this
lecture 18 years ago, at his first professional conference,
when he heard her speak about the censorship of her books.
The title for his lecture was "'Problematic Ideologies' and
Other Adventures in Children's Book Reviewing." Sutton addressed
the responsibilities and difficulties of reviewing books.
Reviewers can be selective in reviewing, choosing not to review
something. A non-review, like silence, speaks louder than
words. Critics can also give readers reason not to buy a book.
However, Sutton believes that reviewers should be "equal opportunity
esthetes." "A book review has responsibilities to two parties
- to the book itself and to the reader of the review. Neither
should have reason to feel cheated." He said that there is
always a balancing act - the responsibility to represent the
book but to represent it fairly. The reviewer should evaluate
how well the author has done what he has set out to do.
a reviewer take a stand on a book's message?" Mr. Sutton asked.
Sex and language can be problematic, but for whom? Censorship
can come from "inside." If librarians don't approve of certain
aspects of a book, they shouldn't buy it. He feels that the
reviewer does need to give an idea of a book. " We don't condemn,
but we quote." There should be willingness on the part of
the critic to get out of the way of the book.
Sutton acknowledged that books can change lives for better
- or for worse. But, in his opinion, "Reviewers are there
to stay out of opinions - they are not there to judge social