2023 Ezra Jack Keats Award for Writer

I am so amazed and humbled to be able to share the news with you that I have received the 2023 Ezra Jack Keats Award for Writer. You are invited to join me in celebration at the Kaigler Children’s Book Festival on April 13th at 12:00 CT livestreamed at live.usm.edu – I will be traveling to the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi for the awards ceremony.

Thank you to the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, the Award Committee, the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection and The University of Southern Mississippi for inviting me to receive this recognition. Thanks also, to my agent Teresa Kietlinski, who encouraged me to write this book. Thanks to Cecily Kaiser, Gabriella Degennaro, Maria Elias, and all of the amazing team at RISE Books at Penguin Workshop whose mission of children’s empowerment I am proud to help carry out.

Thanks to my dear writer and artist sweetheart Greg, who continues to support and encourage me, my sister Sherry, a talented preschool teacher always willing to give another draft a look any time of day, my mother Marilyn, who’s love and delight in the small things provided my foundation for recognizing joy, and all my supportive, creative and inspiring family.

Thanks to my circle of writers, and the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators, who have all encouraged me to stick with it throughout the process. I’d also like to thank both my children, and all the members of the Early Birds Garden Club and the Malden Community Garden, for recognizing the intrinsic value of messing around in the mud on cold spring days, and who are the real-life inspiration for the book. Finally, to all you teachers, parents and librarians, gardeners, storytellers, writers and illustrators, all those of you who have made it your life’s work to share your never-ending curiosity, creativity, and joy in learning: you continue to inspire me. Thank you!