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USM’s Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival to kick off on April 12-14

Photo courtesy of Gene Luen-Yang/Twitter.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival is set to kick off in under a month in Hattiesburg.

During the festival, awarding-winning and bestselling writer and artist Gene Luen-Yang will be presented with the Southern Miss Medallion for his work in several iconic works. Yang is the bestselling writer and artist behind American Born ChineseBoxers & Saintsthe Avatar: the Last Airbender comics, Dragon Hoops, and Superman Smashes the Klan.

American Born Chinese, Gene’s first graphic novel, was the first-ever graphic novel to be named a finalist for the National Book Award. The book went on to win the Printz Award, the ALA’s award for the best young adult book published in a year, and an Eisner Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the comic book world.

Karen Rowell, coordinator of the festival, says she’s eager to recognize Yang for his contributions to the genre of children’s literature.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of seeing – in person – the smiling faces that truly make the Kaigler Children’s Book Festival the special event that it is and always has been and look forward to honoring a true talent in Gene Luen-Yang with our top award,” Rowell said.

The festival, which will be held in-person for the first time in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will also feature the Ezra Jack Keats Award recognition ceremony.

“As a library administrator who has been attending and presenting at the Kaigler Children’s Book Festival for five years, I couldn’t be more excited to be back in person this year,” said Dawn Zimmerer, adult and youth services director for the Madison County Library System. “It is, perhaps, one of the best professional development opportunities for me and our staff.”

Along with Yang, other honorees and keynote speakers in the festival’s schedule of programming include:

  • Amy Bluemel – Coleen Salley Storytelling Award Winner
  • Linda Williams-Jackson
  • Loren Long – de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection Lecturer
  • Kyle Lukoff
  • Vikram Madan
  • Angie Manfredi- Southern Miss SLIS Lecturer

The event will be held on April 12-14 at the Hattiesburg campus. Virtual-only attendees will have access to keynote session recordings and any available breakout session recordings two weeks after the festival.

Click here to see the full schedule for the two-day event.

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