Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Writers


ezra keats award

“The EJK (Ezra Jack Keats) New Writer Award was established in 1985 to encourage and celebrate up-and-coming authors of picture books written in the tradition of Keats­—that is, with original, well-told stories that reflect the universal qualities of childhood and the multicultural nature of our world. The goal is to help writers continue to create outstanding picture books for a diverse audience. The New Illustrator Award was added in 2001 to reward originality of artistic expression as well. From the website http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/ezra-jack-keats-award-winners/book-award-faq/


kenyan child

Cunneane, Kelly.  For You Are a Kenyan Child. Atheneum Books, 2006. 40 pages. $17.99 ISBN-13: 978-0689861949

A small boy visits all the people in his Kenyan village while he forgets the chore of watching Grandfather’s cows.

Genre: Picture Book Fiction

Ages:  3-9

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Ezra jack Keats New Writer Award, 2007.

You are in charge of Grandfather’s cows today, but you cannot resist going through town to say hello, “Hodi” to everyone in your village. This charming book tells the story of a young Kenyan boy in the second person as he visits the tea shop, the chief, grandmother, plus monkeys and friends. The child is supposed to be watching the cows, but finds the village and the people far more interesting. In it are beautiful, rich illustrations that give a sense of both the colors and textures of the African village. The text includes phrases in Swahili that teaches the reader a little about the sounds of the village as well. Even though the young boy neglects his chore all day, he is still welcomed into the arms of his mama to go to sleep  and listen to the night sounds around him. This book is an Ezra Jack Keats award for new authors, an award which honors authors and illustrators that describe the wonder and rich multiculturalism of our modern world. The unique illustrations and cartoonish cow on the front and the playful narrative are what caused me to pick it up, but I enjoyed it and read it many times to my son.


Mama Panya’s Pancakes by Mary and Rich Chamberlin and illustrated by Julia Cairns

We all Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and illustrator Julia Cairns

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema

Book Discussion Questions

  1. Why is the story told to “you”? How does that make you feel about the story?
  2. When the child finally makes it back to the cows, how does the Grandfather respond?


Una taka cheza? Do you want to play? This little boy plays all over his village and meets all the friendly villagers.


Author website http://www.kellycunnaneauthor.com/about-kelly-cunnane.php

Artist Website http://anajuan.net/childrens-books/



Fogliano, Julie. And Then It’s Spring. Ilustrated by Erin E. Stead. Neal Porter/ Roaring Book Press, 2012. 32 pages $16.99 ISBN-13: 978-1596436244

A boy plants some seeds and waits and waits and waits for spring.

Genre: Picture Book Fiction

Age Range: 4-8

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Writer, 2013

Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book for Picture Book, 2012

ALA Notable Children’s Book for Younger Readers, 2013

A young boy plants seeds in the brown earth. He and a dog, a rabbit, a turtle and a handful of birds and other small creatures come out to the garden every day in the hope of seeing a little green. They wait through rain, and sun. The boy worries about birds feasting on the seeds, or bears stomping through when the seeds are trying. The illustrations are woodblock and pencil and give a subtle texture to the clouds and earth and brown of the waiting land. There is a great deal of quiet humor in the animals and the boy himself quiet with glasses that cover his eyes and lend him a little mystery to his unsmiling face. The colors feel old-fashioned and the images feel timeless. It is a lovely story of patience and hope. My favorite picture is the one where the reader gets to see the secrets under the earth: the paths of ants and worms, mice listening to the dirt, and the tiny roots of the plants the little boy is so dearly hoping for. It is not an exciting read, and is not my child’s favorite, but it is a lovely afternoon read.


Spring is Here! By Heidi Pross Gray

Bear has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Book Discussion Questions

  1. The boy has a lot of patience for his seeds. Is there anything you have to wait for that is hard?
  2. Even while he is waiting, the boy keeps busy. Does that help the waiting go by?

Book Talking

How hard is it to wait and wait? Have you ever waiting for weeks and weeks? This boy is waiting for brown to turn green.


Author Interview at the Ezra Jack Keats Award http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/julie-fogliano-interview/

Illustrator Website http://erinstead.com/

Illustrator interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=2296

Book Trailer