2022 Ezra Jack Keats Award

Each year since 1985, the Ezra Jack Keats Award has been given to early career authors and illustrators who create children’s books that reflect our diverse culture. We would like to congratulate Paul Harbridge who won this year’s award for his picture book, Out Into the Big Wide Lake!

On winning the Writer Award, Paul Harbridge said: “I learned about diversity teaching English as a Second Language to immigrants in Toronto, the most culturally diverse city in the world, and as a speech-language pathologist working first with persons from the Deaf community and later with adults with developmental disabilities. But the best lesson about diversity came from growing up with Linda, my little sister with Down Syndrome. Yes, she was different in some ways but at the same time she was not different at all. Like me and my other brothers and sisters, she needed a chance to explore the world around her, encouragement to go after her goals, a pat on the back when she succeeded, and a reassuring hug when she stumbled. And that is the beauty of Ezra Jack Keats’s books. In The Snowy Day, Peter could have been from any background, any gender, or ability. Winning the EJK Award for Writing is so special to me because it means, in my own small way, I am carrying on Mr. Keats’s work to show the world that, despite our differences, at heart we are all the same.”

Out into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
It’s Kate’s first time visiting her grandparents on her own at their lakeside home. She’s nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. And she makes best friends with her grandparents’ dog, Parbuckle. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself! When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it’s up to Kate – but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author’s sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart and feisty character who will capture your heart in this gorgeous and moving story about facing fears and gaining independence.

2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award New Illustrator Winner

EJK Book Award Medalists and Honorees (from left to right): Julia Sarcone-Roach, Phoebe Wahl, Megan Dowd Lambert, Rowboat Watkins, Ryan T. Higgins, and Don Tate. Posted with permission by Megan Dowd Lambert. #GetBehindPictureBooks
EJK Book Award Medalists and Honorees (from left to right): Julia Sarcone-Roach, Phoebe Wahl, Megan Dowd Lambert, Rowboat Watkins, Ryan T. Higgins, and Don Tate. Posted with permission from Megan Dowd Lambert. #GetBehindPictureBooks

Known collectively as the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the New Writer Award was established in 1985 and the New Illustrator Award in 2001 to recognize and encourage emerging talent in the field of children’s books. This year, we would like to congratulate Phoebe Wahl for winning the New Illustrator Award for Sonya’s Chickens! Check out her interview here.

Sonyas ChickensSonya’s Chickens
Written by Phoebe Wahl
Hardcover | 32 Pages | Ages 4-8
ISBN: 978-1-77049-789-4
“A father’s thoughtful explanation provides a helpful perspective for a child’s loss…. There’s an old-fashioned feel to this simple story and its timeless illustrations, created with watercolor, collage, and colored pencil and reminiscent of Goodnight Moon in mood, design, and palette…. Both words and illustrations emphasize comfort and the security a family can provide…. A reassuring story about death in the natural world, thoughtfully designed and illustrated.” — Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

Congratulations to Don Tate for the New Writer Award and to all the Honor Book creators: Megan Dowd Lambert, Julia Sarcone-Roach, Ryan T. Higgins, and Rowboat Watkins!

The EJK Book Award is given annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. A distinguished selection committee of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children’s literature reviews the entries, seeking books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. Click here for an 11 x 17-inch EJK Book Award poster to display in your home, classroom, library, or store!