Remembering Jane Addams Author Patricia McKissack #JACBA Newsletter 21Apr2017

April 28th, 8:00am CST: Video announcement and press release made public
Watch this space for a special announcement regarding the announcement of this year’s Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winners and Honorees!


Patricia C. McKissack, Remembered

Patricia C. McKissack, honored children’s author from Chesterfield, dies at 72

Patricia C. McKissack circled the world in her dozens of children’s books, exploring everything from supernatural tales to African customs to 19th-century whaling. But she died only a few miles from home, four years after the death of her beloved husband and co-author.

Among the most prolific children’s authors on African-American history, folklore and stories, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack published more than 100 books and won multiple honors, including a Newbery Honor and nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards. In 2014, their work was recognized for its lasting contribution to literature with the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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Patricia McKissack, children’s author who brought black history to life, dies at 72

With Fredrick McKissack handling the historical research and Mrs. McKissack focused on the writing, the couple crafted nonfiction works that sought to expose elementary- and middle-school readers to varied aspects of African American history.

Their books included “The Civil Rights Movement in America” (1987) and “A Long Hard Journey” (1989), about the organizing efforts of black Pullman railroad porters, as well as short biographies of black luminaries such as historian Carter Woodson (1991) and educator Mary McLeod Bethune (1985).

“It was like a missionary thing for them,” said Fredrick McKissack Jr. “There was a whole history and set of experiences that weren’t being taught, discussed, examined with the gaze of a writer.”

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Patricia McKissack, Prolific Author Who Championed Black Heroes, Dies at 72

Ms. McKissack, who grew up in the segregated South and was the only black student in her sixth-grade class, wove the back-porch fables she remembered from childhood together with her own personal anecdotes (including a false accusation of thievery and a dinner at a whites-only restaurant) in fictional narratives.

She also championed black exemplars whom her husband, Fredrick, had exhaustively researched in biographies for young people of all races.

“We try to enlighten, to change attitudes, to set goals — to build bridges with books,” she once told Prof. Jessie Carney Smith of Fisk University in “Notable Black American Women,” a series of reference books she edited.

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Patricia C. McKissack (1944–2017)

According to Andrea Davis , “Nobody could tell a story like Pat McKissack could! She was a gifted griot with a heart of gold. So many of us stood on Pat’s shoulders — she was a strong-strong lady whose graceful ways supported us in dreaming big. Pat’s collaborations with Fred, her husband and soul-mate, let us look far and wide to find ourselves through the power of characters, settings, and wordplay that sunk deep, settled, and brought so much joy.”

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Remembering the life and writing of famed St. Louis children’s author Patricia McKissack

With books like “Mirandy and Brother Wind,” “Flossie & The Fox,” “A Song for Harlem,” and more than 100 other titles, McKissack wrote positive stories about the lives and histories of African-American children, something that was hard to find when she started writing in the 1970s.

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A video interview with Pat and Fred discussing how they got started, how they found inspiration, and how important it is to read to children:

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YouTube video

A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter written by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack 1990 Awardee


Interview: Jazmine Sullivan & Kadir Nelson Bring Henrietta Lacks To Life With ‘The HeLa Project’ Exhibit

The creatives speak to VIBE about their artistic contributions in conjunction with HBO’s film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Last week [HBO] created “The HeLa Project,” a traveling art exhibit telling Lacks’ story through touching artistic tributes.

Kadir Nelson’s thoughtful approach to his tribute to Lacks’–a portrait that presents her beauty, faith and everlasting hold on history. The Maryland native has made his own mark on the art world with pieces that strike conversations about black culture and livelihood.

His commissioned portrait titled, “Henrietta (HeLa) Lacks: The Mother Of Modern Medicine” brings Lacks to life. Her smile is genuine, and her floppy church hat acts as a halo. She clutches her Bible close to her pelvic area, representative of the site where her ovarian cancer began.

Through “The HeLa Project,” Nelson hopes others will be inspired and educated about the no longer hidden figure.

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The Village That Vanished written by Ann Grifalconi and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 2003 Awardee

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson 2012 Awardee


Naomi Shihab Nye keynote poet at Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival

Naomi Shihab Nye will be the keynote poet at University of Maine at Augusta’s Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, at UMA’s Jewett Hall Auditorium, on 46 University Drive.

The event is free and open to the public.

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Habibi written by Naomi Shihab Nye 1998 Awardee

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges
books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the
Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace,
justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books
also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Read more about the 2016 Awards.

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