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For Immediate Release
January 23, 2006

Lester, Collier win 2006 Coretta Scott King Awards

(SAN ANTONIO) Julius Lester, author of “Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue,” and Bryan Collier, illustrator of “Rosa,” are the winners of the 2006 Coretta Scott King Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Jaime Adoff, author of “Jimi & Me,” is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award winner.

The awards were announced today at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, January 20–25.

“Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue,” published by Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Hyperion Books for Children, is Lester’s masterful fictionalized account of the largest slave auction in U.S. history, held in 1859 in Savannah, Ga. In a powerfully dramatic format, the voices of enslaved Africans and their masters move between monologues and conversations.

“These elements of dialogue offer an excellent opportunity for readers’ theater,” said Award Committee Chair Darwin Henderson. “This accessible novel allows the reader to understand the moral dilemmas faced by the characters and their challenge to affirm humanity in the midst of slavery.”

Lester, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, is the recipient of numerous literary awards including a Newbery Honor for “To Be a Slave” and a Coretta Scott King Honor for the retelling of the “Tales of Uncle Remus.” He also was honored as a finalist for the National Book Award and the Jewish Book Award.

In “Rosa,” written by Nikki Giovanni and published by Henry Holt and Company, Collier uses uniquely bold illustrations depicting Rosa Parks as an inspirational and unwavering force. Intricate profiles hidden in the details of the background give the reader a sense of collective community spirit.

“Collier portrays the legendary seamstress known as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement in a vivid mix of watercolor and collage,” Henderson said. “He depicts a weary but determined Mrs. Parks. His brilliant illustrations capture her frustration with the status quo of the Jim Crow South.”

Collier, who lives in Harlem, N.Y., began painting at the age of 15. He is an honor’s graduate of the prestigious Pratt Institute. Collier is the recipient of the 2001 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award.

Occasionally awarded, the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award affirms new talent and offers visibility to excellence in writing and/or illustrations at the beginning of a career as a published children’s book creator. “Jimi & Me,” written by Jaime Adoff, is a poignant novel written in free verse describing the tumultuous experience of Keith James, a 13-year-old biracial teen who must cope with the unexpected murder of his father. Left destitute, Keith and his mother must leave their comfortable life in Brooklyn, N.Y., to live in a small town in Ohio, and share a home with his paternal aunt. Faced with loss, change and betrayal, Keith finds solace in his music and his idol Jimi Hendrix. The book is published by Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Hyperion Books for Children.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected: “Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl” by Tonya Bolden, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers; “Dark Sons” by Nikki Grimes, published by Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Hyperion Books for Children; and “A Wreath for Emmett Till” by Marilyn Nelson, published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

One Illustrator Honor Book was selected: “Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan” by R. Gregory Christie, published by Lee and Low Books.

The Coretta Scott King Award is presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT).

Members of the 2006 Coretta Scott King Book Award Jury are: Darwin L. Henderson, University of Cincinnati, Ohio; Yolanda Foster Bolden, Forsyth County (N.C.) Public Library; Dorothy Guthrie, Gaston County (N.C.) Schools; Brenda M. Hunter, Atlanta- Fulton (Ga.) Public Library, retired; Claudette S. McLinn, Los Angeles Unified School District; Kimberly A. Patton, Lawrence (Kans.) Public Library; Lila B. Wisotzki, Baltimore County (Md.) Public Library.