The Funeral by Matt James is a 2019 Ezra Jack Keats Award Honour Winner

NEW YORK—February 20, 2019—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi, announced the winners of the 2019 Ezra Jack Keats Award. Each year an outstanding writer and illustrator are recognized early in their careers for having created an extraordinary children’s book that reflects the diverse nature of our culture. The 2019 award ceremony will be held on April 4th, during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

The winning writer and illustrator will each receive $3,000 and a bronze medallion.

Canadian Matt James is an honour winner for The Funeral  (Groundwood Books).

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Criteria

To be eligible for the 2019 Ezra Jack Keats Award, the author and/or illustrator had no more than three children’s picture books published prior to the year under consideration.

The selection committee is composed of nationally recognized early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children’s literature: Junko Yokota, Chair; K.T. Horning, Claudette McLinn, Chris Raschka, Don Tate, Lettycia Terrones, Caroline Ward, Melissa Sweet and Paul O. Zelinsky.

Ex officio members are: Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation; and Ellen Ruffin, Curator, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.

For a complete list of past award winners, visit click here. For information about submissions, click here.

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Founded by Ezra Jack Keats, one of America’s greatest children’s book authors and illustrators, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries through the EJK Bookmaking Competition and Mini-Grant program; cultivates new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experience of childhood in our diverse culture through the Ezra Jack Keats Award; and protects and promotes the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the colour barrier in children’s publishing.

The Snowy Day was adapted by Amazon as a holiday special, which earned two Daytime Emmys®, including Outstanding Preschool Children’s Animated Program; and was used as the subject of a set of Forever stamps issued by and still available from the United States Postal Service. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit

About the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection

The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi is one of North America’s leading research centers in the field of children’s literature. The Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1,400 authors and illustrators, as well as 180,000+ mostly American and British published books dating back to 1530. Since 1985, the de Grummond Collection has been the home of the Ezra Jack Keats Archive, which includes manuscripts, typescripts, sketches, dummies, illustrations and proofs for Ezra Jack Keats’ books. For more about the de Grummond, visit