2024 EZRA JACK KEATS AWARD COMMITTEE
Shannan Hicks, library services director, North Little Rock Public Library System in Arkansas, earned a BA and MLIS from Louisiana State University, and a JD from Tulane University. Before becoming a librarian she held positions in the nonprofit field and practiced law for several years. Having worked in different types of libraries, including school, state, and special law, her heart has always been with children’s literature. Shannan has served on the Caldecott, Odyssey, and Louisiana Young Reader’s Choice Committees. Her book reviews can be found on Instagram and TikTok. Shannan is proud to serve as Chair of the 2024 Ezra Jack Keats Award Committee.
Rita Auerbach, lirarian (Retired), is a member of the Coretta Scott King Archives and History Committee. She chaired the American Library Association's (ALA) 2018 Legacy Award Committee which honored Jacqueline Woodson and the 2010 Caldecott Award Committee which honored The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. She has also chaired the Ezra Jack Keats Award Committee and ALA’s Notable Children’s Books Committee, and has served on the Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Batchelder, and New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Committees.
Sam Bloom, librarian, is a former classroom teacher. Since moving to public libraries, Sam has nearly twenty years of library service for children and tweens under his belt. Sam is a Cincinnati resident who works across the Ohio River at the Covington (KY) Library, is in the PhD program in the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University, is a current member of the We Are Kid Lit Collective, and is a former committee member for the Coretta Scott King, Newbery, and Sibert Book Awards.
Dr. Monica Brown, author, is the author of over thirty magical multicultural picture books for children, including Waiting for the Biblioburro, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos and the Lola Levine chapter book series. Monica is the recipient of two Américas Awards and the Christopher Award, among other honors, and her books have been featured in the NYTimes, The Washington Post, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. Her most recent book is The Turquoise Room/El Cuarto Turquesa. Her new chapter book series, The Fintastical Tales of Mari A. Fisch is forthcoming in 2024 from HarperKids.
Pat Cummings, author and/or illustrator of over 40 books, teaches children’s book illustration at Pratt and Parsons. Her annual Children’s Book Boot Camp introduces writers and illustrators to top editors, art directors and agents. She serves on the Advisory Council of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the boards of the Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund and as Chair of the Founders Award Jury for the Society of Illustrators’ annual Original Art Show. Pat’s latest books include Trace, for middle graders and the picture book Where is Mommy?
Melissa Iwai, author/illustrator, is an award winning author/illustrator of over thirty picture books, including Soup Day, Pizza Day, Dumplings for Lili, which was a 2022 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner. Her I Can Read Series, Gigi and Ojiji, was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection, and Gigi and Ojiji was a Theodor Geisel Honor recipient in 2023. When she is not creating, she can be found cooking and doing crossword puzzles with her husband, author Denis Markell, in Brooklyn.
Cathryn Mercier, professor, graduate program director of children’s literature at Simmons University, has taught and written about children’s literature since 1984. She has also served on a range of children’s book award committees, including the Newbery, the Caldecott, the Geisel, and the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Books committees. She has chaired the Sibert, the Children’s Literature Legacy, and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Currently, Cathie chairs the 2024 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. She served on the board of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and her present sabbatical involves curating an exhibit for the Carle.
Chris Raschka, author/illustrator, is a multi-award-winning author/illustrator of over 70 books for children. Named “one of the most original illustrators at work today” by Publishers Weekly, Raschka has been the recipient of two Caldecott Medals (for The Hello, Goodbye Window and A Ball for Daisy) as well as a Caldecott Honor Award for the book Yo? Yes! A graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Chris had set his eyes on a career in medicine till he realized that his heart was in art. Shortly after this discovery, he moved to New York City where he saw his dream of illustrating children’s books come to fruition.
Deborah Taylor, retired from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD, has chaired and served on many ALA committees, including the 2015 Sibert Award for Outstanding Informational Books for Children, the Newbery Awards, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and the Michael L. Printz Award. She was named the 2015 recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. She is currently a panel moderator and reviewer of young people’s literature.