News Release - April 17, 2008

For Immediate Release: April 17, 2008

Contact: Marcia Schneider (415) 557-4252

Award-Winning Children's Author Patricia McKissack to Speak at the 12th Annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture

As a teacher and a parent, Patricia McKissack noticed that there were few images of African Americans in literature for young people. Inspired by the captivating tales her grandfather would tell about his life in the Deep South, McKissack began exploring and writing about the important everyday lives of well known and not so well known people, often as seen through the eyes of African American children.

Among her many themes, McKissack wrote about survival in the face of injustice, discrimination and segregation, and her appreciation of the wonderful music and rhythms of ancient African oral tales. Her work has touched on every type of literature, including historical fiction, biography, traditional stories and nonfiction.

"I write because there's a need to have books for, by, and about the African American experience and how we helped to develop this country," says McKissack, who spent many hours as a child in the Nashville Public Library, one of the few places in her hometown that wasn't segregated.

McKissack will talk about her work and life as a writer at the 12th annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture at 4:30 p.m. on June 6 in the Koret Auditorium at the Main Library. A book signing will take place at 3:30 p.m.

McKissack's fiction, biography and nonfiction work includes The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural; Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African American Whalers; Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters; and Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman? She has received a number of awards, including the Newbery Medal, numerous Coretta Scott King Awards, the Virginia Hamilton Literature Award, the Orbis Pictus Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award.

The Effie Lee Morris Lecture was established in 1996 to expand upon the idea of looking at children through their literature. The series is named in honor of Effie Lee Morris, who was the coordinator of children's services at the San Francisco Public Library from 1963 to 1977. As one of the pioneer children's services leaders in the country, Morris was responsible for the development of the broad range of Library services now available to the children of San Francisco. She also developed the children's historical and research collection-which is also named in her honor-to meet the needs of Bay Area researchers studying our view of children and their world as reflected in the books written for them.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call (415) 557-4277.

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