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Award Winning Author, Illustrator Visits Westbury April 21

Library to Welcome Caldecott  Honoree David Ezra Stein

Children’s author and illustrator David Ezra Stein, whose book Interrupting Chicken recently received the 2011 Caldecott Honor Award, will visit the Westbury Memorial Public Library at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 21. During his visit, Stein will read from his New York Times bestselling book and answer questions. 

“The Caldecott is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children,” said Westbury Library Director Cathleen Towey. “We are delighted that Mr. Stein, an honoree of this prestigious award, has decided to come and visit Westbury.”

Emily Farrell, Head of Children’s at Westbury, added, 

“The entire community is excited about David Ezra Stein’s upcoming visit. People having been coming into the library asking for his books and a lot of patrons have already signed up to attend the event. “ She added, “Stein’s books are funny and heartwarming and appeal to both children and adults.”

Stein, a native New Yorker, published his first book, Cowboy Ned and Andy, in 2006 and over the next four years went on to write and illustrate Ned’s New Friend, Leaves, Monster Hug!, The Nice Book, Pouch! and Interrupting Chicken. His next book, Love, Mouserella, about a city mouse who writes a letter to her grandmouse in the country, is due out this summer. Stein is currently working on what he describes as a “really epic picture book that spans the globe.”

Stein said he chose to write books aimed at pre-kindergarten through second graders because he believes the “simplicity of children’s books lends an opportunity to be very deep and universal while at the same time being accessible to even the youngest person.” 

Additionally, Stein feels that what is good reading for a child can also be excellent for adults. “Reading, and looking at pictures before one can read will help children orient themselves to the world around them. Adults can share their excitement about the world with a child by sharing a book,” said Stein. 

“Reading, at any age, lets us experience other places and lives, and see our own backyards and even our bodies, in a different and astounding way. … If a parent enjoys reading, their children will pick up on that enthusiasm and become readers,” he said. 

“Picture books are most often a child’s first introduction to reading and books,” said Farrell. “Stein’s books help children develop important literacy skills and shape them as future readers.“

The author said his book ideas stem from life’s everyday occurrences. “The bumps in the road of my thoughts and experiences often jar me into an idea; a word or phrase that seems juicy and filled with potential; a feeling I have that I want to understand can become a book, too,” said Stein.

As a child, Stein said he could often be found drawing and writing stories. This hobby carried on through his high school years and well into art school. “At the end of my time in art school I was studying illustration and I suddenly remembered how much I’d loved picture books as a kid … I knew that I wanted to tell stories with pictures, too.”

When it comes to his illustrations, Stein’s work resonates with readers of all ages. “Art is the way we make something beautiful out of a lot of messy stuff that doesn’t make sense,” he said. “I have a sense of what a child will react to. I put drama in the body language and facial expressions of my characters. I use colors that feel good to my eye. I always put humor and love in my work because that is what I like to read, myself.” 

Stein currently resides in Kew Gardens, Queens, with his wife, Miriam, and their son, Sam. He majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design and currently works as a set illustrator. He prides himself on being an avid doodler whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker and American Illustration. 

For additional information on David Ezra Stein, visit www.DavidEzra.com. For information on the April 21 event at the Westbury Memorial Public Library, visit www.WestburyLibrary.org or call 333-0176.