University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum will hold its annual Summer Conference July 17-19, 2023. The three-day conference welcomes teachers, librarians, and book lovers to educational and engaging presentations from some of the top authors and illustrators in the picture book industry. Conference attendees can also choose from daily breakout sessions that are led by in-service teachers and librarians offering techniques for using picture books in fun, educational ways.
This year’s three-day event includes nine keynote speakers and a concert with registration. Guest speakers include:
- Javaka Steptoe is an eclectic artist, designer, and illustrator using innovative collage. His debut book, “In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers,” earned the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and an NAACP Image Award Nomination. Since then, he has published a dozen more books and earned the Caldecott Medal, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, a second Coretta Scott King Award and Honor, and a second NAACP Image Award nomination.
- Kathryn Otoshi is the author/illustrator of the character-building number/color books “One” (winner of 10 awards), “Zero,” and “Two.” She is the co-author of “Beautiful Hands,” about possibilities and reaching your dreams, and the creator of “Draw the Line,” a powerful story of conflict and forgiveness. She has earned the SCBWI Spark Award for Best Illustrated Book, the Moms’ Choice Award Gold Medal for Best Children’s Book, and the Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award for Picture Book.
- Matt Myers has written and illustrated over 20 books, including “Children of the Forest,” “Hum and Swish,” and “Battle Bunny,” which celebrates kids as storytellers. His works have earned the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor, Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of the Summer and “Flying Start” designation, Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and places on the New York Times bestseller lists.
- Carmen Agra Deedy is a best-selling New York Times author that has been writing and traveling around the world sharing stories for decades. Her titles include “14 Cows for America,” “The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark,” and “The Library Dragon.” Among her honors are the Christopher Award, a Jane Addams Peace Association Honor, a Golden Kite Award, and a Pura Belpre Honor for Narrative.
- Don Tate is one of the founders of “The Brown Bookshelf” blog, designed to increase awareness of African American voices writing for young readers. His titles include “Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes,” “Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton,” and “Eve Bunting’s The Cart That Carried Martin.” Among Tate’s honors are the Christopher Award, two Ezra Jack Keats Awards, a Cater G Woodson Honor, and the Roberta Long Medal for Distinguished Contributions to Literature Celebrating the Cultural Diversity of Children.
- Joyce Wan grew up going to the local library every weekend with her mom and siblings. It was there that they created their own stories to go with picture books. She is a trained architect and self-trained artist. Her titles include “We Are Better Together,” “Peek-A-Boo Farm,” and “Are You My Mommy?” Wan has earned the Mills-Tannenbaum Award for Children’s Literacy for promoting a life-long love of reading and the ALA Amelia Bloomer Book list (for “Dream Big”).
- L. McBeth is a Findlay native who grew up reading Dr. Seuss and H.A. and Margret Rey. In high school, he interned with the Mazza Museum and was inspired by Mazza Conference illustrators and authors. He developed his love of expressive and minimalistic characters during his study of illustration at Wesleyan University. Some of McBeth’s 11 works have been featured by Scholastic, the TODAY Show, and The Wall Street Journal and “Randy, the Badly Drawn Reindeer” was listed in the Horn Book Magazine’s “Holiday High Notes” in 2022.
- Rob Dunlavey has been illustrating “for twenty years or so” – murals; illustrations for textbooks, newspapers, and magazines; and children’s books. He draws and paints in his sketchbooks every day. Sometimes he catches animal characters “in an unguarded moment and they tell him a little of what is going on in their lives.” His children’s books have been celebrated with the National Museum of Wildlife Art Bull-Bransom Award (“Owl Sees Owl”), inclusion in the Huffington Post’s Best Picture Books, and starred citations in Booklist, The Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal.
- Jacob Grant is another Ohio Native, growing up in the rural suburbs of Cincinnati. The Stinky Cheese Man and a visit by John Scieszka made a lasting impression on him in grade school. Most of his simply named characters start off miserable and their stories reveal how they deal with their individual struggles. Books he has authored and illustrated include the “laugh-out-loud” “No Pants!,” “Bear Out There,” “Through With the Zoo,” and “Little Bird’s Bad Word.” Grant’s books were twice selected as Illinois Reading Council/Illinois Reads books and he earned an Honorable Mention for the SCBWI Tomie Depaola Award.
This year will also feature “John McCutcheon In Concert” on Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. McCutcheon will join his wife and conference guest speaker, Carmen Agra Deedy, for Mazza’s Summer Conference. Three of McCutcheon’s songs have been turned into illustrated children’s books: “Flowers for Sarajevo,” “Christmas in the Trenches,” and “Happy Adoption Day!” Like many of his songs, they celebrate family, strength, and hope. His concerts have been described as “breathtaking in their ease and grace” … “like a conversation with an illuminating old friend.” Folk music’s “Rustic Renaissance Man,” McCutcheon has mastered a dozen traditional instruments, most notably the hammer dulcimer. He has released 43 albums and earned numerous Grammy nominations. One ticket is included with registration for Mazza’s Summer Conference, but additional tickets to Tuesday evening’s performance are available on the registration form.
To register for this year’s Mazza Summer Conference and John McCutcheon in Concert, please visit the registration page online. Registration for the 2023 Mazza Summer Conference closes July 13, or earlier if maximum participation limit is reached. Those who attend are also eligible to receive three hours of graduate or undergraduate credit.