(photo: Lucas Garzoli)
Frank Morrison was awarded the 2023 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award on Monday at ALA's LibLearnX conference for his illustrations in Standing in the Need of Prayer, written by Carole Boston Weatherford (Crown Books for Young Readers).
Well, you are no stranger to the CSK awards: you received the John Steptoe Award in 2005 and CSK Honors in 2015 and 2019. How does it feel to get yet another win?
Levitating! When I'm painting the artwork for my books, I'm never thinking of an award. I just want to represent the subject matter in the best possible manner.
What was the call like? Were you thinking/hoping you might get one?
I was surprised by the unknown number on a Sunday! I picked up the call and heard the news. I feel so proud and thankful to be a part of this book.
How do you describe Standing in the Need of Prayer to those who have not yet read it?
Fasten your seat belts, the book is full of history dating back to the 1600s. It's full of sad moments and triumphs, a documented history of our evolving world. Progress takes time and the courage to speak up.
Was this a collaboration between you and Carole Boston Weatherford from the beginning or were you paired through publisher kismet?
Carol and I had worked with Sonali [Fry], the editor, in the past and she saw the chemistry we had and entrusted us with the story. Sonali had the idea when she first heard the song at church.
With all illustrated works, creators want to find a balance between text and art--a space where each enhances the other and there is no redundancy. Considering the nature of this text, how was the story conceived?
I was fortunate enough to work with the great folks at Random House Children's Books and Carol Boston Weatherford. The text was so visual, it was not difficult to find the picture to elevate the story.
How was it decided which events would be referenced and illustrated?
It was left up to me to determine the vision.
What do you hope young readers will take away from this book?
If we forget the past, we will repeat it. The past reminds us of where we came from. We'll continue moving forward with strength and determination.
What was it like illustrating this picture book? What kind of energy did this work require from you?
Not to say I'm numb or to negate progress, but these situations are still with us. I try to bring dignity and honor to the subject matter.
Do you have a personal relationship with "Standing in the Need of Prayer"?
I feel like things came full circle in illustrating such an amazing text. (I didn't stay very long in a choir as a child since I didn't have the voice.)
Are you working on anything now?
I'm working a gallery show that will debut this August in SoHo in New York. I'm also getting ready to work on my next author/illustrator project.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell Shelf Awareness readers?
Follow your talent! --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness