International Children’s Literature Conference


DATE: Monday, November 13

CONTACT: Rachel Weiss,


Madison, WI – Four award-winning authors will be guests of honor at an all-day conference on international children’s and young people’s literature in Madison, Saturday, November 18. The conference, “Open a Door . . .Open a Book . . .Open Your Mind . . .to the World,” now in its sixth year, is the only conference of its kind in Wisconsin, drawing international children’s literature enthusiasts from around the state.

This year, authors Yangsook Choi, Cathryn Clinton, Yona Zeldis McDonough, and Suzanne Fisher Staples will speak at the conference. The authors have each published extensively and are recognized internationally for their work. Also featured at the conference will be Ginny Moore Kruse, former director of UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center and an international authority on children’s literature.

“Every year [at the conference] authors and artists of outstanding books inspire a room full of educators to become acquainted with books from around the world and then introduce the stories to the children and young teenagers in their classrooms,” says Kruse. “As student populations become increasingly diverse, it’s essential to offer perspectives of the world. Such books can become either windows or mirrors, depending upon what each reader’s experience might be.”

The conference, being held at the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., beginning at 8:15 a.m. on the UW-Madison campus, is an initiative of UW-Madison’s Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC), a consortium of federally-funded Title VI national resource centers, including eight on the UW-Madison campus. Since the conference’s inception in 2002, authors from around the world have addressed more than 500 teachers, librarians, students, and literature enthusiasts from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

A related event featuring three of the authors and Wisconsin’s First Lady, Jessica Doyle, will take place on Friday, November 17. For the past three years, Jessica Doyle has included the conference’s authors in her “Read On Wisconsin” program by selecting a book by each author for her reading lists, and inviting students for book discussions with the authors. This year the First Lady will welcome three of the authors – Choi (The Name Jar), Clinton (A Stone in My Hand), and Fisher Staples (Under the Persimmon Tree) – to the Governor’s Mansion. Doyle has included books by all four of the authors as part of her fall 2006 “Read On Wisconsin” ( initiative. The authors also will visit Madison area schools Midvale Elementary School, Randall Elementary School, and Patrick Marsh Middle School (Sun Prairie).

Here is additional background on the speakers:

  • Yangsook Choi grew up in Korea and moved to New York to study art. She was selected as one of the most prominent new children’s book artists of 1997 by Publishers Weekly. She has illustrated and penned more than nine books for children.
  • Cathryn Clinton is the author of several novels for children, including A Stone in my Hand. The book tells the moving story of a Palestinian girl in Gaza City, 1988, whose father is killed in a bus bombing and whose brother turns to violence.
  • Suzanne Fisher Staples is well known in the world of young adult literature for her award-winning book Shabanu. Staples worked as a news reporter and editor for United Press International for ten years in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, New York, and Washington, DC. Her most recent novel is Under the Persimmon Tree, about a girl living on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Yona Zeldis McDonough was born in Israel and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of numerous books for children and adults. Her book, The Doll with the Yellow Star, has just received the 2006 “Once Upon A World Children’s Book Award” given by the Simon Weisenthal Center and Museum for Tolerance.
  • Ginny Moore Kruse has chaired or served on many national children’s literature award and distinction committees, including those for the Newbery, Caldecott and Batchelder awards. She is a former public school teacher, school librarian, and public librarian.

This event is open to the public but registration and a fee are required. For more information, contact Rachel Weiss at (608) 262-9224/ or visit