Inaugural Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium Set for July 2016

The School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University will host the Inaugural Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium on July 24-26, 2016, at Kent State University, with Will Hillenbrand, Janet Evans and Philip Nel as the keynote speakers.

"The Picturebook as an Art Object: Honoring the Life and Work of Dr. Kenneth A. Marantz" is the theme of this inaugural event.

According to Dr. Marantz, professor of art education at the Ohio State University from 1971 to 1991, picturebooks (spelled as one word by Dr. Marantz) are “such rich repositories of visual art, so readily available compared with the resources housed in galleries and museums, that I believe we must take the fullest advantage of them.”

For many young children, picturebooks represent their first exposure to culture — to art, and to literature — in one perfect package. For older children, picturebooks are a useful tool for addressing controversial or difficult subject matter. For all, the aesthetic relationship with picturebooks can create life-long connections.

Dr. Marantz and his wife, Sylvia Marantz, have graciously funded a biannual scholarly picturebook research symposium to be organized and hosted by the Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science. This Inaugural Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium honors the late Ken Marantz’s lifelong dedication to the art of the picturebook.

Conference presentations will feature original, interdisciplinary research in areas related to picturebooks, especially centered on Dr. Marantz’s concept of the picturebook as an art object.


Children’s book author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand, who studied under Ken Marantz, received the 2012 Parents' Choice Silver Honor award for his illustrations in Bear in Love. Other accolades include a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators; Notable Book Award from the American Library Association for the first picture book he illustrated, Traveling to Tondo; and Children's Choice Awards from the International Reading Association for Sam Sunday and the Mystery at the Ocean Beach Hotel and The House That Drac Built.

Janet Evans is a literacy and educational consultant and senior lecturer in education at Liverpool Hope University. Her latest book, Talking Beyond the Page: Reading and Responding to Picturebooks, shows how different kinds of picturebooks can be used with children of all ages and highlights the positive gains to be made from reading, sharing, talking and writing about picturebooks. Her previous books have focused on the changing nature of literacy in the 21st century, writing and the primary children, and the importance of illustrations in picturebooks.

Philip Nel is an American scholar of children's literature and University Distinguished Professor of English at Kansas State University. Among his recent publications are Crockett Johnson's Barnaby Volume Two: 1944-1945 (co-edited with Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics, 2014); Crockett Johnson's Barnaby Volume One: 1942-1943 (co-edited with Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics, 2013); Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature (University Press of Mississippi, 2012); and Keywords for Children's Literature (co-edited with Lissa Paul, NYU Press, 2011).

Program and registration 

Additional information will be posted when it becomes available.

Conference Committee

  • Marianne Martens, Ph.D., Convener
  • Meghan Harper, Ph.D., Evaluation and Assessment
  • Michelle Baldini, M.L.S., Coordinator
  • Belinda Boon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Mary Anne Nichols, M.L.S., Senior Lecturer
  • Flo Cunningham, M.A., PR/Marketing Specialist