February 22, 2010
Portland resident and National Book Award winner Phillip Hoose will be the speaker for the University of Southern Maine’s 130th Commencement. The ceremony will take place Saturday, May 15 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. Hoose will be awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters at the ceremony.
Last November his book, “Claudette Clovin: Twice Toward Justice” received the National Book Award in the young readers category. In January, he received the Newbery Honor for a prominent contribution to literature for young readers. In addition, the book was recognized as a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and an ALSC Notable Children’s Book. The book is about a young civil rights activist, who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus nearly a year before Rosa Parks’ famous gesture.
“Hoose is a much sought-after speaker and performer at book festivals, conferences, writing seminars, songwriting workshops for children, and musical performances across both our state and the nation,” said USM President Selma Botman. “The children’s book that he co-authored with his daughter Hannah, “Hey, Little Ant,” has been published in ten languages, resulting in sales of over one million copies around the world.”
A graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Hoose has been a staff member of The Nature Conservancy since 1977 and is dedicated to finding and protecting habitats of endangered species. He is also a songwriter and performer, and is a founding member of the Children’s Music Network and a member of the band, Chipped Enamel.
Phillip Hoose, photograph by Gordon Chibroski, Portland Press Herald