Tuesday, June 15, 2021

And the Winners of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards Are...

Presented annually, the SCBWI Crystal Kite is a peer-given award which recognizes great books from 15 SCBWI regional divisions around the world. We would like to congratulate our wonderful 2021 winners for books published in 2020, listed here by division. Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wash DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)

Meg Medina (Sonia Sánchez, illustrator)


Australia, New Zealand

Meg McKinlay (Matt Ottley, author)

California, Hawaii

Ernesto Cisneros


Ellie Arscott (Sara O’Leary, author)

Europe, Latin America, Africa

Helle Norup

Mid South Division (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana)

THE OLDEST STUDENT: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
Rita Hubbard (Oge Mora, illustrator)

Middle East, India, Asia

Rachel Ip (Anneli Bray, illustrator)

Mid West Division (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio)

OLD ROCK (is not boring!)
Deb Pilutti

New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island)

Valerie Bolling (Maine Diaz, illustrator)

New York

Jackie Azúa Kramer (Cindy Derby, illustrator)

South East Division (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)

Kelly Jordan (Jessica Courtney-Tickle, illustrator)

South West Division (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico)

Fleur Bradley (Xavier Bonet, illustrator)

Texas, Oklahoma

Lindsay Leslie (Ellen Rooney, illustrator)

United Kingdom, Ireland

A.M. Dassu

Western Division (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota)

Faith Pray

Check out 14 of the winning books at the SCBWI Bookshop.org page here. (And more about the Last Garden is here.)

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, June 10, 2021

We Need Diverse Books Announces They Will No Longer Use The Hashtag or Term #OwnVoices

 It's a fascinating development. In their post, "Why We Need Diverse Books Is No Longer Using the Term #OwnVoices" they acknowledge that while the term started out as a way to raise the voices of under-represented creators of children's and teen literature, its use has shifted in ways that have become problematic. 

On June 6, 2021, We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) wrote:

"#OwnVoices was created as a hashtag by author Corinne Duyvis in September 2015. It was originally intended as a shorthand book recommendation tool in a Twitter thread, for readers to recommend books by authors who openly shared the diverse identity of their main characters. The hashtag was never intended to be used in a broader capacity, but it has since expanded in its use to become a “catch all” marketing term by the publishing industry. Using #OwnVoices in this capacity raises issues due to the vagueness of the term, which has then been used to place diverse creators in uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situations. It is important to use the language that authors want to celebrate about themselves and their characters."

This concern over the term's evolution to, at times: a marketing gimmick; a way to police who can tell what story; a determinant of which stories get marketing/publicity attention; and forcing some creators into unsafe situations with being outed for parts of their identities (usually the LGBGTQIA2+ parts) has been growing. Author Rin Chupeco tweeted back on March 2, 2021

"I am no longer using #ownvoices for my books and I encourage others to do the same.
Originally conceived to celebrate us, it’s now instead used by publishers as a cudgel to deny bipoc authors book deals, forcing them to come out to defend the truths in their books."


The efforts to amplify and support under-represented illustrators, translators, and writers are important - equally so is keeping up with how tools and terms are used so we help make things better.

WNDB wrote that they

"...will no longer use the term #OwnVoices to refer to children’s literature or its authors and we have removed mentions of #OwnVoices from previously published blog posts. Moving forward, WNDB will use specific descriptions that authors use for themselves and their characters whenever possible (for example, 'Korean American author,' or 'autistic protagonist')."

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

SCBWI Reading Lists Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride

With completely charming art by Vincent X. Kirsch (starring characters from his picture book From Archie to Zack), SCBWI has compiled a list of recently published books for kids and teens that include LGBTQIA+ characters and themes

Celebrate Pride (LGBTQIA+)
This month we celebrate books that honor the affirmation, dignity, equality, and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or LGBTQIA+ people. On this list you will find OwnVoices books, biographies, historical events, memoirs, fiction, and more. So grab a great book and celebrate Pride Month!

These are SCBWI member books, from PAL publishers, and there are six lists in all: anthologies (1 title); Graphic novels (2 titles); middle grade (5 titles); nonfiction* (7 titles); picture books (19 titles); and Young Adult books (17 titles).

Each month, SCBWI features books written and illustrated by our members. And every month highlights a new theme that will foster discussions, activities, and enjoyment! Storytelling done right.

Check them all out, and support your fellow SCBWI members!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

*Full disclosure: my own nonfiction for readers age 11 and up, No Way, They Were Gay? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves is included in the nonfiction list. Hurray!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

SCBWI is on Bookshop!

If you've been to an in-person SCBWI event, you know that one of the highlights is browsing the bookstore with books from all the faculty. For local events, often a local indie bookseller has organized things, and at the international conferences in New York and Los Angeles, the conference bookstore becomes for that weekend one of the biggest sellers of children's and teen books in the country!

Even with SCBWI events having gone digital, there's still a way to browse the faculty books for different events – on Bookshop (which supports independent booksellers.)

The url is: https://bookshop.org/shop/SCBWI and you can browse books in these categories:

Digital Workshops 4.0 Faculty

Equity + Inclusion Book Club Selections

Crystal Kite Award Winners

Titles from SCBWI Advisory Board Members

Golden Kite Award Winners

Reference Books

Golden Kite Award Finalists

Sid Fleischman Award for Humor Finalists


NY21SCBWI Conference Faculty.

Have fun checking out all the books* - and know that buying them supports those authors, translators, illustrators, their publishers, and independent bookstores.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

*Worth noting is that for now, bookshop.org can only list books available through Ingram Wholesale. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Have You Been Attending These Free-For-Members Digital Workshops? Next Up: "Creating a Cast of Characters in Your Middle Grade Novel" with Meg Medina

Registration is open now for "Creating a Cast of Characters in Your Middle Grade Novel" with Meg Medina.

The workshop will take place this Thursday June 3, 2021 at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern. Here's the description:

Kids have busy lives - with their families, at school, and with their friends. How do you recreate those relationships authentically without confusing your readers with too many characters? Meg Medina, author of the3 Newbery award-winning novel Merci Suarez Changes Gears and its newly released follow-up Merci Suarez Can't Dance, leads a worskhop on how we build and manage memorable characters in service to the story we're trying to tell. Be prepared to work on exercises pertaining to your own work-in-progress.

Like all the SCBWI digital workshops, the video recording will remain up on the SCBWI Digital Workshops Archive page for four weeks... which means you can still see

Digital Workshop One: Transforming a Picture Book Manuscript Into a Visual Narrative
with Jacqueline Alcántara

Digital Workshop Two: SCBWI #OWNVOICES Celebrating Asian Voices
with Julie Abe, Samira Ahmed, Mike Jung, Emily X.R. Pan, Dow Phumiruk, Paula Yoo; moderated by Alvina Ling


Digital Workshop Three: Maximizing Your Social Media Presence and Effectiveness
with Greg Pincus

by logging into the archive.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Appropriate Cultural Appropriation - A Thoughtful Article by Nisi Shawl

Listed at the Children's Book Council's Diversity Resources for Writers page, this article by Nisi Shawl, Appropriate Cultural Appropriation is well-worth reading.

A highlight:

"Rather than looking at a binary choice between (mis)appropriating a culture and avoiding its mention, we can consider a spectrum of roles it’s possible for transcultural writers and readers to play.

We can examine works in which authors have attempted to write about, or extrapolate from, another person’s culture for ways in which they succeed or fail.

We can question and reground our desire to write about other cultures."

Among those important questions:

Are we approaching another culture as an invader? A tourist? A guest?

What's "the best point of view from which to recount a transcultural tale"?

Are we honoring the value of things like "ideas, beliefs, customs, paradigms, and other non-physical artifacts"?

There's so much to consider. Read the full article here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

kiBooka - A Resource Celebrating Books for Kids and Teens by Korean Americans (and Korean Diaspora)

A celebration of children's literature by Korean Americans and Koreans living outside Korea, the kiBooka website was created by Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park. The idea is to list books traditionally published in English by Korean American and Korean diaspora creators, grouped under "Picture Books," "Middle Grade", and "Young Adult."

As of writing this, the kiBooka site lists 33 picture books:

A screenshot of the picture book page on the kiBooka website

12 middle grade titles:

A screenshot of the middle grade page on the kiBooka website

And 17 young adult books:

A screenshot of the young adult page on the kiBooka website

And those lists will keep growing! As Linda Sue wrote on the website's About page, 

"This kiBooka website is a source of great happiness for me. When my career began more than 20 years ago, there were very few creators of Korean ancestry publishing in the US—it would have been a forlorn site indeed! I’m excited about the talented writers and artists whose books are now available, and hope you will enjoy learning about them and their work." — Linda Sue Park

In this interview by Stephani Martinell Eaton on Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations blog, Linda Sue Park speaks with six creators (Janet Wong, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Paula Yoo, Aram Kim, Helena Ku Rhee, and Chris Soentpiet) about what kiBooka "means for them professionally and personally." 

They speak of how more than a list, kiBooka represents a gathering of community.

If you'd like your upcoming book featured on the kiBooka website, you'll find details on submitting here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Are You Ready for the BIG FIVE-OH? The SCBWI Summer Conference Celebrates SCBWI's 50th Anniversary! (Registration Opens May 19 at 10am Pacific)


July 29-August 2, 2021, Live on Zoom

It's going to be a party, a conference, a connection with community, and so much more! Registration opens TOMORROW May 19, 2021 at 10am Pacific - click here: https://www.scbwi.org/event-summer-conference-2021/

Here's the scoop:

The three main days are July 30, 31 and August 1, with optional events on the day before and the day after, as well as a free bonus peer critique day on August 7. Featuring a super-star faculty of over 50 industry leaders speaking on over 50 topics, the 50th promises to be memorable for all SCBWI members.

We are breaking the mold this year and providing an all-new format. Gone are the hour-long conversations, replaced with over 50 fifteen or thirty-minute keynotes offering concrete and specific advice on all aspects of creating children’s books. Whether you want to learn how to create a graphic novel script or promote your illustrations on social media, how to outline your novel in three easy steps or write a rhyming picture book, there is meaty information for your specific interest. In addition, every session will provide a handout of take-away points and tips, and all sessions will be available to attendees online for a month following the conference. It’s a buffet of fifty plus topics and speakers for you to gorge on, both live and at your leisure.

Each day will also feature a themed mingle so you can get to know some of your fellow attendees. And a series of nightly socials will provide opportunities to connect with like-minded writers and illustrators.

The pre-opening day, July 29, will feature two optional intensives, one called LAUNCHPAD with sessions aimed at new-to-the-field creators who are launching their careers. The second intensive on that day is called PRO DAY, featuring a multitude of practical insider sessions for published authors and illustrators. The final day, August 2, will bring you an intensive for illustrators, which is free to all those who have enrolled in the full conference. Also on that day, we will also have PITCH ROUNDTABLES, where you select an agent or editor and participate in their hour-long pitch session. Each attendee who registers for this day will get seven minutes to pitch their book and get a response from the agent or editor roundtable leader. There is a limit of 900 places in the pitch roundtable day, so if you plan to take advantage of it, please mark the registration date in your calendar and don’t delay signing up.

By the way, the registration date is May 19, opening at 10 a.m. PACIFIC time. (That’s 1 p.m. EASTERN time, and all kinds of other times in other time zones.) Tuition for the main conference is $150. Tuition for the July 29 intensive is $100. (You must pick one and be signed up for the whole conference.). Fee for the Roundtable pitch day is $75. Fee for the portfolio showcase is $75. The Illustrator Intensive is included in your conference registration.

In addition, there is the career-altering Portfolio Showcase with two grand prizes, the opportunity to sell your books in our online conference bookstore, the bonus Peer Critique day (free to all registrants on Saturday, August 7), and a full set of handouts to remind you of all you’ve learned from this once-in-a-lifetime collection of masters in the field.

Over 30 scholarships are available, including many for underrepresented creators.

Here is an alphabetical list of conference speakers, so far:

Kwame Alexander
Elana K. Arnold
Sarah Aronson
Darcie Little Badger
Jessixa Bagley
Claudia Bedrick
Jenny Bent
Sophie Blackall
Valerie Bolling
Alex Borbolla
Regina Brooks
Mahogany Browne
Cozbi A. Cabrera
Kacen Callender
Nancy Carpenter
Nancy Castaldo
Antonio Gonzalez-Cerna
Ruth Chan
Nidhi Chanani
Jenny Choy
Ernesto Cisneros
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Brandy Colbert
Matthew Cordell
Kandace Coston
Mary Claire Cruz
Pat Cummings
Mike Curato
Adriana Dominguez
Elizabeth Dulemba
Kait Feldmann
Feather Flores
Marla Frazee
Saho Fujii
Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Grimes
Shannon Hale
Kirsten Hall
Deborah Halverson
Vashti Harrison
Leah Henderson
Saritza Hernandez
Zara Gonzalez Hoang
Tiffany D. Jackson
Milena Jahier
Allyn Johnston
Cecile Kaiser
Naz Kutub
Tricia Lawrence
Minh Le
Arthur Levine
Tiff Liao
Malinda Lo
Melissa Manlove
Barbara Marcus
Janae Marks
Alice McGinty
Torrey Maldonado
Heather Montgomery
Yuyi Moralesv Erin Murphy
Michelle Nagler
Daniel Nayeri
Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Lin Oliver
Linda Sue Park
Hallie Patterson
Darcy Pattison
Ann Whitford Paul
Erica Perl
Beth Phelan
Tanusri Prasanna
James Ransome
John Rocco
Nadia Salomon
Dan Santat
Tammi Sauer
Gary Schmidt
Heather E. Schwartz
Karol Ruth Silverstein
Ronald L. Smith
Christina Soontornvat
Traci Sorell
Nova Ren Suma
Jennifer Swanson
Shaun Tan
Brent Taylor
Aiden Thomas
Brittany J. Thurman
Jennifer Vassel
Padma Venkatraman
Lisa Yee
Phoebe Yeh
Paula Yoo

We hope you'll join us for this online happening!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Register Now For "Celebrating Asian Voices" - Free for SCBWI Members

This is going to be awesome! SCBWI #OwnVoices: Celebrating Asian Voices will take place on Thursday May 20, from 1pm-2pm Pacific.

Six children's book creators will discuss the role their Asian or Pacific Islander identity plays in the writing and art they create as well as the importance of overcoming stereotypes and providing positive representation.

The amazing panelists will be:

Julie Abe

Julie writes middle grade fantasy and YA romance, with the most recent book out being book two in the series, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch

Eva Evergreen has fulfilled her dream of earning the rank of Novice Witch, and discovered the chilling truth behind the mysterious Culling -- the violent magical storm wreaking havoc across Rivelle Realm.

Revealing the truth, however, proves to be a difficult task and soon the culprit is at large. To make matters worse Eva learns what might be the horrible truth behind her pinch of magic and her mother's own mysterious connection to the Culling and rogue magic.

With her spirits at an all-time low, Eva must muster up the courage to prove her mother's innocence and learn to believe in her own magic, if she wishes to put a stop to the Culling once and for all.

Samira Ahmed

Samira's latest book is Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.

Mike Jung

Mike's most recent book is The Boys in the Back Row

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol-a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that-really, it’s a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another.

Emily X.R. Pan

Author of the New York Times bestseller, The Astonishing Color of After

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between reality and magic, past and present, hope and despair, THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, bravery, and love.

Dow Phumiruk

Dow has illustrated picture books including "Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13" and "Maya Lin, Artist-Architect of Light and Lines." Check out illustrator's Dow's website for some amazing art. 

Paula Yoo

Paula's latest book is the nonfiction YA "From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry" 

A groundbreaking portrait of Vincent Chin’s life and death and the civil rights case that took America’s Asian American community to the streets in protest of injustice. Vincent Chin’s legacy inspires today’s generation to continue speaking out and fighting back in solidarity against hatred and racism. Because our history, our stories, our contributions – and our voices – matter.

and the session will be moderated by Alvina Ling, VP and Editor in Chief, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Some details: Any current SCBWI member can register for a workshop. The first 5,000 people to sign up will receive a confirmation email with a Zoom link and instructions on how to attend the webinar live. Once registration has reached the 5,000-person limit, the workshop will be closed. Members who cannot attend live will be able to watch a video recording of the webinar on the SCBWI website twenty-four hours after the conclusion of the event.

Get all the details, and register for the workshop here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, May 13, 2021

SCBWI Translation Hub and Resources

Make sure to bookmark translation.scbwi.org/

A screen shot of the new translation hub at scbwi.org, showing "translator" as one of the professional roles SCBWI members can choose when they self-identify.

It's a new home base for everything translations for kids and teens - there's a list of events, resources, a list-serve, even a critique connection!

There's also a nifty list of interviews with SCBWI Translator members!

Check it all out at: translation.scbwi.org/

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

SCBWI Switzerland Interviews Lawrence Schimel About His Picture Books That Have Been Translated and Published in 23 Different Editions Around The World

Lawrence with translated copies of his picture books featuring kids and their pets from LGBTQ families.

In this excellent interview, SCBWI Switzerland Regional Advisor Elisabeth Norton spoke to Lawrence Schimel about the journey of two of his picture books, Bedtime, Not Playtime! and Early One Morning, translation, book rights, and much more.

One highlight, discussing the four language release in Switzerland (German, French, Italian, and, Rätoromanisch, sometimes also called Romansh or Romansch):

Lawrence: The publisher for these titles in Switzerland is an NGO, Dachverband Regenbogenfamilien, which doesn't normally publish books but knows that books like these were lacking in Switzerland. They had seen on social media as I posted about the 8 previous languages the books had been published in (Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Flemish, Galician, Latvian, Slovenian, and Spanish) and asked if the rights were still available for the Swiss languages, in order to publish them in time for IFED (International Family Equality Day) which is celebrated each year on the first Sunday of May. As a Swiss NGO, they were very aware of the importance of publishing in ALL of the Swiss languages, including Rätoromanisch. I don't know if these are the first LGBTQ books published in Rätoromanisch, but I do believe they're the first LBGTQ kidzbooks published in this language, which is quite an honor!

Go read the full interview here!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Mr. Darcy Rant About Alliterative Names: A Guest Post by Ann Whitford Paul

Picture Book Author Ann Whitford Paul has a great newsletter, where she writes from the point of view of her cat, Mr. Darcy, on issues of craft. In the most recent, Mr. Darcy chases after the all-too-common practice of alliterative names in picture book manuscripts. With Ann's kind permission, here's that essay:

Why do so many picture book manuscripts use alliterative names? Sitting on my writer’s lap, we read them together and whenever she comes across Danny the Donkey, Tony the Tractor, or Zelda the Zebra, she groans so loud I leap away. Imagine an editor’s reaction! Worse than a groan, they will toss the manuscript into the rejection pile.


Too many people think of children as cute and therefore their characters should be cute. I think children are cute until they tie a bonnet on my head or, even worse, pull my tail. OUCH!

Being young may look fantastic to adults. What’s not to love having your food prepared for you, playing all day, and never having to hold down a job! That doesn’t mean childhood is all ice cream cones, giggles and kisses. There are falls and tears and temper tantrums. Recognize this when considering an alliterative name.

It’s okay to call Donkey, Donkey and Lion, Lion. It’s also okay to name animals. Writers have been doing it forever. Think of Babar, Ferdinand, and Curious George.

Remember in picture books, every word counts. If you name a character Annie Ant, that’s one extra word; two extra words, if you call her Annie the Ant. Those extra words repeated through the manuscript could go to much better use forwarding the action, expressing emotion, and writing lyrically. We lucky authors of picture books have illustrators to let the reader know what creatures our characters are.

I shiver at the thought my writer might have named me Curt the Cat, instead of Mr. Darcy, but she knew better. When you’re naming your charters, I hope you’ll know better, too.

For more of Ann's wisdom on crafting picture books, you might check out her website's resources for writers page and her book, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,