Archive for the ‘awards and honors’ Category

I’m in total HSP overload right now from having been out of the house for twelve hours straight…but those were some of the best twelve hours I’ve spent in ages!  The A Is for Anansi conference was GREAT, and I’ve got lots to share but for now thought I’d post some of the photos I took at the award ceremony/reception earlier this evening.  As keynote speaker Andrea Davis Pinkney said on Friday night, we’ve got a lot to celebrate AND a lot of work still to do.

Dr. Nancy Tolson & her husband, Kenny

KT Horning, Dir. of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center & Sandra Payne (we love librarians!)

smiling after Sandra asked me to sign ALL of my books! (6) ~ notice the Virginia Hamilton poster in the background; she was another honoree

Gambian musician Salieu Suso & Andrew P. Jackson, Exec. Dir., Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center

Illustrator George Ford & Nancy Tolson

Bernette Ford, founder of Color-Bridge Books

Author William Loren Katz

Esther Cooper Jackson (she’s 94!)

Honorees, Leo & Diane Dillon

Nancy, Diane, Leo, & George

George, Pat Cummings, Diane & Leo

Dr. Rashidah Ismaili-AbuBakr, & Tony Medina with a poster by Tom Feelings (another honoree)

the signature shot!  Nancy, my good friend Laura Atkins, & me

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New Voices Awards

New Voices Awards Main Image

About the Award

LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children’s books, is pleased to announce the eleventh annual NEW VOICES AWARD. The Award will be given for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500.

Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. Past New Voices Award submissions that we have published include The Blue Roses, winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Texas Bluebonnet Masterlist selection; and Bird, an ALA Notable Children’s Book and a Cooperative Children’s Book Center “Choices” selection.


1. The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.

2. Writers who have published other work in venues such as children’s magazines, young adult, or adult fiction or nonfiction, are eligible. Only unagented submissions will be accepted.

3. Work that has been published in any format is not eligible for this award. Manuscripts previously submitted for this award or to LEE & LOW BOOKS will not be considered.


1. Manuscripts should address the needs of children of color by providing stories with which they can identify and relate, and which promote a greater understanding of one another.

2. Submissions may be FICTION, NONFICTION, or POETRY for children ages 5 to 12. Folklore and animal stories will not be considered.

3. Manuscripts should be no more than 1500 words in length and accompanied by a cover letter that includes the author’s name, address, phone number, email address, brief biographical note, relevant cultural and ethnic information, how the author heard about the award, and publication history, if any.

4. Manuscripts should be typed double-spaced on 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper. A self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage must be included if you wish to have the manuscript returned.

5. Up to two submissions per entrant. Each submission should be submitted separately.

6. Submissions should be clearly addressed to:

95 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

7. Manuscripts may not be submitted to other publishers or to LEE & LOW BOOKS general submissions while under consideration for this Award. LEE & LOW BOOKS is not responsible for late, lost, or incorrectly addressed or delivered submissions.

Dates for Submission

Manuscripts will be accepted from May 1, 2010, through September 30, 2010 and must be postmarked within that period.

Announcement of the Award

The Award and Honor Award winners will be selected no later than December 31, 2010. All entrants who include an SASE will be notified in writing of our decision by January 31, 2011. The judges are the editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS. The decision of the judges is final. At least one Honor Award will be given each year, but LEE & LOW BOOKS reserves the right not to choose an Award winner.

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Tonight’s award ceremony was a lot of fun!  Congrats to the two winners: Taeeun Yoo and Tonya Cherie Hegamin.  And thanks to the other authors and illustrators who posed for pictures and my (in)famous short films…

Cheryl Willis Hudson, Shadra Strickland, and Javaka Steptoe

Tonya Cherie Hegamin with Dr. Brenda Greene

Tae signing her beautiful book, Only A Witch Can Fly

the signature shot…

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Meant to attend a symposium at NYU today, but got down there and basically turned around and came back home (after picking up some Indian food!).  Need some head space after a fairly full week.  I’ve just started reading Joseph Bruchac’s March Toward the Thunder, and on the 10th page there’s a list of Civil War battles: “Shiloh, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg.”  Then as I wove my way through Manhattan’s grid, I came up the block and saw a similar list of battles engraved on the wall of an old armory…In the story, Louis joins the Fighting 69th, and on the same day I start reading this novel, I pass by the 69th Regiment Armory…coincidence—or magic?  Came home and found these lovely letters from 3rd graders in Paterson, NJ:

One of the letters was especially sweet:

…your book was the greatest book I heard and sorry your brother got in jail.  I really like your story.  You is a nice women.  I hope your brother come to give you something and if you are hear tomorrow I will give you a wonderful present.  Take a guest.  It’s shiney and it’s betiful.  It is a neckless it’s betuful golden like the moon.  And I will like it if you will come again.  I will love it.

That fun visit was made possible by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College (Bird won their Prize for Books for Young Readers last year).

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My Horn Book essay comes out in March; this is one of the (very few) lines that wound up getting cut:

My favorite line from The Sound of Music: ‘When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.’  Canada, for me, was a windowless room.

But then I moved to NYC, and suddenly I was in a house filled with endless doors and windows—some opened for me, some did not.  But I always felt I had options, that I could make something happen.  Yesterday, right before my USA Today interview, I got an email letting me know I was not a good fit for the academic job I interviewed for in Philly last month.  I knew that, and expected a rejection letter, but still frowned a bit.  Then, almost at the same time, I got an email from Paterson College asking me to spend a day with students in NJ (Bird won the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers last year).  A few minutes later, a friend on Facebook emailed me and asked if I’d like to present to *400* kids at the upcoming National Black Writers Conference at nearby Medgar Evers College.  And then I did my interview, which was intense…but I tried to be honest and forthright, and was impressed that the interviewer already knew about the whitewashing scandal.  The interview should be out on Thursday, but I’ll keep you posted.  The day ended with this lovely email from a former student:

Dear Dr. Elliott,
As I’m going into my last semester at Mount Holyoke all I can think about is how much I learned from every class I took with you. Coming back after my semester in Mexico I was so disappointed to see that, after you left, there was only one class offered under African American studies. When I watch television, read the paper, take a class I am conscious of issues of race, violence, gender discrimination that I have always felt I was aware of but it is in a different way after having experienced class with you. You are missed by many at Mount Holyoke and I wanted to thank you for what you taught me and what will stay with me throughout my journey. I am determined to do work that has a positive effect on women of color and challenges the status quo and the images and treatment of women of color in pop culture. I am confident when speaking about injustice and I owe a lot of that to what I learned from you. So, thank you, and I hope you are well.

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I forgot to share some other important news: The Brown Bookshelf has announced its 2010 selections for 28 Days Later.  Lots of talented authors and illustrators are included, many of whom often don’t make it onto many bloggers’ radar.  My good friend Shadra Strickland is featured for the second time, and that makes this a good moment to share some of her exciting news: Our Children Can Soar will be featured in the February issue of Ebony Magazine (in the Kids’ Corner); since Bird was in their December issue, that makes TWO books featured in THREE months–go, Shadra!  Also, Our Children has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award!  This amazingly talented illustrator also has a new book coming out in June (you can pre-order it now): A Place Where Hurricanes Happen.  I’ve seen many of the illustrations and they’re stunning…Doret’s already ahead of the game, so if you want to know what other books you can look forward to this year, swing by her blog.

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Have you been following the Magic Under Glass controversy?  Need a break, or are you looking for a straightforward synopsis?  Then swing by Chasing Ray and read Colleen’s summary and critique.  Everybody should probably step back and take a deep breath before posting another comment…Neesha Meminger also cuts to the chase:

I do LOVE that there are bloggers out there who see this issue as something that affects them, and are taking it on themselves, or as allies. Brava to you! The only thing that really irked me in the comments I read was the suggestion that those who are outraged about the cover should somehow be “nicer” in their outrage. Let me just point out that sometimes PoC, women, LGBTQ folks, the working class, and other people who’ve had their voices marginalized, get angry. When you’re being battered on a daily basis, you’re bound to get a little pissed. And then, if you see people you love–your little brother, your cousin, your mom, your child, your grandpa–relentlessly battered as well, you’ll not likely reach out lovingly, softly, compassionately, to “teach” someone that their silence is not only NOT helping you, but that it is helping to keep the very systems in place that bruise and batter you every single day. To tell people who’ve had long histories of violence, subjugation, brutality, colonization, and/or slavery, that it would be better for them to be “nice” about their pain and outrage at being erased yet again — because they might hurt someone else’s feelings, otherwise — is really another way of saying “shut up.” It truly is. Audre Lorde’s famous quote, “Your silence will not protect you” comes to mind; the extension of that being, “Your silence will not help others.”

And I *just* found this great post from Eva over at A Striped Armchair—she links to that great Peggy McIntosh article, which apparently some folks need to read/re-read.  Think there’s nothing you can do?

I’m not trying to make you defensive. But here’s what I’m asking. Examine your reading choices, from an ethnic point of view. Are you comfortable with what you see? If not, change something. Commit, preferably publicly, to reading X number of POC books. Or X percentage. Or be sure to review the ones that you do read. Or do a post about it to spread awareness. Or start requesting that your library buy specific POC books (my library allows patrons four requests a month, and I’ve been using them on POC and GLBT books to try to round out their collection). Or ask your favourite bookstore why their endcap displays feature so many white authors. Just do something!

On another note, Kyra Hicks has once again dazzled us with her statistical skills…stop by her blog and see how the CSK Awards seem to go to the same (talented) authors and illustrators year after year—is there anything we can do about this?

On the subject of repeat winners ….

  • 52% of the 246 total Coretta Scott King awards given since 1970 have gone to recipients who have received four or more awards!
  • 23 folks have won more than four Coretta Scott King awards: 12 authors and 11 illustrators
  • 71 out of the 152 author awards have gone to the same 12 African American authors. This is no disrespect to these fine folks or their body of literature – but put another way – nearly 1 in 2 Coretta Scott King author awards (46.7%) have gone to the same twelve folks. Does the United States of America really publish such few potential award-winning Black kid’s lit authors?!
  • On the illustrator front, 57 out of 94 illustrator awards have gone to the same 11 Black illustrators. Put another way… 60.6% of all Coretta Scott King awards for illustration have gone to the same 11 folks.
  • Painting a more detailed picture…. 23 illustration awards have gone to the same talented four illustrators: Jerry Pinkney, Ashley Bryan, and the team of Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon. That’s 1 in 4 CSK illustrator awards!

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It’s MLK Day here in the US, and I suspect others across the globe are also celebrating his achievements and legacy.  I had to go out this morning and as I crossed the street, a brother in a huge black SUV nearly ran me over—the usual “force a woman to look at you by nearly hitting her with your vehicle.”  I dodged the truck, looked him, and started cursing when he waved as if to say, “Go ahead, sweetheart.”  Then I remembered it was MLK Day, and I tried to let it go (which clearly didn’t work since I’m writing about it here). There’s a fair bit of rancor online as well b/c of the Magic Under Glass cover controversy and the response of *some* white bloggers who feel we’re making a big deal out of a small matter.  I don’t have time to respond to all the ignorant remarks—we’ve gotten a LOT of support from other conscious bloggers, and there are follow-up posts at Reading in Color and Black-Eyed Susan’s.  Besides, today the ALA announced the winners of the Youth Media Awards!  The ALA site seems to be down right now, but the winners include Jerry Pinkney for The Lion and the Mouse—bear in mind that the prestigious Caldecott Medal has only gone to two black artists in over 70 years, so this is a really big deal.  As Nikki Grimes pointed out in a Horn Book op-ed, “The Caldecott has been around since 1938, which makes it seventy-one years old. In all that time, no individual African American artist has been honored with the medal. Note, I specified individual. Interracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon (he’s black, she’s white) twice won the Caldecott as a pair of artists working as one. When it comes to single, individual African American artists, however, the win column is still blank.”  The Coretta Scott King awards went to Bad News for Outlaws, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by Greg Christie (see Doret’s review here); the honor award went to Tanita S. Davis for Mare’s War, which is a story that still lingers in my mind.  Fellow WAGW panelist Kekla Magoon won the John Steptoe New Talent Award for The Rock and the River (read Ari’s review here); Charles R. Smith, Jr. won the Illustrator award for My People, and EB Lewis won the Honor award for The Negro Speaks of Rivers.  Congratulations to everyone!

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Wow–this is my second award in one week!  You have to believe in abundance…I spent yesterday afternoon eating delicious cake and reminiscing with my cousin, Leona, who was in town on business.  I sometimes forget how reassuring it is to have people in your life who’ve known you for as long as you’ve known yourself…my younger siblings “met” me when I was already a teen, but my older sister has known me all my life; it’s a shame we aren’t close.  Anyway, I came home (with leftover cake!) and found an email from my editor with the first proposed cover for my book; I’m in the process of selling the rights to Wish, and though the process is taking a long time, so far I’m *really* liking the amount of input I’m allowed to give!  I love the current cover, which was designed by Shadra Strickland, and hope readers find this new cover intriguing…once I get the green light, I will definitely share it with you.  For now, here’s my award, which I received from Jo Ann Hernández at BronzeWord Latino Authors:


The Humane Award honors certain bloggers who I feel are kindhearted individuals who regularly support my blog with their sweet comments. They have tastefully done blogs that are updated on a regular basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world.

Now I’d like to pass this award to the following bloggers:

Doret @ The Happy Nappy Bookseller

Susan @ Black-eyed Susan’s

Shveta @ A Desi Faerie Spins Stories of Silver…

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