Press Release: Lee & Low Books Announces New Visions Award Winners; Partners With First Book and NEA Foundation

New Visions Award WinnerNew York, NY—Children’s book publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS is thrilled to announce the results of its fourth annual New Visions Award for new authors of color. This year, in partnership with First Book and the NEA Foundation, the award expanded to two winning manuscripts: Operation Yellowbird, by Ming and Wah Chen, and The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez.

In the middle grade historical thriller Operation Yellowbird, a twelve-year-old boy must help his older sister escape Tiananmen Square and flee China after the government’s brutal crackdown on student protesters. Along the way, the siblings are aided by an escape network called “Operation Yellowbird,” based on the real-life secret underground. Co-authors Ming and Wah Chen are identical twin sisters who have a shared love of Chinese history and adventure stories.

Ming and Wah Chen
Ming and Wah Chen

The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez, is a middle grade novel about ten-year-old Margarita, who moves from her ancestral family home in New Mexico to Wyoming during the Great Depression. Sanchez deftly weaves together rich historical and cultural details in this unique American pioneer story. Born and raised in Wyoming, Sanchez received the 2012 Emerging Voices Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Winning authors receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a standard publication contract with Tu Books, the middle grade and young adult imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS. Three New Visions Award finalists were also announced: Searching for Superman by Jasmine Wade, Angel Dressed in Black by Robin Farmer, and Sun-Kadelic: An Afro-Futuristic, Historical Fiction by Jiton Davidson.

An Innovative Partnership

The collaboration with First Book and the NEA Foundation has enabled LEE & LOW BOOKS to expand its New Visions Award by selecting and publishing work by an additional new author of color. LEE & LOW BOOKS will also publish a special paperback edition of The Wind Called My Name exclusively for the First Book Marketplace, a site that offers brand-new books and educational resources—at the lowest possible prices or for free—to schools and programs serving children in need.

Mary Louise Sanchez
Mary Louise Sanchez

In addition, eight diverse books previously published by LEE & LOW BOOKS will be printed as more affordable special edition paperbacks and will become available on the First Book Marketplace starting in April. The NEA Foundation will provide more than $100,000 in credits to educators to purchase these and other diverse books through the First Book Marketplace.

The partnership demonstrates what can happen when foundations, publishers, and nonprofits come together to solve a problem: in this case, the lack of availability of diverse books. The partnership will result in the publication of a new author of color as well as increased accessibility and affordability for diverse books already published.

About LEE & LOW BOOKS:

Established in 1991, LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest children’s book publisher in the United States specializing in diversity. Under several imprints, the company provides a comprehensive range of notable diverse books for beginning readers through young adults. Lee & Low titles have received major awards and honors including the Coretta Scott King Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Sibert Medal, the NAACP Image Award, and many more. Visit leeandlow.com to learn more.  

First Book

About First Book:

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 1992 that has distributed more than 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada, which, with more than 275,000 members, is the largest and fastest growing network of educators serving kids in need. By making new, high-quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. Eligible educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/register. For more information, please visit firstbook.org. 

About NEA Foundation:

The NEA Foundation is an independent, public charity supported by contributions from educators, corporate sponsors, and others. We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit neafoundation.org for more information.

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For press inquiries or questions, contact:
Hannah Ehrlich, Director of Marketing and Publicity
Lee & Low Books
hehrlich[at]leeandlow.com

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