Category Archives: Diversity, Race, and Representation

Conversation about diversity, multiculturalism, race, and inclusion.

Where Are They Now?: New Voices Award Authors and Artists Discuss Their Experience and Creative Process

September is here and with the close of summer comes the close of our New Voices Award submissions window on September 30, 2017. It’s also a time when those who have submitted manuscripts—and those still in the process of doing so—may be grappling with some personal questions:

Should I submit my story if I’ve never written for children before?
I’ve always been an artist, but can I be a writer?
What happens to the winner and honor after the award?
Where can I find good advice from someone with experience?

These questions and others like them are not easily addressed in a FAQ page. So to provide this year’s participants with some insight to the contest and creative process, we reached out to former New Voices Award winners, honors, and artists who faced some of these same questions not too long ago. These three accomplished storytellers have forged successful careers as children’s book authors, illustrators, and even author/illustrators. In the following interview, author Paula Yoo (Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds), illustrator Shadra Strickland (Bird and Sunday Shopping) and author/illustrator Don Tate (It Jes’ Happened) share how participating in the New Voices Award helped shape their success.

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Interview: Translating Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad

Released last month, Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad is a picture book biography of José Martí, a renowned political figure and revolutionary who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty. Known for his leadership in the fight for Cuban independence, Martí is celebrated throughout Latin America. To many Latinos, particularly Cuban Americans, he represents the bridge between the cultures of Latin America and the United States. Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad received five starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Shelf Awareness, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews.

For this post, we asked author Emma Otheguy, editor Jessica Echeverria, and translator Adriana Dominguez to take us through the translation process for Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad:

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Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Third Grade

Reading books with children at a young age not only helps them better prepare for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children early to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional growth.

Lee & Low Books offers hundreds of great books for third graders. Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse our 3-6 classroom collections to see what we offer, and check out our other book lists by grade:

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Preschool

Our 8 Favorite Multicultural Books for Kindergarten

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Second Grade 

While we have hundreds of titles to choose from, here are 10 of our absolute favorite diverse books for third grade! Favorite Multicultural Books for Third Grade

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10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Realistic Dialogue

You’re a writer working on a manuscript and you’ve finally got your two most important characters in the same room. There’s tension between them. One character has a question and the other has the answer. The conflict your plot has been riding on has finally come to a head—these characters need to say what’s been on their minds for pages!

But how do you make sure that your characters say what they need to in a way that’s believable to the reader? Nothing ruins a moment like this more than when the dialogue doesn’t flow or sound believable. If this is a problem you’re grappling with, don’t worry. We asked two previous New Voices Award-winning authors, Pamela M. Tuck (As Fast As Words Can Fly) and Glenda Armand (Love Twelve Miles Long) for their tips and tricks on writing successful, realistic dialogue.

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The Book So Good He Stole It: Our Intern on “Family Pictures”

summer 2017 internSantiago Montoya is LEE & LOW’s summer intern and a recipient of the We Need Diverse Books Internship Program grant. A rising junior at Brandeis University, Santiago is majoring in Hispanic Studies and Sociology with minors in Comparative Literature & Culture and Legal Studies. He is originally from Medellín, Colombia, but moved to the US permanently to complete his education. He occasionally goes back to Colombia to reconnect with his roots and his loved ones. LEE & LOW’s title Family Pictures/Cuadros de Familia was the inspiration for this blog post because it reminded him of an important quality of being Latino, which is family and togetherness. Continue reading

Faith in the American Dream with D. H. Figueredo

When This World Was NewIn this guest post, author D. H. Figueredo discusses the message behind his book, When This World Was New, and his hope in the American Dream.

My story, When This World Was New, might have several messages, or meanings, which have been assigned to the narrative by readers and not by me.  But I do have a conscious message I want to impart to you, an informal legacy of sorts.  During this particular moment in the history of our wonderful country and in the history of communities throughout this land and in the history of immigration to this nation…well, my message is best depicted by a drawing made by the illustrator of my book Enrique A. Sanchez, from the Dominican Republic.

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Illustrator Keith Mallett Takes Us Behind the Art of Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!

Released this month from LEE & LOW BOOKS, Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! is a picture book biograpy of James VanDerZee, a groundbreaking photographer who chronicled an important era in Harlem and showed the beauty and pride of its people. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance—politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Mamie Smith—and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too.

We asked illustrator Keith Mallett to take us behind the scenes of his art process bringing Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee to life: Continue reading

Building a Biography: An Interview with New Voices Award Winner Andrea Loney and Senior Editor Jessica Echeverria

At Lee & Low Books we are always interested in biographies of unsung heroes. Stories of lesser-known individuals who used their talents and overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams and serve their society fill our shelves of published titles. Each year our New Voices Award judges consider dozens of biographical submissions on the lookout for a winning combination of compelling characters and well-researched storytelling. But how do these components come together to create a manuscript? How does a writer condense someone’s entire life into a picture book? Does the writer or editor decide what information goes in the story and back matter? What is back matter, anyway? To answer these questions, and for an inside look at the editorial process, we interviewed Andrea Loney, author of the 2014 New Voices Award-winning biography Take A Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! and Jessica Echeverria, our Senior Editor who helped turn Andrea’s manuscript into an absorbing debut!

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Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Second Grade

Reading books with children at a young age not only helps them better prepare for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children early to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional growth.

Lee & Low Books offers hundreds of great books for second graders. Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse our prek-2 classroom collections to see what we offer, and check out our other book lists by grade:

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Preschool

Our 8 Favorite Multicultural Books for Kindergarten

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade

While we have hundreds of titles to choose from, here are 10 of our absolute favorite diverse books for second grade!  Continue reading

Behind the Cover of REBEL SEOUL

Pacific Rim meets Korean dramas in Rebel Seoul, the electrifying new sci-fi thriller out this September from the Tu Books imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS. When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he’s eager to claim his best shot at military glory. His objective is simple: report on Tera, the test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. But when he becomes Tera’s partner and starts to fall for her, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime. He must decide where he stands: with the people, or the totalitarian government that claims to end all war.

We asked Tu Books editor and publisher Stacy Whitman to take us through the process of bringing the cover of Rebel Seoul to life:

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