Category Archives: Interviews with Authors and Illustrators

Interview: New Voices Award Winner Rita Lorraine Hubbard on Writing a Picture Book Biography

new voices award sealAt 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. In this blog post, we interviewed Rita Lorraine Hubbard, the 2012 New Voices Award winner, about her biography Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story, which tells the story of William “Bill” Lewis, an enslaved man who earned enough money being a blacksmith and set a daring plan in motion: to free his family. Continue reading

Interview: Pat Mora and Raul Colón On Bookjoy and Wordjoy

As a children’s book publisher, we know how powerful and influential words are, which is why we’re so excited to have announced the release of our new title, Bookjoy, Wordjoy this month! Whether we are collecting words, reading favorite books in the library, celebrating holidays, writing poems, sharing secrets, or singing a jazzy duet, words and books can take us on wonderful adventures and bring us joy. Poet Pat Mora and illustrator Raul Colón, two of the biggest names in the Latinx children’s book world, have teamed up to bring bookjoy, the fun of reading, and wordjoy, the fun of listening to words, combining words, and playing with words, to readers everywhere. In a starred review from Booklist, this title was called a “joyous invitation to put pen (or paintbrush) to paper.”

We interviewed Pat Mora and Raul Colón on their favorite words, poetry, and their upcoming projects.bookjoy wordjoy Continue reading

Interview: David Bowles + Guadalupe García McCall on Translating a Novel Into Spanish

Six years ago, we released Summer of the Mariposas from our Tu Books imprint. Set in Texas, Summer of the Mariposas is a Mexican retelling of the Odyssey, but it’s also a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love. It went on to win numerous awards, including the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Finalist, Lone Star Reading List, and the Amelia Bloomer Project – Feminist Task Force.

Now, we’re excited to say that this beautiful story has been translated into Spanish! We’re releasing El verano de las mariposas this May, and it will be our first young adult novel to be translated into Spanish. We interviewed author Guadalupe García McCall and translator David Bowles on the translation process, what it was like working together, and their upcoming projects. Continue reading

Interview: Maya Christina Gonzalez on Honoring Francisco X. Alarcón and Family

family poems for every day of the weekReleased last fall from the Children’s Book Press imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana is a celebratory collection of poems that highlights the daily life of children every day of the week while also honoring the experiences of Latino poet Francisco X. Alarcón, who passed away in January 2016. We interviewed illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez about the important role that family and friends play in Family Poems for Every Day of the Week and what the creative process was like:  Continue reading

Author Amy Lee-Tai on Connecting with Community

Last November, Amy Lee-Tai, author of A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, participated in a program called The Big Read, a program that exposes communities across the country to great works of literature and encourages them to read for pleasure and enrichment. Below is her blog post where she reflects on the experience: 
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Interview: Author Janet Halfmann on Lilly Ann Granderson’s Legacy

Midnight TeacherToday is the release day of Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School, a picture book about the little-known story of Lilly Ann Granderson, an African-American teacher who risked her life to teach others during slavery. To celebrate, we interviewed author Janet Halfmann to find out more about the story behind Midnight Teacher.

Many of us have not heard of Lilly Ann Granderson’s story. How did you find out about her legacy? What inspired you to write about Lilly Ann Granderson?

I learned about it in bits and pieces. I have long been interested in early black educators, partly because so many books about teachers in the early schools for African Americans are about white teachers from the North. I wanted to shine the spotlight on an amazing early black teacher. The first mentions I found about Lilly Ann Granderson were under the name Milla Granson, the name used by a northern abolitionist who met this teacher and wrote about it in her book. Once I started researching, I learned that Lilly Ann Granderson was known as the Midnight Teacher because she held her secret classes from midnight until two in the morning. That fact made the story all the more intriguing to me, and I thought it would be for kids too. All accounts I found about this teacher ended shortly after the Civil War, so I am honored to have had the opportunity to flesh out Lilly Ann Granderson’s amazing and inspiring story and share it with the world.

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Interview: Uma Krishnaswami and Cynthia Leitich Smith on Writing Humor

Today we are pleased to welcome two fabulous authors to our blog, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Uma Krishnaswami, for a discussion about writing and reading humor. Welcome, Cynthia and Uma!

Writing Humor Continue reading

Did Gandhi Really Say ‘Be the Change’?: Editing Historical Fiction

In today’s guest post, author Supriya Kelkar shares a behind-the-scenes look at the research required to write her new novel, Ahimsa—and a few neat things she learned along the way! Ahimsa was released this week and has received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist, which called it a “heartbreakingly charming debut about the universal struggle of overcoming fears and biases in order to make the world a better place.” 

Take it away, Supriya!

Did Gandhi Really Say That

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Interview: Axie Oh, author of Rebel Seoul (Out Today!)

Today is the release day of Rebel Seoul, the New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut by Axie Oh! When Lee Jaewon is assigned to partner with supersoldier Tera in Neo Seoul’s top weapons development division, he must decide where he stands: with the people his rebel father protected or with the totalitarian government that claims it will end all war.

To celebrate today’s release, we asked author Axie Oh about her writing process, the inspiration behind Rebel Seoul, and her advice to aspiring authors.

Axie Oh Rebel Seoul

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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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