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!
Today is the release day of Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh, a middle grade historical novel about nine-year-old Maria Singh who longs to play softball. To celebrate, we interviewed author Uma Krishnaswami to find out more about her writing process and her inspiration behind Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh.
Released last fall from LEE & LOW BOOKS, Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris is a beautiful story of recycling, conservation, and family tradition. Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for the market. Ixchel first tries weaving with a variety of materials, but then she notices the colorful plastic bags littering her neighborhood and suddenly has an idea that ends up benefitting everyone.
We asked illustrator Elisa Chavarri to take us behind the scenes of her art process bringing Rainbow Weaver to life: Continue reading
The Crane Girl, released last month, is an adaptation of a popular Japanese folktale about the power of friendship and kindness to transform lives. Told in both haiku and prose, The Crane Girl follows young Yasuhiro who rescues an injured crane in the woods one night. The next day, a mysterious girl appears at his door. She offers to weave silk for Yasuhiro and his father to help them with money, but eventually the father’s greed has a life-changing effect on them all.
To celebrate National Poetry Month, we asked author Curtis Manley to take us through his writing process when it comes to haiku, poetry, and The Crane Girl. Continue reading
With Susan L. Roth’s signature collage illustrations and Cindy Trumbore and Roth’s detailed narrative, it’s clear that Roth and Trumbore’s styles are a perfect match. Their award-winning books, The Mangrove Tree, Parrots Over Puerto Rico, and Prairie Dog Song are a testament to their effortless collaboration style and their shared passion for conservation. In this interview, Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore discuss their writing process, their stylistic differences, and working together to create the perfect story.
Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony is about the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian families in a Ugandan village who created a Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative. In this uplifting photo-essay, we learn how families live and work together peacefully despite their religious differences. Author and photographer Richard Sobol takes readers on a journey to Namanyonyi through his beautiful photographs. And to learn more about his experience, we’ve asked him a few questions about his creative process.
LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.
Today, we are celebrating the latest installment of our extremely popular Marisol McDonald series, Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo. In this endearing bilingual story, Marisol confronts her greatest fear: monsters!
In Calling the Water Drum, Henri and his parents leave their homeland, Haiti, after they receive an invitation from an uncle to come to New York City. As they attempt to flee Haiti in a boat, Henri loses his parents out at sea, and after his loss can only communicate with the outside world through playing his drum. In this interview, author LaTisha Redding discusses how she tackles heavy themes in children’s books and what inspired her to write Henri’s story.
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness is a biography of William “Doc” Key, a formerly enslaved man and self-trained veterinarian who taught his horse, Jim, to read, write, and do math. Together they became a famous traveling performance act and proponents for the humane treatment of animals around the turn of the twentieth century. In this interview, author Donna Janell Bowman discusses the power of Doc and Jim Key’s message of kindness and what inspired her to write about one of the most famous performing duos in the country.