Submitting to our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor

In this blog post, our editorial assistant Samantha shares her thoughts on the New Voices Award and what she’s looking for from this year’s submissions.

The beginning of summer is my favorite time of year. School’s out, the weather brightens up—although this year in New York, it’s been a bit shaky—and New Voices season begins. This year marks our 15th annual New Voices Award contest, and I can’t wait to watch the submissions come rolling in!

Over the last fourteen years, LEE & LOW BOOKS has published more than ten books that have come to us through It Jes' Happened coverthe New Voices contest, including Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds by Paula Yoo (2003 Winner) and Seaside Dream by Janet Costa Bates (2006 Honor). It Jes’ Happened (2005 Honor) received three starred reviews, and author Don Tate won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor. And we’re very excited about several New Voices winners and honors that will be published in upcoming seasons. We just love reading the amazing stories that have been submitted to the contest, and it’s inspiring to us to work with first-time picture book authors.

Last year we were thrilled to receive 165 New Voices submissions from authors all across the Unites States. With so many great manuscripts to read, we look for stories that stand out from the crowd. We love to be surprised by a Seaside Dreammanuscript, whether it’s a biography of a fascinating but little known historical figure or an everyday story told from a unique perspective. A submission will catch our eye if it is something we haven’t seen before. Just as the New Voices contest seeks out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing, we love to read stories about characters and subjects that are similarly underrepresented.

Another small but important detail that we appreciate when reading New Voices submissions is when an author pays close attention to the contest guidelines. It might seem trivial, but a good cover letter that follows the guideline requests—especially author information—creates a great first impression. You can see the full submission guidelines here and the answers to some frequently asked questions here.

We look forward to reading a great batch of stories this year and to discovering talented new authors through the New Voices contest. We hope you will help us spread the word to eligible authors!

 

Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Zoos!

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

What to do…what to do…If you are like us, the summer is an exciting time to discover new books, break out the art project we’ve been promising ourselves to start since February, and try every popsicle flavor from the ice cream truck.

Summer is the time to beat the heat, right? Whether that means hunting for air conditioning or jumping into a pool, we are here to keep you and your family loving books while you keep cool.

Over the coming weeks, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Your summer outing: the ZOO

Book recommendation: Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

 

Questions during reading:

  • How have humans affected Puerto Rican parrots and Puerto Rico?
  • What physical and behavioral adaptions help the Puerto Rican parrots survive in their environment?
  • How do the scientists demonstrate persistence and creativity?
  • What are the purpose and activities of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program?
  • How has Puerto Rico changed over time?
  • What does this book teach about sustainability?
  • Do you think communities and governments should save endangered species? Why or why not?

Activities:

Recipe for Parrot Crackers!

Ingredients: avocado, lemon, raisins/dried cranberries, banana chips, round crackers

Parrot Crackers

Parrot Crackers

  1. Peel half an avocado. In a small bowl, mash half the avocado with a fork until it is lump-free.
  2. Squeeze and mix in a little lemon juice into the mashed avocado to prevent it from turning brown.
  3. With a bread knife, spread the avocado over one side of each of the round crackers.
  4. Place two raisins or dried cranberries on top of the avocado side of each cracker for eyes.
  5. Cut or break a banana chip in half and place both below the eyes on the cracker to make the parrot’s beak. The two halves will stand off the cracker.
  6. Admire and eat!

Chef’s Note: We originally tried this with cream cheese and lime zest instead of avocado. We loved how the lime zest looked like real feathers and matched the collage work of illustrator, Susan L. Roth, but the lime zest had a wacky flavor so we went for the milder avocado!

Create a Food Web!parrot1

  1. Use Parrots Over Puerto Rico to make a list of all the plants and animals important to the Puerto Rican parrots existence in the book. The list should include: red-tailed hawks, humans, black rats, honeybees, Puerto Rican parrots, pearly-eyed thrashers, and sierra palm trees.
  2. Label which of these is a predator of, competitor to, and food source for the Puerto Rican parrot.

More resources for Parrots Over Puerto Rico and ideas for your summer adventures:

Strategies For Teaching English Language Learners—Part 4: Writing, Speaking, & Listening Practice

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science (IES) and What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released the latest educator’s guide to present best instructional practices for English Language Learners. Over the last several weeks, I’ve looked at several different strategies for teaching English Language Learners based on that guide’s recommendations.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to incorporate vocabulary instruction into activities that support listening, speaking, and writing practice for English Language Learners. This is the final week I will focus on the guide’s first recommendation: Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities.

Drumbeat in Our Feet

Drumbeat in Our Feet

Using the Lee & Low informational text, Drumbeat in Our Feet, as my model text, I applied the guide’s recommendations on how to choose an appropriate text and words for English Language Learners and how to teach the vocabulary over several days. See how I chose these words here and taught their meanings here.

Using Drumbeat in Our Feet and the IES’s process, my target words are origins, vital, ethnically, diverse, unique, vibrant and varied from the “Origins of African Dance” excerpt.

1. IES: Facilitate structured discussions to increase opportunities for students to talk about academic words. Always anchor these discussions around the topics that are present in the text and that do not have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. The goal is for students to learn to articulate a position or point of view and learn to defend their perspective or analysis. (P. 20)

Lee & Low: Over the course of multiple days, I am teaching a different part to each word’s meaning. After doing so, I want to create open-ended questions for whole or small group discussion that will allow my students to practice using the target words.

As my target words are origins, vital, ethnically, diverse, unique, vibrant and varied from the “Origins of African Dance” excerpt in Drumbeat In Our Feet, I would use these throughout the week for peer-to-peer discussion. This looks like:

  • Why would the authors want to discuss the diverse land and countries of Africa in a book about African dance?
  • Why might African dance vary in form?
  • Why should we study the origins of African dance today?
  • What factors might contribute to the diversity in African dance?

2. IES: Require students to use target words in their writing activities. (P. 21)

Lee & Low: Use the prompts above or focus on vocabulary-specific prompts. This looks like:

  • What are the origins of your family?
  • Write about the origins of a superhero.
  • Create a story about the origins of the universe or how life began.
  • Is it important to you to feel unique? Why or why not?
  • What are at least two things vital to all life forms?

Although we cannot explicitly teach all academic and content-specific words our students will need to know in their educations and careers, we can be strategic in how we teach 5-8 words a week so they can apply these word strategies to new words they come across on their own.

Further reading on supporting English Language Learners in the classroom:

 

Ask an Editor: Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction, Part I

Stacy Whitman photo

Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. Parts of this blog post were originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire

During the first week of June, I attended the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore. At the conference, I met writers from all over Asia and the Pacific, discussing craft, marketing their books at home and abroad, and translation. I even ran into Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac, the Australian author/illustrator team behind the LEE & LOW picture book The Drummer Boy of John John. I enjoyed all the panels and the chance to see Singapore and meet so many people from the other side of the world—it gives you a perspective as an editor you might not otherwise have.

One of the panels I participated in was a First Pages event, in which I read about 20 first pages of picture books, middle grade, and YA novels and then gave feedback on whether the pages were working for me and if I’d want to read more.

Stacy Whitman with author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frané Lessac

Stacy Whitman with author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frané Lessac

For the fantasy and science fiction entries, a common problem was—and is in any new writer’s writing—revealing enough about the world that you create interest and intrigue, but not too much. Too much, and you risk alienating your audience, confusing them, or simply not hooking them. Reader reactions are so subjective. One person might think there’s not nearly enough worldbuilding in a book (“give me more! MORE!”) and another might say of the exact same book that what worldbuilding there is was way too confusing (“I couldn’t keep all those made-up words straight!”).

So how do you, as the author, balance the needs of such a wide range of readers when you’re working in a complex world? And how do you balance the need to establish your characters, setting, and plot with the need to spool out information to your reader to intrigue them rather than confuse them?

This is a question that almost every author and editor of speculative fiction struggles with, particularly because we, as veterans of the genre, are already more comfortable with a lot of jargon than your average teen reader, particularly teen readers whose preference for fantasy runs more toward the contemporary paranormal variety.

Singapore 2

Stacy Whitman at the famous Singapore merlion fountain

There are a number of reasons why I think Twilight was so popular on such a broad scale, but one of the biggest ones was the relatability of the initial situation. Not vampires showing up at school—before that. We start with a simple story about a girl who is leaving her mother behind in Arizona to live with her father in an unknown small town on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Relatable: divorced parents, fish out of water, adapting to a new school and a new climate.

Think about all the really big fantasy hits of the last decade or so in children’s and YA fiction: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent. Of these books’ beginnings, only the dystopian tales start all that far outside the everyday experiences of your average young reader, and even The Hunger Games starts with a relatable situation—a coal mining family lives in a desperate situation and must hunt for food.

While most kids who would have access to The Hunger Games don’t live under a despotic regime, it’s plausible that it could happen in the real world. Every kid has been hungry at some point, though perhaps not as hungry and desperate as Katniss. Every kid has taken a test in school, and sometimes it feels like those standardized tests do determine your everlasting fate, as they do in Divergent, even if Tris’s Abnegation explanations are a little tedious. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are ordinary kids going to school, living somewhat normal lives (even if abusive ones, in the case of Harry) before their worlds change with the discovery of magic.

Stacy Whitman speaking on a panel at the Asian Festival of Children's Content.

Stacy Whitman speaking on a panel at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

There are three primary approaches to worldbuilding:

Reader learns world alongside character

Exposition: questions raised, then answered

“Incluing”: questions raised, then reader infers answers bit by bit

Next Thursday, I’ll go into detail about each of these techniques and give some examples. In the meantime, think about your favorite science fiction and fantasy books. How do they bring you into their world? What works best for you as a reader? Answering these questions about your own reading preferences can help guide you as a writer.

 

Out today: Drift and Rebellion

Warm weather is finally here! Get those summer reading lists ready because we’re excited to announce the release of two new YA novels from our Tu Books imprint: Drift, a high fantasy adventure that takes place on the shores of Hell, and Rebellion, the thrilling final book in Karen Sandler’s Tankborn series.

drift, by m.k. hutchins

In Drift, Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Tenjat is poor as poor gets: poor enough, even, to condescend to the shame of marriage, so his children can help support him one day. But Tenjat has a plan to avoid this fate. He will join the Handlers, those who defend and rule the island. As an epic naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for his trainer—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.

Read an excerpt. Learn more about Drift and author M.K. Hutchins here.

rebellion

In Rebellion, the Tankborn story comes to its thrilling conclusion as questions are answered after the devastating bomb blast that ended Awakening. Kayla has been brought to the headquarters of the organization that planted the bomb, and many others like it, in GEN food warehouses and homes. Her biological mother tells her that Devak is dead and that Kayla must join their terrorist group, which is ramping up for something big. Now Kayla must pretend to embrace this new role in an underground compound full of paranoia as she plots a way to escape and save her friends.

Read an excerpt. Learn more about the Tankborn trilogy and author Karen Sandler here.

Happy book birthday to our newest releases! You can purchase them on our website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookseller (if copies are not in stock, they can always order them for you). And of course, they’re also available as e-books.

Tearing Down Walls: The Integrated World of Swedish Picture Books

Laura SimeonThe daughter of an anthropologist, Laura Reiko Simeon’s passion for diversity-related topics stems from her childhood spent living all over guest bloggerthe US and the world. She fell in love with Sweden thanks to the Swedish roommate she met in Wales while attending one of the United World Colleges, international high schools dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding. Laura has an MA in History from the University of British Columbia, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. She lives near Seattle.

As the Librarian and Diversity Coordinator at a school with a global population, my guiding vision is that the books I offer must be both mirrors that reflect children’s lives and windows that open up new worlds. This is a challenge when the small percentage of children’s books in English showing people of color is largely restricted to stories of oppression far removed from my students’ daily lives of homework, soccer, and wishing for a puppy. Of Maskerad by Kristina Murray Brodincourse it’s important to be aware of injustice, but it sends a powerful message if we only show racial diversity in settings of suffering and conflict.

While “diversity” is not generally the first word that comes to mind when Americans think of Sweden, today fully 20% of Swedes are either immigrants or children of immigrants, many from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Combine this with Swedes’ commitment to children’s rights and a vibrant literary and artistic community, and you have the perfect setting for stimulating debates and boundary-pushing creativity.

A grant from the Swedish Institute allowed me to visit Stockholm last year to interview librarians, authors, illustrators, publishers, and teachers about how recent picture books reflect their multicultural society. During my visit I learned about a fundamental distinction between their approach to diversity and our own. There is a concerted effort to publish works of artistic and literary merit, free from heavy moralizing, that express a child’s perspective and tear down the walls that segregate people of color into a few categories: civil rights hero, the downtrodden, and token exotic friend.

Bridget and the Gray Wolves by Pija Lindenbaum

from Bridget and the Gray Wolves by Pija Lindenbaum

There is a firm belief in Sweden that the problem in stories must be about something other than differences.Marie Tomicic, of the Swedish multicultural publisher OLIKA, explained that when the problem in the story is the fact that a boy is playing with a doll, that sends a very different message from a book where the boy’s choice of a doll is unremarkable and the conflict “emerges from the play itself,” such as arguing about what scenario to act out.

This is why recent Swedish picture books that show ethnic diversity involve conflicts about ordinary, universal topics such as sharing. Several authors who are passionate about diversity proudly told me that if you were to read the text alone, you would never know that the illustrations in their books showed characters of many races. Often it’s even hard to tell exactly what ethnicity characters are meant to be. The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books monitors and publishes detailed data about gender – but not race – largely because of this ambiguity.

Gunna Grähs, a prolific author and illustrator, writes about a multicultural Swedish suburb where immigrants from several continents pursue ordinary daily activities such as buying lottery tickets or helping a neighbor who forgot to feed his cat. For decades Siv Widerberg has written stories in which multiethnic groups of children build sandcastles at daycare, collect sticks in the woods, and more. Anna Bengtsson shows characters with different ethnic backgrounds going to the hairdresser or playing in a pile of snow. Similarly, Eva Lindström, Lena Anderson, Eva Susso, Pija Lindenbaum, and many other Swedish writers are revolutionizing children’s literature simply by bringing people of color out of the margins and into the mainstream of daily life."When children read books featuring racially integrated groups of peers doing fun things together, it has a lasting positive impact on their play with members of other races."

This is not to say that Swedes have arrived at a place of perfect enlightenment. Many of them admire our willingness to publish children’s books that explicitly talk about prejudice, since history and culture have made this topic uncomfortable in their own country.

Controversy erupted in Sweden 2012 over Little Heart, a character intended to reclaim and empower the pickaninny stereotype. There was also heated debate about whether hip hop artist and children’s culture advocate Behrang Miri was justified in moving Tintin in the Congo to the adult section of a library. In response to these painful incidents, Professor of Illustration Joanna Rubin Dranger has been working on improving Swedes’ visual literacy Moa och Samir i lekparken by Siv Widerbergaround racial stereotypes through her fascinating School of Images.

Yet recent research supports a significant benefit of the Swedish approach: when children read books featuring racially integrated groups of peers doing fun things together, it has a lasting positive impact on their play with members of other races. (This was not the case when they read diverse books showing members of just one race.) The bad news? There are so few of these types of books that likely “most American children have rarely or never seen a cross-race friendship depicted in a picture book.”

What can we do without access to most of these wonderful Swedish books? We can bring greater intentionality to how we choose diverse books. We can search for and purchase books that show diversity as a natural and positive aspect of daily life. We can discuss the implicit and explicit messages in diverse books with young readers, helping them learn to read with awareness. Children deserve more from their diverse books: let’s start tearing down those walls.

20 YA Novels for Thinking Adults: A Diverse List

There has been a lot of controversy this week surrounding that now-infamous Slate article saying that adults should be embarrassed to read YA. Here at LEE & LOW, we couldn’t disagree more. We don’t think your enjoyment of a book should be limited by your age (or anything at all, really). YA novels are great. They can be entertaining, literary, thought-provoking, funny, sad, or all of the above at the same time.

There have been several excellent lists of YA recommendations floating around this week, so we thought we’d add our own. Here is a list (a diverse list, of course!) of YA novels that made us think, featuring some great books from LEE & LOW and some of our favorites from other publishers:

1. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books)

When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale.

2. How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books)

Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind.

3. Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee & Low Books)Under the Mesquite

As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead—and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family.

4. Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas (Vintage)

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem.

5. Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac (Tu Books)

This thriller is a totally new take on vampires and werewolves, featuring a Native American character and by a Native author.

6. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic)

A coming-of-age tale for young adults set in the trenches of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, this is the story of Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the service when his dream of attending college falls through.

7. Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac (Tu Books)

This postapocalyptic book with a steampunk twist was inspired by the real-life Apache warrior Lozen.

8. Drift by M.K. Hutchins (Tu Books)

Tenjat joins a dangerous defense to protect his island home from the monsters who threaten it in this fresh new high fantasy inspired by Maya and Indian folklore, by a talented debut author.

9. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson  (Speak)

Both Elisha (Ellie) and Jeremiah (Miah) attend Percy Academy, a private school where neither quite fits in. Ellie is wrestling with family demons, and Miah is one of the few African American students. The two of them find each other, and fall in love — but they are hesitant to share their newfound The dead and the gonehappiness with their friends and families, who will not understand.

10. More Than This by Patrick Ness (Candlewick)

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies. Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place? As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

11. Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman (HarperTeen)

Shawn McDaniel is glued to his wheelchair, unable to move a muscle. His life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. Not even those who love him best have any idea what he is truly like.

12. The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer (HMH Books for Young Readers)

This harrowing companion novel to Life As We Knew It examines that book’s apocalyptic event–an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes–as it unfolds in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales.

13. Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston  (HMH Books for Young Readers)

This story follows Jeanne Wakatsuki, a seven-year-old child whose family is placed in the Manzanar internment camp during World War II.

14. The Tankborn series by Karen Sandler (Tu Books)

This thought-provoking dystopian trilogy with a hard science fiction edge deals with genetic engineering, slavery, and what it means to be human.

 

15. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse)

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings.

16. If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Arthur A. Levine Books)

This wry and moving novel follows Lewis “Shoe” Blake, a teen living on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975.

17. Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

This YA novel follows three New York City teens during and after the September 11th attacks.In Darkness

18. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Simon & Schuster)

This beautiful story of love and friendship, which takes place in 1980s El Paso, follows two very different boys who form a special bond.

19. In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)

This complex YA novel, winner of the Printz Award, tells the parallel stories of Toussant L’Ouverture, the leader of Haiti’s slave revolt two hundred years ago, and modern day Haitian teen “Shorty,” buried in the rubble after Haiti’s earthquake.

20. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine)

A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

 

2014 ALA Signing Schedule

It’s hard to believe that the ALA Annual Conference is just around the corner, but we’re looking forward to a fun-filled weekend in Las Vegas! We have an exciting signing schedule, which you can check out below:

ALA signing schedule

SATURDAY, JUNE 28

SUNDAY, JUNE 29

MONDAY, JUNE 30

We’ll be at Booth 626 and we look forward to meeting many of you! We hope you can also join us on Sunday from 3:30-4:00 pm for our Book Buzz conversation on diversity: “Moving the Needle: Diversity in Children’s Books and How to Make a Difference.”

Submit Your Novel to Our New Visions Award for New Authors of Color

New Visions Award seal

We are thrilled to announce that submissions for our second annual New Visions Award are now open! The New Visions Award, which was created in 2012, will be given to a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. Established by Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW that publishes YA and middle grade science fiction and fantasy, the award is a fantastic chance for new authors of color to break into the world of publishing for young readers.

With the recent uproar over the lack of diversity at this year’s BookCon that led to the creation of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, to articles in the New York Times by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers addressing the lack of diversity in children’s books, it’s obvious that readers want to see more writers of color represented. It is our hope that the New Visions Award will help new authors begin long and successful careers and bring new perspectives and voices to the science fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres.

The New Visions Award is modeled after Lee & Low’s successful New Voices Award, which was established in 2000 and is given annually to a picture book written by an unpublished author of color. This award has led to the publication of several award-winning children’s books, including It Jes’ Happened by Don Tate and Bird by Zetta Elliott.

Details

The New Visions contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published.

Manuscripts will be accepted now through October 31, 2014. The winner of the New Visions Award will receive a prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500. For further details, including full eligibility and submission guidelines, please visit the New Visions Award page.

If you have any questions about submissions, eligibility, or anything else, feel free to drop them in the comments and we’ll try to answer them. And please spread the word to any aspiring authors you know who might be interested. We look forward to reading your entries!

Further reading:

Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part I

Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part II

Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part III

Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part IV

Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part V: Diversity in Genre Fiction

How Diverse Were This Year’s Tony Awards?

Last year, we shared an infographic and study on diversity (or the lack thereof) in the Tony Awards and theater. Here’s what it looked like:

Tony Awards Infographic

An interview with award-winning writer, actor, and filmmaker Christine Toy Johnson illuminates some of the challenges that actors of color often face on and off Broadway:

No Asian American female playwright has ever been produced on Broadway. Ever. . . . I believe that the only way we’ll see our roles increase is if more of our stories are produced (written by and/or about us), and/or if more playwrights/directors/producers are open to having people of color play non-race specific roles they write/direct/produce.

The reality is that on Broadway, we are often relegated to the supporting roles (which are often great, but still!), and with all the other things I’ve mentioned above, I believe, unfortunately, that the chances of an Asian American actor starring in a Broadway production are slim. There is also a vicious circle of producers wanting actors with TV and film notoriety to star in their Broadway shows, but because of the unevenness of access/opportunity in TV and film for actors of color, there aren’t as many TV and film “stars” of color to come take Broadway by storm.”

Last night marked the 68th annual Tony Awards so we thought we’d check in and see how the awards fared this year, diversity-wise. Of the six major categories above, two Tonys went to people of color:

Audra McDonald: Best Actress in a Play Tony for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”

Kenny Leon: Best Director of a Play for “A Raisin in the Sun”

The biggest news is that Audra McDonald has made history by winning her sixth Tony for acting, the most ever. Those wins include Tonys in all four major acting categories. In an industry that has, statistically speaking, not been very inclusive historically toward women and people of color, her win is especially poignant.

Audra McDonald in her Tony-winning role as Billie Holiday in

Audra McDonald in her Tony-winning role as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”

Congratulations to Ms. McDonald and the rest of the winners! Hopefully the year to come will bring an even greater diversity of talent, both onstage and behind the curtain!

EDIT (6/23/14): Interesting article from the NY Times about how Asian American actors are currently in demand.

 

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