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!
For your next read aloud, how about adding in some lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and an award-winning storyteller?
As February comes to an end, we round out Black History Month with a spotlight on William “Doc” Key, a self-taught veterinarian who taught his horse Jim Key how to read, write, and calculate math problems. Teaching a horse these skills might sound preposterous, but Doc was able to nurture Jim’s ability through kindness, patience, and empathy. Together they traveled throughout the United States and impressed audiences with Jim’s amazing performances. In the process, they broke racial barriers and raised awareness for the humane treatment of animals.
Here’s what Donna Janell Bowman, author of Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness, had to say about William “Doc” Key’s legacy and the amazing duo’s story:
As Fast As Words Could Fly was selected by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation for its latest read aloud on Storyline Online, an interactive literacy website where well-known actors read popular, award-winning children’s books to help students fall in love with reading.
As Fast As Words Could Fly was written by Pamela M. Tuck, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, and read by actor Dulé Hill now on Storyline Online.
January 16th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and to celebrate, we’ve gathered six books that highlight the works and accomplishments of civil rights activists and African American pioneers.
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.
Due to the current political climate, kindness and empathy are more important than ever. We know, however, that books can change a reader’s perspective and open a reader’s mind to a different world, a different culture, and a different way of life. In celebration of empathy and kindness, we’ve collected a list of recommended books that encourage kindness, giving, and open-mindedness.
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.
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 Tankborn by Karen Sandler. First published in 2011, Tankborn was one of the original launch books for our Tu Books Imprint, which publishes diverse middle grade and young adult literature. Since its launch, Tu has published nearly 20 titles for older readers featuring diverse characters, stories, and worlds. Tu Books also established the New Visions Award, an annual writing contest for unpublished authors of color (and today is the deadline for submitting your manuscript!). Continue reading