Tag Archives: children’s books

Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing

Literary agents make up a big part of the publishing machine. Most publishers no longer consider unsolicited submissions, so an agent is a must if you even want to get your foot in the door. Each year, agents review many promising manuscripts and portfolios so it is safe to say they have a good sense of who makes up the talent pool of children’s book publishing. So what kind of diversity are agents seeing? Being that the number of diverse books has not increased in the last eighteen years, in order to understand why this problem persists we decided to ask the gatekeepers.

Adriana DomínguezAdriana Domínguez is an agent at Full Circle Literary, a boutique literary agency based in San Diego and New York City, offering a unique full circle approach to literary representation. The agency’s experience in book publishing includes editorial, marketing, publicity, legal, and rights, and is used to help build authors one step at a time. Full Circle works with both veteran and debut writers and artists, and has a knack for finding and developing new and diverse talent.

Karen GrencikAbigail  SamounKaren Grencik and Abigail Samoun own Red Fox Literary, a boutique agency representing children’s book authors and illustrators. They offer a dazzling array of talents among their roster of clients, including New York Times and Time magazine Best Book winners, and some of the most promising up-and-coming talents working in the field today. The agency is closed to unsolicited submissions but it does accept queries from attendees at conferences where they present or through industry referrals.

Lori NowickiLori Nowicki is founder of Painted Words, a literary agency that represents illustrators and authors in the children’s publishing marketplace and beyond. Their goal is to provide the utmost in representation for illustrators and writers while placing a unique emphasis on developing characters, books, and licensed properties.

Do you receive many submissions from authors and illustrators of color? Overall, what percentage of authors and illustrators who submit to you are people of color? Note: Estimations are fine.

AD/Full Circle: I honestly wouldn’t know about percentages, but our agency receives a good number of submissions from authors of color. Proportionally, our agency represents more authors of color than most others. Authors and illustrators who are familiar with our work and/or visit our website know that we welcome diverse points of view, and see that diversity represented in our client list. I will say that I have personally felt for a very long time that there are simply not enough illustrators of color in the marketplace, and I am not quite sure why that is. I am usually very enthusiastic when I receive a query from a talented author/illustrator of color—I wish we received more of those! As a general rule, our agency represents illustrators who are also writers, and such people are difficult to find under any circumstances, as not everyone is equally good at both.I would estimate that perhaps 10–15% of my submissions are from people of color

AS/Red Fox Literary: It’s hard to tell how many submissions come from authors and illustrators of color. Most of the time, I haven’t met these authors and illustrators in person so the only way for me to tell what their ethnicity might be is by their name and their choice of subjects, but these can be misleading. I once made an offer on a picture book about an African American family, told in language with a jazzy rhythm, by an author with an African American sounding name and she turned out to be a white librarian. I’d made the assumption, based on the subject and the author’s name, that she would be African American.

Oftentimes, the question of the author’s ethnicity doesn’t enter my mind—unless the subject relates to race, in which case I’ll wonder if the author will have the life experience that can provide a genuine insider’s point-of-view. I would estimate that perhaps 10–15% of my submissions are from people of color.

KG/Red Fox Literary: I have four authors of color on my list of 38 authors, but like Abi says, we never know the ethnicity of an author when they submit to us. The only way I could imagine to gauge it would be by determining how many authors of color attend an SCBWI conference at which I present, comparing that number to the total number of attendees, and then assuming the ratio of submissions to be a similar percentage. At the recent summer conference in LA, I would guesstimate that authors of color made up about 35% of the total number of attendees.Less than one percent of the submissions I receive reflect people of color in the samples.

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Happy Halloween!

Whether you’re stuffing your face with candy or watching scary movies, everyone at LEE & LOW wishes you a fun (and safe!) Halloween!

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Trick or Treat: Diverse Books for Halloween!

Halloween, thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival Samhain, is just around the corner! Whether you’re planning to spend the holiday pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, or just relaxing with a cup of steaming hot apple cider, we have six diverse books full of thrills and chills to add to your Halloween festivities!

Ghosts for Breakfast

1. Ghosts for Breakfast by Stanley Todd Terasaki, illustrated by Shelly Shinjo

In this humorous story set in the 1920s, a Japanese American boy and his father investigate their neighbors’ report of ghosts in a nearby farmer’s field.

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5 Books for Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, a period chosen because it bookends the independence days of five Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18), as well as Columbus Day/Dia de la Raza (Oct. 14 this year in the United States). In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve rounded up five great books that celebrate Latino culture and history.

Gracias - Thanks

1. Gracias~Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra

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New Voices Award Winners: Where Are They Now?

New Voices Award sealLast month we brought together past New Voices Award winners to see what it was like to publish their first books. Today, in our final installment in the series, we ask these talented authors to share what they have been doing since entering the contest. guest blogger

This year marks our 14th annual New Voices Award writing contest. Every year, LEE & LOW BOOKS gives the New Voices Award to a debut author of color for a picture book manuscript. The submission deadline this year is September 30, 2013, so get those manuscripts in!

Q: What have you been up to in the time since your book won the New Voices Award or Honor?

Linda BoydenLinda Boyden, The Blue Roses  (our first New Voices Award Winner)

Winning the first New Voices Award for The Blue Roses gave me something I didn’t have before: confidence in myself as a writer. I had had a distinguished teaching career, but as a fledgling writer, it seemed I’d never get out of the slush pile. After the New Voices Award, my book also garnered the Paterson Prize and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Children’s Book of the Year. Buoyed by this incredible good luck, I wrote more and queried more. Though not represented by an agent at that time, I was lucky again and found a publishing home with the University of New Mexico Press for my next two picture books. The UNMP editor I worked with, W. Clark Whitehorn, convinced me to do my own illustrations for both Powwow’s Coming and Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas. Recently I’ve written and illustrated my fourth picture book, Boy and Poi Poi Puppy from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press and signed with Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary for my YA novel. I’ve been very lucky and thank Lee & Low Books for believing in me and for the wonderful jump-start!

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LEE & LOW at Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, 9/22

Lee & Low Books will be at the Brooklyn Book Festival next Sunday, September 22, and we’d love to see you! Stop by booth #129 (next to Bank Street Books) and say hello.

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artwork from Hiromi’s Hands, written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch

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Signings and Readings at the Harlem Book Fair

LEE & LOW BOOKS is going to be at the Harlem Book Fair this Saturday and we’d love to meet you! Stop by booth G38 (located on the North Side of West 135th Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard) for illustrator signings, and the Young Readers Pavilion for readings:Harlem Book Fair

SIGNINGS

Shadra Strickland11:00am-12:00pm

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Close Reading + Visual Literacy=Pathways for Understanding

Katie Cunninghamguest bloggerGuest blogger Katie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical literacy, and supporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal.

John Berger, in his famous documentary and book Ways of Seeing, explained that “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” Visual literacies are, perhaps, the primary and first ways young children understand the world. Young children are not only visual readers of the world they are naturally close readers as well. They closely read people’s facial expressions. They read signs to orient themselves. They read new blades of grass, flakes of snow, and changes in leaves as signs of seasonal change. For young children, close reading and visual literacies are their pathways for understanding. Yet our capacities to closely read what we see should be valued and strengthened beyond early childhood.

Society certainly thinks so. Instagram now has more than 100 million active users per month and is increasingly being taken up by teens and tweens as their site of choice over Facebook. Pinterest has more than 48.7 million users. Staggeringly, more than one billion unique users visit You Tube each month. Businesses today certainly recognize the power of visually-driven social media outlets as the primary way to reach potential clients. Yet too often the skill of closely reading what we experience visually is devalued in school over traditional print-based text. Are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) repositioning the power of the visual as part of the definition of what it means to be an attentive reader today? One hopes so.Too often the skill of closely reading what we experience visually is devalued in school over traditional print-based text.

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The Inspiration Behind the Artwork: World Travel

Our new picture book How Far Do You Love Me? takes readers on a trip around the world with illustrations of children and their loved ones. Here’s a fun fact: author and illustrator Lulu Delacre has actually been to all thirteen places depicted in the book!

She was kind enough to share a few photographs from her own travels that inspired the art for How Far Do You Love Me?. Enjoy!

Ladakh, Himalaya mountain range, Kashmir, India

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A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Recipe for Rainbow Stew

Rainbow Stew cover image

Rainbow Stew, our colorful spring picture book by award-winning author/illustrator Cathryn Falwell, is out today! This one is definitely up there among our top 10 picture books in terms of sheer adorableness, I think. Exhibit A:

Rainbow Stew image

Readers will delight in the vibrant colors of this rainy day adventure, which Kirkus Reviews called “a story that positively revels in family togetherness and good food.”

To celebrate its release, we’re sharing Cathryn Falwell’s recipe from the back of the book so you can make your very own Rainbow Stew! It’s a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure kind of recipe, so you can make it lots of different ways depending on your own tastes.

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