Last 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.
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?
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!
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:
Guest bloggerKatie 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.
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!
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:
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.
Today is Chinese New Year! Traditionally, the night before Chinese New Year, Chinese families will gather around and eat dinner together, much like this plate from the LEE & LOW title, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic:
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic author and illustrator Ginnie and Beth Lo were kind enough to share one of their favorite soybean recipes with us: Mapo Tofu! While not a traditional Chinese New Year dish, the Lo sisters say that “mapo tofu is a Lo family favorite that we eat on the holidays, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.”