Announcing Lee & Low Books’ 2020 New Voices Award Winner and Honor

New Voices Award WinnerNew York, NY—January 19, 2021—LEE & LOW BOOKS is excited to announce that Vanessa Lewis of Hawthorne, California, is the winner of the company’s twenty-first annual New Voices Award. Her picture-book manuscript, Shamu, addresses homelessness in America through the story of a young girl whose resourcefulness and confidence help her meet everyday challenges at home and school.

Vanessa Lewis

Vanessa Lewis is a lifelong writer who draws inspiration from her experiences as an educator in a large, diverse school district. Through children’s literature, Lewis aims to build her students’ confidence in their individual capabilities. Lewis hopes that children who read Shamu will feel inspired to be more considerate and be reminded that a little kindness goes a long way. Lewis will receive a prize of $2,000 and a publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also proud to announce that Jehan Madhani from Houston, Texas, will receive the New Voices Award Honor for her picture-book manuscript Eli and the Uncles. Inspired by Madhani’s family and culture, Eli and the Uncles offers a softer example of masculinity through the loving relationship between a boy and his eight boisterous, bearded uncles.

Jehan Madhani

Jehan Madhani is a screenwriter in children’s media who is passionate about diverse narratives that celebrate people of color and the immigrant experience. She wants her nephew and other kids to see their names, families, and communities reflected in the stories that they read. Madhani will receive a prize of $1000.

Congratulations to Vanessa Lewis and Jehan Madhani!

Download a copy of the press release here.

ABOUT THE AWARD: Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color to submit their work to Lee & Low Books, which takes pride in nurturing authors new to the world of children’s book publishing. Published past winners include It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor; Bird by Zetta Elliott, an ALA Notable Book; Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, a Spring 2015 Junior Library Guild selection; and Take A Picture of Me, James VanDerZee by Andrea Loney, an NAACP Image Award nominee. For more information, visit our New Voices Award page.

Authors of color who write for older readers are encouraged to learn about our New Visions Award for middle grade and young adult manuscripts as well.

2 thoughts on “Announcing Lee & Low Books’ 2020 New Voices Award Winner and Honor”

  1. Hi! I’ve published YA & picture books through presses in India, but not through presses in the US. Am I eligible to enter this contest? My middle grades novel was published by Zubaan books and is distributed here through UChicago press, and my picture books are not available in the US. Thanks.

    1. We appreciate your interest in Lee & Low Books! Unfortunately, if a writer has had a picture book traditionally published (in the US or outside of the US) they are ineligible for the New Voices Award. We wish you the best on your writing journey!

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