Announcing our 2022 New Voices Award Winner and Honor

New York, NY—February 16, 2023—LEE & LOW BOOKS, INC. is excited to announce that Carren Jao of Los Angeles, California, is the winner of the company’s twenty-third annual New Voices Award. Her picture book manuscript, The Shape of Love, paints a vibrant, evocative portrait of a mother staying connected to her family by sending treats and supplies back to the Philippines through the tradition of balikbayan boxes.

photo of 2023 New Voices winner Carren Jao
Photo credit: Cierra Fiore / Shoott

Carren Jao is a Chinese Filipina storyteller and arts journalist based in Los Angeles. Having grown up in the Philippines and recently immigrated to the US, she has been both a sender and a recipient of balikbayan boxes. She wrote The Shape of Love to show Filipino American children, including her own, the hard work and love involved in choosing the gifts that go into each box. She is deeply interested in finding the common threads between communities and amplifying the representation of Filipino and Chinese culture in children’s books. Carren will receive a prize of $2,000 and a publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS, INC. is also proud to announce that Tyla LaGoy of Eugene, Oregon, will receive the New Voices Award Honor for her picture book manuscript, SPEAK. With lush, poetic writing, the manuscript follows a child pushing through discomfort as they learn to speak a new language. The story is inspired by Tyla’s own experience learning her tribal language, Chinuk Wawa.

Tyla LaGoy is a middle school teacher, a mom, and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde who is passionate about connecting to culture through language. Tyla wrote SPEAK to encourage readers to keep trying when they’re learning something new. Her hope is to assure children that their voices matters. Tyla will receive a prize of $1,000. 

Congratulations to Carren Jao and Tyla LaGoy!

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 J. Loney, an NAACP Image Award nominee. For more information, visit our New Voices Award page.