Winning a major book award is surprising every time it happens. Like all publishers, we pretend not to pay attention to the mock award committee announcements that multiply in our inboxes each December and early January. Of course, we do not deny ourselves a little excitement when we spot one of our titles on someone’s favorites list, but we try to keep our expectations realistic. The chances of winning one of the “big” awards are like the chances of winning the Lotto, and it is a good idea to protect ourselves by not letting our hopes get too high.
We took a short break from blogging in the wake of last week’s big event in the children’s book world: the American Library Association’s annual announcement of their Youth Media Awards—or, as some like to call it, “The Oscars of Children’s Literature.” No outlandish outfits at these Oscars, but a few of our books do now have nice, shiny accessories on their covers:
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor and an ALA Notable Children’s Book
Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration
We know we’ve done something right when readers share their excitement for our books with the entire Internet. Amy Cheney, librarian at Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, is one of those excited readers: she made a video with other staff at the ACJJC, all explaining why they love Yummy and why it’s great for the kids they work with every day.
It’s official! Our new Tu Books imprint has acquired its first two books, which will be published in Fall 2011. Here’s the formal announcement:
Stacy Whitman at Lee & Low Books has acquired the first novels for the Tu Books imprint, which launches in fall 2011. The imprint will focus on multicultural MG/YA science fiction and fantasy. For the launch list, Whitman has acquired World rights to a YA paranormal thriller tentatively titled Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac, author of Codetalker and Skeleton Man. When Lucas King’s black-ops father is kidnapped and his best friend, Meena, put in danger, Lucas’s only chance to save them is hidden away in an abandoned, monster-guarded mansion. The deal was done by Barbara Kouts of the Barbara S. Kouts Agency.
Note: This post was last updated in May 2020
The New Voices Award is open to all authors of color and Native nations who have not previously had a children’s picture book published. The winner receives a cash prize of $2000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first-time author. An Honor winner will receive a cash prize of $1000.
We periodically get some questions about the Award, so I’d like to answer a few of them if I can:
What does it mean to be a person of color?
Well, that can be a pretty complicated question, but for purposes of our New Voices Award specifically, we accept contest entries from people who self-identify as African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latinx, Middle Eastern, or Native American/Indigenous descent.
Why is the New Voices Award only open to people of color?
The New Voices Award was founded to encourage and support authors of color in a market where they’ve been traditionally excluded and underrepresented. That was true in 2000 when the award was started and it’s still true today (see these stats for some surprising figures about the number of books published by/for people of color). The New Voices Award is one of the ways in which we’re trying to close the gap.
We have some very exciting news to share: we have acquired Tu Publishing, an independent press focusing on diverse fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults! Founded by Stacy Whitman last fall to address the need for more books featuring diverse characters and inspired by non-Western cultures, Tu is becoming Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW. Several manuscripts are already in the works, with hopes of releasing the first books under the new imprint next year.
This morning, we went up to the Bank Street College of Education for the announcement of their Best Children’s Books of the year list—and to celebrate, with cake, the centennial of the Children’s Book Committee.
Every year for the last one hundred years, The Children’s Book Committee—then of Child Study Association of America, now of the Bank Street College of Education—has recommended books that are good for children. They read thousands of books, they share books with children and ask for their opinions, and then they make recommendations to teachers, librarians, and parents. They have good taste—they included Alicia Afterimage, Bird, Honda, Horse Song, No Mush Today, and Seven Miles to Freedom on their list of the best books published in 2008—and they love books.