We Need Diverse Books Launching an App for Curated Books

Coming in January 2017, We Need Diverse Books will launch OurStory, an app that librarians, educators, parents, and children can search for reading recommendations. The new app utilizes a database of over 1200 books curated to reflect diverse characters and themes.

The app was created in response to many people’s frustration and difficulty finding quality books with diverse characters, themes, and authors.

WNDB president Ellen Oh said, “The app provides a way for publishers to shine a light on diverse books and a place for authors and illustrators to be featured.”

The app will be available on the Internet and through both iOS and Android platforms. For more details, see the full piece.


Kirch, Claire. (2016, Oct. 8). We Need Diverse Books Launches Curated Books App. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/71682-we-need-diverse-books-launches-curated-books-app.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=cff1fc8b80-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-cff1fc8b80-305871045.

An Abundance of Imprints

New imprints are popping up all over!

Christopher Myers and Random House focus on underrepresented stories and worlds, California publisher Cameron + Company looks for that “classic feel,” and graphic novel publisher Papercutz gets hyper focused on tween girls.

With a little digging and a lot of luck you might just find the sweet spot for that amazing manuscript you’ve been shopping.😉 Details and full articles are below. Good luck!

Make Me A World with Christopher Myers and Random House Children’s Books launched

Christopher Myers

Jul 7, 2016. In a Publisher’s Weekly piece by Shannon Maughan, Myers said, “I want this imprint to build worlds for young people to grow up in. Each book is a world – and there are so many worlds that have yet to be created.”

Cameron Kids from Cameron + Company is looking for books “with classic potential” that their whole team will love. The imprint not only seeks first time authors and illustrators, but also boasts the talents of editor Amy Novesky, who began her 20 year career at Chronicle Books. Read the full piece by Anisse Gross here.

Charmz by kids’ graphic novel publisher Papercutz is set to launch in May 2017. Charmz seeks “relationship driven stories” for tweens, especially girls. Brigid Alverson’s full article in Publisher’s Weekly quotes Papercutz vp of marketing, Sven Larsen: “We are looking at ages 10–13 as the sweet spot for this with the potential for it to go slightly older and slightly younger.”

Four new Charmz graphic novels, to be released simultaneously.

Maughan, Shannon. (2016, July 7). Christopher Myers and Random House Partner for New Imprint. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/70848-christopher-myers-and-random-house-partner-for-new-imprint.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=51a1983180-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-51a1983180-305871045.

Gross, Anisse. (2016, July 7). Cameron + Company Launches Children’s Imprint. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/70838-cameron-company-launches-children-s-imprint.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=51a1983180-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-51a1983180-305871045.

Alverson, Brigid. (2015, July 14). Papercutz Launches Charmz Teen Imprint for Girls. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/70907-papercutz-launches-charmz-imprint-for-teen-girls.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=7020787ade-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-7020787ade-305871045.


‘March: Book Three’ Named First Graphic Novel to Win NBA

Co-authors Andrew Aydin and Congressman John Lewis, and51twsyeekml-_sx339_bo1204203200_ illustrator Nate Powell were honored last week with the announcement that their book, March: Book Three (Top Shelf Productions / IDW Publishing) had won a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

March: Book Three is the third and final volume in a graphic novel trilogy about the civil rights movement, and also the first graphic novel to ever win a National Book Award.

Finalists in Young People’s Literature included:

  • Kate DiCamillo for Raymie Nightingale (Candlewick Press)
  • Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Jason Reynolds, Ghost (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)
  • Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star (Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House)

Judges for the NBA in Young People’s Literature were William Alexander, Valerie Lewis, Ellen Oh, Katherine Paterson and Laura Ruby.

For a complete list of NBA finalists and winners, in all categories, please click here.

Roback, Diane. (2016, Nov. 17). ‘March:Book Three’Wins 2016 NBA for Young People’s Literature. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/72064-march-book-three-wins-2016-nba-for-young-people-s-literature.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=ca03a712fd-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-ca03a712fd-305871045.


Good News!

Congratulations to member Jennifer Laam, whose second novel was published in April of this year. Way to go, Jennifer!

The Tsarina’s Legacy, released on April 5, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press/Griffin, is a companion novel to Laam’s debut The Secret Daughter of the Tsar.

IMG_0040 copyIn 1791, Prince Potemkin returns to St. Petersburg to restore his legacy and win back the love of his life, Russia’s powerful Catherine the Great. In the present, Romanov heiress Veronica Herrera is invited to the same city as a ceremonial monarch. As Veronica encounters unanticipated dangers, Prince Potemkin provides the inspiration she needs to tackle difficult choices.

Jennifer Laam

Jennifer Laam is an alumna of the University of the Pacific (History and Russian Studies). She resides in Northern California, where she spends her time writing, reading, and line dancing. You can find more about her at jenniferlaam.com.


If you have good news to share, we’d love to hear from you! Send a quick note to AcornNewsletter@gmail.com.

The Tomie dePaola Award Says Goodbye

For many years illustrators have competed for SCBWI’s coveted Tomie dePaola Award

Tomie dePaola

and 2017 is no different. The prize includes complete tuition to SCBWI’s New York Winter Conference in Manhattan, compensation for travel and accommodations, and is judged by Tomie himself.

But this year will be the last.

After 2017, the illustration award will be replaced with the SCBWI Board of Advisors Illustration Award. The new award will retain a similar structure, but will be judged by a panel. Click here for more details.

But it’s not too late to enter!

This year’s assignment is to cast yourself, as a child, in a picture book. Show your autobiographical character in a scene and make sure to convey the emotion of your character. The viewer should be able to read the emotion of the character immediately and clearly. No words or captions are allowed in the image

Submissions must be at the SCBWI home office by December 1, 2016. For complete rules and submission information, click HERE.

How I Got My Agent with K.C. Held

I attended my first SCBWI Summer Conference in 2011. I was fresh off my stint in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program and had a shiny new manuscript I’d just started querying. Before one of the sessions I’d been talking to a fellow attendee who asked me what I was working on. After I described my shiny new middle grade fantasy she suggested I send it to her agent, Kathleen Rushall, as she thought it was something Kathleen would be interested in. When we entered the huge California Ballroom I slid into a row of seats next to a woman who, believe it or not, turned out to be Kathleen Rushall!

Author K.C. Held

After reading the full, Kathleen ended up passing on the project but was kind enough to refer me to another agent. I ultimately decided to shelve the project, but when it came time to query my next book, a YA mystery, Kathleen was at the top of my list.

I sent her my query for HOLDING COURT in mid-December and figured I wouldn’t hear anything until after the holiday season. Here’s what happened next…

It was the day after Christmas and I heard the telltale ding of an email landing in my inbox. With visions of post-holiday sale notices dancing in my head, I clicked on the envelope icon.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an email I’d been hoping for but hadn’t expected until next year!

Okay, I’ll stop with the Night Before Christmas schtick already.

Was this it? The prelude to the legendary “call?” I sent off a reply and proceeded to wear a ridiculous grin for the rest of the day. A grin that slipped when I became certain that “the call” would consist of a very polite rejection. Or that the hideous coughing plague my preschooler had given me for Christmas would strike in the middle of my phone call, thereby making talking impossible.

I emailed my author friends to make sure I knew the right questions to ask, JUST IN CASE. I googled all things call-related. I started fourteen different craft projects in an effort to distract myself.

At the appointed hour I shooed my noisy family out of the house, popped a cough drop, and proceeded to stare at my phone. Which promptly rang. My pulse booming like a world class beatboxer, I answered.

It was THE CALL!!

I started happy dancing around the house, performing every song in my Just Dance repertoire simultaneously at double speed.

Then I emailed the other agents I was waiting for responses from. Every time an email with the heading “Offer of Representation” hit my inbox I had palpitations. My January decision deadline suddenly felt impossibly far away.

But the longer I waited, the more certain I became I’d already found the agent for me. The agent I happened to sit next to at an SCBWI conference.

It seems fitting that I just registered for my second SCBWI Summer Conference. See you there?


When a sixteen year-old girl with an embarrassing psychic gift she can’t control takes a job at a castle-turned-dinner theater, all she wants is the chance to wear a fancy gown and ogle her crush from afar, but when she stumbles over a dead body that promptly disappears, she must prove she didn’t hallucinate a dead girl before the killer strikes again.

K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and has worked as a freelance costumer in opera, theater, film and television. To find out more about K.C. and her work, check out her website athttp://www.kcheld.com.

If you have an agent and would like to share how all that wonderfulness happened, please send your story (300-600 words) to acornnewsletter@gmail.com.

5 Minutes With…John Rudolph

You might recognize John Rudolph as one of our faculty members from Spring Spirit 2016! He presented an excellent session on contract negotiation, led a workshop on perfecting your pitch letter, and participated in a panel discussion with editor Tamar Mays that gave us insight into exactly what each were looking for.

John is a Literary Agent with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. He joined Dystel

Agent John Rudolph

& Goderich in 2010 after twelve years as an acquiring children’s book editor. He began his career at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers as an Editorial Assistant and then moved to the G. P. Putnam’s Sons imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group, where he eventually served as Executive Editor on a wide range of young adult, middle-grade, nonfiction, and picture book titles. John is keenly interested in middle-grade and young adult fiction and would love to find the next great picture book author/illustrator.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, John!

You spent many years as an editor. Do you look for something different now, when you read a manuscript as an agent, or are the key points still the same?

On the whole, the key points are the same—compelling characters, an original voice, strong plotting, etc. However, I’m more aware that my personal tastes are not necessarily what editors are looking for. Case in point: As much as I enjoyed WONDER, I felt that it was geared more for adults to share with their kids much more than for kids to read on their own, which is a publication strategy I never supported as an editor. But as an agent, I have to acknowledge that editors are looking for books in that vein and be open to those kinds of stories.

What are you looking for in a potential new client?

Obviously, I’m looking primarily at the submitted work and whether I think I can sell it. But I also like to see that the author is engaged in the children’s book community, using social media, and that they have other manuscripts available or have ideas for future work. And, of course, being a member of SCBWI is a major plus!

Please describe a typical working relationship with one of your authors.

While every relationship with a client differs due to the client’s needs, typically I go through a couple of rounds of revisions with the client before I submit their book. Once the book is on submission, I try to be as transparent about the process as possible—I share my cover letter and the submission list, and if for some reason we don’t sell the book, I share all the responses and strategize with the author what to do next. Once a book is sold, though, I feel it’s important for me to step back and let the client and her editor form their own relationship. So at that point, my work with the client is more about next steps and projects than the one that’s currently under contract.

What are your turn-ons and turn-offs when reading a submission?

Biggest turn on by FAR is humor—anything that can make me chuckle is a plus, and if I laugh out loud, chances are you’ll get an offer. Beyond that, I look for a straightforward cover letter and if it’s a novel, a sample chapter that shows voice and characterization. As for turn-offs, not following our submission guidelines is a big one—they’re on our website, so not very hard to find, and they’re pretty easy to follow. And lately, I’ve developed a pet peeve with sample chapters that try to do too much. It’s a natural urge to try and cram in as much plot as possible in the opening chapter, but I would much rather see voice and characterization than have the central conflict introduced by the end of chapter 1.


Kids Can Press to Launch Teen Imprint

Have a great story, told in a new voice? Check out this new imprint.

“We are looking for stories that we haven’t heard before.

Kate Egan

So we’re not looking for any particular story, or any particular genre; we’re just looking for strong stories told well in voices that feel fresh to us.” —Kate Egan. Egan is a Brunswick, Maine-based freelance editor who has worked with many major publishing houses, and was one of the editors of the blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy.

Read the full story by Laura Godfrey at Publisher’s Weekly.


Godfrey, Laura. (2016, April 14). Kids Can Press to Launch Teen Imprint. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/69966-kids-can-press-to-launch-teen-focused-imprint.html .

Good News!

goodnewsCongratulations to member Linda Whalen! Linda’s debut picture book, Little Red Rolls Away, is due Spring of 2017 and will be published by Sleeping Bear Press. The deal was made by Linda’s agent, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. Way to go, Linda! She is also excited to mention that she’s running a pre-order contest with a special mystery prize! Check her website for details.

I asked Linda to share her inspiration, her journey to publication, and what she thought contributed to her recent success:

Joining SCBWI has provided me with the tools and supports needed to achieve my dream of writing for children. It took several years to learn and hone linda-whalenmy skills but it was worth it. The idea for Little Red Rolls Away came to me during a PiBoldMo (Picture Book Idea Month by Tara Lazar). Many critiques later, hashed out with my writing friends Linda Joy Singleton and Danna Smith, it was ready for my agent Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary.

In July Karen submitted my manuscript to several publishers and the wait began. Some good rejections and some no responses. September came and it was time for a second round of subs.

Finally, in October 2015 Barb McNally from Sleeping Bear Press took Little Red Rolls Away to acquisitions. Fingers crossed and lots of chocolate later, a contract was offered. A happy New Year brought a signed contract and an announcement in Publishers Marketplace. Yay! The twist to this story is that Sleeping Bear Press was in the first round of submissions. Patience and surprises are a part of getting published. Never give up!

When Little Red Barn wakes one morning he finds his animal friends have gone. He’s empty and alone. And then big noisy machines lift him up and put him on truck. As Little Red is transported across the countryside, down a major river, and through city streets, he feels anxious and a little afraid. Where is he going? Who will be there when he reaches his destination?

When Little Red does finally reach his new home in a surprising location, he finds things are even better than before. The story of the little red barn’s relocation and adjustment to a new place will reassure and comfort young readers facing changes in their own lives.

Linda Whalen lives with her husband on a plot of land in Northern California. Born a city kid, she married a farm boy from the midwest and fell in love with country life. Surrounded by family, pets, and bunches of wild creatures, life is never dull. After working in and owning her own childcare facility, Linda now pursues her passion of writing for children. She also enjoys time spent with her art supplies. Visit her at www.lindaslines.com.


These Links are HOT!

Our wonderful Illustrator Coordinator, Angelica Jackson, has compiled a list of links for reference and honing your craft. Whether you’re an illustrator or a writer (or some combination of both), you’re sure to find something valuable below. Thanks, Angelica!🙂

As a YA writer, blogs have been an invaluable source for me to learn craft and catch up on industry info. Now that I’m also our region’s Illustrator Coordinator, I took advantage of our private Yahoo group for ICs and asked my peers for their favorite blogs—and I couldn’t resist sharing their recommendations with everyone through our region’s blog! Most of these blog links are illustrator-centric, but many offer writing advice also, so you author/illustrators and writers may want to take a look too. Happy clicking! In no particular order:

Author/artist Angelica Jackson

The How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator site has great features like Guest Critiques and an Illustrator Matchup service.

The Kidlit Artists blog has an SCBWI connection, since it’s the group blog of recipients of the SCBWI Illustration Portfolio Mentorship Program (LA Summer Conference).

Illustrator and art director Guiseppe Castellano has some tips for you under his #ArtTips page.

Find interviews and inspiration on Chris Oatley’s site.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast is a blog about books that features heavily on picture books and illustration.

Wow, you could really get lost following all the links and features on Kidlit411.

Kathy Temean’s blog features some great illustration examples and how-tos.

Art of the Picture Book is dedicated to “exploring design and illustration of children’s picture books” and features some great interviews.

The Children’s Book Academy site has a blog “Mondays with Mandy or Mira!” 

Children’s Illustrators blog: be sure to check out the “blogging illustrators” links in the sidebar to make some new connections!

Feel free to link your favorite blogs for illustrators in the comments!

Angelica R. Jackson serves as our region’s Illustrator Coordinator and is a writer, artist, and avid naturalist living in the Sierra foothills of California. Her debut novel is Crow’s Rest, a darkly funny young adult urban fantasy.

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