Island of the Blue Dolphins, New Edition

A new edition of the 1961 Newbery-winning classic by Scott O’Dell, 51nnrijt3tl-_sx331_bo1204203200_including two previously excised chapters, was released late last year. Also new in the edition, released by the University of California Press, are essays by an archaeologist and a critical piece on the historical ‘Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island’ who inspired the book.

With undertones of feminism, dystopian fiction, and questions concerning the validity of a white man writing from a Native American woman’s perspective, Island of the Blue Dolphins remains topical, despite its age.

For more information and a deeper examination, please see Laura Miller’s piece in Slate magazine.

Miller, Laura. (2016, Nov 10). Island of the Blue Dolphins and the Dream of Loneliness. Retrieved from:

Ellen Oh Talks Diversity & ‘Flying Lessons’

In this entertaining and candid interview with the author and cofounder and 41hqWFNDuKL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_president of We Need Diverse BooksEllen Oh discusses diversity, the origins of WNDB, and how Flying Lessons and Other Stories happened with Wesley Salazar for Brightly.

And P.S. If you’re a fan of Flying Lessons, rejoice! A YA version is coming in 2018. 🙂 See the article for more details.

Salazar, Wesley. On Diversity in Kids’ Lit: An Interview with Ellen Oh About Flying Lessons & Other Stories. Retrieved from:

Sensitivity Readers

While discussions continue about whether authors or publishers should pay for the service (some great comments were made about this at the editor/agent panel at Spring Spirit ’17), sensitivity readers are happening. With the push for diversity in publishing and some authors writing outside of their experiences, these specialized readers are adding a new level to vetting a manuscript, lending an experienced eye to try and catch negatively charged language, implicit bias, and/or accidentally offensive material.proofreading

So, where does that leave you? Are you writing outside of your experience? Do you need a sensitivity reader? Do you think the whole thing is hooey? Or maybe this is the first time you’ve even heard of such a thing. Regardless of where you are—whether it’s neck deep in a project about a queer teen from Vermont who’s captain of her high school ski team but you’re a fifty-two year old straight man from Folsom who’s never even seen snow, or you don’t feel comfortable writing outside of your experience because you believe it’s someone else’s story to tell, or anywhere in between, this article from Slate is for you.

Waldman, Katy. (2017, Feb. 8). Is My Novel Offensive? Retrieved from:




Picture Books and Gender Norms

Is there such a thing as a ‘girl’s book’ or a ‘boy’s book’?  Not according to Shannon Hale, author of The Princess in Black series, and her fiery keynote at the 2015 SCBWI Annual Summer Conference in LA where she encouraged ending this common distinction. In addition, the conversation around gender norms, and who gets to decide what they are, continues to be at the forefront of social discourse. And while some readers have always seen covert LGBTQ undertones in classic characters like Harriet the Spy, Ferdinand the Bull, and Pippi Longstocking (among others), the reference to being other than heteronormative, along with the movement itself, is coming out. Some industry professionals are paying attention.51c775a1zhl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Picture books like Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress (Groundwood Books, 2014), I Am Jazz (Dial Books, 2014), and Worm Loves Worm (Balzer + Bray, 2016address gender norms and non-traditional families, providing a beginning look through ‘windows and mirrors’ for readers.

For a more complete list, history, and discussion of kids’ books that deconstruct gender norms and explore love in various forms, see the full piece from BookRiot and The Guardian.

Wetta, Molly. (2016, Nov. 29). 8 Picture Books That Deconstruct Gender Norms. Retrieved from:

Masad, Ilana. (2017, Feb. 23). Queer Children’s Books Have a Long History That’s Only Now Being Told. Retrieved from:

Little Goody Two Shoes to Captain Underpants—how exactly did THAT happen?

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Literary critic and University of California–San Diego professor Seth Lerer discusses the history of children’s books, the invention of YA, and the transformation from Newbery’s morality tales to the subversion and playfulness of our time with Slate correspondent Katy Waldman.

I mean, what more could you ask for?

For more details, read the the full article.


Waldman, Katy. (2016, August 12). How Did Children’s Literature Evolve from Prim Morality Tales to the Likes of Captain Underpants? Retrieved from:




Who’s Moving Where?

If you haven’t seen this amazing resource, created and maintained by editor Harold Underdown, you’re missing out. Not only does Underdown list information on staff changes in the publishing world, but he orders it by date and color codes it, too. (I know, right?) As he states, “The latest information is added at the top. Companies losing or laying off staff are coded in red, while those adding staff or filling vacancies are in green.”

Great stuff, right? There’s even more. Imprints! New imprints are listed as well, with hotlinks for more information. Once you’ve gotten all you can from that page, click around the whole site. There’s a TON of good information. This is big, people! BIG! What are you still doing here? You have work to do!

Harold Underdown, “Who’s Moving Where? News and Staff Changes at Children’s Book Publishers,” Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children’s Books: The Purple Crayon (blog), May 2017,

Teen Lit: Beyond YA Into NA

New Adult (NA) books aren’t new, in fact the category has had its own BISAC codeimgres-2 (FICTION/Romance/New Adult) since 2013. But what constitutes a NA book versus a YA book? Does the protagonist have to be 18-25? Is romance required? Where are the boundaries, guidelines, and limits, if any? How are readers, and writers, responding?

For an in depth discussion, and a list of books pushing the boundaries and crossing category lines, read the full piece from School Library Journal.



Wetta, Molly. (2016, Dec 1). Categories Blur as Teen Lit Comes of Age. Retrieved from:

SCBWI Books for Readers Book Drive!

unnamedSCBWI recently announced the launch of Books for Readers, its new Book Drive. The literacy initiative is meant to increase book access for readers in desperate need of books by collecting and donating books created by SCBWI members, to help promote SCBWI authors, illustrators, and their books, and to advance SCBWI’s mission as an organization of book creators and literacy advocates.
Sounds pretty great, huh? Want more info? The Books For Readers web page is up and running, so as soon as you’re done here, check it out!
BOOKS FOR READERS will have 4 phases:
Nomination, Selection, Collection, and Celebration!

To begin, SCBWI asks you to nominate 1- 2 local causes with readers in need in your region by downloading an entry form (located on the web page), and emailing it to your regional team by April 30, 2017.

Next, each region will review these nominations and submit their final choices to SCBWI Headquarters by May 22, 2017. Then, the selecting, collecting, and celebrating will soon begin!

To learn more about how SCBWI will be selecting the 1-2 final recipients, how the collecting will transpire, and about all the celebrating at the recipients’ venues, visit Books for Readers!


New Imprints!

Tons of new imprints have popped up over the last few months. (Okay, there are six, but it feels like tons.) With missions and focuses ranging from picture books on health and healing to mythological middle grade, you might just find the perfect fit for your manuscript. Dig in, and good luck!

Rodale Books is launching Rodale Kids, to be distributed by Macmillan. Books will be 42444-v2-600xfiction and non-fiction, targeted for infant through teens, and like Rodale’s adult books will focus on health, fitness, and happiness. Ten titles are due fall 2017, with the intention of eventually reaching 30-45 titles each year. For more details, read the full article.

Rick Riordan Presents, launched by Disney-Hyperion, is intended to address the seemingly insatiable need for middle grade books about all kinds of mythology. Though Riordan won’t be writing the new books, he will be involved in curating and editing, and has agreed to provide endorsements for new titles. The imprint, which hopes to publish the first two titles in summer 2018, says the mission is to “find, nurture, and promote the best storytellers for middle grade readers.” The new imprint will focus on diverse, mythology-based fiction by new, emerging, and under-represented authors. For more details, read the full piece.

Elsewhere Editions, launched by Archipelago Books, hopes to find books with “entire universes” in the pages that both children and adults will love. Like its adult counterpart, Elsewhere Editions will focus on the beauty of the physical book as well as the story. The imprint will be run by Jill Schoolman, who began her career at Seven Stories Press. It was there she first thought of starting Archipelago, a nonprofit press focused exclusively on international titles. Schoolman hopes that Elsewhere Editions will publish “creative, innovative books from around the world.” For more details, read the full piece.

Tiger Tales, best known for picture and novelty books, launched 360 Degrees in September, a new imprint focusing on middle grade non-fiction. The Connecticut publisher, with parent ties in the U.K., says “the imprint is dedicated to creating interactive, illustrated books that explore the world from multiple angles.” For more details, read the full article.

St Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan, is launching Wednesday Books, an imprint focusing on YA and adult titles with coming-of-age themes. With first titles due in fall 2017, the imprint is looking for “bold, diverse, and commercial voices in fiction and nonfiction who speak to readers looking for stories in and beyond the YA category.” Sara Goodman, editor of noted author Rainbow Rowell, will be the editorial director for Wednesday Books. For more details, see the full article.

Penguin Teen, launched by Penguin Random House Canada, will be the new imprint for all YA titles previously published under Doubleday Canada Books for Young Readers and Razorbill Canada. First titles are expected in summer 2017. For more details and effects on imprints due to the larger Penguin Random House merger see the full piece.

Reid, Calvin. (2016, Sept. 2). Rodale to Launch a Kids’ Imprint Next Fall. Retrieved from:

Corbett, Sue. (2016, Sept. 13). Disney Announces New Rick Riordan imprint. Retrieved from:

Burnett, Matia. (2016, Oct. 6). Here, There, Elsewhere: Archipelago Books Launches a Children’s Imprint. Retrieved from:

Lodge, Sally. (2016, Sept. 29). Tiger Tales Adds Nonfiction Imprint. Retrieved from:

Deahl, Rachel. (2016, Oct. 12). SMP Launching Crossover Imprint, Wednesday Books. Retrieved from:

Godfrey, Laura. (2016, Oct. 13). PRH Canada Launches New Penguin Teen Imprint. Retrieved from:

Mem Fox Detained at LAX

“I wasn’t pulled out because I’m some kind of revolutionary activist, but my God, I am now,” author Mem Fox said in a Feb 27th piece for ‘The Guardian’. Fox, the iconic Australian children’s author of many books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, was detained earlier this month by immigration officers at Los Angeles International airport for nearly two hours and, she says, rudely questioned about her visa status.

Mem Fox reads aloud at SCBWI LA Summer Conference in 2015. Photo by Alan Baker.

Ironically, she was headed to Milwaukee to a conference of the Wisconsin State Reading Association  to receive an honorarium for delivering a keynote on the importance of tolerance and acceptance. Fox noted in a piece for the Washington Post that after 117 trips to the United States, following this experience she is unlikely to return.

Fox’s 2015 keynote, along with her inspired reading of Hattie and the Fox, was a highlight at the 44th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles.

For more details, read Nora Krug’s piece for The Washington Post and Mem Fox’s piece, as told to Lucy Clark, for The Guardian.

Fox, Mem. (2017, Feb 27). Mem Fox on Being Detained by US Immigration: ‘In that moment I loathed America’. Retrieved from:

Krug, Nora. (2017, Feb. 26). Beloved children’s author speaks out about her detainment at U.S. airport. Retrieved from: