One Writer’s Journey

June 4, 2018

Crystal Kite Awards Named

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:24 am
Tags: ,

On Friday I saw the SCBWI announcement of the winners of the 2018 Crystal Kite Awards.  These awards are given to 15 books voted the best by our writing and illustrating peers.  Why 15?  The membership of the SCBWI is divided into 15 voting districts for the purpose of these awards.

Without further ado, the winners are (leading with the region in which I live):

Mid South Division (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana): A Dog Like Daisy by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb


Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wash DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland): 7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY by Tara Lazar










Australia, New ZealandThe Scared Book by Debra Tidball










California, Hawaii: Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt

CanadaMy Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

Internationals OtherWill You Read My Book with Me by Lawrence Schimel

Middle East, India, AsiaYossi and the Monkeys by Jennifer MacLeod

Mid West Division (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio): Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island): This House, Once by Deborah Freedman

New YorkBeastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel by Nancy Castaldo

South East Division (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama): Mouse by Zebo Ludvicek

South West Division (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico): If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denise Vega

Texas, OklahomaThe Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

UK, IrelandMold and the Poison Plot by Lorraine Gregory

Western Division (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota): The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Congratulations to all of the lucky winners and now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to request books from the library!


April 3, 2018

Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award

It’s an exciting day when you find out that a friend’s book is up for an award!  I’m talking about Sue Lowell Gallion and her book Pug Meets Pig is up for the 2018 Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award.  The award is sponsored by the Missouri Library Association and is voted on each year by preschoolers throughout the state in our public libraries. Voting takes place this fall and is meant t encourage reading aloud to children from birth to kindergarten.

I like to read books from a variety of awards because they offer you an opportunity to see what book sellers vs librarians vs young readers like.  For writers, the Building Block awards are especially helpful because each nominated title is accompanied by a PDF.  This file includes songs, activities and companion books.  There are a lot of fun ideas and a lot of inspiration for anyone looking to create young story tine activities to go with their own books.

The nominees for this year are:

  • The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson
  • I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards
  • Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske
  • Plankton is Pushy by Jonathan Fenske
  • Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! by Candace Fleming
  • A Good Day for a Hat by T. Nat Fuller
  • Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion
  • Carrot & Pea: An Unlikely Friendship by Morag Hood
  • Spunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson
  • Everybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall


You can access the various activities here. I have to admit that I’ve only read two of them so far (Pug Meets Pig and The Giant Jumperee) so I’m really looking forward to reading these books and checking out the various activities.

And?  Go, Pug!  Go, Pig!  Go, Sue Gallion!


December 20, 2017

Best of Lists: An Opportunity to Learn

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 7:39 am
Tags: , , , ,

Best stem booksWhen you see a recommended books list online, do you check it out?  Or do you scroll on past?  I always make a point of seeing which books are listed, especially if the list overlaps with my own work.

Recently, I read a Children’s Book Council post about the National Science Teachers Association list of the best STEM books for 2018 (published in 2017).  It would be such a thrill to land on this list one year so, of course, I printed it out and will be reading each and every one of the books.  In doing so, I’ll learn what science teachers look for in a STEM book.  I’ll be learning from the best.  Click on a link to the lists for 2017 and 2018 here.

The annual ALA awards, including the Newbery and the Caldecott are chosen by a panel of librarians.  I read those books to see which books Librarians thing are top-notch.

When I see a list, I check out who voted on the titles.  Librarians look for different qualities than do classroom teachers.  Parents look for another set of qualities.  Young readers?  They have yet a different set of criteria.  Each one can teach us something important about what appeals to that audience.

So when you see a list that has been pulled together by members of your audience, take a good luck.  But also be sure to know how each list is chosen.  Some take nominations and those on the list had the greatest number of votes.  Others have to be okayed by everyone on the panel of judges.

Spend some time reviewing the titles and be sure to check out the ones that are similar to your own work.  Perhaps this will mean reading picture books.  Or biographies.  Or STEM titles.  The more you read, the more you will learn about writing a book that appeals to your particular audience.


June 13, 2017

2017 Hornbook Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:47 am
Tags: , ,
Although the award was announced at the end of May, I’ve yet to see a post on all three awards.  So without further ado, the Boston Globe Horn Book awards for 2017 are:

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman (Godwin Books/Henry Holt/Macmillan). Sue here: I’m usually pretty good about spotting up and coming nonfiction but I didn’t see any buzz on this book.  The good news is that I’ve requested it but I’m in line.  I love to see that an award winner is circulating!

Nonficiton Honor Books:

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan).  I just wrote about Carlisle in my DAPL book so I’m curious about this one.  Will have to check it out.

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).  Loved this.  Here is a link to my review



The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins).  I saw plenty of buzz on this one but it has been consistently checked out with a hefty waiting list.  Yay!  

Fiction and Poetry Honor Books:

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by various artists (Bloomsbury Publishing). I don’t remember seeing anything on this but I do love Nikki Grimes work.  

The Best Man by Richard Peck (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers/Penguin Random House).  Loved this book.  Loved.  It.  Link to my review.  I had heard some bad things about this book but they turned out to be wholly unfounded.  I think that the issue was simply that it the subject is somewhat different from his older books but the characters are 100% Richard Peck.



Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster).  So many great books on this list.  See my review.

Picture Book Honor Books:

Wolf in the Snow written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan).  Although I knew the book that won this award, I’m not familiar with either honor book. So happy to be able to request them from the library!

Town Is by the Sea written by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press)

Hope you all enjoy reading some of these titles!  There’s always something to learn by reading an award winner.


April 28, 2015

Book awards: Crystal Kite voting Round 2 now open!

If you are a full member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, you can now cast your vote in Round 2!  Don’t dawdle.  This round of the voting closes on April 30, 2015.

  • As before, go to the SCBWI web site and log in.
  • The top right corner of your screen will have a purple button called My Home.  Click on it.
  • Look at the menu on the left side of your screen.  The last choice is “Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards.”  Click on it.
  • You will then see the three choices for your region.  You only get to vote for one this time, so choose carefully.

Ready, set, vote!


April 10, 2015

Book Awards: Who is elligible for the Crystal Kite Award?

Back sure your books are on the list of nominees for 2015.

Be sure your books are on the list of nominees for 2015.

When my book, the Ancient Maya came out, it never crossed my mind that I should enter to win the Crystal Kite. In fact, I didn’t even think about it until last week when I was voting in Round One of the 2014 awards.  Lucky for me that my book came out in February 2015 so it is still eligible.

To be eligible, you, the author or illustrator, need to be a current member of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators.

Your book needs to have been published in the calendar year for that award.  So to win for 2015, which will be voted on in 2016, your book needs to have been published in 2015.

The publisher needs to be on the SCBWI PAL list of approved publishers.  For more on that list of commercial publishers, click here.

You need to list your book on your SCBWI profile.  To do that, go to  Log in.  Click on My Home (purple button, type right).

At the bottom left of the page, you will see “publications” and under that “books.”  Click ADD and then follow the directions.  Be sure to click the box for “submit to Crystal Kite award.”

That’s all it takes!  If you have an eligible book, be sure to promote the award among your friends and on social media, but do not use the SCBWI messaging system, promote on the SCBWI discussion board, or e-mail people you don’t know — SCBWI has strict rules about spam.

As your books come out this year, don’t forget to add them to the nominations.


January 13, 2015

More Nerdy Book Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:51 am
Tags: ,

NerdyLast Monday, I posted about the Nerdy Book Awards for nonfiction picture books.  I wanted to follow up this week with their other awards lists but there are 7 more lists.  I don’t even know how many more books that is but I didn’t want to blog about only awards lists for an entire week.  So I’ll simply provide links to the various lists and a few comments.

2014 Nerdy Awards for Fiction Picture Books.  This is another great selection and I have several of these books on request and am just waiting for them to arrive.

2014 Nerdy Awards for Poetry and Novels in Verse.  I especially enjoyed seeing titles I loved on the picture books in this category. I’ve recently discovered David Elliott. Jon Muth, Joyce Sidman and Laura Purdie Salas are authors whose books I pick up whenever I see them.

2014 Nerdy Awards for Middle Grade Fiction.  I loved both the Ghost of Tupelo Landing and The Night Gardener.  If you don’t read anything else on this list, big mistake!, read those.

2014 Nerdy Awards for Young Adult Fiction.  An incredibly varied list with everything ranging from fantasy to contemporary fiction.

2014 Nerdy Awards for Graphic Novels.  Maybe because my own young reader is a teen, but I tend to forget that graphic novels are also written for much younger readers.  This list anchored by those younger books to the point that it makes me wonder, where are the books for teens?

2014 Nerdy Awards for MG/YA Nonfiction.  Since I write teen nonfiction, this list is one I plan to study. I’m glad to see that with the buzz it has been getting, my own library has Dreaming in Indian on the shelves.

2014 Nerdy Awards for Early Readers and Chapter Books.  Not at all surprised to see another Mo Willems books with Waiting Is Not Easy!  I really liked The Princess in Black but have to admit that I’m pretty excited about the non-cuteness promised by Lulu’s Mysterious Mission. 

If you’re looking for some top notch books to study, go through these lists and see what catches your attention.


September 23, 2014

National Book Award, Long List

Last week, the National Book Foundation published their “longlist” for this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  These are the ten books that are under consideration for the award.  How many of them have you read?
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.  

Description:  For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my list.  Anderson’s work often covers edgy topics with well-developed characters and knife-edge plots.  IMO, a must read.

Girls like Us by Gail Giles

Description:  Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in the first “real world” apartments it initially seems like an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces something that on one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought–and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward, together.

I have to admit that I missed the buzz on this one, but it is intriguing.  

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Description: Classic Malley — to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard — he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink — he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Classic Malley, perhaps.  Classic Hiaasen?  Definitely.  No other author could work crazed pigs and giant gators into the same book.  Still, will it stand up to my all time favorite, Hoot?

The Port Chicago 50 by Steven Sheinkin

Description: A group of young African American sailors – many of them teenagers – are assigned to load ammunition at Port Chicago, a segregated naval base in California. But they are never trained to handle ammunition safely, and are constantly being rushed by their officers. When a terrifying disaster rocks the base, the men face the toughest decision of their lives: do they return to duty as ordered, or do they risk everything to take a stand against segregation in the military?


This has been on my short list since I heard Sheinkin speak about it two weeks ago.  Another edge-of-your-seat nonfiction thriller.


100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Description: Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved. Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Another one that has been below my radar until now.  Interested to see what the cover has to do with the story. 
Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Description: Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he’s alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too. Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars. Oh well, you only live twice.

By merry coincidence, just brought this one home from the library.  Morbidly fascintated with the idea since I read about the book.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles.

Description: It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.
I am always amazed by the number of books on this list that I have never, ever heard of before.  Looks like a great job of mirroring plot with subplot.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Description:  Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Haven’t managed to get ahold of this one yet but sure to be a fascinating look at the early life of this author.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Description: Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm’s way. When he was a boy, Luc’s mother would warn him about the “mock men” living in the trees by their home — chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn’t mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job. Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family — and must act when that family comes under attack.
This description raises a lot of questions and I definitely want to read this book.  

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Description:   A rambling old smuggler’s inn, a strange map, an attic packed with treasures, squabbling guests, theft, friendship, and an unusual haunting mark this smart mystery in the tradition of the Mysterious Benedict Society books.

I tried to check this one out from the library as soon as it came out.  No luck.  Fortunately there are now copies available.  

Let me know what you think of these books as you read them!



May 13, 2014

Crystal Kites

The Crystal Kites were announced last week.  Take a look at this amazing list of books — winners were selected by Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) members living in each geographic area listed.

Washington, Oregon, Alaska, northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota
Once Upon A Memory written by Nina Laden,  illustrated by  Renata Liwska

Nevada, Arizona, Utah, southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico
Tea Rex  written by Molly Idle

Australia/New Zealand
Zac and Mia written by AJ Betts

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana
The Ballad of Jessie Pearl
  written by Shannon Hitchcock

Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio
Sophie’s Squash
written by Pat Zietlow Miller
Sue breaking in here — this is actually a debut picture book by an author vs an author illustrator.  Check it out if you too write but do not illustrate picture books.

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Mass, Conn, Rhode Island
The Story of Fish & Snail
  written by Deborah Freedman

International Other
Chickosaurus Rex: 
author-Lenore Appelhans,  illustrator-Daniel Jennewein

New York
author -Samantha Berger , illustrator- Dan Santat.
Me, again.  An excellent choice for Santat fans.

written by Candy Gourlay

Tie:  I Dare You Not to Yawn written by  Helene Boudreau and Skink on the Brink: author-Lisa Dalrymple,  illustrator: Suzanne del Rizzo

Penn, Del, NJ, Wash DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland
The Flame in the Mist written by Kit Grindstaff

Middle East, India, Asia      ARMY CAMELS Texas Ships of the Desert
written by Natasha Sharmanatty
Mid south: Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama 
The Thirteenth Sign
  written by Kristin Tubb

The Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge written by Alexis O”Neill
You might recognize this author’s name.  Like me, she is a former SCBWI Regional Advisor.  
Army Camels: Texas Ships of the Desert  written by Doris Fisher
Always thought this would make a great story.  Can’t decide if I’m jazzed or bummed that she beat me to it.  That said, my WIP (work-in-pile) is a fiction picture books so maybe there’s room for both.  Requested it at the library already.

Happy Reading!



September 30, 2013

New Award for Self-Published Book

The Sparks Award.

This from the official SCBWI announcement:

“. . . The award is open to current writer and/or illustrator SCBWI members who have independently-published a board book, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult novel through an established self- publishing enterprise  or individually self-published.  Submissions must be submitted in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and provide evidence of Copyright registration. 

Entries may not have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form and SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unprofessional manner.

One winner and one honor book will be chosen by a panel of industry professionals and will focus on quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, and editing and design.”  You can read the full announcement here.

Wowza.  What an honor!  

What I love most about this award is that it not only recognizes this important element of publishing (self-publishing) but all entries must clearly be geared to compete commercially with traditionally published titles.  If you chose to make your living self-publishing your work, that’s fine, but it has to be geared to compete in every way with the work put out by Harcourt, HarperCollins and other traditional publishers.

What say, you?  Does this encourage you to self-publish?  


Next Page »

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: