Cynsational News & Giveaways

Hans Christian Anderson Award

Bologna, Italy–The Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), has announced that David Almond, from the United Kingdom is the winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and that Jutta Bauer, from Germany is the winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award.

The announcement was made at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair, and the Andersen medals and diplomas will be presented to the winners on Sept. 11 at the international IBBY congress in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is considered the most prestigious in international children’s literature, is given biennially by IBBY to a living author and illustrator whose complete works are judged to have made lasting contributions to children’s literature. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is the Patron of the Andersen Awards. The Author’s Award has been given since 1956 and the Illustrator’s Award since 1966. Nami Island Inc. is the sponsor of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards. Information, including a history of the awards is available at

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The winner of the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is author-illustrator Kitty Crowther of Belgium. The jury’s citation reads as follows:

“Kitty Crowther is the master of line but also of atmosphere. She maintains the tradition of the picture book while transforming and renewing it. In her world, the door between imagination and reality is wide open. She addresses the reader gently and personally, but with profound effect. In her deeply felt empathy with people in difficulty, she shows ways in which weakness can be turned into strength. Humanism and sympathy permeate and unify her artistry.”

In Kitty Crowther’s books, text and pictures form an integral whole. Her principal works are her own picture books, including L´enfant racine (2003), La visite de Petite Mort (2004), Le grand désordre (2005) and the Poka & Mine series (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010).

She addresses readers personally using a limited repertoire of tools, principal among them pencil, ink and coloured pencils. Facial expressions, posture and atmosphere are captured with unfailing precision. In Kitty Crowther’s world, there are no basic stereotypes. The landscapes in which the stories are set resemble the ones we know, but Kitty Crowther sees beyond them to a world richer in possibilities than we imagine.

One of the cornerstones of her authorship is to show how weakness can be turned into strength. Her loyalty to children is unconditional. The sympathy and intense empathy Kitty Crowther shows with her fictional characters is an expression of the deep humanism that runs through all her works.

Examples of Kitty Crowther’s world of imagery can be downloaded from

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature. The award, with a total value of SEK 5 million, is awarded annually to one or more recipients. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading activists are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature, and to promote children’s rights, globally. An expert jury selects the winners from candidates nominated by institutions and organizations worldwide. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is administered by the Swedish Arts Council.

More News & Giveaways

Jessica Swain–Children’s Author, Poet, Dog Lover: official website. Peek: “If I were a dog, I’d be a Jack Russell terrier, because I’m feisty, short-haired, and tenacious. Most of the books I write feature a dog or dog relative (fox, werewolf, etc.). ” Don’t miss Authors & Their Dogs.

The Scheduling Habit by Kristi Holl from Writers First Aid. Peek: “How can we form a consistent writing habit when our schedules change from day to day, depending on our obligations?” See also Attention! It’s a Choice and Shifting and Drifting.

9 Steps for Plotting Fiction (Taken from the Verla Kay Message Boards) from Cynthia Jaynes Omololu. Peek: “I’m not sure where the method started, but it is (for me) the best combination between knowing where your book is going and letting the book write itself. You just put in the nine plot issues and connect the dots–more like a guide than a true, scary outline. If you find yourself in the middle of a story and not a clue where you should go, give it a try.” Source: Lisa Schroeder at Author2Author.

On Jewish–and Other–Fantasy Stories by Janni Lee Simner from Desert Dispatches. Peek: “Jewish writing isn’t in whether the fantasy trappings represent medieval Europe or the Middle East or anyone else, and it isn’t in whether dybbuks or seraphim puts in token appearances on a story’s pages, either. It’s in the ways in which each Jewish writer processes his or her experiences with–our reactions to, workings through of, even rejection of–the various things we’ve learned and experienced as Jews.” Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

Ron Koertge on his Long Writing Road from Blog. Peek: “Not long ago, somebody pointed out that I was one of the oldest kids’ writers around. I’m not so sure. But I’ll be seventy in April, and there’s no way to call that middle-aged.”

On to Bologna! Cautious optimism on the eve of the annual children’s book fair by Diane Roback from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “How will the economy shape this year’s fair? Is the age of the big YA fantasy trilogy finally over? Will picture books make a resurgence? What of the co-edition market? The digital revolution? We asked a sampling of Bologna veterans for their take on what to expect at this year’s fair, and what they’re looking for.”

Take a peek at the video teaser for Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Philomel, Oct. 2010).

Congratulations to Sherry Shahan! Her manuscript “Purple Daze,” a provocative free verse novel set 1965 Los Angeles in which six high school students navigate war, riots, love, rock ‘n’ roll, school, and friendship, sold to Kelli Chipponeri at Running Press Kids, for publication in Spring 2011! The novel was agented by Jill Corcoran at Ronnie Herman Agency.

Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Workshop has posted new faculty interviews by Nancy Sondel with agent Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Literary, editor Kate Harrison of Dial, and YA author Liz Gallagher. See also Archetypes in Literature and Life by Laura Backes, publisher of Children’s Book Insider, and a Cynsations interview with Liz.

Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos: National Latino Children’s Literature Conference will be April 23 and April 24 at the University of Alabama. Peek: “…celebrate the rich traditions and diversity within the Latino cultures at the National Celebration of Latino Children’s Literature Conference. Discover how to meet the informational and literacy needs of Latino children via high quality, culturally-relevant literature and the latest educational strategies. Engage in unique networking opportunities with librarians, teachers, educators, and researchers from across the nation as we explore how to make intercultural connections and serve this rapidly growing, uniquely diverse population.” Speakers include: Jennifer Cervantes; Christina Diaz Gonzalez; Guadalupe Garcia McCall; and Dr. Carmen Tafolla.

To Market, To Market…. Back to Basics on the Technicalities of Pitching Your Novel by H.L. Dyer from Peek: “First, you should know exactly what you are asking for from the agents you query. You are not asking them to publish your novel. You are not even technically asking them to sell your novel. You are asking them to represent your interests in the sale of the publication rights…”

The Symbolism of Color in The Great Gilly Hopkins: an essay by Varian Johnson from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “While Madeline has sported purple lipstick since the first draft of the novel, I didn’t think much about the use of color in a symbolic way until my first semester at Vermont College, when I was reintroduced to Katherine Paterson‘s The Great Gilly Hopkins (Harper, 1987). In the novel, Paterson uses color to symbolically hint at Gilly’s true desire—something Gilly herself doesn’t even realize.” Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

Interview with Diana Peterfreund by Melissa Buron from Book Addict. Peek: “Who knew that unicorns were so violent and blood-thirsty?”

Author Interview: Sharon Draper on Out of My Mind. Peek: “Her race is not important. Melody’s difficulties far supersede any racial or cultural problems she might encounter. She is purposely made generic because I wanted the reader to see her as a unique individual that could be anyone’s child.”

I Won’t Be Sorry, But Neither Will You by literary agent Sara Crowe from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “All agents might turn down a project that goes on to be published and performs well, and thinks maybe we should have rethought taking on that project, but this business is so subjective, we have to go with our gut.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Passover Books by Jennifer Schultz at The Kiddosphere. Peek: “My favorite type of holiday books for children are the ones that are all-inclusive; they make both the observer and non-observer welcome. Holiday books for children can easily fall into the trap of making the observers of that holiday ‘Other’ and exotic.” Source: The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Writing, Grief and Stress by Kelly McCullough from Science Fiction & Fantasy Novelists. Peek: “…even with good coping mechanisms, the incentive of my first book contracts, a naturally fast writing speed, and a very Midwestern tendency to take refuge in work, I lost a lot of production.” Source: Elizabeth Scott.

Rejection of a Rejection by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “The letter began with something like, ‘Thank you so much for your rejection but I’m afraid I’m unable to use it at this time. For that reason, I will have to reject your rejection. Please don’t take this personally. I receive many fine rejections every month, so I have be quite selective in the rejections I accept.'” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Brightly Woven: An Interview with Alexandra Bracken by Leah Cypress from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “I feel like I’ve had at least three different maps over the course of writing the story and revising. I tried writing the first draft without one, which resulted in what one might call a ‘hot mess.’ My first detailed map came while I was revising.” Learn more about Alexandra.

Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy (Blue Slip Media) from The Texas Sweethearts. Peek: “I’ll just add a little note here about the importance of the personal touch. When you’re reaching out to these local booksellers and librarians and teachers, take a minute to write a thank you note by hand and pop it in the mail after a particularly lovely conversation. Or bring a rose from your garden when you stop by to drop off your latest galley.” Read a Cynsations interview with Barbara and Sarah.

Sherman Alexie wins PEN/Faulkner prize: “Sherman Alexie takes the $15,000 PEN/Faulkner prize for fiction, beating Lorrie Moore and Barbara Kingsolver with War Dances, a short story collection described by judge Al Young as a ‘rollicking, bittersweet gem'” by Alison Flood from the Guardian. Source: Bookshelves of Doom.

Dig a Little Deeper – Getting to Know Your Characters by Suzette Saxton from Peek: “Answering these twenty-five questions can help you find out both the nitty gritty and the deepest darkest.”

Create Vivid Images to Bring a Novel to Life by Darcy Pattison from Fiction First Aid. Peek: “Everyone agrees that a writer’s ability to create an image in a reader’s head through their words is integral to fiction and effective novels. When writers and editors push toward imagery vivid enough to transport readers to new worlds, there are many options.” Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

Maverick Graphic Novels List from the Texas Library Association. See the 2010 annotated list (PDF) and suggest a title for 2011.

Bisto Book of the Year Awards Shortlist 2010 from Children’s Books Ireland. Peek: “The Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards, in partnership with CBI are presented annually in recognition of excellence in writing and/or illustration of books for young people. The awards are administered by CBI, the national organisation for children’s books and sponsored by Bisto gravy. The awards are open to any children’s book by an author and/or illustrator born or resident in Ireland, written in Irish or English and published between” Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 each year. Source: Bookshelves of Doom.

Top 6 1/2 List: How to Survive Your First Skype Author Visit by Kate Messner from Donna Gephart at Wild About Words. Peek: “Decide what kind of visits you’ll offer and when. Will you do free Q and A sessions with groups that have read your book? How much will you charge for longer presentations?”

Think Before You Kvech by Michael from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Peek: “Before writing a vitriolic email to your editor (or publicist or assistant or whomever), call your agent first. We all get frustrated, we all need to vent, and your agent is the person to do that with.” Note: but don’t be a drama queen/king; your agent is a busy person, too. Source: Elizabeth Scott.

Obvious Watch: Preparing Kids for the Digital Future with Great Books by pixie stix kids pix: Thoughts, Observations, and Ideas About Children’s Books. Peek: “What we want from a new crop of children’s books are great stories, and nuanced artwork that engages the imagination. Sometimes this means restraint as opposed to more visuals, so the message is clearer.” Source: Chris Barton.

Sarah Sullivan: new official website from the author of Once Upon a Baby Brother, illustrated by Tricia Tusa (Melanie Kroupa Books/FSG, 2010); Root Beer and Banana, illustrated by Greg Shed (Candlewick, 2005), and Dear Baby, Letters from Your Big Brother, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick, 2005).

Should You Self-Publish? Ten Questions to Ask Yourself from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “Research your options. Figure out some of the different self-publishing models. Familiarize yourself with both processes and determine which one you want to pursue.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Anneographies: Author Anne Bustard on her fave picture book biographies and a few collected biographies, too, birthday by birthday. Note: Pass this link onto your favorite teachers! Read a Cynsations interview with Anne.

Beating the Jealous Bug by Jan Fields from Writer’s Support Room – Work Habits from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “The first time the Jealous Bug bit me was when I saw writers who I knew had fewer years in their craft landing book contracts while my picture book was making it to acquisition meetings but no further. Part of me wanted to roar, ‘Why not me?'”

Writers and Depression by Nancy Etchemendy from the Horror Writers Association. A frank discussion of warning signs and why writers are so vulnerable. Be good to each other out there. Take care of yourselves. Note: I run this link periodically.

Congratulations to the finalists of the 2010 RITA for Young Adult Romance awarded by the Romance Writers of America! The finalists are: Cyn Balog for Fairy Tale (Delacorte), Ally Carter for Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Hyperion), Simone Elkeles for Perfect Chemistry (Walker), Jennifer Echols for Going Too Far (Simon & Schuster), Tina Ferraro for The ABC’s of Kissing Boys (Delacorte), and Lauren Strasnick for Nothing Like You (Simon & Schuster). Read a Cynsations interview with Cyn.

Perspiration: Self Study: a bibliography of recommended craft books from Children’s & YA Literature Resources.

Exploring Diversity in Children’s & Young Adult Books: Background Reading from Children’s & YA Literature Resources. See also Exploring Diversity: Themes & Communities.

Cynsational Screening Room

Congratulations to Cheryl Rainfield on the release of Scars (WestSide, 2010). Celebrate the release of Scars by entering to win a Sony Digital Reader, $100 bookstore gift card, and more! Deadline: midnight April 24; readers world-wide are eligible to win. See more information.

Meet Liberty Porter: First Daughter in a series from Julia DeVillers (Simon & Schuster, 2009-)! See also New Girl in Town (July 2010).

Check out the book trailer for Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr (HarperCollins, May 2010). Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa.

A video interview with Kate DiCamillo from Reading Rockets. See transcript, biography, and more on her books. Read a Cynsations interview with Kate.

Show Us Your Masterpiece Giveaway

Check out the book trailer from Noonie’s Masterpiece by Austin 2010 debut author Lisa Railsback, illustrated by Sarajo Frieden (Chronicle, 2010). Then kids are invited to send the publisher a piece of their own artwork for a chance to win a library worth more than $100. Deadline: June 30. See more information.

More Personally

Last weekend, Greg and I had the honor of speaking at the Illinois Reading Conference in Springfield! It was a terrific event, which featured perhaps the most well-thought-out welcome bag in the history of hospitality!

Our participation in the conference began with a reading on Thursday night. Pictured above are fellow author-readers Laurie B. Friedman and Mary Amato. Nick Bruel, Andrew Clements, Will Hobbs, Eric A. Kimmel, Laurie Lawlor, Judith Byron Schachner, and David Wiesner also were featured. The event was sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshops, which did a first-rate job with booksales throughout the conference and is highly recommend in general.

Note: Laurie received the 2010 Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children; see event coverage.

California Girls April Halprin Wayland and Pam Munoz Ryan on the conference floor. Read a Cynsations interview with April.

Author Janice N. Harrington after her signing.

Author Esther Hershenhorn at lunch at The President Abraham Lincoln Hotel. Read a Cynsations interview with Esther.

Author Cynthea Liu. We had dinner with her, Jen Cullerton Johnson, Michelle Duster, and Trina Sotira at Saputo’s on Friday night. Great food and conversation! Read an interview with Cynthea. See Trina’s report at Mild Madness.

It being Springfield and all, we delayed our return flight a half day to visit The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which is highly recommended. If you’re ever in Chicago, it’s well worth the road trip for a visit. The displays are a mix of historical artifacts, recreated scenes, and high-tech narrations, with an eye to Lincoln the man (rather than icon).

Welcome to the Lincoln White House.

A really lot of children’s books have been published about Lincoln.

Greg booktalks My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln’s Story by Harry Mazer (Simon & Schuster, 2009) to a very young Abe.

I almost bought one of these T-shirts, a tie-in to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (Grand Central, 2010).

Have you ever wondered how Jan Brett travels?

Here’s a closer look. It’s the biggest bunny bus I’ve ever seen.

Author Gail Carson Levine and author-educator Mary Ann Rodman at the Springfield Airport. Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

Author-educator Steven L. Layne on the somewhat delayed American Airlines flight to Chicago.

Due to more weather delays, we didn’t get home until almost midnight. But it was a treat to spot a couple of copies of Eternal (Candlewick, 2010) on the shelf at Barbara’s Bookstore at O’Hare International Airport. See also Greg’s report.

In other news, look for “Launch That Book!” by Sue Bradford Edwards in the April 2010 issue of Children’s Writer, which includes information on my launch party for Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). See my related article, How to Throw a Book Launch Party, from Anastasia Suen at Children’s Book Biz News. Thanks to Cynthia Levinson for a peek at her CW!

Even More Personally

I’m thrilled that a bit of my advice worked out so well for author Shutta Crum! Read a Cynsations interview with Shutta.

Surf over to Devas T. Rants & Raves and comment my pal illustrator Don Tate with some get-well wishes! He’s recovering from a painful shoulder surgery, and it’s tough, trying to draw under the circumstances. Read a Cynsations interview with Don.

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win one of three paperback copies of Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (Knopf, 2010)! To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Tender Morsels” in the subject line. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the title in the header or comment on this round-up; I’ll write you for contact information, if you win. One copy will be reserved for a teacher/librarian/university professor of youth literature (please indicate affiliation in the body of your entry message); the other two will go to any Cynsations readers. Deadline: midnight CST March 28. Note: U.S. entries only.

Enter to win one of three newly released paperback copies of How Not To Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (Delacorte, 2010)!

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “How Not To Be Popular” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the title in the header or comment on this round-up; I’ll write you for contact information, if you win).

One copy will be reserved for a teacher/librarian/university professor of youth literature (please indicate affiliation in the body of your entry message); the other two will go to any Cynsations readers.

Deadline: midnight CST March 31. Note: U.S. entries only. See also a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

In celebration of the release of Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Hyperion, 2010), enter to win a Hex Hall T-shirt (size small, medium, or large)! To enter, just email me, message me or comment me with “Hex Hall” in the subject line. Deadline: March 31. Note: U.S. entries only. Read a Cynsations interview with Rachel.
Cynsational Events

Joint release party – YA authors Varian Johnson and April Lurie will be featured in a joint book signing at 2 p.m. March 27 at BookPeople in Austin. Varian will be signing Saving Maddie, and April will be signing The Less-Dead (both Delacorte, 2010). Read a Cynsations interview with April. See also Teens walk line between parents’ faith, angst in new novels from Austin authors by Sharyn Vane from The Austin American-Statesman.

Drawn to Delight: How Picture Books Work (and Play) Today

Do you linger over the pages of striking picture books, wondering how to tap their full potential in programs for children?

Attend the 2010 ALSC Pre-Conference, Drawn to Delight: How Picture Books Work (and Play) Today, and learn to look beyond the surface stories.

Explore technique and design with art directors, museum educators, and the award-winning illustrators Brian Selznick, Jerry Pinkney, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Javaka Steptoe, David Small, Yuyi Morales, Timothy Basil Ering, and Kadir Nelson—to name a few.

Discover the innovative “whole book” story-time model, developed by Megan Lambert, Instructor of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, to help children derive meaning from everything picture books offer.

Delve into the format’s relationship to graphic novels and the international and digital horizons.

Studio demonstrations, hands-on opportunities, and original art door prizes will be part of the mix at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

This 2010 ALSC Pre-Conference will be from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 25. Registration information is available by going to the American Library Association website. The pre-conference code is: ALS1. (The advance fee for nonmembers — $280, ALA members–$249, ALSC members–$195, Student members, $180.)