Cynsational News

Sourcebooks Fire

By Cynthia Leitich SmithGail VannelliGayleen Rabukukk, and Stephani Eaton for Cynsations

Author/Illustrator Insights

Queerness Is Front-And-Center in Reverie by Ryan La Sala from Karis Rogerson at We Need Diverse Books. Peek: “Writing…first and foremost was just an act of archives for these characters and these worlds that I was making up and drawing and playing in, like creating an almanac or a written history…As far as why I write now—it remains the most influential way to impact reality, for me at least.”

Five Translators on the Joys and Challenges of Translating Children’s Books by Emma Ramadan from Books Without Borders. Peek: “[M]ore and more children’s imprints have cropped up within U.S. publishers of translated literature….At a time when understanding different perspectives seems like our best hope for a kind and sane world, exposing the youngest members of our society to different viewpoints seems like the perfect place to start.”

Why I Love Kids’ Books in Translation by Rivka Galchen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “One might think of books in translation that the translation is characterized by loss, especially in books for kids….But there’s so much gained in translation….With children’s books in particular, those in translation have an added aura of adventure, even a sense of the hidden being revealed.”

Questions I’m Frequently Asked About Writing Nonfiction for Children by Don Tate from Nonfiction Fest. Peek: “Children are tough. They can handle tough stories. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hide our tough history from children….Children are our future, and they need to know what happened in the past in order to prevent bad things from happening again.”

Roaring Book Press

Equity & Inclusion

Q&A with Angela Joy: Black is a Rainbow Color from We Need Diverse Books. Peek: “Bringing culture into everyday learning and curriculum normalizes differences and teaches children to accept them, as opposed to viewing them as taboo, exotic, or trivial…. Within each reader I hope to plant a seed that says, ‘Black, in all of its shades and representations, is beautiful.'”

Day 17: Sade Fadipe by Tameka Fryer Brown from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “We need to engage our children in the creative process by exposing them to books they can relate to (identity-wise) and books that have the potential to widen their horizons, empowering them to be the best version of themselves….All children need to gain access to literature that speaks to and about them, as global citizens.”

These Children’s Books Get Aging Right by Holly Lawrence from Next Avenue. Peek: “Children’s books that dismiss ageism and portray loving and fun intergenerational relationships between children and a modern older adult, whether a grandparent or someone outside the family, are powerful in developing a child’s worldview of aging…. [T]here are an array of jewels on the bookshelves that are getting it right on aging.”

Katherine Tegen Books

Day 16: Justin A. Reynolds by Tracey Baptiste from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “[W]e need more change….to have more people from…marginalized communities in positions of power and real influence. If our goal is lasting and meaningful diversity within our children’s books, then we need that same diversity among acquiring editors, agents, executive boards, and leadership staff. But I’m hopeful.”

Day 14—Ronni Davis by Crystal Allen from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “Some of us tell stories differently from the typical western accepted way, and marketing and publicity needs to outline, reflect, and support that. We need more people who…understand how we tell our stories… [and] are willing to lift up and scream about these stories, getting them in the hands of every reader they can.”

Day 13: Ibtihaj Muhammad by Kelly Starling Lyons from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “Ibtihaj Muhammad breaks barriers. She was the first Muslim American woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympics. She was the first Muslim American woman to earn a medal in the games…Her picture book…[is] ‘about identity, visibility, and…is unapologetic in tackling misconceptions and demanding equality’―School Library Journal, starred review.”

Dutton Books for Young Readers

Writing Craft

Five Questions for A.S. King about Dig from The Horn Book. Peek: “It’s like juggling; once I have too many balls in the air, and they’re all about to drop to the floor, I stop and organize. I use character cards, timeline calendars, and, most helpful for me, a stapled-together, linear table of contents.”

Interview with Jennifer Feeley [translator] by Anguche from Chinese Books for Young Readers. Peek. “Figuring out how to render proper names was probably one of the most interesting…parts of translating….Some of the things I have learned…include adjusting the tone for a younger readership, simplifying not just the language but also the action, improving clarity, and ultimately creating a story that will captivate young English-language readers.”

Pat Cummings by Don Tate from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “It’s important to understand that this is a business and, aside from blind luck, you need to arm yourself with research and a professional work ethic to enter and flourish in this field….The professionalism you show can make the difference between getting published and getting discouraged.”

How to Research Like a (Scrappy) Reporter by Meeg Pincus from Nonfiction Fest. Peek: “Early in my career, I was a scrappy city beat reporter…I developed techniques to get…compelling stories researched and written every week, which I’ve found also work for writing nonfiction picture books….Pay attention to gems that show something vivid about your subject and context—think five senses, exact words, stand-out moments.”

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Day 15 — Karyn Parsons by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “I’m the sort of writer who does better in a closet than perched in a window seat. I need zero distractions. Any outside stimuli can pull me away and I find it hard to get back….I need a quiet space, nobody calling me, nothing to look at (unless it informs what I’m writing)….”


Mille Lacs Band [MLB] of Ojibwe Signs Historic Agreement with Minnesota Historical Society Press to Publish Multiple Books in Ojibwe from Anton Treuer. Peek: “[T]he MLB has signed a contract with the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) Press to publish three new monolingual Ojibwe books….An elementary student in public school has 5,000 books loaded into an accelerated reading program with assessments by grade level. Mille Lacs is building the foundation so this can be done in Ojibwe.”


Quill Tree Books

ALSC announces 2020 Notable Children’s Recordings from American Library Association. Peek: “The list includes recordings for children 14 years of age and younger of especially commendable quality that demonstrate respect for young people’s intelligence and imagination, exhibit venturesome creativity and reflect and encourage the interests of children and young adolescents in exemplary ways.” Chosen recordings include New Kid by Jerry Craft (Quill Tree Books, 2019), and We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Live Oak Media, 2019).


Subscription Marketing for Authors: A Primer by Anne Janzer from Jane Friedman. Peek: “[I]n the Subscription Economy, you’re only doing half of your job as a marketer if you focus on the sale and ignore the reader….Subscription marketing resets fundamental ideas you may have about marketing….Build a community around you, and you’ll achieve multiple objectives: nurturing readers, attracting new ones, encouraging word-of-mouth, and even reducing costs.”



Children’s Authors Renovate Washington Bookstore by Jason Boog from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “With the help of her fellow children’s authors, Suzanne Selfors has remodeled Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, Washington. T]he re-opening will include a number of changes at the bookshop—starting with kids’ books. ‘I’ve made the children’s section bigger. I’m curating it, because that’s my sweet spot,’ Selfors said.”

Local Bookstores Have a New Weapon in the Fight with Amazon by Joan Verdon from Forbes. Peek: “, a website that went live at the end of January… is designed…to generate income for independent bookstores….Profit from books sold through Bookshop will be split three ways, with 10 percent of the sale price going into a pool that will be divided among participating bookstores…Over 200 independent bookstores already have signed up to participate.”


Neal Porter Books

Congratulations to the 2019 Cybils Winners, including Miranda Paul for her Elementary Non-Fiction book Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born, illustrated by Jason Chin (Neal Porter Books, 2019.

Call for Submissions: ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards. The International Literacy Association (ILA) Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards are for newly published authors—of fiction and nonfiction books from all countries published in English for the first time in 2019—“who show unusual promise in the children’s and young adults’ book field.” Deadline: March 15.

Call for Submissions: The 2020 Skipping Stones Book Awards. Entries are now being accepted in the categories of Multicultural and International Books, Nature and Ecology Books, and Teaching Resources. The annual Skipping Stones Book Awards promote both multicultural and nature writings by young people, as well as multicultural and nature books for young people. Deadline: Feb. 28.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

I’m pleased to share that Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Myles (Millbrook, 2019), which includes my poem, “Stories for Dinner,” was named among the International Literary Association’s 2020 Notable Books for a Global Society.

More Personally – Gayleen

Last weekend I enjoyed a mini writing retreat with a few writing buddies. It was just a few hours, but long enough to block out the demands of everyday life and immerse myself in the world of my story.

When you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions, writing has an amazing power to give us a tiny bit of control. Even when we can’t fix a loved one’s health issues or speed up the publishing process, creating (or in this case revising) provides absolute power because the writer is literally building the whole world in the story.  This sense of control, coupled with the joy of writing, can be energizing.

Thanks to everyone out there creating opportunities for co-working, critiquing and chats about story, publishing and the power of writing!