Cynsational News

Quill Tree Books

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

Author/Illustrator Insights

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros by Mr. Schu from Watch. Connect. Read. Peek: “[W]e all have stories to tell. Each of our experiences is unique and equally important. In a sense, we are all authors, and every one of our stories is worthy of being told—and that is true of everyone, regardless of one’s skin color or socioeconomic status.”

Blog Tour: A Quiet Kind of Thunder | Q&A with Sara Barnard by Shanayah from The Scarlet Bookkeeper. Peek: “Make sure your primary reason to write is for the joy of it. Everything else can spring from that…It’s natural to feel like getting published is the ultimate goal, but there’s an awful lot that comes after that that isn’t joyful…[H]aving that love for what you are writing/have written will help carry you through….”

Rudine Sims Bishop: “Mother” of Multicultural Children’s Literature by Robin Chenoweth from The Ohio State University: Peek: “Books…are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through…But if the light is right, the window becomes a mirror…and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences….”

Sterling Children’s Books

Author Interview: Celebrating Kathy Blasi’s Picture Book Debut, “Hosea Plays On” from James Preller’s Blog. Peek: “Show up. Talking about writing and wanting to be a writer are not actually writing. Show up to the blank page, or the messy page, because the status of those pages will not change on their own. Work hard, so that eventually that and opportunity will intersect.”

Equity & Inclusion

Samantha Baines on Challenging Hearing Loss Stereotypes in Her Book Harriet Versus the Galaxy by Alex Strick from BookTrust. Peek: “[I]t’s…important that all children see themselves represented in books….Not only is it important for children with hearing loss to see people like them in the media and literature, it’s important to help young people understand adults in their life who might have hearing loss, and start conversations around hearing protection and hearing aids.”

Interviews: Alex Gino by Julie Danielson from BookPage. Peek: “I think that discussing privilege and recognizing ourselves and others in the world is crucial to develop empathy as well as critical thinking….One of the best things I think a teacher can do is sit with students in discomfort and complexity without trying to have all the answers.”

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Q&A: E. Latimer, Author of “Witches of Ash and Ruin” by Maša Tome from Nerd Daily. Peek: “One of the reasons I wanted to delve into the issues of mental illness was because I never got to see it portrayed in my fantasy books when I was growing up….It’s getting a lot better now, but I think we all deserve to see ourselves in the genres we love.”

Twenty Must-Read Children’s Books About Immigration by Katisha Smith from Book Riot. Peek: “[I]t is essential for readers to seek out stories about immigration that are written by those who experience immigration and those who are personally affected by immigration. There are plenty of beautiful, compelling, and poignant books about immigration…[W]e have a list of 20 must-read children’s books about immigration geared toward readers 12 and under.”

An Exclusive Interview with Jewell Parker Rhodes by She Reads Editors from She Reads. Peek: “Middle-grade is especially challenging as youth make the passage from childhood to young adulthood….I’m providing diverse mirrors and a ‘safe place’ for students to discuss critical issues about identity, social injustice, family and friendship. Words are powerful; books open hearts and minds.”

Writing Craft

Roaring Brook Press

Q & A with Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade by Antonia Saxon from Publishers Weekly. Peek: Carole Lindstrom: “I’ve always been a sparse writer. I don’t like a lot of words. I like the reader’s imagination to conjure the details. It’s very important to let the illustrator have room to let their imaginations go….”

Q&A with Valerie Bolling: Let’s Dance! by We Need Diverse Books. Peek: “I have learned a lot about writing and the publishing industry over the past couple of years, but I have so much more to learn….I believe in being a lifelong learner…I love learning from webinars, conferences, online groups, other writers, and any way I can within the writing community.”

An Interview with Raúl Colón, the Illustrator Behind This Year’s Brooklyn Book Festival Poster by Mary Frost from Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Peek: “Colón creates his artwork using colored pencils over watercolor washes. The wash under-painting is almost monochromatic…with just a few color varieties…’On top, I draw images in half tones. After that dries, I draw in layers of colored pencil. I finish with lithograph pencil to put some darks in it. It takes a while.’”

Boyds Mills Press

Love, Encouragement, and Purpose Behind Picture Book Brown Sugar Babe with Author Charlotte Watson Sherman and Editor Jes Negron from Rhys Keller. Peek: “My process involves studying the craft of writing picture books….I enjoy researching topics and taking a lot of notes, ‘feeling’ for the structure I want a piece of writing to take, then shaping the chaos into a coherent form, and re-writing until I pare the piece down…[I] shoot for 500 words or less….”


Children’s Booksellers Step Up for Anxious Readers by Alex Green from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “In the rush to provide digital content…booksellers…are emphasizing the importance of thoughtfulness and sensitivity to the needs of young readers during a difficult time. ‘It’s about really trying to figure out how we get kids to delve into stories with people around them that might cross generations and help others get into stories.’”

Figuring Out the Best New Normal by Elizabeth Bluemle from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “In the new normal, we and other booksellers are figuring out ways to give our customers the experience of shopping at the store from the comfort of their homes. Some are making book-recommendation videos (we will be doing this), and sharing links to authors who are providing read-aloud storytimes for kids (ditto).”


Scholastic Press

Read the Signs: Middle Grade Fiction Centering the Deaf Experience by Ann Clare LeZotte from School Library Journal. Peek: “[E]fforts to diversify library collections…have resulted in prioritizing #ownvoices literature. But readers seeking titles grounded in a firsthand D/deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind (DHHDB) perspective are unlikely to find many offerings….We hope this list…serves as a call to action for the publication of more books about Deaf kids….”

Ohio Deaf History Month Begins March 13th from State Library of Ohio. Peek: “State Librarian of Ohio Beverly Cain proclaimed the period beginning March 13 and ending April 15, 2020 as Ohio Deaf History Month….The Center for Outreach Services provides resources of interest to K-12 deaf educators, interpreters and parents…The collection includes fiction and non-fiction for children… and covers many aspects of Deaf culture and ASL….”

ALA Executive Board Recommends Closing Libraries to Public from American Libraries. Peek: “The ALA Executive Board unequivocally stands in support of the safety and well-being of library workers and the communities….Libraries are responding creatively and proactively to this crisis. [Many] school libraries…have plans to provide online classes to students. Public libraries are making virtual resources available…Academic libraries are providing online services and access to resources.”


Sterling Children’s Books

Day 13: Fracaswell Hyman by Kelly Starling Lyon from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “The State of the Industry….Let’s begin with; #weneeddiverseeditors #weneeddiverseceos…We need diversity in the offices where decisions are made….I believe some of the best-intentioned people are blind to their own notions of what is authentic as opposed to what they are used to or find culturally palatable.”

Macmillan Abandons Library E-book Embargo by Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Equitable access to digital content is more important than ever as libraries continue to serve their communities amid rapidly changing circumstances. Macmillan’s return to its original lending terms signals a new starting point for all publishers to consider how they can work with libraries to ensure—and expand—access for all readers.”

Indie Publishers Adapting to Coronavirus Outbreak by Alex Green and Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “[M]ore than half a dozen indies said this week that they were managing to make a somewhat smooth transition to remote work….[B]ookstore consultant Anna Thorn… provided IPC [Independent Publishers Caucus] members with an array of resources and tips, and by early week, many independent publishers were already beginning to take those steps.”


Scholastic Press

Claribel Ortega | Interview by Andy Lopez from inQluded. Peek: “[D]irectly selling books on social media is incredibly challenging without a network. What sells the books and what gets you those opportunities as far as social media goes, is a network and reach and to get that you have to engage authentically with people….For me it’s a combination of jokes, honest advice, and compelling visuals.”

More Online Resources

How Kids’ Lit Is Responding to the Coronavirus by Alex Green from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “With widespread school and library closures…children’s authors and publishers are going digital to provide kids with ways to read, draw, engage, and support other children who might need a helping hand. PW is tracking some of the most exciting efforts…and will be updating our list regularly.”

Kid Lit Authors Stepping Up During the COVID-19 Crisis and Quarantine by Ashlie Swicker from Book Riot. Peek: “[P]eople who care about children are coming together and using their considerable talents to provide entertainment and education for the masses who are out of school and in need of stimulation….The links…are all current as of Monday, March 16. I’m sure many more offerings will be cropping up.”

Everywhere Book Fest is a virtual gathering of children’s authors, books, and readers that will bring the book festival experience to everyone on May 1 and May 2. Don’t miss panel submissions information.


Sterling Children’s Books

Child care givers! Connect with page-turning, well written and illustrated, educational books for young readers, such as those that won the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature, including They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker (Top Shelf Productions, 2019), Stargazing by Jen Wang (First Second, 2019), and Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang, (Sterling Children’s Books, 2019).

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is accepting submissions through March for the Work in Progress Awards. The awards showcase outstanding manuscripts from SCBWI members in several children’s and young adult categories.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

Cynsational readers, now is the time to support brick-and-mortar bookstores!

For those who’re shoppers, please note they’re delaying shipments to prioritize staples for work and home. Let’s shop local for our books and/or show support to brick-and-mortar in other ways!

Kids at home? Are you on Twitter? If so, check out this post and enter to win a giveaway copy of your choice of two new releases, Blue Skies by Anne Bustard (Simon & Schuster)(for more info, check out Gayleen’s video below!) or We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade (Roaring Brook). Deadline: March 22. The books will be purchased (by me) and shipped to winners from my local independent bookstore, BookPeople, in Austin.

Finally, here’s some good news! Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Miles (Millbrook, 2019) was named among Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts by the National Council of Teachers of English. I’m honored to be one of the contributing poets.

More Personally – Gayleen