Guest Post: N.H. Senzai on Writing About War for Middle Grade & Escape From Aleppo

By N.H. Senzai

The reason I love writing for the middle grade audience is because at this age kids can still suspend belief and journey with you through a story as long as you create believable plots, authentic characters and dialogue that rings true.

However, you need to hook them in quickly, so my first goal is to create a story that “reels them in.”

Once they’ve signed on to follow your protagonist,

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New Voice: Patricia Valdez on Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor

By Traci Sorell

I love a good picture book biography and read so many in elementary school, especially those featuring women.

So when I learned Patricia Valdez’s debut picture book would feature the work of Joan Proctor, a zoologist researching amphibians in the early twentieth century, I knew there’d be a great story there.

Others think so too because the book has received starred reviews from Booklist,

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New Voice: Interview & Giveaway: Daria Peoples-Riley on This Is It, Illustration & Diversity

By Traci Sorell

To say that I’m thrilled to feature Daria Peoples-Riley, fellow Epic Eighteen member, today on Cynsations is an understatement.

This Is It (Greenwillow, 2018), her debut picture book as an author-illustrator, follows a young girl of color getting ready for a ballet audition. Although she loves to dance, she doubts herself as she approaches the studio.

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Video: Rudine Sims Bishop on Mirrors, Windows & Sliding Glass Doors

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

In this video from Reading Rockets, Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita from Ohio State University, speaks on Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Doors as metaphors for diversity in children’s-YA literature.

See also Rudine Sims Bishop: In Appreciation by Sam Bloom from Reading While White and Mirrors, Windows, Sliding Glass Doors & Curtains, featuring Debbie Reese,

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Author-Teacher Interview: Gene Luen Yang on Writing, Teaching & the Hamline MFA Program

Lean more about Cartoonist and Teacher Gene Luen Yang.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Welcome to Cynsations. We last spoke to Dean Mary Francoise Rockcastle about the Hamline MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults back in 2006.

When did you join the faculty? What appealed to you about teaching in a low-residency program?

I joined the faculty of the Hamline MFAC program in the summer of 2012.

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Author Interview: Samantha Mabry on Being Unique & All the Wind in the World

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Samantha Mabry is the author of All the Wind in the World (Algonguin Young Readers, 2017). It was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. From the promotional copy:

Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a near-future, bone-dry Southwest, a land that’s a little bit magical,

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New Voice: Nic Stone on Dear Martin

William C. Morris Award Finalist

By Robin Galbraith

Nic Stone is the debut author of Dear Martin (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017). From the promotional copy:

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs.

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New Voice: Lisa Bunker on Felix Yz

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Lisa Bunker is the debut author of Felix Yz (Viking, 2017). From the promotional copy:

“If it wasn’t for the fused-with-Zyx thing, I suppose I would just be normal—whatever that means.”

When Felix Yz was three years old, a hyperintelligent fourth-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. 

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Guest Post: Lyn Miller-Lachmann on Literature in Translation as Empowering Own Voices

By Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Before becoming a translator, I wrote historical fiction set in part in Chile, a country I knew from working with exiles who had fled the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s as well as with musicians inside the country who were working underground to restore democracy.

In addition to my knowledge gained from personal relationships and spending time in Chile, I read works of fiction and nonfiction by Chilean authors, Continue Reading Guest Post: Lyn Miller-Lachmann on Literature in Translation as Empowering Own Voices »

Tim Tingle Named 2018 Recipient of Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Earlier this week the Oklahoma Center for the Book announced Tim Tingle as the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2018.

The award honoring a body of work contributing to Oklahoma’s literary heritage, was named for Oklahoma historian Arrell Gibson, who served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

Tim is an award-winning author and storyteller and citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

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