Oh, What a Night! The First Biennial Best Spanish Language Picture Book Awards in Spanish

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Cynthia S. Weill

Director of The Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College of Education opening the program festivities. 

On March 10th, I had the privilege of attending the first biennial Best Spanish Language Picture Book Awards in Spanish given by The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education (CBC). The 2020 prizes were given to books that were published or translated in 2018 and 2019, and selected by the CBC’s Spanish Language Affiliate (SLA), Bank Street College faculty and alumni, professors from City University, and by librarians from the New York Public Library. The books were judged on “cultural authenticity, richness of language and illustration, appeal to children as well as other criteria.” (Source: Event Program)

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Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of Bank Street College of Education

Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of Bank Street College of Education, emphasized the importance of having high quality Spanish texts for children, noting that 41% of NYC Public School students are from Latinx ancestry; 15% are from Spanish-speaking families; and that thousands of NYC children are currently receiving bilingual education services in over 500 dual language programs.

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Keynote Yuyi Morales

The incredible, Yuyi Morales, six-time winner of the Pura Belpré Award for Illustration, gave a moving keynote about her migration to the United States from Mexico, which ultimately became her book, Dreamers (2019). Not able to speak or read in English when she arrived in the U.S., her mother-in-law one day dropped her and her infant son at the library. And it was at the library where she not only found her new home but also her family. It is where she read stories about people just like her, written by people just like her, and for people who were just like her—immigrants.

Now, without further ado, the winners of 2020 Best Spanish Language Picture Book Awards are:

Gold Medal

MI PAPI TIENE UNA MOTO / MY PAPI HAS A MOTORCYCLE

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by Isabel Quintero; Illustrated by Zeke Peña

Translator: Andrea Montejo

(Kokila, Penguin/Random House)

Silver Medals

¿DE DÓNDE ERES? / WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

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by Yamile Saied Méndez; Illustrated by Jaime Kim (Harper Collins Publishers)

SEMBRANDO HISTORIAS: PURA BELPRÉ: BIBLIOTECARIA Y NARRADORA DE CUENTOS / PLANTING STORIES: THE LIFE OF LIBRARIAN AND STORYTELLER PURA BELPRÉ

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by Anika Aldamuy Denise; Illustrated by Paola Escobar

Translated by Omayra Ortiz (Harper Collins Publishers)

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Anika Aldamuy Denise accepting her award. 

MARIO Y EL AGUJERO EN EL CIELO: CÓMO UN QUÍMICO SALVÓ NUESTRO PLANETA / MARIO AND THE HOLE IN THE SKY: HOW A CHEMIST SAVED OUR PLANET

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by Elizabeth Rusch; Illustrated by Teresa Martínez

Translated by Carlos E. Calvo (Charlesbridge Publishers)

2020 Honorable Mentions

SOÑADORES / DREAMERS by YuYi Morales (Holiday House)

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ALMA Y COMO OBTUVO SU NOMBRE / ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME

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by Juana Martinez Neal (Candlewick)

The program was recorded in its entirety by KidLit TV. 

Below are a few photographic highlights:

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The seal imprinted on the winning books was designed

twenty-five years ago and adapted by Lauren Linn. 

Muchas gracias to The Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature for una noche increible.

The 2020 Amelia Island Book Festival

 

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Readers, you have no idea how rough it is to leave New York in the middle of February to head to warm and sunny Amelia Island for a book festival. But somebody’s got to do it. And I’m so glad that somebody is me! 🙂

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Amelia Island at sunrise. 

I LOVE Amelia Island.

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Amelia Island Book Festival!

So, it’s no surprise that the festival is held annually around Valentine’s Day! What can I say? There’s book love in the air.

This was my third Amelia Island Book Festival and it was nothing short of AWESOME! This year I was joined by many east-coast friends, including several members of the KidLit Authors Club, including Timothy Young, Nancy ViauJulie Gonzalez, and honorary member, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

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Left to right: Timothy Young, Nancy Viau, moi, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen,

and Julie Gonzalez

It was also wonderful catching up with old friends at the festival, including Evelyne Holingue, Jessie Miller, and Eileen Meyer, and wonderful to meet new authors, including my tablemate, Eddie Price, MJ Hayes, and Jacques Pépin. Wait one book-festival second! Did she say, “Jacques Pépin?” Why, yes I did! I’ve been a HUGE fan of Jacques Pépin since he and Julia Child had their PBS show, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Homeand it was an incredible treat to finally meet him in person.

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Jacques Pépin et moi

One of the things that makes The Amelia Island Book Festival extraordinarily unique and special is the Authors in Schools Program.

“The Amelia Island Book Festival’s Authors in Schools program not only aims to put a book in the hand of every student in Nassau County, Florida, but also place the book’s author right in front of them in their own classroom or school auditorium.”

Through the Authors in Schools Program, thirty authors visited schools in Nassau County and 13,000 books (Yes, you read correctly. 13,000 books!) were purchased for students from pre-k through high school.

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This year I had the privilege of visiting with first and second grade students at Yulee Primary School. During my presentation, I spoke about how I became a writer; the writing, revision, and publishing process; fractured fairy tales (or twisted tales as Yulee students call them); and how they can use fairy tales to create their own twisted tales by changing the basic elements of a story—whether it’s the characters, conflict, setting, plot, and/or resolution. The students had fabulous questions and it warmed my heart to see many of them at the book festival the following day.

Below are a few photographic highlights from my festival weekend:

I’d like to shout out a super huge THANK YOU to Kelley MacCabe, Yulee Primary School Media Specialist extraordinaire for arranging my visit, and to the festival organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and community members who made the Authors in Schools Program and The Amelia Island Book Festival an incredible success. THANK YOU!

My bags are already packed for next year! I can’t wait!

 

Happy National Carrot Cake!

Detective Wilcox, Captain Griswold, and I would like to wish everyone an extraordinarily yummy Happy National Carrot Cake Day!

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On this wonderfully delicious holiday, we have a special treat to share with our readers: Mollie Katzen’s out-of-this world carrot cake recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. recipe.jpgAnd I must tell you a secret. There’s no better way to enjoy a slice or two or three of carrot cake than by watching Wanda Sykes read The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.

Bon appétit! Et bien sur, let them eat cake.

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Sincere apologies for the radio silence but it has been crazy busy on my end. For the writers reading this blog, we all know that crazy busy is AWESOMESAUCE! 

I finally have some amazing news. Check this out!

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A SUPER HUGE THANK YOU to Liza Fleissig, Ginger Harris-Dontzin, Sarah Rockett, Sleeping Bear Press, and to everyone at the Bank Street Writers Lab for your encouragement and support. (It truly takes a village and then some to do a picture book.) I am beyond excited to be working with Sarah Rockett and the amazing team at Sleeping Bear Press, as well as the incredibly talented Susan Batori. Click here to check out her adorable illustrations.

If I had to summarize what the month has been like in one word, it’s been a good month of revisions. Lots of revisions! Revisions to The Case of the Bad Apples, which releases on September 1 (Since folks have been asking, it’s currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Click here!), and revisions to another book that I can’t talk about just yet. But more news to come!

Aside from revisions, I’ve also been doing some WRAD Skype visits. If you’re unfamiliar with WRAD, WRAD stands for World Read Aloud Day. WRAD is the brainchild of the amazing Kate Messner, whereby authors Skype with schools for free on a particular day of the year. This year WRAD is February 5th. Since I get way more requests for author visits than I can do in a single day, I like to think of WRAD more like, WRAW, World Read Aloud Weeks. I do a number of Skype visits before and after WRAD and I try my very best to include as many schools as possible. (If I have been unable to schedule your school, please email me again later in the year or early next year.)

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My first Skype visit for WRAD with third, fourth, and fifth graders

at Christ the Teacher School. 

And in the last bit of news, I am looking forward to my third Amelia Island Book Festival, and in particular, to their incredible Authors-in-School program, which generously purchases a book for each student visited by an author. This year I will be visiting with first and second graders at Yulee Primary School. I cannot wait!

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p.s. Apologies for use of all the superlatives but it’s been a superlative-kind-of-month. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

NerdCampLI ‘19 Rolls Out the Red Carpet

Nerds from near and far flocked the star-studded red carpet for the Fifth Annual NerdCampLI at the James H. Boyd Intermediate School on Saturday, November 2nd. In a word, it was NERD-A-RI-FIC! (Of course, NERD-A-RI-FIC is a real word! How is that even a question?)

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Tracey Baptiste 

Unlike other celebrity events, this red carpet was rolled out for authors, illustrators, teachers, and librarians. And even though fashion was not a highlight per se of walking the red carpet, I’d like to note that I spotted many nerdies sporting their super cool, exceptionally nerdy NerdCamp t-shirts. In the mix, I also spotted a few #KidsNeedMentors t-shirts designed by illustrator-extraordinaire Jarrett Lerner.

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The amazing volunteers! (Photo source: NerdCampLI)

So, you may be wondering, what exactly is NerdCamp? Glad you asked. (I truly have the best readers.) Nerdcamp is a literacy-based, participant-driven, un-conference education camp for educators, librarians, authors, and illustrators. Upon arrival, attendees fill a session board with post-its covering topics for discussion. There are three sessions, and you can present a session, participate on a panel, or just go with the flow, listen, and learn. If a topic is not for you, you can leave at any time and head to another session.

This year’s conference had over 600 attendees. Let me repeat. That’s 600 attendees! And as one speaker noted, these 600 attendees got up before the crack of dawn on a Saturday to attend a conference where they had absolutely no real idea of what was in store for them. Pretty impressive, huh!

I presented on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, Using Picture Books to Teach About Inclusion and Empowerment.

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Photo by Nancy Churnin. 

I also participated in a discussion on Using Picture Books in the Upper Elementary Classroom and had the opportunity to sit in on a session given by Katey Howes, Gina Perry, Nancy Churnin, Carol Gordon Ekster and Laurie Wallmark on Idea to Execution: The Picture Book Process.

Left to right: Katey Howes, Gina Perry, Nancy Churnin, Carol Gordon Ekster and Laurie Wallmark. 

Below are some photographic highlights:

Enormous thanks to the amazing, incredible, you-take-my-breath-away organizers, JoEllen McCarthy, Kristen Picone, and Ali McDermott, and to the out-of-this world sponsors and volunteers who used their magic powers to make this day a reality. THANK YOU!

Sadly, that’s a wrap for NerdCampLI ’19, but I can hardly wait for NerdCampLI ’20!

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Happy Halloween from Hildie Bitterpickles, Clawdia et moi!

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Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday. Nothing better than waking up to a full moon, starting the day with a broom ride, and returning home to a breakfast of cream of eye ball porridge, rat smoothies, and slimy eel fritters. YUM! YUM! YUM! DELISH!

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday. One small piece of advise. Be sure to brush and floss after the rat smoothies and eel fritters (Nobody wants to be caught with rat tails stuck in their teeth and eel breath is apparently the worst. So I’ve been told.)

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And on this wonderfully dark and gloomy day, be sure to check out the SPOOK-TA-CU-LAR-LY ADORABLE Hildie Bitterpickles book trailer by Cynthia Nugent at Rascal Media.

One last BOO-RI-FIC note. Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep, illustrated by Chris Ewald (Creston Books), is available at bookstores EVERYWHERE. Be sure to grab your copy before it flies off the shelf. It’s SPELL-BIN-DING-LY fun.

 

 

 

Where’s Waldo? No, not Waldo! Where’s Robin?

 

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Sincere apologies for being M.I.A. from the blog lately but the fall has been crazy busy with book festivals, conferences, revisions, writing, and book deals.

Reader: Wait one second! Did she say book deals?

Why, yes I did.

I am thrilled to finally announce that the third book in The Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, The Case of the Bad Apples, illustrated by the amazing Deborah Zemke, will be out fall 2020. Heartfelt thanks to Liza Fleissig, Ginger Harris, Marissa Moss, and to everyone who read, reread, and re-reread drafts of the book.

There’s more good news to come on this front . . . so please stay tuned. YIPPEE KI YAY!

Now, as we all know, being crazy busy for an author is AWESOME! Below is a quick recap of where I’ve been.

First stop, the Highlights Foundation, Honesdale, PA. If you’ve never been, I have one word for you. Go! Actually, two words. Go now! You won’t regret it. Not sure if it’s the pixie dust in the Honesdale air or just the to-die-for food, but Highlights is pure magic. It was beyond wonderful to have a few days to focus on work, and then just be able to ask an editor a question or two.

Sample Author-Editor Discussion Simulation 

Me:  Do you have a minute to read something? Is this working? Does it need another beat? Is it funny enough because my dogs always laugh when I read that line.

Editor: Do you give your dogs treats when you read that line?

Me: Maybe.

I’d like to shout out a very big thank you to Jennifer Jacobson, Juana Martinez-Neal, Gareth Hinds, Nikki Grimes, Padma Venkatraman, Neal Porter, Kathleen Merz, Laurie Calkhoven, and Alison Morris for sharing their words of wisdom, time, and for their encouragement and support, and to the above and beyond amazing Highlights staff for making the weekend extraordinarily special.

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My adorable cabin. 

Second stop, Collingswood Book Festival, Collingswood, NJ. This is one of my all-time favorite book festivals and it was such a treat to be there with so many author friends, including Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Laura Shovan, as well as so many friends from the KidLit Authors Club, including Hallee Adelman, Jodi Moore, Charlotte Bennardo, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, David Neilsen, Jeffry Johnston, Jennifer Robin Barr, and Kell Andrews.

Third stop, West Jersey Reading Council’s Fall Conference, Pennsauken, NJ. The West Jersey Reading Council provides educators, administrators, and parents with literacy-based enrichment programs. This year Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and I presented on Using Picture Books to Teach Empowerment and Inclusion. We also participated in the author meet and greet.

(Note: If we look like drowned rats in the photos, it’s because it was POURING cats and dogs.)

Fourth stop, Easton Book Festival, Easton, PA. Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the first ever Easton Book Festival. The book festival was the brainchild of Andy Laities, the former manager of the Bank Street Bookstore. In a word, it was AWESOME!

A quick side story . . . one of my first book signings was at the Bank Street Bookstore. Since I have a detective book, naturally I thought the kids would enjoy a fingerprinting activity. Well, this was a very bad idea. Not just a very bad idea but an exceptionally bad idea. The children were running around the store with ink on their hands while Andy was chasing them down with wipes. (So, if you have a detective book, I strongly advise against any kind of fingerprinting activities.) P.s. I’d like to note that I LOVE Bank Street Bookstore and am so thrilled that I wasn’t banished from the store.

Here are a few photographic highlights from Easton:

There was a spectacular author dinner, with belly dancers. 

I’d like to shout out a super huge THANK YOU to Andy Laities, Sarah Laities, and to all the volunteers for making the Easton Book Festival unforgettable. Can’t wait for next year’s festival.

Where will Robin be next? NerdCampLI on November 2nd and the Huntington Public Library’s Picture Book Palooza on November 10th.

And in the words of the great Porky Pig . . .

 

 

17th Annual Collingswood Book Festival…Another Great Year!

A wonderful recap of the Collingswood Book Festival by Darlene Beck-Jacobson. It was an AWESOME day!

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

On Saturday, October 5, 2019, I had the pleasure of attending the COLLINGSWOOD BOOK FESTIVAL, in downtown Collingswood, NJ.   http://www.collingswoodbookfestival.com/

It’s the festival’s 17th year and I am proud to have been a presenting author for the fifth year. There was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for all things to do with reading and books. And, each year, I get to talk about books and hang out with fellow authors from all over NJ and beyond. The organizers and volunteers behind the scenes always make members of the KidLIt Authors Club feel welcome.  http://www.kidlitauthorsclub.com

Here are some of this year’s highlights in photos:

 

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