Member News — November 2020

Member News is a monthly feature on the EasternPennPoints blog. We want to celebrate our Eastern PA SCBWI members’ good news and help spread the word far and wide. Send us your children’s book–related news—book deals, releases, awards, author or illustrator events (signings, launch parties, appearances), etc. If you’d like your news to be included in next month’s column, please e-mail Laura Parnum at epa-ara@scbwi.org before December 20.

Here’s some exciting news from our members this month:

Two members from our region, Sophia Ezomoghene and Nkuchia M’ikantha, received the SCBWI New Voices in Nonfiction grant. Their work was among 25 entries selected by judges from a pool of 200 applicants to receive full tuition to attend the SCBWI/Smithsonian Nonfiction Online Workshop (November 6-9). The grant was intended for BIPOC creators who have never published a nonfiction book in the children’s book market.

Dr. M’ikantha was able to share a little about his work in progress for which the grant was given: “As an epidemiologist, I often think about ways to encourage children to use water to keep microbes away, a message that is necessary for everyone now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, many of us take water for granted but according to the United Nations, one in three people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. With the increasing surface temperature of the earth, we will likely see increased rainfall in certain parts of the world, like here on the East Coast, while the western parts of the United States will become even drier. [This story] is about a Kenyan boy’s quest for water and an orchard and is based on my personal experiences.”


Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Innovation Press, July 2020, illustrated by Luisa Uribe) has been named one of Time Magazine’s 10 best children’s books this year, one of New York Public Library’s 2020 Best Books for Kids, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best for 2020, and Kirkus Review’s Best Picture Books for 2020. Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name Is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.


Linda Oatman High’s new middle grade novel As Far As Birds Can Fly releases on New Year’s Eve from Koehler Books. First there was Bird. Then there was Bird-Bird. And now, Third Bird. Magnolia’s daddy won the beloved cockatiel Third Bird at a carnival, just before he died in a car accident. Magnolia promised to always take good care of Third Bird . . . but then she loses him. Magnolia’s grief, for her father and for her lost bird, opens up a whole new world of friends as they search not only for Third Bird, but for acceptance and healing for all. Helping her mama to see that physical beauty is not important (even in a family that comes from “a long line of beauty queens”), Magnolia becomes the star of her small Southern town as she finds hope and light in the healing of her grief and learns that sometimes when you go looking for one thing, you find what you really need. Preorders are available at independent booksellers, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.


Author Sherri Maret recently launched her latest picture book, Lela and the Butterflies (illustrated by Merisha Sequoia Clark). Sherri worked with her husband, Shippensburg University biologist Tim Maret, to write this picture book about butterfly conservation. The book includes a guide to planting your own butterfly garden. It was published by Muddy Boots Books (September 2020). Educational activities are available at https://www.sherrimaret.com. The Marets bought an old farm in Pennsylvania and have turned it into a conservation area for wildlife with a focus on monarchs and other butterflies.


The cover reveal for Hilda Eunice Burgos’s picture book The Cot in the Living Room was featured on the Las Musas blog last month. The book and cover are gorgeously illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro. The Cot in the Living Room is a celebration of the ways a Dominican American community takes care of one another while showing young readers that sometimes the best way to be a better neighbor is by imagining how it feels to spend a night sleeping on someone else’s pillow. The book is available for preorder and will be published in June 2021 by Kokila.

Hilda will also be appearing on the panel “Using the Power of Story to Fight Anti-Blackness, Racism, and Colorism” in the upcoming Latinx Kidlit Book Festival. This virtual event will be held December 4-5 (https://www.latinxkidlitbookfestival.com).


Nicole Wolverton’s YA short story “The North American Guide to Animal Slaughter” will be appearing in the upcoming anthology Slashertorte: An Anthology of Cake Horror (Sliced Up Press, December 2020). The digital version is now available for preorder, with the print version coming soon. The anthology features sixteen sweetly sinister stories, which might make you think twice before ordering dessert…


Middle grade authors Nicole Valentine (A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity) and Jennifer Robin Barr (Goodbye, Mr. Spalding) will be appearing in a virtual event hosted by the Working Writers Group. The event is called “Past Present: Time Travel and Historical Fiction for Middle Grade Readers” and will feature readings and discussions. To register for the event click here.

Nicole will also be speaking at the Writer Igniter SFF Summit (https://writer-igniter-sff-summit.heysummit.com), an online conference from November 30-December 5. Nicole’s session is on “Cracking the Code of Middle Grade Sci-Fi.”


If you have good news to share, please send it to epa-ara@scbwi.org to be included in next month’s Member News column.

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2 Responses to Member News — November 2020

  1. Joanne Roberts says:

    Congratulations. Best wishes to all!

  2. Wow! That’s an amazing roster of successful writers and illustrators in our corner of the world! Congrats everyone!

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