ALA Schneider Family Book Award… and photos!

It may have been announced more than six months ago, but the ALA Schneider Family Book Award wasn’t actually presented until the end of June, at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. I finally have some photos to share from this wonderful event honoring Emmanuel’s Dream, along with three other wonderful books by fabulous authors.

None of my flights went as planned, but I finally arrived late at night and went straight to bed. I spent Saturday finding my way around the exhibition hall and chatting with other kidlit folks who I happened to bump into, like these lovely agency-mates!
Peter Salomon, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Nancy Day, and me
Peter Salomon, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Nancy Day, and myself

Laurie Ann Thompson and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Laurie Ann Thompson and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Me, Nancy Day, Chris Barton, and Peter Salomon
Me, Nancy Day, Chris Barton, and Peter Salomon
Then, that evening was the Random House “family dinner.” I love these events, because they’re often the first time you get to meet–and thank!–many of the people who’ve been working hard to make your book successful. This one was extra special, because it was the first time I got to meet my editor, Anne Schwartz. Squee! She is just as lovely in person as over email, and we all had a wonderful evening.
Afterward I met up with the fabulous Miranda Paul and we hung out at the We Need Diverse Books party, the Simon & Schuster party (I got a copy of Scraps signed by Lois Ehlert!!!), and the Nerdy Book Club party. There were great people all around, and at every stop I was reminded that this is a very good business to be in. I couldn’t stay out too late, though, because Sunday was the busy day!
First thing Sunday morning, I ran into the huge poster in the hallway of the convention center, and yes, I totally teared up, and yes, it was right before our signings.
Schneider award poster
The ALA Schneider Family Award poster

We started out with back-to-back signings on the exhibition floor on Sunday morning, first for Random House, then for Follett.
Sean Qualls and I
Sean Qualls and I getting ready to sign

Then we went to the photo session for the Schneider Family Awards…
ALAannual2016 3440 Sean and Laurie
followed by the ceremony itself!
ALAannual2016 3138-stage
Shneider stage from audience
Then it was off to the President’s Reception. (Thank you, Krista Marino, for the wine!)
That was followed by the Newbery Caldecott Banquet. What a treat! Every one of the speeches was powerful and moving, and I got teary all over again. Afterward, I got to catch up with one of my favorite kidlit bloggers, Michele Knott! 🙂
Michele Knott and Laurie Ann Thompson
Michele Knott and Laurie Ann Thompson

Still, Monday was arguably the best day yet. We were treated to the intimate Schneider Family Award luncheon, where we got to meet the award committee, ALA representatives, the other winners, and the agents and editors associated with the winning books. The highlight of the luncheon was when we got to conference call with the award’s sponsor, Dr. Katherine Schneider. She told us she’d read, and loved, all of our books, and shared why the award was so important to her. We were all moved by the conversation, and I’m extremely grateful to have been able to participate.

Schneider winners and committee
Flights were a bit of a stress-inducing mess on the way home, too, but I didn’t really care: The whole ALA experience was 100% worth it! Huge thanks to ALA, Dr. Schneider and the committee members, Anne Schwartz and the whole outstanding team at Random House, Ammi-Joan Paquette and everyone at Erin Murphy Literary Agency, the talented and classy Sean Qualls, and the inspiring Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah joining me on this incredible journey.

Emmanuel prepares for another ride in Ghana!

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah reports “Para Cyclist Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah To Ride For Peaceful Elections In Ghana.”
Emmanuel is preparing once again to circle Ghana, as he did in Emmanuel’s Dream, but this time it will be a peace tour to promote a peaceful general election. At a press conference, he pointed out that disabled people are among society’s most vulnerable, along with children and the elderly, and they often have no place to go if war erupts.
The Ghanaian election is set to take place on December 7, 2016, so Emmanuel’s “Riding For Peace 2016” event will start on November 7, 2016, in Accra, the capital of Ghana. He’ll ride with ten other para cyclists on a route to Cape Coast and Takoradi, up through Ashanti and the northern region, down through Volta, and finally to Emmanuel’s hometown, Koforidua, where he will cast his own vote. By the time they are finished, they will have biked to promote peace through 240 districts in one month. Riding for Peace 2016 is asking for support from companies, organizations, and all who want peace for Ghana.
Good luck, Emmanuel!

Wonderful news for Emmanuel's Dream!

There’s been a bunch of exciting news regarding Emmanuel’s Dream lately, and I wanted to share it all with you…

First, it was recently selected as a Notable Book in the Children’s Africana Book Awards! One of my all-time favorite picture books—One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul—was similarly recognized, which makes this honor even more special.

Emmanuel’s Dream was also listed in the CCBC Choices 2016 by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and in the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for ages 5-9!

It was a finalist for the 2015 CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary) Awards in the Elementary/Middle Grade Non-Fiction category. I’ve helped judge this category several times, but obviously had to bow out this year! Since I know firsthand what a thorough, careful job the judges do to select the finalists, it was truly a thrill to have my book recognized for this award.

Emmanuel’s Dream has started showing up on some state lists around the country, too, which means even more kids will be reading it. That’s super exciting! Some of the state honors I’m aware of so far include:

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve learned that Emmanuel’s Dream will be published in Korean! One thing I always dreamed of was having my books published in another country, and now I’ve got two (a Japanese version of My Dog Is the Best should be coming soon, too).

An ALA Schneider Family Award for Emmanuel's Dream

Schneider Award
This is old news at this point, but I’ve been so busy that I’m just now FINALLY getting around to posting it here. So, just in case you’ve been too busy to keep up with the news in the children’s literature industry, Emmanuel’s Dream has won the Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association! The purpose of this special award is to “honor an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences,” so I’m extremely honored that the committee selected Emmanuel’s Dream.
Emmanuels Dream cover with stickerThis and other Youth Media Awards were announced on January 11, 2016, during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Boston and via live stream. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have to get up at 5am to catch them, but it was definitely worth it! The award itself will be presented in Orlando during the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June, and both Sean and I are both expecting to be able to attend.
Recipients are selected in three categories: birth through grade school (age 0–8), middle grade (age 9–13) and teens (age 14–18). Emmanuel’s Dream won the award for young children, which was the very first award to be announced in the entire program. Next up was Fish in a Tree, which won a middle-grade award. This only added to my excitement, as it was written by my friend and agency sister Lynda Mullaly Hunt!
Schneider Award flowersThank you to all of the members of the 2016 Schneider Family Book Award committee, including Alyson Beecher (committee chair), Nancy L. Baumann, Betsy Fraser, Beth McGuire, Elsworth Rockefeller, Joanna Tamplin, Caroline Ward, and Jill Garcia! I’m especially grateful to Katherine Schneider and the Schneider family for sponsoring this important award. It is such a huge honor to receive it, and I hope it will help the book find its way into the hands of more kids who need to hear its message. Thank you also to my fantastic agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, for believing in this story; to Sean Qualls, for illustrating it so beautifully; and to everyone at Schwartz & Wade/Random House for all of their hard work and dedication, which made it into the book it is today. And look, they even sent me some gorgeous flowers to celebrate!
Notables SealOn the heels of the Schneider Family Award, it was also announced that Emmanuel’s Dream was included on the ALA ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books list. Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways. It’s an incredible honor to see Emmanuel’s Dream on that list of amazing books! Thank you, ALSC!

Eureka! Nonfiction Honor Award for Emmanuel's Dream


I’m thrilled to announce that Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah has been selected to receive a 2015 Eureka! Honor Book Award from the California Reading Association.
The California Reading Association has established this award to celebrate and honor nonfiction children’s books. The Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award will assist teachers, librarians, and parents in identifying outstanding nonfiction books for their students and children.
And, it means a shiny new sticker for the cover! 🙂
Eureka Honor AwardEmmanuel’s Dream is in some excellent company, too! Click here for the full list of winners. I guarantee you find some great nonfiction for kids (which means it’s great for adults, too!).

Texas Book Festival 2015

20151017_140152Last weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX. It was a huge event, with over 300 participating authors and spread out over the capitol area of downtown. I had the honor of reading Emmanuel’s Dream with illustrator Sean Qualls to a huge crowd in the Children’s Read Me a Story tent.
20151017_140202First, Sean and I were introduced by the most adorable (and well-rehearsed) class of kindergarteners. They’d each memorized a line of our bios and had them printed on a card for the audience to read as they recited them in order. Best. Intro. Ever.
2015-10-17 IMG_2538 CynthiaThen, Sean and I read the book together, taking turns with each alternate two-page spread. This was the first time we’d ever done this, and, in fact, the first time we had ever met! What a treat!
2015-10-17 Akiko 1The best part for me was hearing about Sean’s process for making the art. I love the art in the book, and it was fascinating hearing the details behind it. I was able to share some of this new knowledge in a school visit a few days later!

2015-10-17 Akiko 2After the reading, our talks, and a Q&A session, we headed over to the signing tent. We met some great people, including some of the kids who had introduced us and their parents, as well as local teachers, authors, and illustrators, including the talented Akiko White. Akiko has been getting her hat signed by illustrators for years, and it is quite a work of art, let me tell you! She was gracious enough to let me sign it… I tried to write small. 🙂
Many thanks to local author and friend Cynthia Levinson for the hospitality, camaraderie, moral support, and photos. You all are in for a treat when her new book, The Littlest Marcher, comes out (I got a sneak peek)!
Thank you, too, to Sean for being such a great co-presenter and awesome human being. I’m so happy we finally got to meet!
Thank you to Akiko and my friends Mike and Jeanne Dahmus for taking photos and giving me permission to use them here, and for buying books!
And thank you to the Texas Book Festival organizers and volunteers for making it all happen. It was such an honor to be a part of it all.

Summer 2015 roundup

The days are (finally) getting cooler and damper here in the Pacific Northwest and most of the kids are back in school, so it seems like a good time to reflect on the summer.
I typically don’t get to do much writing-related work over the summer, since the kids are home from school and the sun is shining, but this summer was filled with fun and exciting author events!

2015-07-11 Andersons Bookshop kids books extravaganza 2First, I got to participate in a huge author panel at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL. The kids’ books extravaganza on July 11th included some of my best friends in the industry, including Christine Hayes, Ruth Barshaw, Lynda Hunt, Keyan Atteberry, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, Tara Dairman, Janet Fox, and Amy Finnegan. It was even more wonderful because I got to meet the very special someone who wrote one of my all-time favorite reviews Emmanuel’s Dream, Keegan Knott, and it was her birthday, too! I got a hug. It’s a day I won’t soon forget, let me tell you. Thank you Anderson’s and Keegan for the wonderful memories! =D

EMLA costume partyNext I headed to the Erin Murphy Literary Agency client retreat at The Abbey Resort at Lake Geneva. I can’t even begin to explain what a powerful, amazing this annual event is for me, and this year was no different. We do lots of fun, silly things like the costume party, but we also do a lot of learning, networking, sharing, connecting, growing, and more. I feel so blessed to be a part of this community!
2015-07-12 Mustard Museum2015-07-12 St LouisIMG_2675From there I continued on down to St. Louis to sign books at ILA and conduct a research trip. Our first stop was the National Mustard Museum.

What am I researching there, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see! St. Louis was beautiful, ILA was a lot of fun, and I even got to go to
Cynthia Levinson’s book launch party for Watch Out for Flying Kids while I was there. Plus, the research trip was a huge success. I can’t wait to get back to work on that manuscript!

I had the opportunity to appear at several summer camps, including one on being a changemaker and another on early literacy, which I loved, and I did interviews on two different live radio programs.

IMG_2956Last but certainly not least, I also spoke at the Pacific Northwest Library Association (PNLA) annual conference in Portland with two of my favorite nonfiction authors, Mary Cronk Farrell and Elizabeth Rusch, and I did my first storytime for My Dog Is the Best at University Bookstore in Bellevue.
It was a busy, fulfilling summer, and now I’m looking forward to some quiet writing time!

Texas Book Festival 2015 authors announced!

A record 300 authors will be appearing at the 2015 Texas Book Festival, Oct. 17 and 18, and I’ll be one of them!
This is exciting for many reasons:
1) I get to talk about EMMANUEL’S DREAM!
2) I get to meet the illustrator of Emmanuel’s Dream, Sean Qualls, for the first time ever!
3) Many of my favorite authors and author friends will be there.
4) I love Austin.
5) I love readers.
I can’t wait!
Many thanks to the folks at Blue Slip Media and Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House for making it happen. 🙂

Radio Interview: Sister Jenna's America Meditating

I had the great good fortune to be on another radio show a couple of weeks ago, this time with Sister Jenna on America Meditating.
I come on at about 15:28, talking about my writing journey, Be a Changemaker, and Emmanuel’s Dream.
I hope you enjoy listening!

Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with America Meditating on BlogTalkRadio


Thank you to Sister Jenna and her assistant, Antonia, for the interview and also for their wonderful, positive energy throughout. It was a pleasure to participate!


Radio Interview: Brooke Taylor's A Special Connection

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Brooke Taylor on her inspiring radio show, A Special Connection on WHKW AM1220 in Cleveland, Ohio. Brooke just happened to have stumbled across one of my books at her local public library and was moved by it, so she reached out to me to talk about it.
The whole show is fantastic, but if you’re in a rush, we start discussing Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah at about the 31:58 mark, and Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters at about 45:37.
I hope you’ll enjoy listening!
What fun! Huge thanks to both Brooke and her producer, Brett Crowe, for making it such a pleasure.
I’ve got a couple more radio interviews in the works as well, so please stay tuned for more audio in the coming weeks!