This Year’s Late Bloomer

Belated congratulations to Late Bloomer Stephen Baker, whose manuscript Prayers to Broken Stone was chosen to receive this grant.

Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award

Virunga National Park
Bukima Patrol Post, Virunga National Park (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Fourteen-year-old Milana lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo with her mother studying the wild gorillas in Virunga National Park, but soon Milana must save both her family and the gorillas from an oil company bent on destroying the habitat.

This grant was established by Newbery Award winner and Newbery Honor Book recipient Karen Cushman and her husband, Philip Cushman, in conjunction with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Karen published her first children’s book, Catherine Called Birdy, in 1994 (Newbery Honor Book), at the age of fifty-three and has gone on to become one of the field’s most acclaimed novelists.

“The writing [in Prayers to Broken Stone] is very good, the setting unusual and intriguing, and there is the promise of a corporate villain we can root against,” said Karen. “I hope someday I get a chance to read the book and find out what happens.”

The SCBWI will propel the winning manuscript on the path to publication by exposing their work to hand-selected acquiring editors on a secure website for a period of time. This is an opportunity for the winners to gain exclusive access to some of the most sought-after professionals in the business. Read more about this award.

This Thanksgiving

In this troubled and troubling world, I am amazed at how much I have to be thankful for, starting with these two beloved people here,

Philip and Leah, Portland, 1973
Philip and Leah, Portland, 1973

Thank you to my readers, who make it possible for me to continue in this impossibly difficult, impossibly rewarding profession.

I hope your Thanksgiving is joyous and meaningful.

Congratulations, Late Bloomer!

JC KatoJC Kato has won the 2015 Cushman Late Bloomer Award with her manuscript for Finding Moon Rabbit,  the incredible story of Koko Hayashi, a ten-year-old girl who doesn’t follow rules, but must survive with her mother and sister in a Wyoming internment camp. JC said she’s been wanting to write this story ever since she married into the Kato family, and now she has. I chose Finding Moon Rabbit because the writing is strong and authentic, Koko is an intriguing and original character, and the subject matter is compelling and important. Well done, JC. I look forward to reading the finished book.

So all you over-fifties, think about applying. Next year I could be congratulating you.

Announcing the 2014
Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award Winner

Jennifer SommerThe Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators congratulates Jennifer Sommer of Kettering, Ohio, as the award winner for authors over the age of fifty who have not been traditionally published in the children’s literature field. Jennifer received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and has worked as a children’s librarian for twenty years. She won the award for Octopus Capers, an interesting twist on nonfiction in which octopuses are the culprit in aquarium mysteries around the world. Learn more about Jennifer.

The grant was established by Newbery Award winner and Newbery Honor Book recipient Karen Cushman and her husband, Philip Cushman, in conjunction with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Karen published her first children’s book, Catherine, Called Birdy (winner of the 1995 Newbery Honor), at the age of fifty-three and has gone on to become one of the field’s most acclaimed novelists.

“I chose Jennifer Sommer’s Octopus Capers because it reached out and grabbed me—it’s original and engaging. The proposal made me wonder, laugh, and want to know more about octopuses, and I am looking forward to reading the whole thing,” said Karen.

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver added, “Due to the generosity of Philip and Karen Cushman, this award recognizes the fact that creative life has no age limit. Jen pursued her MFA during midlife and her dedication has borne wonderful fruit!”

To read an interview with Jennifer Sommer by SCBWI official blogger, Lee Wind, visit SCBWI: The Blog.

To find out more about the Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award and the application process visit the “Awards and Grants” section on the SCBWI website.