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.

I’m no Ansel Adams

Writers at Oregon SCBWIHere’s a crummy picture of an amazing group of writers at the Oregon SCBWI conference in Portland last weekend. All 201 of them were full of questions, ideas, and enthusiasm, and they welcomed me most warmly. I hope their passion is contagious as I once again dig into the draft of my new book.

Late Bloomers!

Leo the Late BloomerNot yet traditionally published? Over 50? SCBWI members can apply next year for a Work-in-Progress grant and have your manuscript considered for the Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award, $500 and a scholarship to one SCBWI conference. This award was established to encourage and celebrate late bloomers like me, who didn’t start to write until age fifty. But then I bloomed, and I’d love to see others do so as well.

In California

I am on a book tour for Will Sparrow’s Road in Los Angeles. eating my way through town. Yesterday I had a three hour lunch with the delightful Lin Oliver of SCBWI. We were so busy talking that I never got around to taking a photo. And last night Sharon Hearne of the amazing Children’s Book World organized a dinner for me and fourteen teachers, school librarians, and a few other equally interesting folk. We talked books, students, teaching, and the future. I am always awed by the knowledge, dedication, and passion these people bring to their jobs. And I learn so much. Now I am off to speak to 285 7th-graders in Rancho Cucamonga. Really. Stay tuned.

Four Los Angeles photos