April 1, 2021
Announcing The 50th Annual Summer Conference... The Big Five-Oh!
Clear your schedules because there’s a BIG EVENT coming your way.
This summer, the SCBWI will be celebrating the beginning of its 50th anniversary year! We’ll kick off the occasion by presenting a gala 50th Summer Conference, to be held virtually on July 30, 31 and August 1. This historic event will feature 50 speakers presenting 50 different topics, ranging from 15 minutes to half hour presentations. All sessions, which will come fast and furious, are open to all attendees over the three day span. It will be a cornucopia of topics….everything from craft to process to inspiration to marketing to business practices to new technologies. Each presentation will be accompanied by a handout which summarizes the key points, tips and advice. You will leave with answers to your most pressing and fascinating questions. Intermingled with the sessions will be lots of opportunity to hang out with fellow attendees via several themed mingles every day along with fun socials, contests, conversations and networking opportunities.

Opportunities to Present at The Big Five-Oh Summer Conference are Now Open for Three Weeks Only 
To make sure we feature the best and brightest in our field, we are opening a limited number of presentations to our published members. This is an SCBWI first, and a rare opportunity for you to share a special expertise you have. If you are interested in applying, send the following before April 20: The Title of Your Proposed Presentation, the key points you’ll cover in your talk and your handout, your publication experience and key speaking experience, and why you feel this topic is fresh, new and essential. The more specific information you include, the better. We are hoping that each session will give practical, helpful advice on HOW TO do something….the thing you wish you had known from the very beginning of your creative path. The areas are: craft, genre, creative process, inspirational advice, marketing, business practices, new technologies. Please send your materials to conferenceproposal@scbwi.org by no later than April 20. Anyone accepted will receive a generous honorarium commensurate with the rest of the faculty, and a chance to be part of the faculty of our most celebrated conference yet.
Fourth Slate of Digital Workshops Coming in May and June
Thanks to the rousing success of last year's free slates of Digital Workshops, we are thrilled to announce a new round of SCBWI DWs beginning next month. Each workshop will be broadcast live via Zoom and Facebook Live, and will also be accessible in our digital archive for one month afterward. All workshops will begin on Thursdays at 1 PM Pacific Time and are free to SCBWI members.

May 13 – Jacqueline Alcántara
Creating Picture Books

May 20 – SCBWI Voices
SCBWI Voices: A panel with creators from the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora

May 27 – Greg Pincus
Maximizing Your Social Media Presence and Effectiveness

June 3 – Meg Medina
Creating a Cast of Characters in your Middle Grade Novel

June 10 – Kelly Starling Lyons
Writing Chapter Books and Chapter Book Series

June 17 -Nina LaCour
Atmosphere: Where Character, Setting, Mood, and Emotion Converge
Introducing New Hispanic/Latinx Grant
Meg Medina
Thanks to a generous donation from our SCBWI board member, NY Times best-selling author, winner of the Newbery Award, Pura Belpré Author Award, and Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature (among many others), we are pleased to announce our inaugural Volemos: The Meg Medina Grant. Meg says that she’s “excited to help create a shared space for both US and internationally-based Latinx authors to gain some footing in our industry. In supporting their voices, we ultimately help tell the fuller story of people from the Hispanic diaspora.”

Open from April 1-30, 2021, this grant is intended to give wings to a writer of Hispanic/Latinx/Ibero-American heritage who is early in their career. The winner will receive $500 along with a one-year SCBWI membership, registration to the summer conference and a coaching session to further their creative journey.  

New Ezra Jack Keats Award for Illustrators
Illustration from Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day
In honor of Ezra Jack Keats, the legendary author and illustrator of children’s books including The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, and Peter’s Chair, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation will award one cash prize of $2,500 to a promising BIPOC illustrator. The prize is for SCBWI members who are early in their illustration careers and as such, is limited to those who have published no more than 4 books.

In addition, the SCBWI will select 10 scholarship winners from among the Ezra Jack Keats prize entrants, who will receive free entry into the Portfolio Showcase at the Summer Conference. The prize’s judging committee will be comprised of members of the Summer Conference faculty and members of SCBWI’s Board of Advisors.

Equity & Inclusion Book Club: Our April Pick
by Avery Silverberg
Introducing our April book club pick: AMERICAN BETIYA by Anuradha D. Rajurkar. You may remember this title from last month’s edition of Insight—if you missed our SCBWI Success Story with Anuradha, click here. From winning the SCBWI Emerging Voices Award in 2017 to being an April Equity & Inclusion Book Club pick, AMERICAN BETIYA has a special place in our hearts, and we know you will all love it, too.

There is so much to discuss when it comes to this book— “cultural conflicts, betrayal, the triggering of generational trauma, and the powerful emergence of one’s identity,” as Anuradha says. It’s a good thing we’ll have the chance to chat with Anuradha one-on-one via Instagram Live: Friday, April 30 at 11am PST.  

How to Publish 400 Books: An Interview with the Multi-Talented and Prolific Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen, one of the giants of children’s books and of SCBWI, is celebrating a momentous occasion---the publication of her 400th book. This is a testament not only to her prodigious talent, but to an unending work ethic that has inspired and enabled her to produce this stunning body of work. We thought it would be a fitting moment to interview Jane about how she has gone about establishing and maintaining a lifelong writing career and what habits, skills and attitudes have helped her along the way. Read, absorb and learn, and many congratulations, Jane Yolen!

Tell us a little about this milestone occasion. When did you publish your first book? What about your 400th? How do they break down in terms of types of books?
A few years ago, we had a big party for my 365th and 366th books ("Read a Jane Yolen book a day for a year, even if it's a Leap Year.") Oddly enough, those two books were published on the same day, one a picture book and one a novel (and, if you have been alert in the ways of publishing, you know I had nothing to do with choosing a pub date....) so it was also kind of magical.
My daughter Heidi with our then intern, Elizabeth Lazowski (we called her LizLaz, who is now an assistant editor at Chronicle), ran the whole thing, and the party was at the magical Eric Carle Museum. We had a huge crowd: friends, teachers, librarians, children, cousins, my three grown-up kids and one of my six grandkids.. And I thought that was about it as far as a book count could go.

SCBWI Exclusive with...
Bunmi Ishola, Editor, WaterBrook & Multnomah (Penguin Random House)
Bunmi Ishola
Raised in Texas and Nigeria, Bunmi Ishola spent most of her childhood reading. She thought she wanted to be an author, but Nigerian practicality encouraged her to pursue journalism instead (which still wasn’t practical enough for many Nigerian adults in her life). She studied English and journalism at Texas A&M University and later got a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. After working for World Literature Today, The Norman Transcript, The Dallas Morning News, and CURE magazine, Bunmi left journalism to teach middle school social studies and English. After seven years in the classroom, she decided to take a chance and find a job working with one of her biggest passions: books. She now works as an editor for Penguin Random House, primarily focusing on faith-based children’s books. She also serves as the board chair for The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary, a non-profit working to build a publishing community that fights for diversity. While she still spends most of her time reading, Bunmi also loves to travel, and so far, has been to six of the seven continents. 

What was your path to publishing?
Reading has always been huge part of how I have made sense of the world and my place in it. But working in the book world seemed like a far-fetched dream as a kid, and so I went a more "practical" route and studied journalism in college and graduate school. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I really started to think that publishing as a viable career I could pursue.

Equity and Inclusion Corner
by April Powers
April Powers
We continue to mourn with the Asian members of our human family and everyone who has lost their lives to senseless violence anywhere in the world. May our books be a beacon for future generations to see each other’s humanity. For anyone who wants to learn more ways to combat racism, specifically anti-Asian discrimination, this free/ "donations-accepted” training is April 1. Please feel free to share it. April is Celebrate Diversity Month, and also offers us the opportunity to shine a light on Autism Awareness, National Arab American Heritage, caring for our planet on Earth Day, among many other remembrance days and holidays. The holy month of Ramadan begins the evening of April 12 and ends the evening of May 12. Ramadan Mubarak to all who celebrate.

Illustrator's Corner: Reference Book Recs
Because no one artist can have all the answers, reference books are a crucial part of an illustrator’s library. We asked a few of our SCBWI Regional Team members (RTs) to tell us about their favorite reference books. RTs organize the events in every region, and these RTs are all knowledgeable illustrators in their own right. To learn more about your region, go to scbwi.org/regional-chapters-new/. And for more reference books besides the ones suggested here, read the “Writing & Illustrating for Children & Teens” article in The Book: scbwi.org/online-resources/the-book/

Remembering Beverly Cleary
One of the most beloved and influential authors of books for children, Beverly Cleary, has died at 104. Her more than 30 books for children were full of believable, adventurous, and humorous characters most notably the unforgettable Ramona Quimby and her older sister Beezus. In 1984, Ms. Cleary was awarded the Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw, the story of a young boy who writes to his favorite author while his parents are divorcing.

Beverly Cleary was an early speaker at several SCBWI conferences, and an avid supporter of our young organization. She was a gifted storyteller, unsentimental about the joys and sorrows and frustrations of childhood, and as such, was a revolutionary figure in the history of children’s books. She told the stories that everyday children wanted to hear, warts and all, with humor and grace and a heaping dose of reality. “Beverly Cleary’s characters live and breathe in the hearts of generations of children, and will continue to delight as long as kids laugh and feel,” Lin Oliver, Executive Director of the SCBWI stated. “She is a pillar in our field.”

Norton Juster: A Remembrance
by Richard Michelson
Richard Michelson and
Norton Juster
In 1979 I opened R. Michelson Galleries and one of the first people to walk through the door was Norton Juster—though I didn’t know who he was just yet. He had brought some of his drawings to frame; I quoted the price. He said it was too expensive and instructed me to frame only half of each picture. I honestly couldn’t tell if he was kidding – forty-two years later I am still not sure—but mimicking his deadpan tone, I suggested I double the price and offer him a 50% discount. He agreed that was a reasonable compromise and promised to pay me yesterday since he wouldn’t have any money until tomorrow. 
Knowing Norton is the closest I will ever get to living in a Marx Brother’s movie.
It wasn’t until the end of the day that I looked at the name on the check: N. Juster. No, it couldn’t be. He’d said he was an architect and taught at Hampshire College. Surely, he’d have mentioned it. I decided to google his picture but unfortunately the internet hadn’t been invented yet. 
I did, however, have my copy of The Phantom Tollbooth at the ready when he returned.

Submissions Open for Work-in-Progress, Don Freeman, and Cushman Late Bloomer Award
The Work-in-Progress Awards, Don Freeman Grant, and Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award all have a new submission process. Instead of emailing your entry to a dedicated email address, all members are invited to submit to these awards through our new award portals. All you need to do is click the relevant link, make sure you are logged into your SCBWI account, and upload a PDF of your work.

The Work-in-Progress Award assists children’s book writers in the publication of a promising manuscript not under contract. One winner per category will be selected in the following categories: Picture Book, Chapter Book/Early Reader, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Nonfiction, and Underrepresented Voices (previously called the Multicultural Category). CLICK HERE to apply.

The Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award is offered in conjunction with the Work-in-Progress Awards, and is specifically for unpublished writers over the age of 50. It also comes with a $500 cash prize. To apply for the Cushman Award, submit your manuscript to the Work-in-Progress (WIP link here) and select the box marked "Cushman Late Bloomer Award". This will enter your manuscript into both awards.

The Don Freeman Grant comprises two grants of $1,000 each, awarded annually to one published illustrator and one pre-published illustrator. Members may submit a rough picture book dummy or a portfolio of illustrations. CLICK HERE to apply.

The deadline for all of these awards is April 15 at midnight PT. The winners will be announced in the Fall of 2021.
Regional Corner: SCBWI Montana, from the Mountains to the Prairies
by Precious McKenzie
Precious McKenzie
Big sky, vast prairies, rugged mountains, winters that last nine months...welcome to Montana! Or, as residents proudly refer to our home, “The Treasure State.”

Montana’s treasure not only lies in its astonishing natural beauty but also in its people. Our region stretches across the entire state, over 150,000 square miles. In a state with a total population of just over one million people, our SCBWI chapter has almost 100 members. Our team of regional volunteers is small but mighty. We have one regional advisor (Precious McKenzie), an ARA (Joann Howeth), an IC (Erika Wilson), an Instagram volunteer (Sue Lawrence), and two newsletter volunteers (Jackie Beyer and Tiffiny Spire).

Did You Know?
Bringing you information on the must-have features of SCBWI
The Ann Whitford Paul Grant is accepting submissions through April 10. This annual grant of $1000 is awarded to encourage the development of an excellent picture book manuscript. The award is open to any SCBWI members with picture book manuscripts who are not under contract and/or have not sold a picture book manuscript in the last five years. CLICK HERE to learn more about how to submit.

We hope you have been taking advantage of the many resources within The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children. Packed with exclusive articles and directories, this guidebook is the best place to start building your knowledge of the publishing industry, whether your goal is traditional or independent publishing. The Book is updated annually with new content, such as the recent article "You're Hired to Illustrate Your First Children's Book: What Comes Next?" by Simon & Schuster art director Laurent Linn. This valuable primer for professional illustrators can be found on page 29 of The Book. CLICK HERE to access The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children or find it in our dropdown menu under PUBLICATIONS--make sure you are logged in to scbwi.org to access our content.
Draw This!
Draw This! is our monthly prompt word for illustrators. Artists can post their DrawThis! entries on Twitter and Instagram with the tag #SCBWIDrawThis
There is no longer a gallery for DrawThis! View all entries by searching the tag #SCBWIDrawThis.

The March prompt was PLAY BALL!
The March winners are...

The April prompt is MAKING MISCHIEF
Establishing SCBWI Throwback
As the SCBWI prepares to launch our 50th year of existence, kicking off with this summer’s gala 50th conference, we want to take a walk down memory lane and share some of our most cherished, funny, meaningful, weird, exciting conference moments. You can be our ultimate source for those memories. Do you have a unique conference experience to share? Something funny, something life-changing, something strange, something tender, something joyous, something unbelievable, something that could have only happened at SCBWI?  If so, we are inviting you to send us that memory…..it could be only in words (maximum of 200 words) or words plus a photo, or a captioned photo only. We are planning to run these pieces every month in INSIGHT during our anniversary year beginning in June, and feature some on our social media platforms, too. If we choose your piece, you will receive a great assortment of SCBWI swag---tee shirt, mug, book bag, hat. Sort through your memories and share them with our community.
Send your entries to scbwithrowback@scbwi.org