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New Voices Awards
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2013 New Voices Award Winner

LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Sylvia Liu of Virginia Beach, Virginia, is the winner of the company’s fourteenth annual New Voices Award. Her charming and humorous story, A Morning with Gong Gong portrays an energetic young girl named Mei Mei, as she spends time with her grandfather. When Mei Mei sees her grandfather, Gong Gong, practicing t’ai chi in the garden, she is eager to join in. He tries to teach her the slow and graceful moves, and Mei Mei, in turn, tries to teach Gong Gong some of the yoga poses she has learned in school. Although they both struggle with these new activities, Mei Mei and Gong Gong realize that it’s the time they spend together that is important.

Sylvia Liu is an author and illustrator who was born in the United States to Chinese immigrant parents. Her family moved to Venezuela when she was five years old, and Liu returned to the United States to attend college. She graduated from Harvard Law School and spent a decade as a public interest environmental lawyer, all the while working on her writing and illustration. Liu draws inspiration for her stories from her family, her environmental experiences, and her diverse background. She will receive a prize of $1,000 and a publication contract.

About the Award

LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children's books, is pleased to announce the fifteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD. The Award will be given for a children's picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500.

Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. Past New Voices Award submissions that we have published include The Blue Roses, winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Texas Bluebonnet Masterlist selection; and It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor.

  1. The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.
  2. Writers who have published work in venues such as children’s magazines, young adult, or adult fiction or nonfiction, are eligible. Only unagented submissions will be accepted.
  3. Work that has been published in any format, including online and self publishing, is not eligible.
  4. Manuscripts previously submitted for this award or to LEE & LOW BOOKS will not be considered.

  1. Manuscripts should address the needs of children of color by providing stories with which they can identify and relate, and which promote a greater understanding of one another.
  2. Submissions may be FICTION, NONFICTION, or POETRY for children ages 5 to 12. Folklore and animal stories will not be considered.
  3. Manuscripts should be no more than 1500 words in length and accompanied by a cover letter that includes the author’s name, address, phone number, email address, brief biographical note, relevant cultural and ethnic information, how the author heard about the award, and publication history, if any.
  4. Manuscripts should be typed double-spaced on 8-1/2” x 11” paper. A self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage must be included if you wish to have the manuscript returned.
  5. Up to two submissions per entrant. Each submission should be submitted separately.
  6. Submissions should be clearly addressed to:

    95 Madison Avenue, Suite 1205
    New York, NY 10016

  7. Manuscripts may not be submitted to other publishers or to LEE & LOW’s general submissions while under consideration for this award. LEE & LOW BOOKS is not responsible for late, lost, or incorrectly addressed or delivered submissions.

Dates for Submission: Manuscripts will be accepted from May 1, 2014, through September 30, 2014, and must be postmarked within that period.

Announcement of the Award:
  1. The Award and/or Honor Award winners will be notified no later than December 31, 2014.
  2. All entrants who include an SASE will be notified in writing of our decision by January 31, 2015.
  3. The judges are the editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS. The decision of the judges is final.
  4. At least one Honor Award will be given each year, but LEE & LOW BOOKS reserves the right not to choose an Award winner.

2012 New Voices Award winners

New York, NY—January 23, 2013— LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Rita Lorraine Hubbard of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the winner of the company’s thirteenth annual New Voices Award. Her inspirational and vibrant story, Uncle Billy's Family Reunion, is loosely based on the life of an enslaved Chattanooga man named William "Uncle Bill" Lewis. In Hubbard’s story, Uncle Billy, a hardworking blacksmith, first earns enough money to lease his freedom. Then he sets up his own shop, slowly saving his money and buying the freedom of each and every member of his family, determined to bring them all back together.

Rita Lorraine Hubbard has been writing since she first knew what a pencil was, and she pulls ideas for writing projects from her surroundings. She is the author of a nonfiction book for adults entitled African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes, and she runs a children's book review site called Picture Book Depot. Hubbard also writes scripts for historical documentaries and is particularly interested in the history of Chattanooga, which she says is "the scenic city of the south and is bursting with amazing stories from history." Hubbard will receive a prize of $1,000 and a publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also proud to announce that Selenia Paz of Houston, Texas, has been chosen as an Honor winner for her manuscript Broken English. Full of honest emotions, this tender story about a young girl's struggle to learn English is based on the author's life growing up in Houston. Through reading and the wisdom of those around her, the main character of the story learns to express herself with confidence. Paz is now a Children’s Librarian, sharing her love of reading both English and Spanish books with others. Paz will receive a prize of $500.

2011 New Voices Award winners

New York, NY—January 18, 2012—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Jennifer A. Torres of Stockton, California, is the winner of the company’s twelfth annual New Voices Award. Her charming and colorful story, Live at the Cielito Lindo, portrays a determined young Latina girl, Marisol, whose music-loving family owns a Mexican restaurant named the Cielito Lindo. Marisol’s grandfather played mariachi, traditional Mexican dance music, which has been called “the musical voice of the people.” When Marisol accidentally damages her grandfather’s vihuela, a type of Spanish guitar, she ventures out to find someone who can fix it. On her journey to repair his instrument, she discovers the many ways her grandfather’s music has touched the entire community.

Jennifer A. Torres is a Latina writer and freelance journalist. She also works at the University of the Pacific developing community partnerships that aim to improve the quality of life in her region, especially in the area of education. She was motivated to pursue writing after her mother gave her a copy of Chicana Falsa by Michele Serros, which Torres describes as “the first time I saw my cultural identity and the motifs of my adolescence so closely and vibrantly reflected in literature.” Torres will receive a prize of $1,000 and a publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also proud to announce that Wendy Miyake of Mililani, Hawaii, has been chosen as an Honor winner for her manuscript, The Sky Blanket, about a young boy’s relationship with his beloved grandfather. Full of beautiful images, this gentle tale of love and loss is based on a Japanese belief that when a person dies, he or she becomes a star in the sky that watches over loved ones. Although he has lost his grandfather, Kotaro learns that he can still remember him and feel close to him when he looks up at the sky. A third-generation Japanese American born and raised in Hawaii, Miyake teaches creative writing at the college level. She has written two books for adults and her stories and poems have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. Miyake will receive a prize of $500.

2010 New Voices Award winners

New York, NY—January 19, 2011—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Jane Bahk of Alameda, California, is the winner of its twelfth annual New Voices Award. Her fun and imaginative story, Juna's Jar, was inspired by her and her husband’s shared childhood experiences of collecting and playing with large empty kimchi jars. Kimchi is a spicy side dish, commonly made with seasoned cabbage, that is a staple of Korean cuisine. Juna, a young Korean American girl, misses her best friend—with whom she used to play with empty kimchi jars—after he moves away. But with the help of her caring older brother, Juna continues to find creative uses for the jars, which lead to new adventures and even a new friend.

Jane Bahk is a former public school teacher and an Emmy Award-winning television writer/producer. Some of her writing is influenced by magical realism, and she enjoys telling “stories from diverse cultural settings and experiences that also have universal themes to which all children can relate.” Bahk’s parents immigrated from Korea, and she was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She and her husband are now the parents of a two-year-old daughter and a newborn son. Bahk will receive a prize of $1,000 and a standard publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also proud to announce that Muon Van of San Francisco, California, has been chosen as an Honor winner for her manuscript, Village by the Sea, which is based on the fishing village in Vietnam where her family lived for generations. After the Vietnamese-American War, many people from the village moved to the United States, where they recreated their fishing village on the Gulf Coast. Van grew up in that community of Vietnamese immigrants. Written for her father, Village by the Sea captures his memories of home in spare language and evocative images. Van enjoys writing fiction, and her favorite stories relate to the immigrant experiences of people from her homeland. She also works as an interactive media designer and programmer. Van will receive a prize of $500.

2009 New Voices Award winners

New York, NY—January 25, 2010—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Tiare Williams Solorzano of Citrus Heights, California, is the winner of the New Voices Award Honor for 2009. Her exuberant story, Little Fish, portrays a hard-working young Haitian girl, Lisette, who wants to participate in carnaval—a vibrant festival full of costumes, parades, and music. Since her family does not have money to spare, Lisette must use her resourcefulness and creativity to discover her own unique way to shine. With sweet, realistic storytelling, Ms. Solorzano brings to life the joy and beauty of Haitian culture.

Ms. Solorzano is an African American writer who first became interested in Haiti while researching her own family tree and learning of possible French-Creole roots. After more exploration of the island culture, she was hooked and wanted to share what she had learned with young readers. With Little Fish she hoped to create "an honest portrait of Haitian life." Although Lisette is from a poor family, representing some of the harsher realities for many Haitians, Ms. Solorzano also wanted "to emphasize the bright colors, close family ties, the beautiful natural setting, and joyful celebrations" that make this culture so special. Currently, Ms. Solorzano is a full-time writer who has not yet been published. She is inspired by the work of other writers including Beverly Cleary, Jamie Gilson, and Ellen Conford. Ms. Solorzano has three young children. She will receive a prize of $500 for her winning story.

2008 New Voices Award winners

New York, NY—January 16, 2009—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Hayan Charara of Houston, Texas, is the winner of the New Voices Award Honor for 2008. His poignant story, The Three Lucys, explores the realities of war from the perspective of Luli, a young Lebanese boy whose most beloved possessions are his three cats, all named Lucy. Returning home with his parents after a visit with his aunt and uncle, Luli discovers that conflicts between people can change some things forever. But in the end, Luli also learns to hope for a future in which change is possible as differences are put aside. Mr. Charara's writing is honest and lyrical and captures a strong sense of place. The Three Lucys is based on the experiences of the author's younger brother during the month-long war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

A first-generation Arab American born in Michigan, Mr. Charara is a poet, editor, and teacher. While this is his first foray into writing for children, Mr. Charara's work for adults has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. He is the author of two collections of poetry: The Alchemist's Diary and The Sadness of Others, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 2006. Mr. Charara is also the editor of Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry and the recipient of a recent grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at colleges and universities for more than ten years, and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in literature and creative writing. Mr. Charara will receive a prize of $500 for his winning story.

2007 New Voices Award winners

New York, NY - LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Pamela M. Tuck of Boyertown, Pennsylvania, is the winner of its eighth annual New Voices Award for 2007. Her story, A Fly in a Bowl of Milk, is based on her father's experiences with desegregation in North Carolina in the 1960s. Mason, a thirteen-year old African American boy, is given a second-hand typewriter after helping his father compose letters for a case his civil rights group is fighting. When Pa's group wins the case, Mason discovers he will attend a formerly all-white school. Facing his fears and adversity from students and faculty, Mason excels in school, particularly typing. As tensions mount, he bravely takes a stand at the county typing tournament.

Pamela M. Tuck's storytelling is honest and full of heart, which she credits to an upbringing surrounded by southern storytellers. A life-long writer, she began writing poetry at an early age. Inspired by teachers, family, and friends, she branched out into short stories and plays. Tuck will receive a prize of $1,000 and a publication contract. She is the mother of eight children, whom she and her husband home-school.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also proud to announce that Katie Yamasaki of Brooklyn, New York, has been chosen as an Honor winner for her manuscript, Edwin's Lucky Thirteen. Yamasaki's story is an inspiring biography of her friend, African American Olympic track and field star Edwin Moses. Using his scientific training, Moses develops a way to reduce the number of steps he takes between hurdles, thus gaining an advantage over his competitors. Yamasaki is an illustrator, muralist, fine artist, and teaching artist in the New York City public schools. Guided by her mentors Ed Young and Leo and Diane Dillon, Yamasaki has for several years aspired to be a children's book author as well as an illustrator. She will receive a prize of $500.

2006 New Voices Award winners

We are proud to announce that a Winner and Honor have been chosen for the Seventh Annual New Voices Award. The winner is Glenda Armand Sheppard of West Covina, California. The Honor goes to Janet Costa Bates of Canton, Massachusetts.

Glenda Armand Sheppard's story, Love Twelve Miles Long, features a young Frederick Douglass trying to understand why he can't live with his mother, a slave who lives twelve miles away. His mother's answer is a poetic testament to the human spirit, showing Frederick that the road of life is paved not only with troubles, but also with hope, dreams, and joy. Glenda Armand Sheppard met LEE & LOW Editor-in-Chief Louise May in 2006 at an SCBWI conference. "I told Louise about the manuscript I was writing, and she encouraged me to submit it to New Voices," says Sheppard. "I've never had my work published before!" Sheppard will receive a prize of $1,000 and a standard publication contract. Love Twelve Miles Long will be published in 2008. Sheppard teaches History and English.

Janet Costa Bates's Seaside Dream focuses on a young girl named Cora who finds a way to give her grandmother not only the perfect birthday gift, but also a dose of courage that prompts her to travel overseas and visit family she hasn't seen in decades. Bates was chosen as "Author of the Month" in September 2005 by Highlights magazine and works as the Associate Director of the Boston College Career Center.

2005 New Voices Award winners

We are proud to announce that two Honor winners have been chosen for the Sixth Annual New Voices Award. They are Don Tate of Austin, Texas and Zetta Elliot of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Don Tate's story, It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Taught Himself to Draw, is a biography of a former slave who, with no artistic background, at age eighty-two became one of the most important outsider (self-trained) artists of the twentieth century. Don Tate is also the illustrator of two LEE & LOW titles: Black All Around! and Summer Sun Risin'.

Zetta Elliot's Bird is a work of fiction about a young boy who tries to make sense of the world and his brother's drug addiction with the support of family, bird watching, and art. Zetta Elliot holds a Ph.D. from New York University and teaches African American literature at Louisiana State University.

2004 New Voices Award winners

We are proud to announce that Carmen Bogan of Oakland, California, is the winner of our New Voices Honor Award for 2004. Her story, Fit Like Frankie depicts the life of Frankie Parker, a somewhat heavyset sixth grade female athlete. Through her own struggle, Frankie teaches her classmates that fit doesn't necessarily mean thin.

Carmen Bogan, has written professionally as a corporate and not-for-profit consultant for the past 20 years. She discovered her love for multicultural children's literature through volunteering in inner-city classroom reading programs. Carmen is a member of SCBWI and her original manuscript for Fit Like Frankie was nominated in 2003 for a Sue Alexander Award for most promising new work. Ms. Bogan is married and has two grown daughters.

2003 New Voices Award winners

We are proud to announce that Paula Yoo of Los Angeles, California, is the winner of our New Voices Award for 2003. Her story, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, was inspired by the true story of Dr. Lee's hard work and dedication that led to his place in history as the first Asian American athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Paula Yoo has a B.A. from Yale University, an M.S. in journalism form Columbia University, and an M.F.A in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. She has taught English at Glendale Community College and taught violin to underprivileged children in South Central, Los Angeles. Recently she was a staff writer during season four of NBC's "The West Wing," and she currently writes for the new FOX show "Tru Calling."

We are also proud to announce our 2003 Honor Award Winner, Lissette Norman of Staten Island, New York, who won for My Feet are Laughing a collection of unique, expressive poems that conveys the life of an exuberant young African American girl named Sadi who lives in her grandmother's brownstone in Harlem. Lissette Norman's poems are playful, yet sincere, and they give us a taste of a talented new voice for children.

Lissette Norman, whose parents are from the Dominican Republic, received her B.A. from Suny-Binghamton. Her work has appeared in anthologies, Moving Beyond Boundaries, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, and other magazines. Currently she is co-editor (with Willie Perdomo) of a fothcoming anthology of haiku by people of color, Making Jazz Swing in Seventeen Syllables.

2002 New Voices Award winners

We are proud to announce that Adrienne Lorraine Bayton of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the winner of our New Voices Honor Award for 2002. Her dynamic story, Dance, Nishi, Dance, features an exuberant young girl who delights in expressing herself through dance. For as long as Nishi can remember, she has been dancing, and everyone loves to watch her-family, friends, even people in the supermarket. But one day, the dancing stops and the twinkle in Nishi's eye seems to fade. Her concerned parents discover the obstacle and encourage Nishi to keep dancing and being herself no matter what happens.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, Adrienne Lorraine Bayton is a young African American artist who uses her talents to benefit her community. She is currently involved in Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program, which works to beautify the city through mural installations and offers a strong youth outreach program to encourage young people to express themselves in a positive, creative way. Ms. Bayton is also creating a mural for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center in Philadelphia. She hopes that writing and illustrating for children will become a growing part of her future.

2001 New Voices Award winners

The Award Winner is Patricia Smith of Tarrytown, New York, for her picture book story Janna and the Kings. This moving story focuses on the special relationship a young girl shares with her grandfather. Every Saturday, she feels as if they enter a magical kingdom when they visit the local barbershop. When her grandfather dies, Janna struggles to find her place in the world and keep his memory alive. The story was inspired by Saturday mornings the author spent in the barbershop with her own father.

Of African American decent, Patricia Smith is an award-winning poet, journalist, and performer, as well as a four-time national individual champion of the popular "poetry slam, an energized competition where poets are judged on the content and performance of their work. She also authored the critically acclaimed "Africans in America," the companion book to the groundbreaking PBS documentary. Janna and the Kings is her first book for children.

We are also proud to announce our Honor Award Winner. Superhombre by Denise Vega of Denver, Colorado, is a lively yet universal story about sibling relationships. Ramón struggles with the impending changes in his relationship with his older sister as she prepares for her quinceañera, a Mexican girl's right of passage into adulthood. As he wonders what this means for their future, Ramón does everything he can think of to try and stop the impending celebration.

Denise Vega, of Mexican American heritage, has had several stories and nonfiction articles published in children's magazines. With Superhombre, she continues to explore ways to bring some of the traditions of her ancestors into the assimilated contemporary lives of her readers.

2000 New Voices Award winners

The Award Winner is Linda Boyden of Pukalani, Hawaii, for her picture book story The Blue Roses. This lyrically-told story, set in the Pacific Northwest, focuses on a young girl's relationship with her grandfather and how they both fit into the circle of life. It is based on a dream Linda had after her own grandfather died.

Of Cherokee and French Canadian ancestry, Linda has been adopted into the United Lumbee Nation. She is a retired elementary school teacher who now spends her time storytelling, writing, and spoiling her grandchildren.

We are also proud to have two Honor Award Winners.

Ghosts for Breakfast by Stanley Todd Terasaki of Torrance, California, is a lively story set in California farming country of the early 1900s, where a young boy and his father search for the ghosts that have scared their three troublesome neighbors.

Stanley is a third generation Japanese American who serves as a public school assistant principal.

Raymond's Perfect Present by Therese On Louie of Bethesda, Maryland, is a touching, contemporary story with an urban setting. It tells of a young boy's efforts to find the perfect present to give his mother when she returns home after a stay in the hospital.

Therese is of Chinese American descent. She currently teaches English as a Second Language.

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