2017 New Visions Award Winners

New York, NY—Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, is thrilled to announce the results of its fifth annual New Visions Award for new authors of color. Established to combat the low number of authors of color writing for children and teens, the New Visions Award is given to a middle grade or young adult manuscript. Winners receive a cash prize and a publishing contract with Lee & Low Books, a children’s book publisher specializing in diversity.

Previous winners of the New Visions Award include the novels Ink and Ashesnamed one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, and Ahimsa, named a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People by the National Council for the Social Studies. This year, two manuscripts were chosen to receive the award: Twin Flames by Olivia Abtahi, and The Regent Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz.

Twin Flames is a young adult fantasy about twins Leila and Bianca, who are counting the days until high school graduation so they can escape their small Virginia town. When Leila receives a mysterious power, the twins suddenly have a whole new world to explore—until a relapse of Bianca’s childhood illness threatens everything.

Twin Flames is the book I wish I’d had growing up,” says author Olivia Abtahi, who currently works as a film director at a production company in Denver, Colorado. She describes it as “kickass female leads with secret powers that are still rooted in daily struggles of identity and ability.” The daughter of Iranian and Argentinian political refugees, Abtahi wanted to write a story that “speaks to a childhood of straddled continents and cultures.”

The middle grade novel The Regent Enigma follows eight-year-old Julieta as she tries to catch the robber of a diamond stolen from the Louvre Museum in France. With a father who works as an art handler for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Julieta is no stranger to priceless artifacts and art history. But when her father’s job is put in danger, it’s up to Julieta to crack the case—and make it back to Boston before her new baby brother is born.

Born in Mexico, Luisana Duarte Armendáriz is currently a graduate student at Simmons College pursuing a dual masters degree in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children. “I’ve always been subconsciously a writer,” says Duarte Armendáriz. “I had a family newspaper when I was about eight years old. . . . I had to stop because it got quite expensive!” Duarte Armendáriz is also a graphic designer and says that her design background “encourages me to take a minimalist approach to writing and life.”

Twin Flames and The Regent Enigma will both be published by the Tu Books imprint of Lee & Low Books.

This year’s other New Visions Award finalists include The Jewelled Empress by Michelle TranA Tree to Take Us Up to Heaven by Jordan Melic, and Sonali by Smita Armstrong.

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