Sunday, October 9, 2016

Join us, Local & Regional Events, The Pura Belpré Award, Links I´m Liking

Howdy, y'all! There are so many cool events coming up in the next few months. Finish slurping that pumpkin spice latte, sign up, and join us! And if you aren't already part of our Facebook group, join that too!  

Join us

JOIN US Wednesday, October 26th at 10 a.m. in the College Station Barnes & Noble for our monthly meeting.Our topic this month is:

Westerns: More than "Cowboys and Indians"

We'll also discuss news and provide encouragement. Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring copies of 5 double-spaced pages of your work in progress. Those who have time may go to lunch at a local restaurant. Members and friends welcome.

Local/Regional Events

Can't make the regular daytime meeting? Join us for our monthly mini-meeting at 7 p.m. at Starbucks, Hwy. 6 at Rock Prairie Road.
October 22 - SCBWI Houston Conference
Registration is still open for the upcoming conference in Houston! The day's theme is "Surrender to the Story." 

We'll organize carpooling on our SCBWI Brazos Valley Facebook group.

November 11-13th - Work-on-your-own Beach Retreat

Can't concentrate at home? Then join us for a work on your own beach retreat.
Writers and illustrators! Join us for a weekend retreat to concentrate on your work-in-progress or start that new project. Refresh your perspective and enjoy the company of other creatives. We'll stay on the beach at the Mustang Towers condos in Port Aransas, Texas, where we can fix our own breakfasts and lunches. We'll go out for dinner and set aside time for everyone to share their work.
Housing for 10 attendees in 2 units—2 in single rooms, 8 in shared quarters.
Total for two nights: $159 single or $79.50 shared. Additional registration fee of $15 for members and $25 for non-members.
Deadline to register is Oct. 29. Cancel by Nov. 4 for room fee refund. $10 of registration fee is non-refundable. Based on registration a third unit could be rented. Food costs to be borne by attendees. 

The Pura Belpré Award


As children's book writers and illustrators we have all heard of the prestigious Caldecott and Newberry medals. We think of them the way an aspiring actor thinks of an Oscar. The holy grail, on par with getting picked up my the Scholastic book fair. But there are other awards out there, ones that award a subset of books aimed at a specific population. If you have a specific group you write for, it is worth checking out what literary award focuses on books aimed at said group. In my case, that would be the Pura Belpre Award

Established in 1996, the Pura Belpré Award is given to "a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth." Each year one book receives the Narrative medal and another the Illustration medal and there are a few honors in both categories as well. Who was Pura Belpré? She was the New York Public Library´s first Latina librarian. As we've mentioned before, librarians are a key resource for guiding children to just the right book. Thanks to the Pura Belpré Award, there are now 20 years worth of award winning books for librarians, teachers and parents to easily recommend to Latino children as well as anyone wishing to connect with the Latino experience

If you're interested in learning more about the books that have received the Pura Belpré Award or further resources check out

 Links I´m liking this month

Here are a handful of stories and posts I enjoyed running across in the past couple of weeks
  • The New York Times published a great piece listing children´s books that tackle race and ethnicity. Check out the article by María Russo here. Included in the list are classics like "The Snowy Day" and recent award winner "Last Stop on Market Street." 
  •  In late September El Paso author Pat Mora won the Texas Institute of Letters' Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. In addition to being a prolific Latina writer, Pat Mora created the child literacy event "El día de los niños, el día de los libros/ Children´s Day, Book Day." Read more about Pat Mora here and on her own website,
  •  Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? Me neither. Check out A Mighty Girl´s list of bullying prevention books for young children

That's it for this month's Scratch

 Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Current Scratch: Join us, Events, Building a Multi Lingual Library, Gabito, Librarians

Howdy, y'all! Hope everyone has had a good summer full of pools and watermelon or airconditioning and Netflix. Whatever floats your summertime boat. Please enjoy this month's scratch with a scoop of icecream on top.  

Join us
JOIN US Wednesday, August 31st at 10 a.m. in the College Station Barnes & Noble for our monthly meeting. Our program is as follows: this month we'll discuss what happened at Summer Conference in LA, cover what editors and agents are saying and the general state of the industry. We'll also discuss news and provide encouragement. Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring copies of 5 double-spaced pages of your work in progress. Those who have time may go to lunch at a local restaurant. Members and friends welcome.

Local/Regional Events

August 15th: Brazos Valley SCBWI Social
This month we'll meet at the Starbucks on Rock Prairie Road & Hwy. 6 at 7 p.m.

August 30th: Author Platform webinar
Mark your calendars for the end of August when the Texas SCBWI webinar series presents "What is Author Platform Building Anyway? The Ins and Outs of Building Your Niche." With Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu of KidLit 411.
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

October 22nd: Houston SCBWI Annual Conference 
A day of great information, critiques, portfolio reviews, networking and more!


Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown, Ltd

Brianne Johnson, Writers House

Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency


Katherine Jacobs, Roaring Brook Press

Susan Dobinick, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

Art Director

Maria T. Middleton, Random House

Registration and details at:

Building a Multi-lingual Library

Here are a couple of different types of books that help incorporate a new language into your reading library. All are useful whether you are trying to encourage readers to speak more than one language or are trying to add diversity to your library.

Direct translations

Direct translations of classic children's books are helpful since, as a reader, you are likely already aware of the story. If you are a beginner, start with board books (monolingual baby books are easily turned into multilingual books with a Sharpie and a dictionary). Personally I steer clear of books that use a lot of rhyme and word play (for example, Dr. Seuss books and The Phantom Toll-Booth) since a lot can get lost in translation.

Side by Side Translation 

These books include the full text in both languages. The two languages are placed in different areas of the page (columns, top and bottom half) and are sometimes printed in different colors.  Sometimes the same layout is followed throughout the book (including illustration placement) and other times things are more fluid.  Having access to both languages on the same page can be very helpful

Uneven mix

These books are written primarily in one language but include phrases or words in the second language. Another good place for beginners to start. Often the phrases in the second language are being spoken by characters.

Foreign Children's Books

These offer the greatest window into another culture, but can also be the most impenetrable for beginners (see note below regarding vocabulary). Again, start with baby books and work your way up. If you are unsure whether a Spanish language book is originally from a foriegn country, check the copyright information.  
Notes  If you are building an English/Spanish library you may begin to notice that books from different regions use different vocabulary.  Books printed in the US intended for primarily for readers with Mexican and Central American heritage use different words and phrases than those printed in say, Argentina. Comparing the language differences is a great way to expand your vocabulary. Do not feel bad about having to look words up. Keep a dictionary or your phone handy for reference. By looking words up you are modeling language learning for your audience (be it your kids or students). 


One of my favorite bi-lingual books at the moment is "Me llamo Gabito/My Name is Gabito," writen by Monica Brown and illustrated by Raul Colón. This is one of a series of books Monica Brown has published in which she presents the lives of well known Latinos. Each book takes on the rhythms of its subject's life and personality distilling their experiences and thoughts into a few pages of text and evocative illustrations. The collection includes musicians Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, author Gabriela Mistral and brazilian soccer legend Pe. My favorite has been Gabito, which relates the life of Colombian author Gabriel García Marquez in a dreamy but pointed fashion that is fittingly reminiscent of his writing. Obviously this is a detail that will escape small children, but... at the same time reading this book could plant the seeds for a future love of magical realism (the illustrations will help as well). In fact, this would make a nice primer for anyone (teenage or older) ready to tackle Marquez. It will definitely set the mood. I loved reading it to my kids (and then re-reading it again later myself)  
Librarians: A Forgotten Resource

I recently heard an interview with Gwen Glazer, a librarian at the New York Public Library. In it she describes why your local (and not so local) librarian can be a great asset, whether you're neck deep in research for your next book or just looking for something new to read (hey, that still counts as research). Check out her interview on the One Bad Mother podcast here (it is just her interview, not the rest of the podcast). 
and you can also check out the NYPL podcast The Librarian Is In.
That's it for this month's Scratch! Hope the dog days of summer have you holed up in your writing nook, scribbling away furiously!

 Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.