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Creating Books

Writing a book for young people? Look here for information, advice, and inspiration.

#NESCBWI17 recap

The New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) Annual Conference is a place to get re-inspired, a place to gain new insights and apply familiar ones to new projects, to encourage friends’ work. And this year, as the conference theme put it, it was a place to “Expand & Diversify Your Portfolio.” […]

“Say Something Funny”

I went on a date in high school once where I barely knew the guy. In those dinosaur days you couldn’t Google someone, so instead I asked everyone what they knew about this person. Apparently, he did the same. Over dinner my date said, “Everyone says you’re funny. Say something funny.” “I don’t know any […]

When Google Translate Gives You Arroz con Mango: Erroneous Español and the Need for #ownvoices

I recently had a Twitter conversation with three writer and librarian colleagues, two of whom are native Spanish speakers, about the use of Spanish in primarily English-language children’s books. The conversation started after one of us wrote about finding incorrect Spanish in a book. Each of us chimed in, able to produce at least one […]

Foreign Correspondence: An Interview with Deborah Ahenkorah: Torchbearer for African Children’s Publishing

I first became aware of Deborah Ahenkorah a few years ago when I was prospecting the internet for groups working to address diversity issues in children’s publishing. Ahenkorah is the cofounder and executive director of Golden Baobab, the groundbreaking pan-African social enterprise behind the Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s literature. Golden Baobab not only […]

Emerson’s “Diversity in Children’s and YA Publishing” panel

Last week, Martha and I attended an excellent panel on “Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Publishing,” hosted by Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program. Panelists were Lesléa Newman (author of Heather Has Two Mommies, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, and many, many others); Vicky Smith, Kirkus‘s children’s and teen editor; and […]

How I Discovered Young Adult Poetry – The Zena Sutherland Lecture

A couple of weeks ago, at a dinner with several poets, one of them said, “You’re lucky, Marilyn: you know how to write poems for the young adult audience.” I laughed and told him he was entirely wrong. I have absolutely no idea how to write for the young adult audience. I just write what […]

Foreign Correspondence: Translator: Trafficking Between Cultures

Translation has often been compared to the building of a bridge. The text originates from within one culture and has to arrive safely in another. A translator acts as travel guide across that bridge, helping the book to find its audience and success in a new land. Yes, some luggage may get lost along the […]

Teamwork: Pictures in My Head

In the deep woolen dark, as we slumber unknowing, let the sky fill with flurry and flight. Let the air turn to feathers, the earth turn to sugar, and all that is heavy turn light… As an editor, when authors give me such powerful, precise words, I almost immediately begin to imagine them with pictures. […]

The Writer’s Page: What Is Narrative Nonfiction?

It’s been a topsy-turvy time in the education world recently: Common Core and high-stakes tests; then pushback; and now states are revising, revisiting, and renaming their standards. The recently passed ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) encourages this trend toward local choice. But if you look closely at the new standards across the board, one big […]

What Can Data Tell Us?: An Agent’s Thoughts on the 2015 Nielsen Children’s Book Summit

A few years ago, while on a trip to Paris, I met the great sports writer Simon Kuper for coffee. The author of the revolutionary book Soccernomics, a kind of Moneyball for soccer, Kuper and his co-author Stefan Szymanski had been using data analysis to skewer the decision-making of big soccer clubs in novel ways, […]