One of the most joyous parts of compiling the weekly Round Up is good Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children & Young Adults news is never hard to find. It keeps pouring in!
WOW WOW WOW
This year's PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship goes to...LINDA OATMAN HIGH's The Taste of Elephant Tears!!!! The enormously prestigious award is given to an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, to complete a book-length work-in-progress. Past winners include VCFA alums Carol Lynch Williams and Debbie Wiles and faculty Amanda Jenkins and Franny Billingsley (does VCFA own this award or what!)
The committee, which included Judge Kathi Appelt, said "There have been several elephants in children’s literature: Kipling’s Elephant’s Child, de Brunhoff’s Babar and Dr. Seuss’s Horton to name just three. Now author Linda Oatman High introduces us to a new pachyderm, the circus elephant, Queenie Grace. In her lovely story, “The Taste of Elephant Tears,” the author tells her tale from the point of view of Queenie Grace who is mourning the 6’5” man who was her best friend and keeper, Bill. The chapters alternate with narration from Lily Pruitt, Bill’s twelve year old granddaughter who comes from West Virginia to attend his funeral in Florida. How Lily and Queenie Grace become friends as each mourns Bill and other of life’s disappointments and losses makes a moving and very original story. It is well written with strongly developed characters. We predict that before long Queenie Grace will be as loved by young readers as the elephants who preceded her in children’s books."
We're swinging from the high wire with you on this one, Linda! Congratulations!
This week VCFA rules in concept picture books. Starry good news from Carol Brendler who's Not Very Scary snagged a shining red star from Publishers Weekly. They called it "a delightful Halloween romp that’s part counting book, part tongue twister". EEEK! That's not scary at all!
And another bouquet of stars, from our friends at Kirkus, for Kelly Bingham's (oh so annoying, that moose!) oh so lovable Circle, Square, Moose. Begging for another in the series, Kirkus says "It is a great joy to watch Bingham and Zelinsky, who brilliantly collaborated on Z Is for Moose." Do Si Do! A square dance is surely in order here!
Kirkus also showered a star on Heather Demetrios' Exquisite Captive (most definitely not a concept book, unless the concepts you're learning are, um, YA) saying "(t)he story unfolds at a swift, even pace, and the worldbuilding is superb." WOW!
A super review for Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist in this week's New York Times who say "(i)t’s a thrilling ride that may con reluctant readers into settling down on the couch with books like “The Great Greene Heist” instead of the remote control." You've stolen our hearts, Varian!
And Kirkus stepped up with a glowing review for Lisa Doan's Jack and the Wild Life, too, saying "mayhem, adventure and unexpected situations will leave readers wanting more from Jack." We second that, for this second book in the Berenson Schemes series! Bring on book 3.
Let's get back to the awards...
Ginger Johnson was awared an SCBWI Work In Progress Award Letter of Merit for her YA novel These Three Words. We have three words to say about that- YOU GO, GIRL!
Let's make that a double. Joann Early Macken also received an SCBWI Work In Progress Award Letter of Merit for her nonfiction work Flight for Survival: Whooping Cranes Train for Migration. Fly high, Joann!
And we have another book sale-
Magic If Jenn (Barnes) Bishop sold Safe At Home, a middle grade novel which shifts between two summers as eleven year old Quinnen comes to terms with her older sister's death to Egmont. The launch is scheduled for spring 2016 and the LaunchPad will be here ready and waiting! Hooray, Jenn!
Panels selected for the 2015 AWP Annual Conference in Minneapolis will be announced later today. Alums of the VCFA WCYA program were the first presenters selected to present about writing for young adults and children and we've always led the way with smart scholarly panels. The AWP vetting process is tremendously competitive but we're expecting another flood of wonderful announcements here at the Launch Pad next week!
Fantastic week, VCFA! Let's do it again, next week!