Saturday, November 1, 2014

SCBWI Handsprings 2014

On 10/25/14 the New Mexico Branch of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) held our 2014 conference in Albuquerque. Our faculty included the following: Julie Bliven - an editor with Charlesbridge, Patti Ann Harris - an art director for Scholastic, Liza Baker - an editor at Scholastic, and agent Sara Megibow.

Liza Baker and Patti Ann Harris recently moved from Little Brown to Scholastic. Although they spoke very fondly of their experiences at LB, they were excited to be working in a new department at Scholastic focusing on books for kids ages birth to 5. They have worked closely together for the last eighteen years and even referred to each other as Sony and Cher. They will oversee the Cartwheel and Orchard imprints and are looking for books with playful language that invites young children into the book experience.

Liza Baker did a breakout session on Perennial Themes in Board Books and Picture Books which included a discussion on holidays and bedtime stories among many other topics. She  strongly suggested taking ideas and combing them and gave the example of Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs Say I'M MAD? Yolen artfully combines the theme of dinosaurs with the need to give kids a vehicle to talk about their emotions.

Julie Blivens conducted a breakout session on Voice in Middle Grade Fiction. She looked at several Newbery winners and the characteristics she saw in those books. In discussing how voice should illuminate a central theme, she suggested that authors ask themselves, "What is the idea I want readers to have linger with them after they close the book."

Other highlights of the conference was a Children's Book Trivia game on Friday night along with a book launch by local authors with new titles. Saturday included a First Pages Critique where the professional panel gave feedback on first pages submitted by several conference attendees.

Thanks to our Regional Advisory, Linda Tripp, our Assistant Regional Advisory, Caroline Starr Rose, and all of the volunteers who helped make this conference possible. It was another great Handsprings Event. I can't wait for the next one.


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