Angela Verges and Dave Stricklen.
Lynn Baldwin, an SCBWI-MI member from Ann Arbor, writes:
What a Marvelous Weekend!
While it would be hard to summarize everything seen, heard and learned, here are some key take-aways:
Community: Our own RAs and conference co-chairs, Leslie Helakoski and Carrie Pearson, kicked off the event with an inspiring presentation that cleverly used the titles of children’s books to convey the idea that we’re on this journey together.
Today’s children’s book market is open to creativity in terms of book topics and formats, according to librarian and Kirkus reviewer Betsy Bird. In her keynote, she spoke of today as a “new golden age” in children’s literature. She and fellow librarian Travis Jonker expanded on the topic of creativity in their fascinating breakout session on “picture books outside the boundaries.”
Opportunity: Our opportunity as authors and illustrators isn’t just to sell books. We also have the chance to right some ingrained wrongs. Many speakers, including a diversity panel representing multiple facets of the industry, spoke of the importance of making sure that ALL kids have books in which they can see themselves. We learned that the industry is making strides to better represent diverse voices but that there’s still a long way to go.
Author Jack Cheng gave an inspiring presentation about the role of children’s books in reducing violence against women and girls. He spoke of the need to write books that move beyond stereotypical representations of boys and men and about how important it is for boys to read books starring girls. (Jack made his presentation available online for everyone to read and share. Don't miss this one: https://jackcheng.com/the-enchanted-rose.)
Beauty: In one of the most hopeful breakout sessions I attended, agent Stephen Fraser spoke of our role as writers and illustrators in countering the toxic negativity found in today’s world and bringing beauty and kindness to children. He said that creating books for kids is a “joy and a privilege.” Several other speakers reinforced the idea that children’s books can have a lifelong impact on the reader, certainly a beautiful thought.
MaryAtkinson, an SCBWI New England member from Maine writes:
A New Englander Goes to the Marvelous Midwest
Have you ever thought of attending an SCBWI conference outside of your region? This year, instead of attending my local New England conference, I decided to shake things up and go the Marvelous Midwest.
I found a direct flight from Portland, Maine (where I live) to Chicago, took a quick ride to Naperville, and there I was. I knew immediately when I entered the hotel and registered that I’d made a good decision. We attendees were well taken care of from the start. The Marvelous Midwest volunteers made the conference run smoothly and efficiently. Thank you!
I left with renewed energy and a notebook full of things to do (consider those secondary characters, experiment with a different POV, pump up my social media), and contact information from lots of new friends. I discovered many new-to-me authors and illustrators to follow.
So thank you, Marvelous Midwesterners. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your next conference!
Coming up on the Mitten Blog
Do you have an idea for a blog post? We're in need of posts for this summer about any aspect of writing, illustrating, and publishing for children and teens.
- Do you have a Success Story to share? Your own story or a friend's?
- Would you like to interview the owner or staff at your favorite indie-bookstore?
- Are you attending a workshop or retreat? What did you learn?
- Have you read a book on craft? Want to write a review?
- Are you researching publishing opportunities? Please share what you've learned!