Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2016 Work-in-Progress Grants and Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Awards

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators congratulates the winners of the 2016 Work-In-Progress Grants and Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award. Works by authors and artists in the categories of Picture Book Text, Chapter Books/Early Fiction, Middle Grade, Young Adult Fiction, Nonfiction and Multicultural Fiction or Nonfiction are eligible. The Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award celebrates a traditionally unpublished author over the age of fifty.


Young Adult Fiction: The Edge of the Miraculous by Beth Navarro

While mourning for her father, a bipolar teenager is interrupted in her suicide attempt by a strange boy who happens to be an alien.


Nonfiction: Nikola’s Visions: The Extraordinary Life of Nikola Tesla by Cindy Jenson-Elliott

Follow the life of the visionary scientist Nikola Tesla, as expressed through vibrant poetry. Short poems alternate point-of-view from Tesla to significant people in his life.


Multicultural Fiction or Nonfiction: Finding Ma by DoanPhuong Nguyen

Set during the Vietnam War, eleven-year-old Con endures abandonment, kidnapping, and abuse, before finally finding a loving home.


Picture Book Text: A Father’s Love by Hannah Holt

A colorful celebration of fathers in the animal kingdom, from penguins to lions to seahorses.


Middle Grade Fiction: Ruby in the Sky by Jeanne Zulick-Ferruolo

A shy young girl befriends the neighborhood eccentric, a mysterious recluse called the Bird Lady.


Chapter Books/Early Fiction: How To Be a Bad Guy, By Dallas Bottomley by Lauren LeBlanc


Fed up with his friends’ obsession with superheroes, 8-year-old Dallas decides to become a villain instead. But when he discovers he would rather stand up for the underdog, he must redefine what villainy means to him.


Don Freeman Illustration Grant:

Published Award: Rongyuan Ma

Pre-published Award: Alison Farrell

See Rongyuan’s illustrations:

See Alison’s illustrations:

(2016 Don Freeman Grant winners)


Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award

Stephen Baker: Prayers to Broken Stone

Fourteen-year-old Milana lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo with her mother studying the wild gorillas in Virunga National Park, but soon Milana must save both her family and the gorillas from an oil company bent on destroying the habitat.


This grant was established by Newbery Award winner and Newbery Honor Book recipient Karen Cushman and her husband, Philip Cushman, in conjunction with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Karen published her first children’s book, Catherine Called Birdy, in 1994 (Newbery Honor Book), at the age of fifty-three and has gone on to become one of the field’s most acclaimed novelists.


“The writing [in Prayers to Broken Stone] is very good, the setting unusual and intriguing, and there is the promise of a corporate villain we can root against,” said Karen. “I hope someday I get a chance to read the book and find out what happens.”


The SCBWI will propel the winning manuscripts on the path to publication by exposing their work to hand-selected acquiring editors on a secure website for a period of time. This is an opportunity for the winners to gain exclusive access to some of the most sought after professionals in the business.


The winners of the Don Freeman Grant will each receive $1,000 to further their understanding, training, and work in the picture book genre.