Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Announcing the Karen Cushman Award Winner

The SCBWI congratulates Jennifer Sommer of Kettering, Ohio, as the winner of the annual Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award for authors over the age of fifty who have not been traditionally published in the children’s literature field.  Jennifer received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and has worked as a children’s librarian for twenty years. Jennifer won the award for Octopus Capers, a fun and interesting twist on nonfiction in which octopuses are the culprit in aquarium mysteries around the world. Learn more about Jennifer at

The 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, The Midwife’s Apprentice (winner of the 1996 Newbery Medal), at the age of fifty-three and has gone on to become one of the field’s most acclaimed novelists.

“I chose Jennifer Sommer's Octopus Capers because it reached out and grabbed me–it's original and engaging.  The proposal made me wonder, laugh, and want to know more about octopuses, and I am looking forward to reading the whole thing,” said Karen.

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver added, “Due to the generosity of Philip and Karen Cushman, this award recognizes the fact that creative life has no age limit.  Jen pursued her M.F.A. during midlife, and her dedication has borne wonderful fruit!”

To read an interview with Jennifer Sommer by SCBWI official blogger, Lee Wind, visit

SCBWI: The Blog at

Find out more about applyting for the Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award