This year a whopping twelve hundred manuscripts were submitted for the Ann Whitford Paul-Writer’s Digest Most Promising Picture Book Grant. This was double the number of previous years and not only was that number astounding, so, too, was the quality of the manuscripts.
Was it the year of COVID that inspired so many writers, or the forced time at home that gave some uninterrupted time to revise? Or maybe being surrounded by kids all day, every day, inspired more unique ideas? No matter the cause, the output was fantastic, and the judges read and reread each manuscript. Deliberations were thoughtful, enthusiastic and passionate. Thank you all for your submissions!
The 2021 winner is:
Kim A. Larson’s BUTTON’S ADVENTURE
In just 162 perfectly rhymed text, we follow a button that pops off a child’s coat and spins and floats, whirls and whooshes about, allowing different characters to use it in creative ways—Praying Mantis as plate, Chipmunk as a Frisbee and Salamander as a hat, etc. Fun illustration possibilities and a full-circle ending make this an satisfying, imaginative, and delightful read.
Three honor books in alphabetical order.
Tara Baldridge’s HUE ARE BEAUTIFUL.
This lyrical ode to Native Americans’ uniqueness, touches on their colors, their history and their traditions. The spare poetic text like “sharing trickster tales and secret rhythms around crackling campfires” hint at the potential for breathtaking illustrations. Judges found this text a compelling, warm, loving tribute and celebration of our first peoples.
Belen Medina Cabot’s UNSTOPPABLE LORENA
This poetic nonfiction manuscript is about Maria Lorena Ramirez, a member of the Tarahumara indigenous people of Chihuahua, Mexico who races long distances wearing simple garb of a skirt sewn by her mother and huaraches cut from rubber tires. She runs in competitions around the world, day and night, over hot cracked earth, through cold wet rain, and up steep mountains, twenty, thirty, sometimes sixty miles. This story of persistence and competing without training or special equipment will inspire all to follow their passions.
Jessica Stremer’s GREAT CARRIER REEF
This fascinating nonfiction manuscript follows an aircraft carrier through its glory days with the navy, until finally too expensive to repair, is docked, empty and without purpose. In Florida, a sandy ocean floor is without purpose, too. This poetic rendition shows us how the two came together to create an artificial reef. Today ”coral colonizes the ship’s frame, urchins parade across the flight deck, and schools of fish dart in and out of hiding holes.” Stremer tells a wonderful story of ingenuity to repurpose a useless ship into a helpmate for nature to thrive.
Congratulations to the writers of these amazing and creative manuscripts.
And congratulations to all who entered. We hope you will get busy studying picture books writing and revising your own. The grant will be offered again next year. Stay tuned for details. We want to read yours!