Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Announcing the Tomie dePaola Professional Development Award


In honor of Tomie dePaola, the legendary children’s book author and illustrator and long-time member of the SCBWI board of advisors, we are thrilled to announce the Tomie dePaola Professional Development Award. Tomie, who passed away earlier this year, was primarily responsible for illustrator members having a prominent role in participating in the organization which was originally called the Society of Children’s Book Writers. Says Lin Oliver, our executive director, “Tomie dePaola was responsible for putting the “I” in SCBWI.” 

The annual award, which is funded by SCBWI, will have two winners per year, each of whom receives a cash amount of $2,500. The money can be used to advance professional artistic development and growth, and can include items such as supplies, equipment, research, learning experiences, travel, creative sabbaticals, child care, or any legitimate expenses that allow the winners to develop or improve their art. It is not to be used for promotion of a book or career advancement, but rather to advance work. 

The award is for SCBWI members who are early in their illustration careers and as such, is limited to those who have published at least one but no more than three books. There will be a panel of three judges—SCBWI Board of Advisors members and collaborators of Tomie dePaola, Laurent Linn and Cecilia Yung, and one children’s book illustrator, to be announced.


From Laurent Linn:

Even as a celebrated children’s book illustrator and author with an almost 50-year career, Tomie was always supportive of and engaged with early-career illustrators and their books. He had a keen understanding of the hard work and challenges children’s book creators face. With this award, we are thrilled to be able to celebrate his legacy of encouragement and mentoring through SCBWI. 


From Cecilia Yung:

Tomie truly understood what professional, creative, technical, and financial challenges all illustrators encounter throughout their career, but especially those at the earlier stages struggling to gain a foothold. This award is a fitting way to honor Tomie’s role at SCBWI and  his legacy as teacher, mentor, and friend of illustrators. 


From July 15 – August 15, members will submit the following: 

  • PDF’s of your books (no more than 3)
  • a link to your website
  • a short bio
  • a statement of intent (how you plan to use the money to advance your work)

The winners will be announced on Tomie’s birthday, September 15.

Click here for more information and to help spread the word about the award!