Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Announces 2017 Book Launch Award Winners

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 SCBWI Book Launch Award.  The annual award, established by the SCBWI in 2012, provides authors or illustrators with $2,000 in funds to supplement the promotion and marketing of newly published works for children.

Congratulations to Tami Charles, whose winning middle grade novel Like Vanessa (Charlesbridge) follows a 13-year-old beauty pageant hopeful who is inspired by Vanessa Williams, the first black woman to be crowned Miss America. A story about self-acceptance and redefining beauty, Like Vanessa is based on Charles’ own experience growing up in New Jersey in the 1980s. She will use the grant to bring the book to public schools, especially in inner city Newark, where novel is set. Charles also has a marketing plan that includes a social media campaign centered on the phrase “It's Okay”, which will encourage kids to think positively about their bodies.

“It is an honor to receive the 2017 SCBWI Book Launch Award!" said Charles. "This grant will be much appreciated for promotional efforts of my middle grade debut, Like Vanessa. I wrote this novel with this thought in mind: representation matters. Through Vanessa, I hope to show children of all backgrounds that they are beautiful, powerful, and significant, even if people say otherwise. I want to do all I can to make sure this book and this message reaches them.” 

Emma Otheguy won the Honor Award for Marti’s Song for Freedom/Marti y sus versos por la libertad (Lee & Low), a bilingual picture book that tells the story of Jose Marti, the 19th-century poet whose work became a rallying call for Cuban independence. Otheguy plans to use the $1,000 Honor grant to launch her book at NCTE, as well as in New York and Miami, where she can teach Cuban-American children about this important figure in Latinx history.

Otheguy said, "José Martí's vision of freedom, equality, and democracy as well as his deep love of nature and the arts has meant so much to me and to so many others in the Latinx community. I hope that more children, families, and classrooms will now learn about José Martí, carry his poetry in their hearts, and be inspired, like Martí, to raise their voices for good." 

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Founded in 1971, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is one of the largest existing writers’ and illustrators’ organizations, with over 22,000 members worldwide. It is the only organization specifically for those working in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. The organization was founded by Stephen Mooser (President) and Lin Oliver (Executive Director), both of whom are well-published children’s book authors and leaders in the world of children’s literature.