Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Double Winners Announced for Cushman Late Bloomer Award


The Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award was not awarded last year, which is why the judges chose two winning entries for 2018: the YA dystopia Stray Blue Star by Holly Smith and the historical fantasy Finding Memory by Elizabeth Lund.

The Late Bloomer Award is given to authors over the age of fifty who have never had a book traditionally published in the field of children’s literature. Recipients are hand selected by Newbery Award-winner Karen Cushman, author of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice, and her husband, Philip Cushman. 

Smith and Lund will each receive $500 plus free tuition to the SCBWI conference of their choice. Finding Memory and Stray Blue Star will be posted to a secure site where agents and editors will be invited for an exclusive first look at the manuscripts.


Karen commented on the judging process for 2018:

Our choices (yes, there are two this year) are Holly Smith’s Stray Blue Star, a dystopian novel about a ruined world, and Finding Memory, Elizabeth Lund’s fantasy set in Viking Norway. 


I think this was the best crop of entries we’ve seen. There was something to love about every one, which made choosing so much more difficult.  In the end it came down to world building. Both winners set their stories in a world so unknown to us and so different, but made us feel a part of it.  Although neither of us often read fantasy or dystopian novels, that didn’t seem to matter. The writing, the creativity, and especially the world building won us over.


Congratulations to both Holly and Elizabeth, and thanks to all who sent in their work. I love to think of the Late Bloomer Award encouraging someday-writers to turn into writers!


For information on how to apply for the Late Bloomer Award in 2019, visit the award page here: