Congratulations to Award Winners!

by Laura Crockett
Scribbles & Wanderlust

This weekend, Philadelphia hosted the ALA Midwinter meetings and exhibits, where the winners for the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz awards were announced.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the artist of the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” Many times the artwork is simple, conveying the story through the whitespace; today’s winner is one of detail, emotion, and pure storytelling through the artist’s historical accuracy. Brian Floca’s Locomotive won the Caldecott, with three other Honors books: Aaron Becker’s Journey, Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo, and David Wiesner’s Mr. Wuffles!.

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” So many beloved classics are Newbery winners, and Kate DiCamillo’s won yet another (her first the adorable The Tale of Despereaux) with Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Four other Honors included Holly Black’s Doll Bones, Kevin Henkes’s The Year of Billy Miller, Amy Timberlake’s One Came Home, and Vince Vawter’s Paperboy

The Printz Award is awarded annually to the author of the best book for teens based on its literary merit. This year’s winner is Marcus Sedgwick for Midwinterblood, an excellent blend of the strongest YA themes and subgenres today: fantasy, history, paranormal, horror, beauty, love, and preservation. Four other Honors were awarded to the stunning Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, Susann Cokal’s Kingdom of Little Wounds, Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon, and Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early.

To see more information, including the other awards and honors presented today, hop on over to Publishers Weekly’s announcement. Feel free to follow the #alamw14 and #alayma hashtags on Twitter to see the reactions, links to other news sources, celebrations, and book reviews!

From the Director: The Importance of Attending Conferences

by Anne Converse Willkomm, Director of the Graduate Publishing Programs

I think back to my first literary conference. It was in Winston Salem, North Carolina – the Annual Conference for the North Carolina Writers’ Network. I went with a couple of writer friends, and honestly, went more to see them than to take advantage of all the conference had to offer.

I quickly adjusted my faulty thinking as I sat in my master class with Ron Rash. For any of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting this acclaimed novelist, he’s fabulous. He taught me about voice, specifically the Southern voice. The keynote speaker that year was Jill McCorkle. She read “Cuss Time” from a collection of short stories and I laughed until I felt as if I had done a hundred crunches. I met the new Executive Director, Ed Southern, and pleaded with him to keep the week-long Writer’s Retreat (it had been condensed to 3 days and moved to Charlotte). I met a host of fellow writers, a group of fabulous small presses, but more than that, I was, for 48 hours, immersed in something I am completely and utterly passionate about – writing, books, authors, and publishing.

As writers and publishers we can’t attend every conference, but some of the biggies are a must, such as BEA (Book Expo America), AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs), SCBWI (Society of Book Writers and Illustrators), ALA (American Library Association) to name a few. If your budget allows, attend other conferences as well. The benefits are enormous. You never know whom you will meet and what kinds of positive impact that relationship might have on your career.

When I attended the Winter SCBWI conference in New York last February, I had the lovely pleasure of meeting and chatting with author/actress Julie Andrews and her daughter/author Emma Walton Hamilton after they spoke about their new title, The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart. They were both lovely women, so willing to talk about their craft and encourage other writers to follow their hearts.

So look at the conferences in your region and sign up. Where will you be this weekend? I will be at Push to Publish sponsored by Philadelphia Stories, held on the campus of Rosemont College. I will meet new writers, re-connect with others, moderate a panel on trends in the publishing industry, and I will enjoy every minute of it!

The Future of the Bookstore


When Borders closed in Bryn Mawr in September 2011, it was a sad day for many in this area, let alone the 30 employees (many of whom were students in either the graduate publishing or creative writing programs at Rosemont). Eighteen months later 3 bookstores remain: Children’s Book World in Haverford, Title Page (used books) in Bryn Mawr, and Barnes & Noble in Devon. This is not a plight relegated to the Main Line; this has happened all over the country. We read in the news, practically on a daily basis, that another independent bookstore has succumbed .

Yet, I am not ready to give up hope. Too many people still love the feel of a book — yes, you know what I’m talking about, the fabric covered cardboard protecting 250 to 300 pages of paper with vivid words that play with our imaginations. I do, however, believe the model must change. Children’s Book World in Haverford, by name, is a long-loved children’s bookstore, but wait…Hannah Schwartz and her staff recognized the needs of the community, and the front corner of their shop now features books for an older set. But even this may not be enough.

So I asked the program Facebook fans “Barnes and Noble to close 1/3 of stores over the next 10 years. What will this mean for some areas – no bookstores…Hmm. So how can we change the model to make them more financial viable? Thoughts?”

Here are some of the rather interesting responses (names have been withheld): “…combine the concept of libraries with bookstores. Beyond the basic idea of buying print books, it seems like the main reason people love bookstores is the atmosphere. If we keep the brick and mortar store with shelves to browse and cushy seating (and of course coffee shops), but combine it with ability to loan books (and e-books) perhaps it would work. That, or get federal funding like libraries!” Another responder said, “The solution in some areas is to convert local bookstores into non profits & make them community centers.” Well, bookstores are, I would argue, community centers, but without funding, they can’t survive as community centers. Thinking from a purely financial viewpoint, this comment was posted, “The inevitable problem of the publishing industry is that booksellers don’t get enough profit from the sale of a book. Since discounts are set, retailers – big box or indie – cannot mark-up the price of a book like in traditional retail. If new books were sold like clothes, authors & stores would have a chance. Books & music need to change their whole business structure or authors & musicians will have to always keep a day job.” Finally, the last comment, “Publisher’s rent space in the store and create their publishing boutique under the umbrella of B&N (like the harlequin display). B&N then partners with amazon to fulfill [the order]. Give [customers] a scanner while in B&N and [then] fulfill through Amazon!”

While none of the models mentioned above will work solely on their own, I assure you there is a model. As the Director of the Graduate Publishing Program and a reader, this is a question I will continue to ponder, a question my students will continue to ponder, and maybe we can create the successful model!

Anne Converse Willkomm, MFA