Celebration Station: Fall 2023

Dec 22, 2023 | Community Good News, Highlights Foundation News

Welcome to our Community Celebration Station!

This is the place where we’ll share the good news and more that we hear from our community.

Our team tries our best to compile these posts.  If we missed you, or if you have a new story or a piece of good news to share, please let us know here.  We’d love to hear from you!

New Books

Happy Book Birthday to Rhonda Roumani!

We celebrated the launch of TAGGING FREEDOM with Rhonda Roumani, one of our Muslim Storytellers fellows.  She was also interviewed in Publisher’s Weekly.  Congratulations again Rhonda!  See the full IG Live video here.

Highlights Foundation Scholarship Recipient Celebrates Published and Upcoming Picture Books

From Valorie Fant:

I was a recipient of one of your generous scholarships in 2022. Since my visit to your beautiful property, I have published my first children’s picture book (THE GREAT HOWLER IN THE SKY)! And I have a second one scheduled for release in 2024!  I am so grateful…

Congratulations Valorie!

The Great Howler in the Sky cover

New Book Deal

Congratulations student and now faculty Gloria Muñoz.  THIS IS THE YEAR (a hybrid prose and verse YA novel) is slated for publication in Spring 2025.

Gloria Muñoz's book deal

Heartfelt Acknowledgements in a New Book

We received a copy of Daphne Wilcox’s new book SHUKURU EARNS HIS RED BANDANA in the mail, with the Highlights Foundation mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Daphne writes:

I would like to thank the Highlights Foundation whose courses, instructors, classmates, and mentors gave me the knowledge and confidence to write Shukuru’s story.  I owe Anna Cohn Donnelly, a Highlights classmate, gratitute for her vision, encouragement, and charming illustrations.

Congratulations Daphne!

SHUKURU EARNS HIS RED BANDANA cover

Book Born on a Personal Retreat at the Highlights Foundation Gets Published

The Unstoppable Jamie Instagram Post

Body of post

From Joy Givens:

In September 2020, I sat alone inside a little cabin @highlightsfound, with the intention of writing a ROUGH first draft of the picture book I had wanted to see on a shelf for the last seven years.  By the end of that weekend, I had a rought draft.  And I mean ROUGH.  But it existed. Six months later, while I was revising and editing the book with the guidance of a dedicated peer critique group and my exceptional agent @daniellechiotti, I found out I was carrying twins. (I remember joking at the time, “Well, this book better sell. We’re going to need twice as many diapers as I thought!”) In the two-plus years since that time, so many things in all our lives have changed, but my inspiration and purpose in writing this book have not. The Unstoppable Jamie is a book I have wanted to put in my firstborn’s hands since he was born: A book that starts stars a kid like him as a hero of a big adventure that any kid can enjoy, not *despite* having Down syndrome, but *because* of it. When we needed to retitle the book in late 2021 (shout out to the family and friends who remember the original title!), I thought back to the most memorable occasion when Joshua wore his superhero cape: he wore it into the hospital at age 5 for open heart surgery. Then a few days later, he put it back on to go home. I knew that he was unstoppable. And that’s what I hope anyone realizes when they pick up this book, with its gorgeous, vibrant illustrations by @courtneyjdee: Being unstoppable is not about being invincible. It’s about getting back up and putting your Cape back on, no matter who you are. I don’t know where this book is going next, but I do know there’s no stopping it now. 

Picture Book Launch with a Kirkus Starred Review

Congratulations to A.M. Wild on the publication of NOT HE OR SHE, I’M ME, a Kirkus Starred Review picture book.  A.M. first joined our community by attending a workshop in 2019, and recieved a scholarship in 2023.

Not He or She , I'm Me cover

New Graphic Novel

Congratulations to Claire Lordon on the release of ONE IN A MILLION in October!  Read about Claire’s journey with the Highlights Foundation here.

Book Cover: One in a Million by Claire Lordon

New Book Edited by Nadia Hohn

Long-time community member Nadia Hohn edited THE ANTIRACIST KITCHEN, launched in September.  It features recipes and stories from S.K. Ali, Bryan Patrick Avery, Ruth Behar, Marty Chan, Ann Yu-Kyung Choi, Hasani Claxton, Natasha Deen, Reyna Grande, Deidre Havrelock, Jennifer de Leon, Andrea J. Loney, Janice Lynn Mather, Linda Sue Park, Danny Ramadan, Sarah Raughley, Waubgeshig Rice, Rahma Rodaah, Andrea Rogers, Simran Jeet Singh, Ayelet Tsabari and Susan Yoon, several of whom are friends and fellow community members of the Highlights Foundation.

The AntiRacist Kitchen

Awards and Features

Kirkus Prize Finalist

Together We Swim cover

Scholarship recipient and faculty Valerie Bolling is a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature for her picture book, TOGETHER WE SWIM.  Congratulations Valerie!

Kirkus Best Indie Picture Books of 2023

Sweet Fire cover

Scholarship recipient Johari Mitchell’s book SWEET FIRE is on the Kirkus Reviews Book List for one of the Best Indie Picture Books in 2023. Learn more about Johari’s journey with the Highlights Foundation here.  Congratulations Johari!

Faculty Lesléa Newman Featured on MSNBC

From MSNBC:

As “Banned Books Week” begins on Sunday, we look at the small group reportedly behind most school book challenges. Author Lesléa Newman shares her experience with the rise in book bans and talks about her new book, Always Matt – A Tribute to Matthew Shepard.

Get the segment here.

She was also featured in Advocate magazine in October as one of the publication’s 2023 Advocates of the Year.  Congratulations Lesléa!

Mitali Perkins was Calvin University’s First Writer-in-Residence

Learn more about the program here.  (And one of our team members Christina and her daughter Chloe got to see Mitali during a speaking engagement in Grand Rapids, MI!)

Mitali, Christina and Chloe

Community Member Celebrates a Nearly 20-Year Career

Social Post from Lori

Lori says:

I love that the books that started my career in 2004 are still selling. I love the thought of reader children playing with Aggie…. I was so blessed to go to Highlights Chautauqua workshops in NY, and to meet the two editors that would change my life forever. Serving with Highlights Foundation has been one of my greatest joys in my life. Highlights will always have a hold on my heart.  I’ll love these friends forever. Thank you for my writing life. 

Faculty Collaboration on Storystorm Merchandise

So fun to see this collaboration between faculty Tara Lazar and Courtney Pippin-Mathur for merchandise for Storystorm.  Proceeds benefit the Highlights Foundation.

Storystorm Idea Book Cover

A Lovely Note from a Scholarship Winner

Our team member Rona Shirdan got a note from 2023 Scholarship winner MaryBeth Timothy.  She said:

I have exciting news to share! The book that I recently illustrated, Cherokee Earth Dwellers, has been awarded a Chicago Folklore Prize as one of the top three books of folklore scholarship published in 2023!

Congratulations MaryBeth!

Cherokee Earth Dwellers cover

Art Exhibit Announced

An exhibit co-curated by faculty Shadra Strickland, and featuring faculty Joe Cepeda, has been announced at the Brandywine Museum of Art in Pennsylvania.  It is titled “Rooted: Family and Nature in Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration” and will run October 14, 2023 – February 28, 2024.

Learn more.

Faculty on NPR

Faculty Jennifer Swanson was featured on NPR’s Science Friday.  Get the segment.

Danna Zeiger Writes About Her Experience

Thanks, Danna, for this writeup about your time at PJ Library’s Picture Book Summer Camp and your Personal Retreat at the Highlights Foundation!

Most of all, thank you for the permission to call myself a writer—a gift I will carry forward with me through life, and which my kids have already adopted, too.

Community Member Wins Gold in Royal Palm Literary Awards

Thornton Blease’s middle grade manuscript won Gold in the Royal Palm Literary Awards from the Florida Writers Association.  Congratulations Thor!

Thornton Blease's Instagram Post

Lisa Schnell Interviews Scholarship Recipient Lindsay Cordero

Community member Lisa Schnell did an interview with scholarship recipient Lindsay Cordero on her blog.  Read the full text here.  Such a wonderful celebration of connections through the Highlights Foundation Science and Nature programming, and our scholarships.

More Good News On Our Blog

A Visit to Remember: Valerie Bolling Uses Her Renée Watson Scholarship to Write 15,000 Words

A Visit to Remember: Valerie Bolling Uses Her Renée Watson Scholarship to Write 15,000 Words

Creation & Connection: Scholarships Bring 4 Writers to Asian & Asian American Voices Retreat

Creation & Connection: Scholarships Bring 4 Writers to Asian & Asian American Voices Retreat

That Highlights Magic: From Learning to Write a Book Proposal to Celebrating a Book Birthday

That Highlights Magic: From Learning to Write a Book Proposal to Celebrating a Book Birthday

#HFGather: Here Comes Summer–Reading, Swimming and Gathering

#HFGather: Here Comes Summer–Reading, Swimming and Gathering

Celebrating a Book Birthday: We Mostly Come Out At Night

Celebrating a Book Birthday: We Mostly Come Out At Night

Scholarships Enable 2 Writers to Retreat In-Community at the Jewish Symposium

Scholarships Enable 2 Writers to Retreat In-Community at the Jewish Symposium

Creating Art Leads to New Manuscript Idea for Scholarship Recipient

Creating Art Leads to New Manuscript Idea for Scholarship Recipient

With Scholarship Support, 4 Writers Make Discoveries at Writing Through Trauma In-Community Retreat

With Scholarship Support, 4 Writers Make Discoveries at Writing Through Trauma In-Community Retreat

Celebrating Tonya Duncan Ellis’ Book Birthday!

Celebrating Tonya Duncan Ellis’ Book Birthday!

Continuing Support for Asian American Voices at the Highlights Foundation

Continuing Support for Asian American Voices at the Highlights Foundation

Mentee Carries on Mentor’s Legacy: Floyd Cooper and Daria Peoples

Mentee Carries on Mentor’s Legacy: Floyd Cooper and Daria Peoples

Highlights Foundation Awards Scholarships to 115 Storytellers Who Write and Illustrate for Kids

Highlights Foundation Awards Scholarships to 115 Storytellers Who Write and Illustrate for Kids

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.