Thank you to Ariel Gordon Bernstein for the heads up that Sumo Joe was included in Bank Street College’s The Best Children’s Books of the Year!
I never would have thought to check. I have recently been submitting manuscripts to literary agents and am in recovery for rejection. Ditto for editors that I have submitted picture book manuscripts to. This recognition felt like sunshine after a week of gloomy skies.
For educators who want to use Sumo Joe in the classroom, I have resources:
I am heartened by Mitali Perkins who came to my house many years ago for a book club for my daughter. This is when she still lived in my town. I found her through a Massachusetts suggested summer reading list and, upon reading her bio on the back, discovered that we were (sort of) neighbors. At least we lived in the same town. I sent her an email asking her if she would come to my daughter’s book club, and she actually said yes!!!
This book was Rickshaw Girl, a chapter book. She said, during the book club at my house, that when her first book, Rickshaw Girl, got accepted by a publisher (Charlesbridge) she figured that she could now pursue her dream career of being an author but it took 14 years until her next book was published. But she persevered.
And now Rickshaw Girl is a movie. Her young adult novel, You Bring The Distant Near. was long-listed for a National Book Award. She has published more than ten novels for kids so far, plus has a new picture book out, Between Us and Abuela.
Fourteen years is also the hurdle that Debbi Michiko Florence overcame in her publishing journey despite having two agents! Debbi now has a pile of books coming out in 2020 and beyond!
I’m a huge fan of her Jasmine Toguchi series which might have led to her My Furry Foster Friends chapter book series.
She has a new middle grade novel out, Keep It Together Keiko Carter, and a picture book biography on chef Niki Nakayama! And that’s all in just a few years!
Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites
A biography spanning the Japanese American chef’s rise to fame – from overcoming gender bias in Japanese haute cuisine to opening her Michelin-starred Los Angeles restaurant.
Remembering Mitali and Debbi’s author journey is comforting and a reminder that each of us has a unique path that will reveal itself in time. Perhaps 14 years is the magic number!
Sumo Joe is in the TODAY category in such good company:
Thank you to Bank Street College of Education for this honor! It is much appreciated and gives me hope!
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p.s. Related posts:
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.