The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators announced its annual Golden Kite Awards on February 24, along with the annual Sid Fleischman Humor Award. SCBWI Golden Kite coordinator Bonnie Bader emceed the Zoom ceremony to kick off SCBWI’s virtual daylong conference on February 25. Golden Kite winners receive $2,500 each, plus $1,000 to donate to the nonprofit organization of their choice, and honorees receive $500 each, plus $250 to donate to a nonprofit.
Up first was the Fleischman Award, which went to Tracy Badua’s Freddie vs. the Family Curse. Badua directed her donation to the Filipino American National Historical Society. The Fleischman Honor went to Rachel Elliott’s graphic novel The Real Riley Mayes, which had received an ALA Stonewall Honor in January.
Nonfiction author Stacy McAnulty took home two recognitions for two books. Our Planet: There’s No Place Like Earth, illustrated by David Litchfield, got the Nonfiction Text for Younger Readers award, and Save the People! Halting Human Extinction got a Nonfiction Text for Older Readers Honor. McAnulty’s contributions benefit the Sierra Club Foundation. Committee chair Tiffany Jewell, who judged both nonfiction categories, sees Our Planet as a book “that will be used in classrooms across the country.” McAnulty said she was writing Save the People! when she imagined “Earth telling her story, Earth telling us why we should care” in Our Planet, so she composed both manuscripts at once.
Tara Lazar proclaimed she was “gobsmacked, flabbergasted” when Absurd Words: A Kids’ Fun and Hilarious Vocabulary Builder for Future Word Nerds received the prize for Nonfiction Text for Older Readers. Her donation went to the Highlights Foundation. In her acceptance talk, Lazar playfully misquoted the Beastie Boys: “Remember, kids: you gotta fight for your right to be nerdy!” Dinah Johnson’s H Is for Harlem received the Nonfiction Text for Younger Readers honor.
The Middle Grade Fiction committee rated some 170 books, said member Sundee Frazier, and chose Michael Leali as the winner for The Civil War of Amos Abernathy. Leali’s charitable contribution supports the Ali Forney Center for unhoused LGBTQ+ youth. Leali said he based the novel “on my experience as a young historical re-enactor, as a kid who was homeschooled, as a quiet and ashamed young queer person who has now found his opportunity to celebrate his gay identity.” The middle grade Honoree was Andrea Beatriz Arango’s Iveliz Explains It All, which was also a 2023 Newbery Honoree.
Brittany J. Thurman won the Picture Book Text award for Fly, illustrated by Anna Cunha, and directed her donation to Young Authors Greenhouse. The committee, led by Alex Giardino, said Fly's “poetic language captures the rhythms of childhood play.” The honor went to Alicia D. Williams for The Talk, illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu, which earlier this year won a Coretta Scott King Author Honor.
In Picture Book Illustration, artist Nathalie Dion won for Kumo the Bashful Cloud, written by Kyo Maclear, and dedicated her donation to the Montréal children’s healthcare organization Le Phare (The Lighthouse). Committee chair Shadra Strickland called Kumo “beautifully impressionistic—it would make anyone want to look up.” Strickland added, “I can tell you there were almost fights in trying to pick” the winners. Sophie Blackall’s Farmhouse took home the illustration honor.
In Illustrated Book for Older Readers, author-illustrator Isabel Roxas won for The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens, and her contribution goes to the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn. Squid Happens “started out as a single painting, and then a picture book that did not see the light of day, which eventually became a self-published [series],” Roxas said, before it was picked up by Flying Eye Books. The illustration honor went to illustrator Marissa Valdez, for Esme’s Birthday Conga Line, written by Lourdes Heuer.
Last was the Young Adult Fiction category, with Emily Inouye Huey taking home the award for her novel Beneath the Wide Silk Sky, a story of a young Japanese American photographer living in the Pacific Northwest in the World War II era. Inouye Huey will send her donation to Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, in acknowledgment of her experiences teaching in a detention center for minors as well as her family of Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during the war. Bill Konigsberg got the honor for Destination Unknown and selected the National Minority AIDS Council as his nonprofit.
SCBWI director Sarah Baker dropped into the Zoom call at the conclusion, urging the nominees and audience, “Please keep creating your important books and telling your incredible stories.”