Awards: SCBWI Spark, Emerging Voices; RBC Taylor

The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators has announced winners of the 2017 Spark Award, which recognizes excellence in children's books published through an independent or non-traditional route; and On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award, which is "part of the SCBWI's ongoing effort to foster diverse and underrepresented voices in children's publishing."

The Spark winner in the "Books for Older Readers" category is Michelle Morgan for Flying Through Clouds. The honor book is Petals by Laurisa White Reyes. The Spark "Illustrated Book" winner is The Santa Thief by Alane Adams, illustrated by Lauren Gallegos. Author/illustrator Michael Hale's Bad Monkey Business is the honor book in this category.

The SCBWI's On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award winners are Anuradha D. Rajurkar for her YA novel American Betiya and Lakita Wilson for Books Like Me, the first title in a planned middle grade series called the SweetPeas. The winning manuscripts will be made available to select agents and editors via a secure website. Rajurkar and Wilson will also receive a paid trip to the 2018 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles to meet editors, agents and other industry professionals.

"Our community is actively working toward the goal of every child having the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the pages of a book," said SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver. "It is time to acknowledge underrepresented authors and illustrators and help them bring their talents and voices to the forefront."

The On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award is made possible through the generosity of Sue and Martin Schmitt of the 455 Foundation.


Tanya Talaga won the C$25,000 (about US$19,615) RBC Taylor Prize, which honors the best in Canadian nonfiction, for for her book Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City. As winner, Talaga will select the next recipient of the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award, which is given to an up-and-coming Canadian writer who will receive C$10,000 (about US$7,845) and the opportunity to be mentored by Talaga.

In its citation, the jury said: "Talaga has written Canada's J'Accuse, an open letter to the rest of us about the many ways we contribute--through act or inaction--to suicides and damaged existences in Canada's indigenous communities. Tanya Talaga's account of teen lives and deaths in and near Thunder Bay is detailed, balanced and heart-rending. Talaga describes gaps in the system large enough for beloved children and adults to fall through, endemic indifference, casual racism and a persistent lack of resources. It is impossible to read this book and come away unchanged."

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