Mitten Logo

Spring 2011


The Mitten

Dear MichKids,

So, did you see it? That little change? In the masthead? At last, we are proud to unveil the newsletter logo. Yes, it looks remarkably similar to the chapter logo. But our cow is wearing a mitten, right there on her midsection. Seems appropriate for the logo to represent the chapter, the state, and The Mitten all in one. Thank you again to Beth McBride for the design idea, and to Randy Bulla for making it a reality. 


Speaking of  I-spy games, I have been watching for signs of spring. Well, "desperately searching" is more accurate. I tend to use the weeping cherry in my yard, rather than the calendar, as the actual beginning of spring. Most years, spring occurs right around tax day. As of publication day, I'm still waiting for the tree to explode. 


I'm sort of doing the same with my writing. The calendar tells me I should be writing certain things, but somehow, the season isn't quite right yet. Perhaps the Muse is telling me to let things blossom in their own time, not to force the blooms. 


Or maybe it's just that I ought to adopt the attitude that Douglas Adams has when it comes to deadlines. "I love deadlines," he says. "I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."   

Sincerely and whoosingly,

Jennifer Whistler

P.S. Be sure to check out our newest column, "Ask Frida Pennabook," in which Frida answers your questions about the kids book biz.  

Kiddie Litter by Neal Levin

In This Issue
Memo from Michigan's Regional Advisors
Book Review: Tantalize
Ask Frida Pennabook
Author "Molds" Young Readers
Spotlight on Member Art
Hugs and Hurrahs
Quick Links

Regional Co-Advisor: Monica Harris

Regional Co-Advisor:
Leslie Helakoski

Newsletter Editor:   

Jennifer Whistler

Hugs and Hurrahs & Opportunities Columns Editor:

Linda Dimmer

"Ask Frida Pennabook"

Newsletter Subscriptions:

Kristin Lenz

Volunteer Coordinator:   Monica Harris

To subscribe to the SCBWI-MI Newsletter, contact:

Kristin Lenz
1013 N. Pleasant
Royal Oak, MI 48067

or email her here.

SCBWI-MI newsletter subscriptions are $10 for one calendar year ($15 for non-members).
Moni and Lel in costume

SCBWI-MI's Co-Regional Advisors Leslie Helakoski and Monica Harris



The SCBWI Regional Advisor's retreat, which is held once every three to four years, took place March 18-21, 2011. The purpose of the retreat was to develop new SCBWI policies, implement new procedures, and brainstorm future incentives to benefit the membership. In a series of six intensive meetings, Regional Advisors from around the U.S. and abroad were briefed on the new procedural handbook and organizational changes that have occurred SCBWI International is now officially a  non-profit organization.


We also discussed the need to keep up with our rapidly changing industry and to educate our members as these changes occur. One exciting topic that will affect our members more directly is the idea of integrating each state website with the national site. This would provide one place for members to go for all information and regional news. Currently, the intent is that the new website will also include the ability to register for our events on-line.


Regional Advisors around the globe donate many unpaid hours to SCBWI in their respective regions every day. In an effort to encourage SCBWI's volunteer work force to attend a managerial meeting and take more time away from families and other interests, the retreat was held on a three-day cruise. But while it may seem to be a luxury, in fact this proved to be the most cost-effective venue for the intensive meetings and meals for so many people. However, not a single penny of SCBWI-MI money was spent on the retreat. Our funds are dedicated to providing quality events and services to our Michigan members.  


The opportunity for us to discuss details and concerns in person was invaluable and we are grateful to SCBWI for giving us this opportunity. We look forward to sharing new information as it is available that will enrich all of our memberships.


Leslie Helakoski and Monica Harris

Michigan co-Regional Advisors  


Tantalize coverBOOK REVIEW

By Jennifer Whistler


Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Candlewick Press, 2007.


Every autumn, Kalamazoo Public Library presents a children's literature conference designed to help librarians keep up with current trends, enhance classroom curricula, and promote literacy in schools and public libraries. Although I am not a librarian, I attended the most recent conference, which focused on creating diversity in book collections, and just what diversity should actually look like.


One of the presenters was author Cynthia Leitich Smith, who talked about her books that center around Native American characters, and her YA books that are more like Gothic romance. How does Gothic romance fit into diversity, I wondered?


Cynthia explained that she used vampires and werewolves as substitutes for other marginalized demographics. The way that her werewolf characters were unfairly targeted provides today's students with an analogy of the social structure of the modern teenager. 


I was skeptical, but decided to read Tantalize, not only for it's use of diversity, but because I am in the process of revising my own YA, so I wanted to get a feel for what made Kirkus Review, Booklist, Horn Books, and the School Library Journal all give this title such postive reviews.


I found that Leitich Smith was onto something: you can draw parallels between modern teen social structure and vampire-werewolf social structure. And it can indeed be a vehicle that helps young readers analyze their own behavior. By looking at the bigotry and prejudice that exist within the book, but exist for no apparent reason (after all, these aren't "real" people, so the reasons behind the bigotry aren't "real," either), they can more easily separate the prejudice from the group. In other words, it's a whole lot easier to understand just how baseless it is to discriminate against someone for skin color as it is to discriminate for were-status (being born a werewolf).


Aside from that, however, the story behind Tantalize never fully engaged me. The idea that Quincie Morris was trying to save her family's restaurant by making it vampire-themed felt like a forced vehicle to create Leitich Smith's vision rather than a natural outgrowth of plot. I also found that Quincie felt flat as a main character. She was either deliberately obtuse when people were trying to help her, or she was self-destructively stubborn, either of which seemed to be for no reason whatsoever. Ultimately, I didn't feel her character experienced enough of an arc to make me want to continue reading Leitich Smith's series.


Jennifer's YA novel has no vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, or gnomes. However, there do seem to be some gremlins that are keeping her from finishing her revisions in a timely manner.

Frida Pennabook

Image courtesy of FCIT

Ask Frida Pennabook 


Welcome to the first installment of The Mitten's newest column, "Ask Frida Pennabook." The world of children's literature is a lonely one, and sometimes it would be helpful to tap into the expertise of a fellow writer or artist. Each issue, Frida will plumb the depths of her knowledge in order to help struggling writers and illustrators solve their problems. Need help staying focused? Struggling with writer's block? Wondering how to balance the writing life with "real" life? Just ask Frida. She will provide pointers on plot, counsel on character, and motivation for your muse. 

Dear Frida,


I've written several things, submitted them to a plethora of editors, and for some reason, continue to get rejected. I'm thinking about quitting the whole writing thing.  What do you think?


Wanda Quit


Dear Wanda,


Deciding if you have the tenacity to work in children's literature is a personal arm-wrestling match of will power. No one can predict the outcome and in no way can I tell you what to do.  What I will ask you to do though is re-examine your writing goal. For many people, the ultimate goal is get a book contract with a trade publisher. Shooting for the same goal over and over again while missing the mark is the quickest way to feel discouraged.  Instead, think about a new target or goal; something more easily attainable at this point in the market.


It is perfectly acceptable to write for your own pleasure.  Perhaps you'd like to share the stories of Uncle Bob's adventures in the rainforest to other family members. Interview Uncle Bob and put together a bound piece to give as a holiday gift.  Consider your community.  Your local church might be in need of some articles for their bulletin.  The local newspaper could be offering a writing contest with parameters that you've never tried before.  Consider writing an article for your SCBWI regional newsletter on how to stay motivated or about a speaker you met at the local library.


A goal could be to improve your craft.  Search and attend a writing conference. Use the event to not only hear from professionals but to network with other writers.  Consider submitting a manuscript for a paid critique; advice from editors and published authors can be priceless. Form a critique group and begin sharing and gathering insight on your works.


So Wanda, I'm not going to tell you to quit or not...I don't want you pointing a finger at me later if the choice was wrong!  Instead re-examine your goals and find something that can take you to the next stage of writing.


Need a little expert advice? Send your questions here, and Jennifer will send them on to Frida. 

Author Carol A. Grund
"Molds" Young Readers' Minds

Carol Grund Mold jar

Carol Grund poses with a jar of moldy food during a

"March is Reading Month" school visit

Carol A. Grund was surprised recently by a special "gift" from some of the students at Donley Elementary School in East Lansing. After reading her middle grade novel, Anna Mei, Cartoon Girl, a class of third graders duplicated the mold terrarium science experiment described in the book. During Carol's presentation, they proudly showed off their jar of fuzzy, green food! Carol was delighted, assuring them that mold had never looked so beautiful before. Read more about her visit, and the Anna Mei series, at Carol's website.

Ingels Share Flowers

Copyright by Lucy Ingels

Ingels Be Yourself Horses

Copyright by Lucy Ingels

Spotlight on SCBWI-MI Member Art


Lucy Ingels 


You can see more of Lucy Ingels's artwork by visiting her website, her facebook page, or her Etsy page.   

Anna Mei



Carol A. Grund's Anna Mei, Escape Artist (Pauline Books and Media), the second book in her middle grade series,is now available. See Carol at Schuler Books in Eastwood on May 7 from 2:00-3:30 p.m., and Bestsellers in Mason on May 14 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. For more info go to Congratulations, Carol!


Monica Harris will soon be an international author, once her latest book, Sasha's Senses, is published by the Korean publisher Tuntun English.  It's a book for their ESL program and includes a song that helps Korean kids learn how their five senses work. We smell a best-seller, Monica!


Lisa Rose Chottiner's chapter book Oh, Glory! finished in the top five for the National Association of Elementary Principals Book of the Year Contest.  For more information about the annual contest, go to What a glorious accomplishment, Lisa!

fortune cookie


(Note: Events and opportunities are not necessarily sponsored or endorsed by SCBWI-MI. We try our best to list only high-quality notifications through reputable sources. Please confirm all information with the source whenever possible. )




CRAFTfest 2011: The SCBWI-MI Spring Conference is on May 14 at Weber's Inn in Ann Arbor. For questions, contact Vicky Lorencen (lorencen DOT vbar AT juno DOT com) or Monica Harris (monicaharris24 AT sbcglobal DOT net). For more information, click on


The SCBWI-MI Fall Conference will be September 23-25 at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island. For questions, contact Leslie Helakoski (lelhel AT hotmail DOT com) or Pat Trattles (trattles AT yahoo DOT com). More details will be on the website soon.  


The Grand Rapids Children's Museum is looking for artists to display child-friendly artwork in their newly installed exhibition space. If interested please send an e-mail with your name, contact information, samples of your work or a website URL, and an artist's
statement if you have one to If you know how to size images, please send images that are 72 dpi and no longer than 1,200 pixels. If you have any questions call Claudia Place at 616-235-4726, ext 101. 



In January, Sterling Children's Books launched a new teen fiction imprint, Splinter, for which all books will be released simultaneously in hardcover and e-book formats. Splinter will also publish stand-alone novels, but will focus on books that deal with teens "looking to forge their own way." Children's editorial director, Cindy Loh, is acquiring titles for the imprint. For more information, go to 


Bick Publishing House for Teens/Young Adults' mission "is to relate modern science and its ethics, communications arts, philosophy, psychology to the teenager's world, so they can make their own responsible decisions about their own lives and future." For more information, see


Tu Books is now open to mysteries for children and young adults. They're still looking for main characters of color, but the setting could be anywhere in the world. For more details, go to



Working Mother Magazine is looking for articles that help moms successfully navigate the task of juggling job, home and family. They also share personal stories for and about working moms who have experienced career triumphs and/or life changes--all while raising kids and working. Features are usually 1,000 to 2,000 words. Topics of interest include: career-related (work/life) issues; diversity in the workplace; family relationships; time, home and money management; and parenting. Click on for more details.



The Eighth Annual Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse is looking for your original poetry in traditional verse forms. Entries must be postmarked by June 30, 2011. Please go to for all the details.


Enter your original picture book manuscript into the Cheerios® New Author Contest  by July 15, 2011. The Grand Prize is $5000 and your manuscript will be offered to Simon & Schuster for future publication. For more more details and submission guidelines, go to


Pockets Fiction Contest is free to enter and there is no set theme. Word Count 750-1000 (do not go over or under). The deadline is August 15, 2011. The award is $500 and publication in Pockets magazine. Entries that do not win are still considered for possible publication in the magazine under normal submission rates. For the guidelines, see



KidLitArt is sponsoring a Kidlitart Picture Book Dummy Challenge. This is a 25-week online group challenge to create and submit a picture book dummy. Even though it started on January 6, it continues until June 30. For all the details, see This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends.


Just a reminder that SCBWI-MI now has an illustrator blog called SCBWI-MI Scribblers! Each month or so, a new theme for our Michigan members to illustrate will be posted on this blog devoted to children's illustration. If you'd like more information on how to participate in our blog group and post your own art, please send a request along with the date your membership expires (available on the national website) to: Lori Taylor at loonwoman AT gmail DOT com or Susan Miller at smmiller77 AT hotmail DOT com . You may also click on for more information.