Kristi Wright

In Benford Draws a BLANK, author Danielle Dufayet and illustrator Katia Klein tackle the concept of being blocked as an artist. This may feel like a pretty advanced theme, more suited to adults than children. But there are very few topics that children can’t be trusted with, if handled the right way.

Danielle Dufayet’s picture books plant seeds in children’s minds and hearts about important topics like self-love, inner strength, patience, and letting go of perfectionism when creating art.

Dashka Slater’s text in Escargot (illustrated by Sydney Hanson) uses a number of techniques to break the fourth wall, such as posing questions to the reader and asking them to do physical actions, like turning the page or giving Escargot a kiss. All of these elements engage the reader and delight them!

Through a combination of humor, culture, warmth and language, Hernandez uses voice to make his characters unforgettable and his novel hard to put down.

Meera Sriram’s picture books are a master class in evocative writing. Her superpower is making her stories feel lush, by providing a sensory and emotional experience that culminates in a satisfying payoff.

Meera Sriram’s picture books take kids to a not so often visited “space”—people, place, experience—to evoke wonder and spark conversations. Sriram feels empowered and hopeful when she thinks about how her stories have the power to influence a child’s worldview.

Isabella Kung’s debut author-illustrator picture book NO FUZZBALL! is a masterclass in how to use dramatic irony to tell a laugh-out-loud comedic story using a well orchestrated combination of words and images. 

I think in order to capture the essence of a person, an environment, or even an emotion, a creator must observe and try to learn all its nuances.

By setting up a compelling story question in the reader’s mind, and then increasing the stakes throughout the second act, Joanna Ho has crafted the perfect crisis with its excellent Irreconcilable Goods options.

The more specific a story, the more universal it becomes. This is one of the most enduring bits of writing advice I have ever received. When we can write to one particular story, experience, character with specific detail and nuance, it makes it real. It feels true. There are always spaces to find our shared humanity, and this is only possible when we come to understand the richness around us.