By Marcelle Greene, LA Contest Coordinator


Sue Alexander

After three years of favoring novels, the judges for the region’s most prestigious annual contest have awarded the Sue Alexander Grant to a picture book:

    Woodland Dreams by Karen Lyn Jameson

In rhythmic writing that is sparse and word perfect, Jameson develops a gentle repetitive call to a range of forest creatures to bed down for the night. The text is “more than a bedtime story,” judges say, “offering just enough flora and fauna to spike a young listener’s interest and to create wonderful illustration potential.” Following are the first two stanzas:

Come home, Big Paws
Berry picker
Honey trickster
Shadows deepen in the glen.
Lumber back inside your den.

Come home, Velvet Nose
Antlered swimmer
Pond weed skimmer
Daylight’s fleeting. Wade ashore.
Bed down in the great outdoors.

Jameson wins free tuition to the Working Writer’s Retreat in the fall—always a sold-out event. The eponymous Sue Alexander Grant was established in 2009 to memorialize our SCBWI-L.A. founding member who authored many picture books.

Honorable mention goes to:

    The Highly Inappropriate Adventures of Harm Cassidy by Carol Tanzman

This book opens with a pile of moose poop and a ghost! How could our judges not want to read on? Tanzman sets a scene of eerie mystery as Harm, our feisty main character, surveys a house of “scary gray” with “windows that glare.” Why is Mrs. Gathers, the old lady who lives there, so unfriendly? Why does she hire Harm’s mother as a practical nurse with a martial arts black belt? What is her nephew, Darren Clover Gathers IV, up to? And why does the name “Dorothy” sweep like a cold wave into Harm’s consciousness? Our judges say “interesting characters and a plot that takes off with sensory detail make this novel a grabber.”

The top two manuscripts were submitted by PAL members* this year, though Associate members have beaten out published members in past years to claim first prize. What matters most is great language and a compelling premise.

Other standout manuscripts in the pool of 54 entries included:

    The Athena Experiment by Donna Atmur

    Angel City by Debbie Friedman

    The Edge of the Miraculous by Beth Navarro

Congratulations to all our submitting writers. And a giant THANK YOU to our anonymous judges!

*SCBWI membership levels: PAL (published and listed), Full (published unlisted), Associate (unpublished)