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The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Announces the Spark Award Winners for Independently-Published Writers and Illustrators

The SCBWI is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Spark Award, an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing platform. 

The 2016 illustrated book winner is Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi co-written by Bret Baumgarten.

Beautiful Hands is an ode to creativity. Encouraging messages are paired with innovative artwork that uses finger painting to create sprawling trees and spectacular dragons. Otoshi is the author/illustrator of six other picture books including the number series: Zero, One, and Two. Visit her site, kokidsbooks.com, to learn more.

The 2016 book for older readers winner is The Storytellers by Laurisa White Reyes.

The Storytellers is about the bond between Elena, a twelve-year-old dealing with her father’s terminal illness, and her elderly neighbor, Ang. When Ang tells stories of her family’s struggle during the Civil Rights Movement, Elena is magically transported into the past and gains the courage to cope with the present. Reyes herself is an experienced storyteller, with fifteen books to her name, including the high fantasy series The Celestine Chronicles. You can find more of her writing at laurisawhitereyes.com.

From SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver: “The SCBWI is happy to support excellence in independent publishing.  As new publishing models emerge and expand, it’s important to maintain a high standard in what we publish for children and young people.  We hope the Spark Award contributes to that effort, as demonstrated by these two Spark outstanding titles.”  

The winners receive the opportunity to attend a conference during the winning year, participate in the book signing at a conference, a press release, a Spark seal for their book, and publicity through SCBWI social media networks.

To learn more about the Spark Award, visit: www.scbwi.org/awards/spark-award/


Founded in 1971, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is one of the largest existing writers’ and illustrators’ organizations, with over 22,000 members worldwide. It is the only organization specifically for those working in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. The organization was founded by Stephen Mooser (President) and Lin Oliver (Executive Director).


Kayla Heinen
Awards Manager
[email protected]

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