Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Summer Party 2020: Pitches and a Toast!

Post by Avery Fischer Udagawa

On July 30th, 2020, SCBWI Japan held a remote summer party to toast member achievements, discuss Twitter pitches, and (last but not least) enjoy each other’s company!

First, we toasted translator member and volunteer Andrew Wong, who received a Regional Team Service Award to attend the SCBWI Online Summer Spectacular 2020. Andrew’s first picture book translation—The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out, edited by Yoshimi Kusaba and illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa—launched in August 2020 with a starred review from Kirkus! His reflection on attending Summer Spectacular 2020 appears at the SCBWI Japan Translation Group blog.

Translator Andrew Wong on the SCBWI Summer Spectacular 2020

Next at our summer party, we toasted SCBWI Japan writer member Suzanne Kamata, whose YA novel Indigo Girl received a 2020 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award!

The Crystal Kite Award garlands books by SCBWI members that were chosen by peers in their geographic divisions (SCBWI Japan is in the Middle East/India/Asia division). Every member of SCBWI can vote for a book by a colleague in their division that was published in the previous calendar year.

In addition to the 2020 Crystal Kite Award, Indigo Girl has won a 2019 Nautilus Book Award (Gold) for Young Adult Fiction and been named a Best Book of 2019 by the Bank Street College of Education, among many other honors. A sequel to Suzanne’s acclaimed novel Gadget Girl, it follows fifteen-year-old Aiko Cassidy, a bicultural girl with cerebral palsy who grew up in Michigan, as she spends a summer with her father’s indigo-growing family in a Japanese farming village.

“Aiko’s stay in Japan is not quite the easygoing vacation that she expected. Her grandmother is openly hostile toward her, and she soon learns of painful family secrets that have been buried for years. Even so, she takes pleasure in meeting new friends. She is drawn to Taiga, the figure skater who shows her the power of persistence against self-doubt. Sora is a fellow manga enthusiast who introduces Aiko to a wide circle of like-minded artists. And then there is Kotaro, a refugee from the recent devastating earthquake in northeastern Japan.” —Publisher’s description (more)

Long before publication, Indigo Girl was awarded an SCBWI Multicultural Work-in-Progress Grant; and before that, an early version of Gadget Girl was published as a novella in Cicada, winning the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Fiction. Suzanne reflected that the affirmation and support from SCBWI had encouraged her long before the Crystal Kite.

Hearty congratulations to Suzanne!

Our party continued with a time of of reviewing Twitter pitches drafted by participants in advance. Twitter pitches can be a valuable way to bring works to the attention of an agent or editor—but it’s important to follow the rules. Participants in the summer party received a handout by agent Charlotte Wenger of Prospect Agency, who spoke at SCBWI Japan’s Kidlit Create Day 2020. She graciously gave permission for a handout she’d composed on Twitter pitches to be shared with summer partygoers.

Finally, our time together concluded with informal conversation, as we checked in with each other about life during the pandemic. From locations in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States, members provided updates and encouraged their peers.

We appreciated the chance to spend this time in community!