Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Voice and Character with Traci Chee and Avery Fischer Udagawa

Date(s) - 01/29/2022
9:00 am - 11:00 am


Voice and Character Workshop Double Feature 

Author Traci Chee on Voice and Character in We Are Not Free  plus

Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa  on Voice and Character in Temple Alley Summer

Open to SCBWI Japan, East Asia and SE Asia Member Writers, Illustrators, and Translators, and to nonmembers based in Japan

Time:   Saturday, January 29, 2022, 9:00 am – 11:00 am, Japan Standard Time

Place:  Remote–via Zoom

Fee:    Free to SCBWI Japan members; 1,500 JPY for nonmembers based in Japan

RSVP:  To reserve & for payment info, e-mail japan (at) by Thursday, January 27, 6:00 pm JST; include your SCBWI region or Japan location


Session 1: 9:00 – 9:45 a.m., Japan Standard Time

Author Traci Chee on Voice and Character in We Are Not Free

Traci Chee’s historical novel We Are Not Free  received a 2022 Asian/Pacific American Award Youth Literature Honor and was a Finalist in the National Book Awards 2020 for Young People’s Literature. The story is skillfully narrated in the alternating voices of fourteen Nisei friends. The Judge’s citation states that the novel “is a nuanced narrative of the Japanese American experience during World War II. As each young person deals with the disruption that incarceration imposes on their life, we see anger, disappointment, resistance, and reluctant compliance. But this is also a book about friendships, falling in love, and choosing how to live when control is taken from you, giving this ambitious novel a timeless relevance.

SCBWI is fortunate to have Traci Chee speaking with us from California via Zoom for this writing workshop. Traci will go over various techniques for developing voice through characterization, using excerpts from We Are Not Free as examples.

Traci Chee is a best-selling and award-winning author of books for young people, including the instant New York Times best seller and Kirkus Prize Finalist The Reader and Printz Honor Book, Walter Award Honoree, and National Book Award Finalist We Are Not Free. Her forthcoming title is A Thousand Steps into Night, a Japanese-influenced young adult fantasy. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, egg painting, bonsai gardening, and hosting game nights for family and friends. She lives in California with her fast dog. Visit her website.


Session 2: 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. Japan Standard Time

Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa on Voice and Character in Temple Alley Summer

Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, illustrated by Miho Satake, was published in Avery Fischer Udagawa’s translation in July 2021, becoming Kashiwaba’s first novel published in the United States. This translation is the recently announced 2022 Mildred L. Batchelder Award winner. It has Summer in its title but contains two narratives—one set in Japan in July, and the other set in a fantasy kingdom in winter, right around New Year. The characters range in age from nine to 84 years old and from schoolchildren to a mysterious author to a kimono seller to a witch. Some of the characters are reborn spirits or their descendants.

What techniques helped to distinguish the characters in the original Japanese, and how did these techniques work (or not work) in translation? What approaches from the translation process might help those working on voice in other books for children?

Avery Fischer Udagawa’s translations from Japanese to English include the middle grade novels Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba and J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani. Her short story translations have appeared in Kyoto Journal, Words Without Borders, Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories, The Best Asian Short Stories 2018, and A Tapestry of Colours 1: Stories from Asia. She serves as Translator Coordinator in SCBWI (see Translation in SCBWI) and SCBWI Japan (see Ihatov).