Sunday, July 9, 2017

Golden Kite Awards: Lisa Wheeler for Picture Book Text

The Golden Kite honors two for best picture book text -- a winner and an honoree.

And the winners are....

Winner: The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler
Publisher: Dial
A touching Yuletide story about a lonely woman who finds a mysterious boot in the snow.

Honor: Time for Earth School, Dewey Dew by Leslie Staub
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
A nervous alien deals with being the only non-human at his new school.

Golden Kite award winner for best picture book text Lisa Wheeler shared the inspiring, nearly 20-year journey she took to the SCBWI Golden Kite stage.

"Let me just take a breath because this is the year I've decided I get to enjoy moments, and this a moment I've enjoyed," Wheeler said. "The story behind the Christmas Boot is very inspiring -- especially for those of us who have been in the trenches for years."

"It was December of 1998. I was working at Toys R Us in the children's book department," she recalls. "As I left work one day, it was snowing outside. And as I was pulling out of the parking space, I saw a black boot sitting in the snow. I got out and retraced my steps, but it wasn't there. But there was a story there, somewhere. That's how it all began." 

But the road to publication was long and winding. "I sent the manuscript to my agent, and he loved it, so we sent it out," she says. "It went to acquisitions at one house, and was turned down. I think what happened was, it just wasn't right for that time. So I put it away. In 2005, I met an editor at a small press. I sent it to her. She made an offer the next day, and it was published regionally but the imprint went out of business. So the book was gone. I let it go."

But that was hardly the end of it. Cut to: "Summer of 2014, Steve calls me and says Laurie Hornik at Dial is looking for a Christmas story," Lisa said with a laugh. "So my agent was thinking about that book for nearly 20 years -- that's the kind of agent you want."

It landed at Dial, and to Wheeler's joy, it was illustrated by the amazing Jerry Pinkney. "And I am thrilled beyond thrilled to hear that it won the Golden Kite," she said. "Twenty years later, I'm an overnight success. So if you really believe in a story, don't give up on it." 

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