Associates of the Boston Public Library Select 12th Annual Children’s Writer-in-Residence

Boston, MA—August 6, 2015—The Associates of the Boston Public Library is pleased to announce the selection of Jennifer De Leon of Milton, Massachusetts as the recipient of its 12th annual Children's Writer-in-Residence fellowship.

The Children's Writer-in-Residence fellowship, created in 2004, furthers the Associates’ mission of supporting the Boston Public Library by promoting the importance of writers, books, and reading in our culture.

The fellowship provides an emerging author with the financial support and space needed to complete one literary work for children or young adults within a nine-month period.

One of the most financially generous programs of its kind in the U.S., the winner receives a $20,000 stipend and the use of a private office in the Boston Public Library’s Central Library during their residency. The Children’s Writer-in-Residence program is funded through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

De Leon was selected as the 2015-2016 winner by a panel of seven judges - including authors, young-adult editors, and children’s librarians - in a blind judging process, based on the strength of her submission entitled Volar.

“There is something very special about Jennifer’s writing,” shared one of the judges. “How she captures a scene, a young-person’s thoughts, a description of a place—the reader is transported. We were captivated by this novel that takes place in Boston, written by someone who grew up here, presenting a young Latina’s experience as she comes of age. We can’t wait to see what Jennifer’s year means for her work and her future as a writer.”

Volar tells the story of Liliana, a 14-year-old girl whose family moves from a working-class Latino neighborhood in Boston to an affluent, predominantly white suburb after her father gets a promotion. Liliana, who soon changes her name to Lili, tries to fit in to her new school and neighborhood. Adjusting to her surroundings, Lili learns to value her home culture while discovering her own path.

"Walter Dean Meyers once wrote that he suspected his many readers found in the pages of his books a recognition of themselves, a validation of their existence, and an acknowledgment of their value by someone who understood who they were. With the generous space, time, and funds provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library, I am eager to tell my story so that perhaps someday soon others can find something of themselves in my pages, too. This award gives me energy, encouragement, and hope. And I am so grateful,” said De Leon.

Jennifer De Leon is the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere. Her story, “The White Space,” first place recipient of the Michael Steinberg Essay Prize and published in Fourth Genre, was listed as notable in Best American Essays 2013. A graduate of the MFA in Fiction program from UMASS Boston, she currently teaches at Grub Street and the Boston Teachers Union School in Jamaica Plain.

The residency term runs from September 2015 through May 2016. A welcome reception and reading takes place September 30, 2015. For more information, visit www.writer-in-residence.org.  

About the CHILDREN’S WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAM

The Children's Writer-in-Residence fellowship, created in 2004, furthers the Associates’ mission of supporting the Boston Public Library by promoting the importance of writers, books, and reading in our culture. The fellowship provides an emerging children's writer with the financial support and space needed to complete one literary work within a nine-month period. One of the most financially generous programs of its kind in the U.S., the winner receives a $20,000 stipend and the use of a private office in the Boston Public Library’s Central Library during their residency. Projects eligible for this program include fiction, non-fiction, scripts, or poetry, intended for children or young adults. The Children’s Writer-in-Residence program is funded through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

The residency has enabled several talented children’s authors to launch their literary careers. Program alumni have published or are in the process of publishing 18 books. Included is the Associates’ first Children’s Writer-in-Residence, Hannah Barnaby (2004-2005), who published Wonder Show, the book she worked on during her residency. Anna Staniszewski (2006-2007) published seven novels, including her most recent title, I’m With Cupid, published in July 2015. Elaine Dimopoulos’ (2010-2011) novel Material Girls was published in May 2015.

The application and guidelines for the 2016-2017 fellowship will be posted online in early 2016 at www.writer-in-residence.org.

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