2019 Wrap Up: Book News and a Giveaway of 2020 Releases

© Sylvia Liu
2019 was a banner year for me, creatively. To celebrate, I'm giving away TWO pre-orders of highly anticipated 2020 PB, MG, and YA releases. Read on for my recap and info about the giveaway.

1.  Signed with my agent, Jennifer March Soloway

About six years ago, I switched focus from illustration and picture books to novel writing. I took classes, wrote practice novels, connected with mentors and critique partners (see my 2018 Roundup: Cheers to My Creative Community), and wrote a speculative middle grade novel, which I queried in the fall of 2018. In January, I accepted an offer of representation from Jennifer March Soloway, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, who I met the previous spring at an ABLA Big Sur writing workshop. In the year we've been together, Jennifer has proven to be everything I hoped for in an agentresponsive, communicative, an excellent editor, and so supportive.


In September, one of my poems was published in the anthology picture book, THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Myles (Lerner Books 2019). I'm humbled my poem is alongside works by poets like Jane Yolen, Margarita Engle, Joseph Bruchac, and more. Each poem touches on thankfulness and is in a different poetic form (haiku, sonnet, etc).

My short, simple poem, "Thanks in Advance (for Not Squishing Me)," is a Tyburn, a form with a specific rhyming scheme (and also the name of a historical type of poem used to protest executions). 

reproduced by permission of Lerner Publishing art © Marlene Myles

3. A Middle Grade Book Deal

To cap off the year, in November, I was thrilled to announce the sale of MANATEE'S BEST FRIEND, to Scholastic for publication in Spring 2021. In this middle grade novel, a 12-year-old girl finds her voice to save manatees. I am so excited to work with my editor Maya Marlette and am grateful for Jennifer March Soloway for bringing us together.
In Kidlit411 interviews, we ask our authors whether their journey to publication was long and winding or short and sweet. Mine has been both. Long and winding because when I quit my job as an environmental attorney 15 years ago to become a children's illustrator, I had no idea I'd end up a middle grade author. Short and sweet because this past year has gone by in a blur. I've had a great time and owe so much to my writing communities, including The Muse Writers Center, Author Mentor MatchBreakthrough Writers Boot CampSCBWI, and my long-time critique group, the Penguin Posse.  

Giveaway of Two Highly Anticipated 2020 Books


To celebrate, I'm giving away a pre-order of your choice of TWO of these amazing books coming out in 2020 from my writer friends and/or agent-mates. (If you win, you choose two books and I'll pre-order them for you). I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT ALL OF THESE BOOKS.


Two Bicycles in Beijing, by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Junji Wu (Albert Whitman & Co, April 1, 2020) Two bicycles are separated from a shop and one chases the other, exploring the sights and sounds of Beijing. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon).


When You Trap a Tiger, by Tae Keller (Random House for Young Readers, Jan. 28, 2020) A girl discovers a family secret when she makes a deal with a magical tiger from her grandmother's stories. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

art © Jedit (@9jedit), design © Katrina Damkoehler

Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch, by Julie Abe (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Aug. 4, 2020). A young witch must pass a coming-of-age test or risk losing her magic forever. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

Cover design © Karina Granda illustration © Shan Jiang


Foul is Fair, by Hannah Capin (Wednesday Books, Feb. 18, 2020) A bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for girls who've had enough. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

art © Ada Buchholz, design © Olga Grlic

Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads, June 9, 2020) A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his conservative Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

Cover © Mars Lauderbaugh, art direction by Liz Dresner

This is My America, by Kim Johnson (Random House Books for Young Readers, July 28, 2020). Dear Martin meets Just Mercy in this unflinching yet uplifting novel that explores racial injustice in the American criminal system. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

design © Ray Shappell, illustration © Chuck Styles

Private Lessons, by Cynthia Salaysay (Candlewick Press May 12, 2020) In a standout debut for the #metoo era, a young pianist devotes herself to her art and to the demanding, charismatic teacher she idolizes. (Preorder links: Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

To enter the giveaway, sign up below. You can earn up to four entries by (1) commenting on this blog post, (2) following me on Twitter (@artsylliu), (3) sharing on social media, and/or (4) signing up for my mailing list. A winner will be picked on Friday, Dec. 20.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy: