Highlights Foundation Writers Retreat

Lucky me! I recently attended a Highlights Foundation writers retreat in the northeastern Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains. The campus consists of a “5,200-square-foot Retreat Center known as the Barn, 21 cabins, a lodge, and the Founders’ farmhouse, located in Boyds Mills–10 miles from Honesdale, Pennsylvania.”

I’ve known about the Highlights Foundation since I started on the path to publishing Kidlit and, thanks to a generous scholarship from PJ Library, I was able to attend the “Jewish Symposium 2022: An In-Community Experience for Jewish Creatives.” PJ Library, an organization that “sends free Jewish children’s booky to families across the world every month,” is also well-represented in the synagogue preschool where I teach. Everywhere I look…beautiful children’s books!

Hon, I was so nervous when I drove up. Nervous as in major imposter syndrome! What business did I have being there, surrounded by award-winning Kidlit authors, talented illustrators, well-known Jewish educators, and successful literary agents?

The main reason I signed up was because my literary agent Rena Rossner was going to be there. She was wonderful as were the other professionals, writers, illustrators, and educators. My nerves didn’t go away completely, but though it was my first, hopefully it will not my last writers retreat.

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.

We do not take lightly what it means to create engaging, authentic stories for children and youth. We believe that you, as storytellers, have profound impacts on the lives of children. This matters a great deal to us as an organization, and most importantly to our world.

Highlights Foundation





			
			
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Let Liberty Rise, How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save The Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel

Happy Book Birthday to a bunch of NJ SCBWI writer-friends!

Hon, you know how much I love Kidlit, especially picture books, so congrats to authors whose picture books have just debuted!

Chana Stiefel’s newest picture book, Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, debuted on March 2, 2021.

On America’s 100th birthday, the people of France built a giant gift! It was one of the largest statues the world had ever seen — and she weighed as much as 40 elephants! And when she arrived on our shores in 250 pieces, she needed a pedestal to hold her up. Few of America’s millionaires were willing to foot the bill.

Then, Joseph Pulitzer (a poor Hungarian immigrant-cum-newspaper mogul) appealed to his fellow citizens. He invited them to contribute whatever they could, no matter how small an amount, to raise funds to mount this statue. The next day, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters poured in. Soon, Pulitzer’s campaign raised enough money to construct the pedestal. And with the help of everyday Americans (including many thousands of schoolchildren!) the Statue of Liberty rose skyward, torch ablaze, to welcome new immigrants for a life of freedom and opportunity!

Chana Stiefel’s charming and immediate writing style is perfectly paired with Chuck Groenink’s beautiful, slyly humorous illustrations. Back matter with photographs included.

Scholastic

Check out “The Picture Book Buzz – Interview with Chana Stiefel” by Maria Marshall to find out what inspired Chana to write this book, where she did research, what she wants kids to take away from the story, and which illustration contains a surprise historical coincidence.

Chana is an author of over 25 books for kids, including My Name Is Wakawakaloch!, Animal Zombies…& Other Real-Life Monsters, and Daddy Depot. @chanastiefel