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A learning and sharing community for
DC-area children’s literature professionals since 1945


February program

Terry Catesús Jennings

On February 15 at 7:00 p.m. EST, Terry Jennings will be hosting a panel of CBG members who will discuss their relationship with their respective agents. They will answer a few short questions and then the panel will open up to the membership for discussion. All Guild members may weigh in on the topics raised. Please come prepared with what you’ve been dying to talk about with colleagues. The members of the panel will be Debra Shumaker, Madelyn Rosenberg, Sue Fliess, Rashin Kheiriyeh, and Terry Catasús Jennings. One more panelist may be joining.

“There’s always something of me in all my books.”

January 2024 program featuring

Andrea Beatriz Arango

Summary by Desaray Mnyandu

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Andrea Beatrez Arango is a self-proclaimed “baby author” but she’s already ahead of some of her more seasoned peers. Her very first book Iveliz Explains It All was a 2023 Newbery Honor Book!  Her second book, Something Like Home quickly followed and readers found it difficult to decide which book they liked best.

Both of Andrea’s middle grade books are told in verse from the perspective of a main character dealing with big life issues and the big feelings that come with them. Readers have an intimate perspective as the characters work through their conflicts with not-so-much grace.


After Andrea read a few pages of Iveliz Explains It All, the conversation of the Guild hovered over her masterful weaving of languages through the main character’s code switching between Spanish and English. This, along with the diary-like design of the book, added to the closeness readers were invited to feel towards the character Iveliz.


While Andrea doesn’t have a set writing strategy, what is consistent is inspiration from her personal experiences as a native Puerto Rican, a middle school teacher, a care giver, and a foster parent as well as her own eclectic reading tastes. “There’s always something of me in all my books.”


Interviewer Terry Jennings asked the question we’d all like to know. “What was it like to get the call?”, referring to the call from the Newbery Award committee. True to her humble nature, Andrea who initially missed the call because her phone was turned off, said, “Finding out it was the Newbery Honor was shocking and exciting! I was not prepared!”


Arango plans to return to full-time work again after a year-long break, but that will not be slowing her momentum as an author. A third book It’s All or Nothing, Vale is scheduled to be released in February 2025. Like her other books, it still includes fan favorite topics of friendship, self-discovery, mental health and more. We look forward to all that is to come from Andrea Arango.

Pat Scales

Summary by Betsy Kraft

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Guild members got an inside look at book banning at the November Guild meeting when Pat Scales shared stories and data of the recent rise of challenges of books for young people. Scales, a First Amendment advocate, is the former chair of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, and has appeared nationally as a spokeswoman for freedom from censorship. She has also authored two books on the subject: Books under Fire and Teaching Banned Books.

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Books featuring LBGTQ characters were top of the 2022 challenged list with those about people of color coming in second. Other topics on the rise were those portraying kids engaged in rights and activism. Scales said the banning of books began in the eighties, mostly directed at Judy Bloom’s body of work. But the rise of social media has rapidly accelerated the trend and grown with parent groups like Moms for Liberty and other like-minded groups and laws like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay.

Scales pointed with hope to teens themselves who have created teen banned book clubs and even brought legal cases saying the banning of books violates their civil rights. She pointed to the ridiculous extremes of the movement with the challenging of Mark Brown’s picture book, Arthur's Birthday, in which a girl brings a gift suggesting they play Spin the Bottle.

In advice to writers, she said just keep writing good books. And to those who wish to become engaged in the fight against banned or challenged books she says stay aware of what’s happening and help spread the word.

School Library Journal columns by Pat Scales

2023 Banned Book List from PEN America

November program

Remembering Phyllis Sidorsky

Recollections by Rhoda Trooboff

Former member Phyllis Gibbs Sidorsky passed away on December 30, 2023, in Alexandria, Virginia. She was 96.

After graduation from Juniata College, Phyllis began her career as a social worker. Her deep interest in and support of libraries led her to obtain a Masters in Library Science at The Catholic University of America. She then began a long career as a children’s librarian at the National Cathedral School for Girls, where for twenty years students affectionately called her Mrs Sid. She invited notable children’s book authors to visit the NCS Lower School Library and speak with students. In late autumn she gave annual much-appreciated talks to NCS parents about notable books their children might enjoy.

Phyllis was a prolific reviewer of children’s books. Her reviews appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, The School Library Journal and Childhood Education. She served on the Notable Books Committee, which selected best books of the year on behalf of the American Library Association.

An avid gardener, watercolor artist, traveler, naturalist, and protector of rescued greyhounds, Phyllis was a beloved fixture of her Old Town Alexandria community. She volunteered for Alexandria’s Meals on Wheels.

Phyllis was predeceased by her husband, Raymond Sidorsky, and their daughter, Erica Sidorsky. She is survived by a nephew, Victor Humphreys, nieces Monica Grant and Ellen Plaza and their children, and remembered with blessings by former students, Alexandria neighbors, and NCS parents and colleagues.

In 1989, Phyllis published “A Girl’s Own Reading List” in the Washington Post, noting that “People expect you to have a special set of criteria when selecting books for a girls' school. Not so. Whether the reader is a girl or a boy, the story must capture the attention and hold it until the last satisfying page. But are there books in which strong female role models exist? Of course.” Here’s Phyllis 1989 list.  


2023 Nonfiction Award Event

Don Brown Wins CBG 2023 Nonfiction Award

By Betsy Kraft

The chair of this year’s Nonfiction Award Selection Committee was Tammar Stein (now living in Singapore); committee members included Kathie Meizner, Yukari Matsuyama and Edie Ching. Abby Nolan chaired the award event at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D. C.

Don Brown loved comics as a kid.  Among his favorites were Prince Valiant, Pogo, Superman --even Mary Worth.  Later he copied the style of cartoonist Bill Mauldin who drew images of two GI Joes on the battlefield during World War II.  It was decades before Brown, this year’s Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award winner, became the widely popular author/illustrator of more than forty children’s books.


Brown feels history has been pushed aside in primary and secondary schools. So, he began to create stories showing both known facts but also their broader implications in the country and the world.  When reading history, he looks for the actual events, but then “stays on for the story.”  Read the rest of the story here.

2023 Children’s Book Guild

Youth Literacy Awards

At this year’s Nonfiction Award celebration, the Guild presented its 9th annual Youth Literacy awards to Twinbrook Elementary School (Montgomery County, MD), Langdon Elementary and Charles Hart Middle Schools and School Without Walls (Washington, D.C.), and Summer Fun Stuff/Do Kind Works (Montgomery County, MD/Washington, D.C.).  Each winning school or organization received a $500 gift certificate to First Book.

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The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, is committed to the fight for racial justice and support for Black lives. Please click on the links above for information on organizations to support, and readings to help educate and inspire positive change. 

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