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42nd Annual FOCAL Award Celebration honoring Biddy Mason Speaks Up

June 19, 2021 | 1:00 pm 2:00 pm

Celebrate Juneteenth with the powerful story of Biddy Mason. The FOCAL Award is given annually by The Friends of Children and Literature to a distinguished children’s book highlighting California. This year the award is presented to Biddy Mason Speaks Up, by authors Arisa White and Laura Atkins, featuring illustrations by Laura Freeman.

Join Los Angeles Public Library for a conversation with the authors and illustrator about their experiences creating the book and sharing Biddy Mason’s story, followed by the presentation of this year’s puppet award.

This free virtual event is open to all ages and sponsored by Friends of Children and Literature (FOCAL), the Friends group of the Children’s Literature Department.

Streaming live on LAPL’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

More Info

About the Speakers

Laura Atkins

Laura Atkins

Laura Atkins is an author, teacher, and independent children’s book editor with over twenty years of editorial experience. She worked at Children’s Book Press, Orchard Books, and Lee and Low Books, helping to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, among others. She taught creative writing at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) in London, where she also received her M.A. in children’s literature, and she completed her M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2016. In addition to cowriting Fred Korematsu Speaks UpLaura is the author of the lighthearted picture book Sled Dog Dachshund (Minted Prose Press). Passionate about diversity and equity in children’s books, Laura is based in Berkeley, California, where she lives with her daughter. Find out more at lauraatkins.com.

Laura Freeman

Laura Freeman

Laura Freeman is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honoree. Her work on Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, was recognized with an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children, reached the New York Times Best Seller list and was listed as one of “Ten Books All Georgians Should Read”. Her art has been honored at the Society of Illustrators in NYC and in the Annuals for Communication Arts and American Illustration.

She has illustrated over thirty children’s books. In addition to illustrating books, Laura’s art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards. And her editorial images are frequently seen in the NY Times and other periodicals.

She is a native New Yorker residing in Atlanta with her husband, two sons, two cats and a fish. Visit her website, lfreemanart.com.

Arisa White

Arisa White

Arisa White is a Cave Canem graduate poet and her work has been nominated for the NAACP Image Awards, California Book Awards, and Wheatley Book Awards. Her recent poetry collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened was a nominee for the 29th Lambda Literary Awards. As the creator of the Beautiful Things Project, Arisa curates cultural events and artistic collaborations that center narratives of queer and trans people of color. She serves on the board of directors for Nomadic Press and is an assistant professor at Colby College. Visit her website at arisawhite.com.


P.O. Box 9145Berkeley, CA 94709(510) 549-3564

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