Catching my breath…

November 8th, 2019

The big news this fall is that we MOVED!

How did I forget that moving is so totally exhausting?  Can someone remind me, the next time I decide to move? Especially if I also have a teaching schedule, two books publishing, two teenage kids, and a full travel schedule?

That said, it feels worth it, because I finally have an office, for the first time in over a decade? It’s pretty thrilling to spread out, write at a desk, and unpack all my wonderful clutter!

Too many things happened this fall to catch up, but I do want to mention that I got an absolutely amazing review in the Times,from one of my very favorite authors.  The kind of review you don’t forget.

More soon, I promise, as soon as I unpack everything…

What a year!

June 21st, 2019


It has been an unusually crazy spring, full of travel.  Honestly, I overdid it this season, and learned some lessons about what I can and can’t handle. Moving forward, I’m hoping to do a better job about not overbooking myself. I LOVE visiting schools and meeting kids, but I need to do a better job of remembering my own kids, back at home.  I know that if I can be more thoughtful about booking events I’ll be able to give everyone my very best.

That said, one of the highlights of my spring was visiting the Shanghai American School.  I can’t believe my little books took me to CHINA!  I am, however overbooked and tired, a very very very lucky girl…

And of course, I do have new books coming out this fall, so I WILL be hitting the road a bit in the beginning of September. I’m hoping to do a little driving tour in the southeast, to visit some schools and bookstores. So if you happen to be in GA, SC, NC, TN, or AL, within about 5 or 6 hours of Atlanta, shoot me a message, and we’ll see if we can’t make it happen.  Ideally, this would involve school interested in doing a grade-wide read of My Jasper June…

And speaking of My Jasper June, just look at the amazing things people have to say about it:

“This book is a treasure—a touching story of friendship, loss, and finding beauty in the every day, with characters who stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page. I absolutely loved it.” (R. J. Palacio, New York Times-bestselling author of Wonder)

“Honest and beautiful, My Jasper June shows us what real friendship makes possible in the face of the impossible.” (Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me)

“Unflinchingly true and hopeful at once, My Jasper June gives us a friendship so intense and magical, we feel lucky to be there for every gut-wrenching minute of it. Snyder is a truly wonderful writer.” (Emily Jenkins, New York Times bestselling author of Brave Red, Smart Frog)

I’m so excited to share this book with you!

Meet Jim!!!

June 14th, 2019

Deep breath!!!

February 15th, 2019

Well, after a year away from the publishing world, I’m heading back in.  I have four (FOUR?) books coming out in 2019, and I’m sure I’ll be posting about them, as time goes by.  But today is sort of the beginning.

Two bits of news:

Charlie and Mouse: EVEN BETTER (third in the series) will be out in April. And I just found out it’s a Junior Library Guild selection, so that’s exciting! Honestly, the months just before publication can be a little terrifying. You’ve worked so hard to make something good, but it’s been a private matter, personal. And now, suddenly, it hits you that other people are going to see the thing you’ve made, and judge it, so you begin to question all your creative choices.  JLG is, in many cases, the first indication that you’ve done a good job. JLG books are selected before trade reviews, and before before people start posting their thoughts to Goodreads. So it’s a very soothing thing to find out JLG liked a book. WHEW.

And also… we’ve just revealed the cover of my next novel, My Jasper June. The book won’t be out until September, but I wrote a little something about it for the Nerdy Book Club, and you can see the full cover (teaser above) if you head over there to check it out.  I poured a lot of myself into this book, and I worked on it for five years, on and off. Seriously. I hope you’ll like it.  I really REALLY hope you’ll like it.

That’s all for now, but more soon. When next I post, it’ll be from China!

It’s been a long long long long time…

February 7th, 2019

I don’t post here often, and for that I apologize.  Though I’m not sure this blog gets much traffic these days, so maybe that’s just fine…

But so much has happened since November, that I felt the need to take a moment and say so.

First of all, we had an election! (it didn’t go exactly as we hoped, but good things happened, and the I’m optimistic for the future. Stacey Abrams is a goddess. We haven’t heard the last of HER.)

Then we had a bar mitzvah!  (and WOW, did Mose do an amazing job. We were overwhelmed and moved by having so many of our loved ones here. The whole thing was incredible)

Finally, I finished a book…  (which will be in bookstores in September, and I hope you’ll give it a go.)

Of course, many other things happened too.  But these three November events were enough to turn me into a very tired lunatic.  And I’ve just now barely recovered, to be honest.

And that’s a good thing too, because we’re heading into a busy (if not quite SO busy) spring.  I’m at work on a graphic memoir called FAIRY HUNTER, with hopes to finish it over the next few months.  And Charlie & Mouse EVEN BETTER will be out in April, so I’ll be on the road (WI, MD, MO, CA, and CHINA) quite a bit, doing events and school visits to support the book.

Maybe I’ll see you out there…


Somewhere between a massacre and an election: A Little Hope…

November 5th, 2018

I want to take a moment in a very busy week, to tell you a story about something that happened on Saturday…

I think perhaps you have been feeling lost this week, as I have. The events in Squirrel Hill hit many of us incredibly hard, in a season when we’ve been depleting ourselves, and trying to remain hopeful. Everything has been feeling supercharged for months, and we want to believe things might get better. But it’s hard to believe in much, right now. Surrounded by swastikas and voter suppression, stories of kids in cages and troops heading for the border. We’ve marched in the streets and knocked on so many doors, and yet still…

I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for two years, and then last Saturday, someone came along and beat me with a crowbar, but somehow I still need to find the energy and spirit to get to Tuesday. To canvas cheerfully. To hope. It’s been hard to find hope.

Anyway, on Shabbat this week we went to services at Congregation Bet Haverim, which is always uplifting and warm and friendly. In the best moments, it gives me real inspiration and steam to keep going, and on other days, it’s just reassuring to be surrounded by my community. But this week, something new happened.

To understand this story, you need to know that CBH sits in a very observant neighborhood, within the eruv. Toco Hills is the most traditionally Jewish neighborhood in Atlanta, and most of the synagogues/institutions there are Orthodox. It’s where you live in Atlanta if you need access to kosher groceries, and you want (need, really) to be able to walk to shul.

CBH is a different kind of synagogue for Toco Hills, and while I love being able to pick up kosher groceries when my dad comes to visit, or get a decent bagel, I will tell you that it’s a strange feeling to drive past walkers, as I leave the synagogue. Suffice it to say, there isn’t a lot of interaction between CBH members, and the larger Jewish community in Toco Hills (that I know about).

But it is one thing not to know the neighborhood, generally. And it is another thing not to know your next door neighbor. For years now, CBH has had a neighbor, a synagogue called Young Israel. There is a street that divides the two buildings, called Merry Lane, where we park, and though I have walked past the same faces many times down Merry Lane, I’ve never stopped to say hello. Never asked a name. I felt certain that these folks wouldn’t welcome my intrusion.

My own insecurities about my Jewish authenticity are legion, and I’ve spent decades navigating them in different ways. When you grow up an intermarried kid in the Reform world, it’s hard in one way. When you go to work for an organization like Hillel, or move to Israel, it’s another. When you try to call a mohel for the first time, it’s downright awful. I’ve always been drawn to observance and Jewish learning, and I’ve always been curious about the Orthodox world, but I’ve also had to assume that my interest and presence might offend some people, and so I’ve stayed away, out of respect. That extended to Young Israel.

But honestly, it’s been a sad thing for me. A tight little knot. Because I like people, and new faces, and learning…

So, getting back to Shabbat! On Saturday, during services, Rabbi Joshua Lesser told us all that we were all invited, after kiddush, to join him in the middle of Merry Lane. He explained that, in the wake of the devastation at Tree of Life, we were going to meet our neighbors, and mourn together. So we all shuffled out into the street.

When we got there, he and Rabbi Adam Starr lead us in thoughtful responsive readings. Both rabbis spoke about the shooting, and we chanted the names of the victims. We all sang, and joined arms, and swayed together. And that was powerful enough.

But then Rabbi Starr tasked us with a “foodless kiddish.” He said it was time to meet each other. And so we did . We wandered around, shaking hands, and saying hello. And it was deeply moving for me. These wonderful smiling people I’d walked past for so long. One man was fantastically warm and friendly, and when he heard that Mose’s bar mitzvah was a week away, insisted he was going to come.

I’m not sure I can say what that meant. And it doesn’t matter whether he attends or not. The simple act of showing support and interest. Of validating Mose. And through Mose, CBH. A recognition of our differences not needing to be a stumbling block to friendship and respect. I want to thank him.

I want to thank both rabbis. It healed me a little, after the wounds of Squirrel Hill. But it also healed me a little from the (honestly, self-inflicted) wounds of walking down Merry Lane for years, and turning away from familiar faces on the other side of the street.

There is nothing that will undo what happened in Pittsburgh. It is an atrocity. It is a wound, and it will continue to be a wound. It will continue to hurt. Just like there is nothing that will undo so many other harms in this world, including the political harms of the last two years.

But it was good to be reminded that out of harm and pain, we can learn and grow. In practical ways, these are the moments we have to challenge ourselves to make light. To find new kinds of goodness. Not because it fixes what’s broken. Sometimes, the broken thing is broken forever. But because we are still capable of making new things that are whole and strong.

And I think remembering that fact, believing it, and proving it to the world, is the best way to move forward…

Now, please, go and VOTE. But in doing so, remember to heal yourself (and each other) as best you can. In both ways, you make the world better.

It’s all connected.



September 8th, 2018

Five years ago, I noticed that there were many mock Caldecott committees predicting male artists would win the medal.  This bothered me, but then I discovered, looking back at my blog, that my predictions had also been overwhelmingly male, for years.  (Gender bias is buried deep y’all.  It can be a shock when you spot it in yourself)

Of course, in making such predictions, all of us had helped generate buzz about those same male-authored books.  And it’s hard to guess at what effect that buzz has on the award itself, in the end.   So, in an attempt to create a little grassroots buzz for the women I admired,  I wrote this post, and enlisted the help of my online community. Together, we created a list of amazing picture books illustrated by women.

For a number of years after that, I recreated the post, and each year I was truly shocked to discover many wonderful books I’d never even seen.  Despite the fact that I now actively seek out women illustrators in my own reading.

Today, five years have passed. And guess what?  The medal has been won by four men and one woman in that time.  Those numbers are… not great.  So here we are again, making a list! As usual, I’ll start off with a handful of books with art  I especially love, and I invite you all to leave comments with your own suggestions (American artists, please, 2018 titles, illustrated by women, though they can be written by men). I’ll try to add them as quickly as possible.


(note: it’s important to me to say that I don’t mean to diminish the accomplishments of the individual men who have won the medal.  Bad art doesn’t win this important award, and I know the committee takes its job very seriously each year, works hard. But we are all biased in so many ways, and it’s very clear that historically, the Caldecott reflects the systemic elevation of men in our industry. I’d really love it if we all became a little more aware of how our bias affects our preferences.)


Jillian Tamaki


Jessica LOve


Yuyi Morales


Corinna Luyken


Ekua Holmes


Sophie Blackall


Grace Lin


Emily Hughes


Dana Wulfekotte


Hyewon Yum


Jessie Sima


Melissa Iwai


Laura Vaccro Seeger


Catia Chien


Lauren Eldridge


Jennifer Thermes


Suzanne Kaufman


Juana Martinez-Neal


Giselle Potter


Sarah Lynne Reul


Sara Palacios


Vashti Harrison


Lily Williams


Jessie Sima


Kate Berube


Anne Sibley O’Brien


Dow Phumiruk


Katherine Roy


Stasia Burrington


Micha Archer


Thao Lam


Patrice Barton


Lita Judge


Hannah E. Harrison


Vanessa Brantley-Newton


Airlie Anderson


Jen Betton


Ebony Glenn


Julia Patton


Melissa Larson


Ekua Holmes


Hadley Hooper


Lucy Ruth Cummins


Jen Hill


Keturah A. Bobo


Galia Bernstein


Molly Idle


No More All-White Panels: A PLEDGE

March 27th, 2018


Our industry marginalizes people of color. We know this.

In a multitude of ways, we do not include or promote their voices as we should.  This is problematic for the authors, editors, illustrators and other people of color who must work twice as hard for far less attention and reward.  But it is also problematic for the children we claim to serve, who desperately need to hear a range of voices. Our young readers are increasingly diverse.  It makes no sense that their literature not represent them.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to improve this situation.  We Need Diverse Books has had a dramatic impact, and many now recognize the need for more inclusive literature. We give lip service to this need. We talk about mirrors and windows, as well as the importance of #ownvoices. And yet, though we now see a lot of conversations about the need for diversity, in practical terms, not much has changed.

Our industry is a complicated machine, with many moving parts.  We are authors and illustrators, editors and publicists. But we are also booksellers, teachers, and librarians. We are event organizers and reviewers. This complexity can make it extremely easy to pass the buck.  “What can I do?” each of us thinks.

For several years now, I’ve sat on the programming committee for a book festival. In the past, I’ve helped coordinate conferences and reading series as well. This has given me an interesting vantage point.  I’ve gotten to see how few people of color are supported with marketing dollars.  There are always a few superstars pitched—bestsellers and award winners—but not many.  The publishers, who I assume must answer to their company’s bottom line, send out the authors likeliest to sell lots of books. In an economy built on systemic racism, this means they send out mostly white authors.

But festivals and conferences are exactly how new authors become bestsellers and award winners.  In addition to selling books, these events bring visibility. They draw the attention of award committees and open the door to financial opportunities like school visits and other paid events. So this marginalization becomes a cycle. Success breeds success.  Money follows money.

Today, I’m calling on my fellow authors and illustrators to make a change. To refuse to play a part in this cycle.  We can’t change everything overnight, but we can refuse to participate in the marginalization of our colleagues and friends.  We can hope that our example draws attention from conference and festival organizers, from publishers, booksellers, educators, reviewers, and others. If enough of us join together, perhaps diverse panels will become the rule, not the exception.

Of course, our industry does not only marginalize people of color. We have a great deal of work to do in supporting other underrepresented populations as well.  We must strive to include LGBTQUIA authors and illustrators, those with disabilities, women, and Native authors, among others.  Until our conferences and festivals fully represent this country’s diverse population, there will be serious work to do.  However, for the purposes of this pledge, it feels useful to focus on one specific goal. One clear mission.  Which is this:

In a world of wildly talented authors and illustrators of color, there is simply no reason for an all-white panel, ever.  If you agree with me, I hope you’ll make this pledge, by leaving a note in the comments below.



Due to the ubiquity of all-white panels in the professional and academic spheres of publishing, literacy, and children’s literature, we feel it has become necessary to take a stand.  We pledge to decline service on all-white panels of three or more speakers (excluding the moderator), at any conference or festival, and to decline invitations from any conference or festival without meaningful representation overall.  We know that the voices of people of color are essential to any meaningful conversation in our field, and we do not want to contribute to their exclusion.

*this post is written in partnership with #kidlitwomen, a month-long effort to highlight the voices of women authors and illustrators, and to address the issues they face.
**this post is also made in conjunction with No More All-Male Panels


And then this happened…

March 6th, 2018

Author Laurel Snyder and illustrator Emily Hughes are the 2018 recipients of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for “Charlie & Mouse,” published by Chronicle Books. The award was announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition held Feb. 9–13, in Denver.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The award is named for the world-renowned children’s author, Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Award winners are recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading. Award and honor book recipients will receive their awards in New Orleans, during the ALA Annual Conference in June.

In four short chapters that could each stand alone, readers join young brothers Charlie and Mouse on a full day of imaginative adventures. The brothers talk to sleeping lumps, invite friends to an impromptu playground party, fail to sell rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. (Bedtime bananas—they’re a thing.)

Emily Hughes’ playful illustrations and Laurel Snyder’s clever text work together to highlight an inclusive cast of friends and neighbors, capturing a unique sense of place while reflecting the diverse world in which all children live. Snyder demonstrates both her understanding of and respect for the child reader though these stories, which encourage creative play and capture the childhood experience.

“Through authentic dialogue, thoughtfully repeated phrases, and distinctive illustrations, every reader will know that they too are invited to the party,” said Geisel Award Committee Chair Sandra J. Imdieke.


What a year this has been…

January 17th, 2018

(beware, here be spoilers)


I don’t post here much anymore, but I’ve just returned from the last trip of a very busy year, and I’m sitting in my house, making soup, watching the snow outside my window, and feeling things.

In 2017, I began teaching in the MFAC program at Hamline University, published five (FIVE?) books, and logged about 2 trillion Delta skymiles, visiting bookish conferences and festivals.  At the same time, Mose started middle school, Lew and he were separated for the first time, and lots of other big events occurred in my family/personal life.  I lost some dear friends.  My sister bought a bookstore and moved home! 2017 was a year of newness, challenge, growth, for me and for the people I love best.

Of course, more than anything, this year was also full of political insanity.  So we all woke up. We marched and marched and shouted. We knocked doors. We called our reps. We wrote letters, and made posters, and donated money to ease our frazzled and desperate consciences.  We flew to DC to shout at our senators (oh, those poor staffers).

But somewhere in all of that newness and insanity and marching, another thing happened. I published a book called Orphan Island, about a girl on an island, the oldest of a group of kids. A smart, capable, but imperfect girl, afraid to grow up.  A girl who, when the little green boat arrived, didn’t want to get into it.

This was, absolutely, a “book of my heart.”  It was a book I never really expected to see in print.  It was a book about the inner workings of my own mind/heart, more than anything.  About childhood, and leaving it. About not knowing where we come from, or where we go. About not having answers. About what it means to be the eldest child in a confused and fractured home. What it means to parent, and let go. What it means to know you are imperfect, to examine yourself and see your flaws, and still love yourself.  What it means to take what you need… or not to take what you need, because it isn’t always your turn.  Orphan Island was a book that let me explore ALL THE THINGS INSIDE ME.

Much as I never expected the book to be published, I never expected people to find and point out ALL THE THINGS INSIDE ME.  And because, somehow, this book found a really huge readership (compared to my other books), I got to see what lots of people thought about ALL THE THINGS.  I had laid bare my paradoxical, incongruous, conflicted, inner self– the twelve year version and the 44 year old version. So I received emails and letters and google alerts telling me just what people thought of that messy inner self.

That was totally great!  As authors go, I’m pretty thick-skinned, the product of many years of workshop-bruisings.  I believe that our readers are our collaborators, and I will fight anyone who argues that point. Every reader is entitled to interpret any book they like, and to feel their viewpoint is valid.  So, to the people who are bothered by the puzzling inner workings of my twelve year old (or 44 year old) soul, I say, thank you!  Thank you for reading. Learn and grow and YOU DO YOU.   I’m so happy the book made people think and feel things.

But there is one thing I’ve been sitting with, that I want to say.  One response I want to offer, not because anyone’s interpretation/collaboration of my book is wrong. But because  I did have my own intentions in writing it.   I haven’t wanted to share my thoughts very much, because I don’t want my own authorial intent to squelch the way others read my book.  I don’t want to suggest any simplifications to the conflicted moment Jinny is in. But…

But my intent is valid too, right? And there’s an issue I think about all the time, that I wove into these pages, in and around the other themes.  An issue that matters to me deeply, that I think about daily, as a citizen and as a person, as a member of my family, and my school community, and my synagogue, and my city and state. That issue is called THE SOCIAL CONTRACT. And I want to unpack that, just a little. For anyone who might care to read this.  But perhaps especially for anyone who thought that Jinny was punished for doing what felt right to her, for following her gut.

Jinny is both an individual and a member of a society that works (so far as we can see) really well.  As a member of that society, she has a role and a responsibility to others.  When her individual desires bump up against her role as a member of that society, she struggles.

We all experience this in the world. We all have moments when we want to break the rules for our individual reasons. We all long to jaywalk when we’re in a hurry, steal things we can’t afford, ignore the dishes in the sink, show up late to the surprise party.  But in those moments, we try to remember all the other people who are engaging in the contract alongside us.  We bear in mind that the system only works when we participate in it. So we do the dumb dishes.

That said, when the system does not work, the social contract also demands that we pursue justice, fairness, a system that works better.  The social contract gives us a right to use our individual instincts to take care of ourselves, but also to change the system, seek something more. And this is where Orphan Island bumped into 2017, into history!  Because in 2017, many people stopped thinking the system was working.

When I wrote the book three years ago, I never expected this underlying theme to be as relevant as it is today, politically.  But here we are, in a society that has revealed its deep fractures and fissures. A society that suddenly sees those fractures, and is engaging with them, trying to figure out what to do. I think that has affected some of the most interesting conversations about the book. And the thing I want to point out is:

When, in the middle of the story, Jinny’s individual desire is to not get into the boat, her world is still working, so far as she can see.  She ignores that she’s part of a larger picture, and does what she wants to do.  In her way, she is breaking the social contract.  This doesn’t make her evil. It makes her human. But it is, according to the contract of the island, a mistake. And so (as might happen if eleven percent of “society” broke the rules) the world falls apart a little bit. She senses that, and feels bad, because she’s a good person.  There are consequences to her choices, and she knows it.  There are misunderstandings, and ripples in the world around her.

I will not go any further with this, as an explanation of the book. I won’t get into the details, or reveal anything I haven’t already revealed. As I said above, I believe firmly that my own interpretation is no more valid than anyone else’s.  I have not yet read a single explanation of the book I don’t find valid and interesting, or that revelations would radically alter.  But it’s important to me that I point out this distinction.  That the question I had in mind was not whether Jinny’s initial desire was bad, but rather…  how do we decide when to listen to our individual needs, and when to think of others?

This matters to me. Not just for the kids on the island, but for the kids in Atlanta, or Baltimore, or anywhere else. For all the kids.  It matters to me that the social contract works both ways. It requires that we think of others, as we make our own individual decisions. That we hold up the aspects of society that work, even when we don’t want to. We pay our taxes, and join the PTCA, and open the door for the woman with her arms full of groceries. We do our part.  We think of other people, the whole world, as we navigate what it means to be an individual.

BUT!  It also matters that then, when we see that the system ISN’T working, that the world is collapsing around us, that the laws no longer work or apply, we need to find another way to make decisions. When the sky is falling and the laws stop working as they’re supposed to work… we turn inward, search for our own moral compass, and figure out what to do as individual, so that we might fix the world.  Not because we want to do our own individual thing, but because when the system fails, we need to look for more creative solutions than obedience.

Jinny follows her instincts when she doesn’t need to.  And then she follows her instincts when she does.  Like any kid, she is learning how to be a person.

And so, here we are. It’s 2018.  Many people are noticing that the boat isn’t coming on schedule any more. The snakes are biting.  What are we going to do?  Most of us are out of practice at breaking the rules for the right reasons.  Most of us are rule-followers.  But not all rules are the same, and not all moments are the same.   What makes something a bad decision in one moment can make it the right decision in another.

Just something to think about…