To Tom Low, with Sadness and Gratitude

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of Tom Low, co-founder with Philip Lee of a little company with a big vision, back in 1991. Today, Lee & Low is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States. Dedicated to diversity and inclusion, it remains one of the few minority-owned publishing companies in North America.

Lee & Low published a couple of my early picture books, when no one else quite knew what to do with my submissions. It’s safe to say that those early books helped me find a toehold on this writing cliff that has become my life.

During the 1990s, I had other titles picked up by Children’s Book Press, which was founded by Harriet Rohmer, another pioneer in the diversifying of our field. When their list was acquired by Lee & Low, it felt as if my books were coming home. Other titles found print with Bebop Books, the imprint launched (all of 20 years ago now!) under the leadership of publisher Craig Low, Tom’s son.

I didn’t know Tom Low personally, but I know very well what a tremendous impact the publishing house he founded has had over the years. And I am so very grateful for the vision that led him to start this company, which has encouraged the visions and supported the work of so many of us, over the years.

In sadness and gratitude, I’d like to share this excerpt from The Open Book Blog:

Because of the pandemic, there will be no memorial service at this time. Well-wishers are encouraged to send a donation to one of Tom’s favorite charities: The Fresh Air FundScenic Hudson, or North Shore Animal League America. Condolence cards can be sent to:

The Low Family
C/o Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore

Look at this lush, beautiful collage cover by Susan L. Roth!


Parrots Over Puerto Rico won the 2014 Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2013. Its easy to see why.

Its wordless jacket, its striking vertical orientation, the tumbling waterfall in the center spread, and the half-hidden flashes of blue feathers on the last page all perfectly capture the energy of the text as it tells the story of the near-extinction and rescue of an iconic bird species. The reversal of what could have been a tragic process is accomplished through the efforts of scientists and governmental collaboration. The story takes place against the vast landscape of the island’s history, no less, the two histories intertwined. It would appear almost impossible to take such a huge story and place it in 40 picture book pages, but the weaving of art and words achieves that end in this beautiful book. Back matter includes an afterword, a timeline of Puerto Rican history, and a list of sources.

Starred review in Kirkus.