FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WNDB Announces the Winner of Its 2019 Young Adult Short Story Contest
Jenni Balch to receive cash prize and have her winning short story published in A Universe of Wishes anthology, coming Spring 2021 from Random House Children’s Books
February 5, 2020
New York, NY — We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB) has selected the winner of its 2019 Young Adult Short-Story contest, established to celebrate previously unpublished fiction by diverse writers of all backgrounds. Jenni Balch will receive a cash prize of $1,000, plus the opportunity to publish her short story “Wish” in the forthcoming WNDB young adult anthology, A Universe of Wishes, to be published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, in Spring 2021. Balch holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and now lives and works in Western Massachusetts. Balch lives with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disorder where platelets are targeted as foreign antibodies, a diagnosis shared by a character in “Wish.”
Acquired for publication by Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers, and to be edited by WNDB COO Dhonielle Clayton, A Universe of Wishes had space reserved for the contest-winning submission. Yeh said of the winning entry, “As soon as I started reading ‘Wish,’ I was captivated by Jenni Balch’s subversive new twist on the popular folktale, ‘The Three Wishes.’ I was first drawn to the voice of her cranky protagonist, a LAMP dweller and the richly textured story about empathy and making connections. I could not resist the opportunity to add such a talented new voice to A Universe of Wishes, our WNDB teen fantasy anthology.” Said Clayton, “A Universe of Wishes is a crossroads where magic meets the best of the real world—it’s diversity. This anthology is an opportunity to show readers that the fantastic is for all of us and at its best when inclusive and representative. With characters from many walks of life and places both familiar and unfamiliar, everyone gets a chance to step into the worlds of these stories and find something for them.”
Contributors to the anthology will include bestselling authors Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Cordova, Tessa Gratton, Anna-Marie McLemore, Kwame Mbalia, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, Victoria Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone and award-winner, Jenni Balch.
A Universe of Wishes is the fourth collaboration from We Need Diverse Books™ and Crown Books for Young Readers. The first collection, Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by WNDB founder and president Ellen Oh, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews, the New York Public Library, and School Library Journal. The second collection, Fresh Ink, a young adult anthology edited by Lamar Giles, was published on August 14, 2018, and the third collection, The Hero Next Door, a middle-grade anthology edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, was published on July 30, 2019.
# # #
About We Need Diverse Books. We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. It is our mission to put more books featuring diverse characters in the hands of all children. You can learn more about WNDB programs at www.wndb.local.
About Random House Children’s Books. (rhcbooks.com) is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, and nonfiction, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
About Crown Books for Young Readers. is an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Crown publishes reader-centric books with a special focus on diverse voices, illustrated fiction and graphic novels, and creative nonfiction by pop culture icons, newsmakers, scientists, and historians. Crown is the publisher of the New York Times bestsellers Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce and Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Authors published by Crown include Jeffrey Brown, Marie Kondo, Ellen Oh, and Geoff Rodkey as well as transgender activist Jazz Jennings, actress and designer Skai Jackson, astronaut Scott Kelly, and actress and math specialist Danica McKellar. Crown has also partnered with Just Us Books creators Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson on We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices and We Need Diverse Books on the anthologies Flying Lessons & Other Stories, Fresh Ink and The Hero Next Door.
Press Contact: Alaina Lavoie, Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org