Day 3: Andrea J. Loney

Andrea J. Loney’s books celebrate diversity, joy, and kindness. Writing both fiction and nonfiction, Andrea’s books delight, empower, and comfort kids of all ages.  We’re delighted that you will get to know more about our multitalented Day 3 honoree.

ANDREA J. LONEY wrote the award-winning picture books DOUBLE BASS BLUES (Caldecott Honor), TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE (Lee and Low Books New Voices Award and NAACP Image Award Nominee), and BUNNYBEAR (ALA Rainbow List). Her most recent books include the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul for Babies board book KEEP TRYING (DON’T GIVE UP), the picture book biography CURVE & FLOW: THE ELEGANT VISION OF L.A. ARCHITECT PAUL R. WILLIAMS, and the futuristic chapter book series ABBY IN ORBIT. Her work is also included in the critically acclaimed anthologies THE ANTIRACIST KITCHEN, and NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY. An NYU graduate and a computer science professor at LA Trade Technical College, Andrea lives in Inglewood, California with her towering stacks of children’s books, her devoted family, and their incredibly spoiled pets.   Linktree:

Publication Journey:

My grandmother was a teacher and literacy specialist, so she taught me how to read and write before I even started preschool. Words fascinated me – their many definitions, their origins, even the way they felt in my mouth. At the age of seven, I decided to become a writer. In college, I studied to be a poet, a playwright, and a screenwriter. Then I moved to Los Angeles to work in film and television. But I’d always wanted to be an author. And I dreamed of writing the kind of picture books that might stay in a child’s heart forever.

When I finally decided to get serious about kid lit, I joined the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), I found critique groups online and in person, and I also signed up for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge — the participants write 12 picture books in 12 months and submit them to agents. I wrote and rewrote dozens of manuscripts. I received dozens and dozens of rejections. But I kept working towards my dream.

In 2014 TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE!, my picture book biography of the famous Harlem Renaissance era photographer won the Lee & Low New Voices Award. It was published in 2017, and earlier that year BUNNYBEAR was my first published picture book. My next picture book DOUBLE BASS BLUES won a Caldecott Honor for the illustrator Rudy Gutierrez. And during the pandemic, I started writing longer stories, like my middle grade biography VIP STACEY ABRAMS: VOTING VISIONARY, and the ABBY IN ORBIT chapter book series. This month my very first board book comes out — Chicken Soup for the Soul for Babies: KEEP TRYING (DON’T GIVE UP). And more books are on the way.

The Backstory:

While writing my latest picture book biography CURVE AND FLOW: THE ELEGANT VISION OF LA ARCHITECT PAUL R. WILLIAMS, I really struggled with narrowing his story down to a picture book format. Over his lifetime, he’d racked up a mind-boggling list of buildings, accomplishments, and accolades. Decades after his death he was still winning posthumous awards. It was overwhelming. But one day, as I researched the racist housing covenant laws that kept Paul from building his own Los Angeles dream home, I decided to take a look at the original deed to our own house in Inglewood, built in 1923. I was shocked! It clearly stated that only white people were allowed to live there and no one else. I had forgotten that Inglewood California used to be a sundown town. And then I wondered how Paul R. Williams must’ve felt as he designed gorgeous homes he’d never be allowed to own personally. It was so unfair, so infuriating. So I channeled all that indignation into finishing the manuscript so I could share his story — and its happy ending — with the world.

Positive impact or benefit of being an Amplify Cohort member:

When I became a Brown Bookshelf Amplify Cohort member, I felt like I was embraced into a whole new kidlit family. I connected with amazing authors and illustrators from around the world and we reconnect in person and support each other at book events across the country. We got the inside scoop on the children’s book industry, including working with agents, doing author visits, marketing our books, and networking with booksellers. Some of us even collaborated on projects, like Nadia Hohn’s highly-acclaimed middle grade anthology THE ANTIRACIST KITCHEN. Becoming an Amplify Cohort is one of the best choices I’ve made in my career as a children’s author and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Connect with Andrea on Social Media:

@andreajloney on XTwitter, InstagramBlueSky, and Pinterest
@author.andreajloney on Facebook


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