The Tassy Walden Awards
for New Voices in Children's Literature

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Image © Deborah Freedman, adapted from her book This House, Once, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017

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The Tassy Walden Awards for New Voices in Children’s Literature, launched in 2001, is an annual competition that encourages and nurtures the creation of exceptional books for children by unpublished Connecticut writers and illustrators. The competition includes five award categories: Picture Book (text only), Illustrated Picture Book (text and illustrations), Children’s Book Illustrator’s Portfolio, Middle Grade Novel, and Young Adult Novel.

Illustration by Leslie Connor

Who is Tassy Walden?

An accomplished champion of children’s literature, Katherine ”Tassy” Gessel Walden (1913-2008) was a generous and beloved member of Connecticut’s literary and library community. A graduate of Vassar College, Tassy also earned master’s degrees in education and library science. She taught in New York City and in Guilford, and she served as president of the Connecticut State Library Association. She taught children’s literature at Connecticut College and was active with the Literacy Volunteers of America. In short, Tassy understood excellence in children’s literature.

General Information for the Artist

  • Manuscripts and portfolios submitted for this competition must be prepared in a widely accepted professional manner and must adhere to submission guidelines and the submission deadline.

  • The submission deadline for the Tassy Walden awards is February 1st, 2023. There is a link to more submission information below. The Awards Reception will be May 24th, 2023.

  • A panel of professional judges reviews qualified submissions in a two-tier judging process. In the first tier, all submissions that meet the submission guidelines are read or reviewed by highly regarded literary agents and illustration agents currently working in the industry. In the second tier, all submissions selected by the first-tier judges as finalists are sent for review by editors and art directors at major publishing houses specializing in books for young readers and young adults.

  • At the discretion of the second-tier judges, winners and/or honorable mentions are chosen in each of the five submission categories. A cash award of $250 is presented to each winner. ​

Benefits for the Artist

In addition to offering a cash award in recognition of exceptional work created by Connecticut’s aspiring writers and illustrators of children’s books, the mission of the Tassy Walden Awards is:


  1. to provide invaluable educational support that helps unpublished artists learn to prepare polished, professional-quality work under widely accepted industry standards, and

  2. to create a community of published and unpublished Connecticut artists united in their goal to support one another in the effort to produce meaningful and artful work for children.

In service of that mission, the Shoreline Arts Alliance provides the following benefits to the artists:

  • The Shoreline Arts Alliance offers extensive support materials for all entrants, including FAQs, Sample Manuscript pages, tips for illustrators and writers, and an email address to which entrants can direct questions.

  • Shoreline Arts Alliance provides substantial publicity of finalists and winners through newspaper announcements, website announcements, and announcements to related arts organizations.

  • Shoreline Arts Alliance hosts an annual Awards Ceremony and Reception, featuring keynote speakers and refreshments. All entrants and their guests are invited to attend and to meet others in the Tassy community.

  • All entrants may continue to submit new and revised work in subsequent years, provided they remain unpublished and are not a previous winner in the same submission category.

  • All entrants are welcomed to attend local/regional chapters of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and are encouraged to form or join small critique groups​ for continuing professional feedback.

  • All entrants are welcomed to independently seek further support from others in the Tassy community.

Throughout its history, the Shoreline Arts Alliance and the Tassy Walden Awards have offered this fully inclusive program without restrictions related to ethnicity, faith, gender or sexual identity. We welcome entries from all unpublished CT residents aged 16 or older.

2022 Tassy Sponsors

Doe & Tom Boyle
Leslie Bulion
Mary-Kelly Busch
Kristina Giliberto
Mary-Kelly & Daniel Picchioni
Paul Shae


A Celebration of Tassy Success Stories

The Shoreline Arts Alliance and Tassy Founders celebrate the work of all Tassy Award winners and finalists who are now published. Please enjoy a visit to their websites and blogs.

Alice C. Bauer, Leslie Bulion, Leslie Connor, Abi Cushman,  Maggie DanaStacy DeKeyser, Betsy DevanyFrank DormerJulia DenosJeanne Zulick FerruoloDeborah FreedmanThea Guidone, Janae MarksLynda Mullaly HuntRolandas KiauleviciusAmanda MarroneMarilyn Taylor McDowell, Stacy Barnett Mozer, Nina Nelson, Nicole PanteleakosSteven ParlatoMartha Seif Simpson, Joyce A. StengelJane SutcliffeCat UrbainBrenna Burns-Yu, Karen Fortunati. Sam Taylor, Nancy Tandon, Anne Kubitsky, Gabriella Svenningsen

These winners and finalists have self-published their award-winning submissions: 

J.M. DatilloCheryl KlingJason Marchi


Illustration by Marcela Staudenmaier

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