New Voices in Children’s Literature:
Tassy Walden Awards

New Voices in Children’s Literature: Tassy Walden Awards, 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in 2001, is an annual competition that encourages and nurtures the creation of exceptional books for children by unpublished Connecticut writers and illustrators.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: Picture Book (text only), Illustrated Picture Book (author and illustrator must be the same person), Children’s Book Illustrator’s Portfolio, Middle Grade Novel, and Young Adult/Teen Novel

Who is Tassy Walden?

An accomplished champion of children’s literature, nonagenarian Katherine ”Tassy” Gessel Walden had been a generous member of the Connecticut 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.

How does it benefit the artist?

  • Manuscripts and portfolios submitted for this competition must adhere to guidelines and deadlines.
  • Work is reviewed by a panel of professionals in a two-tier judging process.
  • All submitted work that meets the guidelines will be read or reviewed by renowned literary agents and art agents at Tier 1.
  • Work deemed exceptional will be sent for review by Senior Editors and Art Directors at major publishing houses for children’s books.
  • Workshops are offered to review submission guidelines and address the current standards in the children’s book publishing industry. Workshop will be held at E. C. Scranton Memorial Library at 801 Boston Post Road in Madison on Monday, November 13, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. Reservations are requested and may be made by email to or by phone at 203-453-3890. Additional workshops may be added.
  • FAQ’s, Helpful Hints for Illustrators, How to Get Started Tip Sheet and Title Page Sample are provided for all submitters.
  • Shoreline Arts Alliance provides substantial marketing of finalists and winners.
  • Cash Awards of $250 are awarded at the discretion of the judges in each of the five submission categories.
  • Shoreline Arts Alliance hosts an Awards Ceremony and Reception. All are invited to attend.
  • You may continue to submit manuscripts, both new and revised, provided you are not the winner in a category. In some instances if you were a winner in one category you may be able to submit in a different category.
  • Artists are encouraged to seek out local/regional chapters of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and/or to join critique groups

How does it benefit the community?

  • Community is invited to celebrate the gifts of talented/passionate writers and illustrators of children’s books.
  • Presentation of portfolios or manuscripts of winners and finalists may be scheduled in public venues, i.e. libraries, schools, festivals.
  • Quality children’s books from Tassy winners and finalists may be published and available for sale.
  • Connecticut’s Center for the Book, a resource for all Connecticut residents managed by Connecticut Humanities, includes listings of CT writers and illustrators of children’s books.

How can you help?

  • Submit manuscripts and portfolios for judging.
  • Be a Sponsor or Donor or consider a Memorial Gift.
  • Purchase published books by Tassy Walden Award winners and finalists



Contact Info



Tassy award winning writers and illustrators now published or under contract for publication:

Alice C. Bauer, Leslie Bulion, Leslie Connor, Maggie Dana, Stacy DeKeyser, Betsy Devany, Frank Dormer, Julia Denos, Deborah Freedman, Thea Guidone, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Rolandas Kiaulevicius, Amanda Marrone, Marilyn Taylor McDowell, Nina Nelson, Steven Parlato, Martha Seif Simpson, Jane Sutcliffe, Cat Urbain, Brenna Burns-Yu.


The following winners or finalists have self-published their award-winning submission: J.M. DatilloCheryl Kling, Jason Marchi.