Linda Johns/ June 4, 2019/ Books, National Book Festival, Washington authors

ALL ARE WELCOME is Washington state’s book selection for the 2019 National Book Festival.

We are delighted to share that the Washington Center for the Book has selected Seattle illustrator Suzanne Kaufman’s picture book All Are Welcome to represent Washington state at the 2019 National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. The book wil be featured at the Washington state booth and in Festival materials.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school. Written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufmann (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018), the story follows a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms.

The book began with an illustration that Kaufman did after an announced travel ban in 2016. “My daughters’ school, Kimball Elementary on Beacon Hill in Seattle, is comprised predominately of immigrant families from all over the world, from many different religious backgrounds,” Kaufman says. “I wanted the kids in my community and all children to know they are safe and welcome at their schools.” Kaufman designed a poster and made it available for librarians and teachers to download at no charge. The poster and the illustration of the kids  — all modeled after children Kaufman knows — spread quickly on social media. 

Around the same time, the author, Alexandra Penfold, received a letter (as did all the other NYC school parents) about how the schools would protect students’ right to receive an education and not turn over any immigration information. There are 25 different languages and dialects spoken in her son’s school and 80% of children speak a language other than English at home. That night before she went to sleep, she saw someone had shared Suzanne’s poster on social media. It was one of the last things she peeked at before going to bed.  She also felt the strong urge to put something out there that’s reassuring to these same kids and woke up in the middle of the night with an idea for a story to go with the poster.

The result is this marvelous picture book, where the joy and celebration comes through on every page. The fact that it was inspired by a local community and has a universal message made it an easy choice to represent Washington state at the National Book Festival.

In addition to the New York Times best-selling picture book All Are Welcome, Suzanne Kaufman is the author/illustrator of Confiscated! She has also illustrated Take Your Pet to School Day, 100 Bugs! A Counting Book, Naughty Claudine’s Christmas, and Samanthasaurus Rex. She is the recipient of The Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship as well as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Mentorship and Portfolio Honors.

She lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about Suzanne Kaufman on her website www.suzannekaufman.com.