MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2019
Paula Chase Whyman grew up on a healthy diet of Judy Blume, Mildred Taylor and Francine
Pascale. Admiring authors of such differing styles resulted in a forever love of children’s fiction
of every variety. In 2006, she put finger to keyboard and created her own world of characters.
The result was her debut YA novel, So Not the Drama, the first in a five-book series about a
multi-cultural group of friends navigating the highs and lows of high school.
Growing up, Paula never thought about the lack of characters of color in popular fiction.
However, when her 10-year old daughter lost interest in reading she realized how frequently
children’s literature either stereotyped or simply left Black characters out. Dedicated to
increasing awareness to children’s books by authors of color, she launched The Brown
Bookshelf with authors Varian Johnson, Kelly Starling Lyons and Don Tate in 2007. The
initiative spawned 28 Days Later, a promotional campaign designed to highlight the work of
authors of color. She remains committed to ensuring that young adult and middle grade fiction
are both inclusive of the many different experiences of persons of color and a representation of
issues they encounter.