Picture Book Party Spring 2019
PBParty 21: Pauli’s Keys, Biography
Pauli's Keys: How One Woman and Her Typewriter Changed the World
Word Count:

Dear Michelle, Sharon, and Mindy:

Growing up in the Jim Crow South, African American activist Pauli Murray longed for fairness. But all she saw were signs telling her where she couldn’t go and what she couldn’t do. Determined to speak up against segregation, Pauli used her typewriter to challenge the most powerful people of her time to think differently. In the end, her legal arguments influenced Thurgood Marshall and helped end school segregation.

PAULI’S KEYS: HOW ONE WOMAN AND HER TYPEWRITER CHANGED THE WORLD is a 1,222-word picture book biography. Similar in theme to I Dissent by Debbie Levy and Between the Lines by Sandra Neil Wallace, this is the only picture book to date about lawyer, activist, poet and priest Pauli Murray. The text has been reviewed for historical accuracy by Murray’s biographer, Rosalind Rosenberg, and revised based on a critique from agent Alexandra Penfold. Backmatter (author’s note, bibliography, quotation sources) is included.

I am an active member of SCBWI and have participated in several conferences and a mentorship program. I am also a member of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. I have had three stories accepted and/or published in Highlights magazine, and one of my picture book manuscripts won 3rd place in the 2017 SCBWI Carolinas Art and Writing Contest. I have revised PAULI’S KEYS many times based on feedback from my critique group and cultural sensitivity readings from a critique partner.

I have several other manuscripts available upon request. Thank you for considering my work.


Long ago, in North Carolina, a little girl named Pauli Murray sat at the table with a head full of words and a heart full of sorrow. She knew she was expected to sit quietly. She knew she wasn’t supposed to question her elders. But when things weren’t fair, Pauli always spoke up.

  • I’d be happy to see this. Please embed full pb ms in email to me at (No attachments, please). Include some bio info, previous writing credits (titles of “Highlights” pieces). Tell me a bit about your other projects, too. Include “PB Party Request” in your header. (More about me: and

  • Asia Citro says:

    Is this an #ownvoices? If yes, I’d love to see the full mss. Please send it to with PBPARTY REQUEST in the subject line.

    • Anna O says:

      This is not #ownvoices. My critique partner, who is African American, grew up in North Carolina and lived through the Civil Rights Movement, has done multiple cultural sensitivity readings on this manuscript and given me tons of helpful feedback.

  • I’d love to see the manuscript. Can you please simply paste the entire manuscript into the body of an email message and please send it my way ( I’d also like to know a little bit about you—and any other information that you think might be helpful.

    Thank you very much, and I look forward to reading your picture book manuscript!

  • Clelia Gore says:

    I’m a former lawyer and am always interested in law and justice-related tales for kids. Feel free to send me a query with the full manuscript pasted in the body of the email to Please indicate #pbparty in the subject line with the title so I can spot you. Good luck!

  • I’d like to take a look at this! Please send a query letter and the manuscript as a Word document to Your query should contain: 1) synopsis, pitch, age range; and 2) a bio that describes your occupation, publishing history, social media presence, whether or not you are represented by an agent, and any other information relevant to your submission.

    Also, please include PBparty and my name in the subject line.

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This contest entry was posted on Wednesday, 27 March 2019.