SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Keynote and Panelist Bios

Back to Summer Spectacular

 

Kwame Alexander is the innovator-in-residence at the American School of London, and the New York Times bestselling author of 34 books, including Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book The Undefeated, How To Read a Book, Swing, Rebound, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal, and, his Newbery Medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. As the Founding Editor of VERSIFY, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, he aims to Change the World One Word at a Time.

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults. Combined, her books have sold more than eight million copies. Her new book, Shout, a searing memoir-in-verse, has received widespread critical acclaim and appeared on the New York Times best seller list for seven consecutive weeks. Laurie has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award three times. She was selected by the American Library Association for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English. Find out more about Laurie by following her on Twitter at @halseanderson, Instagram at @halseanderson, and Facebook at lauriehalseanderson, or by visiting her website, madwomanintheforest.com

Mac Barnett is a New York Times bestselling author of stories for children. His picture books include two Caldecott Honor-winning collaborations with Jon Klassen: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn. Mac and Jon also collaborated on The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse and the three Shapes Books: Triangle, Square, and Circle. Mac’s novels include the Mac B., Kid Spy books, the Brixton Brothers mysteries and the Terrible Two series. He lives in Oakland, California.

Stacey Barney is executive editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. She has edited New York Times bestselling The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh as well as Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winning Firebird by American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers. She has also edited Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning When the Ground is Hard by Malla Nunn and Edgar Award-nominated The Whispers by Greg Howard as well as New York Times bestselling Katherine Arden’s middle grade series, Small Spaces. Stacey has also edited award-winning authors Kristin Levine (The Lions of Little Rock), Tara Sullivan (The Bitter Side of Sweet), and New York Times bestsellers The Reader by Traci Chee and Happy by Pharrell Williams. This fall she welcomes a new picture book from Misty Copeland titled Bunheads and New York Times bestselling Ellen Hopkins’ middle grade debut, Closer to Nowhere

Judy Blume’s books have sold more than 85 million copies in 32 languages, and have been a touchstone for countless young readers, many of whom have been inspired, as grownups, to write their own books. Judy’s knowing voice and honesty come with a price: the American Library Association has consistently placed Blume at or near the top of its list of authors most frequently banned. In turn, she has championed intellectual freedom by working diligently with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to support teachers and librarians who fight to keep challenged books on their shelves. In 2009, the NCAC honored and paid tribute to Blume’s long standing defense of free speech and her courageous battles against all kinds of censorship. She was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2004 and the Library of Congress’ Living Legends Award in 2000. Judy is also the recipient of the 2017 E. B White Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as the 2018 Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Judy serves on the boards of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Key West Literary Seminar. Additionally, she is an advisory member of the boards for both the Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency and the author of Writing Great Books for Young Adults 2e (PRH) and Never Finished Never Done (Scholastic). Brooks is the agent behind many notable clients whose awards and honors include National Book Award, Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Michael Printz, Kirkus and a host of others.  Writer’s Digest magazine named her agency one of the top 25 literary agencies in the US.  She is on the board of the Association of Author Representatives and the Association of Writing Programs and a member of the National Book Foundation’s Book Council. Brooks is a consummate lover of all things aerospace so you may find her introducing kids to the joy of aviation and writing through her flying club, Brooklyn Aviation, and her nonprofit YBliterary. She can be found at serendipitylit.com or through her social media video series #booksbythenumbers @serendipitylit.

Linda Camacho is an agent at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. She  has a B.S. in Communication from Cornell University and an MFA in children’s writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Linda’s held various positions at Penguin Random House, Dorchester, Simon and Schuster, and Writers House. She is looking for MG, YA, and adult fiction across all genres (especially upmarket, women’s fiction/romance, and literary horror); she’s also seeking select picture book and graphic novel author-illustrators.

Caitlyn Dlouhy is vice president and editorial director of Catilyn Dlouhy Books an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Caitlyn’s drawn most toward voices unusual and unexpected, and her books have received great acclaim: a Newbery Medal and Honors, a National Book Award and Finalists, Printz honors, Coretta Scott King Awards and honors, Walter Awards, Edgar Awards and Christopher Medals, PEN USA Literary Awards, a Kirkus Award and finalists, a Pura Bel Pre Award, have topped New York Times bestseller lists (and the most banned books in America lists), and most recently Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds was named to the National Book Award Finalist. She has the great pleasure of working with Marjorie Agosin, Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathi Appelt, Jennifer Bradbury, Ashley Bryan, Doreen Cronin, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharon Draper, Candace Fleming, William Joyce, Heather Henson, Richard Jackson, Cynthia Kadohata, Betsy Lewin, Alison McGhee, Matt Mendez, An Na, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Jason Reynolds, Eric Rohmann, David Small, and Alicia Williams, just to name a few. Some of Caitlyn’s most recent and upcoming publications are: Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds; Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryan; A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata;  Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez; Blended, by Sharon Draper, Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams, Crankypants Tea Party by Barbara Bottner and Ali Barba; Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu,  and  Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer de Leon.

Jeff Kinney is the author of the wildly successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and lives in Massachusetts, where he owns a bookstore, An Unlikely Story.

Jon Klassen is an author and illustrator of books for children. His solo efforts include I Want My Hat Back, the Caldecott Medal-winning This Is Not My Hat, and We Found A Hat. His collaborations with Mac Barnett include Extra Yarn and Sam & Dave Dig A Hole, both of which won Caldecott Honors. Their other books include The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse and the three Shapes books: Triangle, Square, and Circle. His other solo work includes novel illustrations and set and production design for feature animated films and advertisements. He lives in Los Angeles, California but needs you to know he is Canadian.

Arthur A. Levine is the former head of Arthur A. Levine Books, a literary imprint of Scholastic, Inc. In 2019, he left Scholastic to form Levine Querido, his own independent publishing company with the mission of creating books that center on diversity, including people of color, Indigenous people, and LGBTQ individuals. Arthur is responsible for introducing North American audiences to the work of great writers such as Markus Zusak, Francisco Stork, Lisa Yee, Dan Santat, and of course, J. K. Rowling. He has proudly published books by Emma Donoghue, Daniel José Older, Mike Jung, Martha Brockenbrough, Sarah Moon, and Eric Gansworth, and has worked with artists that include the incomparable Shaun Tan and Kate Beaton, well-known masters such as Richard Egielski, David Small, and Komako Sakai, and talented illustrators at the start of their careers. Arthur is also an author whose most recent book is What a Beautiful Morning, illustrated by Katie Kath (whom he met at SCBWI LA!).

Grace Lin, a New York Times bestselling author-illustrator, won the Newbery Honor for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and the Theodor Geisel Honor for Ling and Ting. Her novel When the Sea Turned to Silver was a National Book Award Finalist and her picture book, A Big Mooncake for Little Star was awarded the Caldecott Honor. Grace is also an occasional commentator for New England Public Radio, a reviewer for the NY Times, a video essayist for PBS NewsHour, and the speaker of the popular TEDx talk, “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf,” as well as hosting the two podcasts: kidlitwomen* and Kids Ask Authors. In 2016, Grace’s art was displayed at the White House where Grace, herself, was recognized by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.  

Alvina Ling is VP and editor-in-chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (a division of Hachette Book Group) where she has worked since 1999. She edits children’s books for all ages, from picture books to young adult. She has edited such books as A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin; Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier; Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin; The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes; The Candymakers by Wendy Mass; The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan; Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor; and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. She Tweets with the handle @planetalvina and is on Instagram @alvinaling.

Meg Medina writes picture books, middle grade novels, and teen fiction. Her work features strong Latino characters, and examines the places where culture, family, and growing up intersect. Meg’s work has earned several distinctions, including the 2018 Newbery Medal for Merci Suárez Changes Gears (Candlewick 2018), which was also a Kirkus Prize Finalist and a Charlotte Huck 2018 honor book; the 2016 Pura Belpré Honor medal for her picture book, Mango, Abuela and Me; the 2014 Pura Belpré medal for her young adult novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass; and the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Medal for her picture book Tia Isa Wants a Car. Her 2016 YA novel, Burn Baby Burn, was longlisted for the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize. Meg is active in community projects that support girls, Latino youth, and writing. Meg serves on the advisory board of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators and also serves on the Advisory Committee for We Need Diverse Books, the grassroots organization working to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

Lin Oliver is the co-founder and executive director of SCBWI. She is also the author of over forty children’s books. With Henry Winkler, she writes the New York Times bestselling series Hank Zipzer: World’s Best Underachiever, which has sold over four million copies. Their chapter book series, Here’s Hank, is also a New York Times best seller. This year marks the launch of their new comedy series, Alien Superstar, from Abrams Books, which debuted at #5 on the New York Times best seller list. Lin’s collection of poetry, illustrated by Tomie dePaola, the highly praised Little Poems for Tiny Ears is a perennial for babies and toddlers.  The fifth and final volume of her Fantastic Frame chapter book adventure series from Penguin Workshop is a Christmas, 2019, release. A much-credited film and television writer-producer, Lin is also the recipient of the prestigious Christopher Award and the Eric Carle Mentor Award. Learn more at www.linoliver.com or follow Lin on Twitter @linoliver, or on Instagram @linoliver22.

Nancy Paulsen is the publisher of Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books. Her imprint publishes fifteen books a year and focuses on eye-opening, often funny picture books and middle grade fiction from diverse and distinct voices, especially stories that are inventive and emotionally satisfying. These are the kinds of books that are adopted in book clubs and appear on state lists, generated by the votes of children. New York Times bestselling picture books she has edited include The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez; Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler; and King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Bestselling fiction includes Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, National Book Award Winner Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, and this year’s Golden Kite Winner – The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman.

LeUyen Pham is the award-winning and critically acclaimed illustrator of more than one hundred books for children. LeUyen (pronounced Lay-Win) is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Julianne Moore’s picture book series, Freckleface Strawberry, Kelly DiPucchio’s picture book Grace for President, and Shannon and Dean Hale’s middle grade series Princess in Black. LeUyen is also the illustrator of God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look, the Vampirina Ballerina picture book series by Anne Marie Pace, and The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman.  Her more recent books include Caldecott Honor Book Bear Came Along by Richard Morris and Love is Powerful by Heather Brewer. LeUyen is also the author and illustrator of Big Sister Little SisterThere’s No Such Thing as Little, A Piece of Cake, All the Things I Love About You, and The Bear Who Wasn’t There. She has also contributed to the Piggy and Elephant Like Reading! book series with her book The Itchy Book.  She is also the co-creator, along with Shannon Hale, of the groundbreaking bestselling graphic memoirs Real Friends and Best Friends.

Neal Porter is currently vice president and publisher of Neal Porter Books at Holiday House. He has been in and around children’s book publishing for more than 40 years, holding marketing, administrative and editorial positions at houses such as Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Walker Books UK, and Roaring Brook Press, which he helped to found in 2000.  Books he has edited have received numerous awards and citations including the Caldecott Medal, Caldecott, Geisel and Sibert Honors as well as Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré and Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards and Honors. In 2015 he was awarded an Eric Carle Honor in the category of Mentor for his contribution to picture books.

Sir Philip Pullman is the author of nearly twenty books, mostly of the sort that are read by children. His first children’s book was Count Karlstein (1982, republished in 2002). That was followed by The Ruby in the Smoke (1986), the first in a quartet of books featuring the young Victorian adventurer, Sally Lockhart. His most well-known work is the trilogy His Dark Materials, beginning with Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the USA) in 1995, continuing with The Subtle Knife in 1997, and concluding with The Amber Spyglass in 2000. These books have been honored by several prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Award, and (for The Amber Spyglass) the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, the first time in the history of that prize that it was given to a children’s book. Philip was the 2002 recipient of the Eleanor Farjeon Award for children’s literature and the Astrid Lindgren Award, which he shared with the Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai. He was knighted for services to literature in the New Year’s Honors 2019. Sir Philip Pullman lives in Oxford. Further information can be found at www.philippullman.com.

Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Jason’s many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on the faculty of Lesley University for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

Dan Santat is a #1 New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of over one hundred titles which include The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend which won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 2015. Other titles include, Are We There Yet? and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again). He is also the creator of the Disney animated hit, The Replacements.

Jill Santopolo is the VP & associate publisher of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. She’s edited many award-winning and bestselling titles, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael Lopez, Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris and Mechal Renee Roe, and Girling Up by Mayim Bialik. When she’s not editing books, Jill is a New York Times bestselling author herself. Her adult novel The Light We Lost has hit multiple bestseller lists in the US and abroad and was Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club pick for February 2018. You can learn more about her at jillsantopolo.com or by following her on instagram or Twitter (@jillsantopolo).

Brooks Sherman is an agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates. He started his career in 2011 as an assistant at FinePrint Literary Management and worked his way up to literary agent, moving to the Bent Agency in 2014, and joining Janklow & Nesbit in 2017. Brooks’ clients include #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors. He is on the lookout for middle grade fiction of all genres (especially fantasy and contemporary), young adult fiction of all genres except paranormal romance, and character-driven picture books with an emphasis on humor. Across all categories, Brooks seeks projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot. Ones that make him laugh earn extra points! He is particularly drawn to stories that elevate marginalized voices and where contemporary social issues are either prominently centered or woven into the worldbuilding; he prefers nuanced narratives over “issue books,” in which characters confront such issues over the course of larger personal journeys. Find him onTwitter at @byobrooks.

Rosemary Stimola, a former independent children’s bookseller, founded the Stimola Literary Studio in 1997, a boutique agency representing fiction and nonfiction from preschool through young adult, and now expanded to include adult nonfiction and select adult fiction as well. She is honored to count among her clients many award-winning and bestselling authors and illustrators including Suzanne Collins, Matthew Cordell, Mary GrandPré, Thanhhà Lai, Karen McManus, Mary Pearson, James Ponti Tanya Lee Stone, and Renée Watson. (www.stimolaliterarystudio.com)

Heidi E.Y. Stemple didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was twenty-eight years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published about twenty-five books, including Counting Birds, Fly With Me, You Nest Here With MeNot All Princesses Dress In Pink, and two Fairy Tale Feasts cookbooks, as well as numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children. Her website is www.HeidiEYStemple.com.

Nic Stone is an Atlanta native and a Spelman College graduate. Her debut novel for young adults, Dear Martin, and her debut middle grade novel, Clean Getaway, were both New York Times bestsellers. She is also the author of Odd One Out, a novel about discovering oneself and who it is okay to love, which was an NPR Best Book of the Year and a Rainbow Book List Top Ten selection, and Jackpot, a love-ish story that takes a searing look at economic inequality. Dear Justyce, her eagerly-anticipated sequel to Dear Martin, will be published on September 29th. Nic lives in Atlanta with her family. Find her online at nicstone.info or @nicstone.

Julie Strauss-Gabel is the president and publisher of Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group. Julie works with authors including Ally Condie (Matched trilogy), Adam Gidwitz (The Inquisitor’s Tale), John Green (Turtles All the Way Down), John Grisham (Theodore Boone series), Nina LaCour (We Are Okay), Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss), Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine series), Lauren Wolk (Wolf Hollow), and Meg Wolitzer (Belzhar). Among the honors her books have received are the Printz Medal, the Printz Honor, the Newbery Honor, the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Edgar Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Raúl the Third (aka Raúl Gonzalez) is the Pura Belpré Medal Award-winning illustrator of the dynamic graphic novel Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, as well as the other graphic novels in the series, Lowriders in Space and Lowriders Blast from the Past. His new picture book, Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market, is getting rave reviews. Raul is now working on a YA graphic novel with David Bowles.

Namrata Tripathi is vice president & publisher of Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers dedicated to centering stories from the margins. Previously, Namrata held editorial positions at HarperCollins, Disney-Hyperion, and Simon and Schuster. She is the editor of the picture books My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña and Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison; the Newbery Honor-winning middle grade novel The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani; and the YA novels Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay and Noggin by John Corey Whaley, which were both National Book Award Finalists. Namrata grew up in Afghanistan, India, Canada, Pakistan, Germany, and Poland, and has happily called New York City home for the last twenty years. Follow her on Twitter: @Tweetpathi

Henry Winkler is an Emmy Award–winning actor, writer, director, and producer who has created some of the most iconic TV roles, including the Fonz in Happy Days and Gene Cousineau in Barry. In partnership with Lin Oliver, they have written over thirty books for children, including the HANK ZIPZER and HERE’S HANK series, which has sold over four million copies.  Their newest collaboration is the ALIEN SUPERSTAR trilogy from Abrams. 

Jacqueline Woodson is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young people, including Brown Girl Dreaming, her New York Times bestselling memoir that won the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. Other Coretta Scott King Awards include Miracle’s Boys, and other Newbery Honor books include FeathersAfter Tupac and D Foster, and Show Way. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Her adult books include the New York Times bestseller Red at the Bone and the National Book Award Finalist Another Brooklyn. She also served as the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Website: jacquelinewoodson.com   Facebook: Facebook.com/Jacqueline.Woodson  Twitter: @JackieWoodson  Instagram: Jacqueline_Woodson

Jane Yolen is the author of over 385 books and at least half of those are picture books. (She’s also written two cookbooks, six graphic novels, well over eighty novels, ten music books, lots of nonfiction, plenty of poetry collections, and has edited anthologies of short stories and poetry.) Along the way her work has garnered a Caldecott, Caldecott Honor, three SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, three Mythopoetic Awards, two World Fantasy Awards, and many state awards. She has been given six honorary doctorates for her body of work from colleges and universities, as well as the Kerlan Award, the De Grummond Medal, Smith College Medal, the Catholic Library Regina Medal, the Jewish Book Award, and an award from the Massachusetts Senate. She was the first writer to win the New England Public Radio’s Arts & Humanities Award, and the first woman to give the Andrew Lang lecture at the University of St. Andrews since the series began in 1927. http://janeyolen.com/