Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators



Pro Intensive | Launchpad Intensive | Main Conference | Illustrators Intensive


For Pitch Roundtable faculty bios, click HERE 



Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and the New York Times bestselling author of 35 books, including Swing, Becoming Muhammad Ali, co-authored with James Patterson, and Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. Others include Rebound, which was shortlisted for the prestigious UK Carnegie Medal, The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book, The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and, his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In 2018, he founded the publishing imprint VERSIFY and opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. He is the writer and executive producer of The Crossover TV series on Disney plus.


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 memoir-in-verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesto for the #MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and was Laurie’s eighth New York Times bestselling book. Two of her novels, Speak and Chains were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie Medal in the United Kingdom. Laurie has been nominated for Sweden’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award four times. Laurie was selected by the American Library Association for the 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 visiting her website at


Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell have written and/or illustrated more than 50 books, including El Deafo, the Origami Yoda series, and Inspector Flytrap. Sometimes together, sometimes apart, but almost always collaborating in some way. And they’re STILL married!


Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and published the following books for kids and teens: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, and Believe, a young MG series, The Wish List as well as the Crystal Kite winner, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books), illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Forthcoming books include Brand New Bubbe (Charlesbridge) and a picture book biography of Bella Abzug, Battling Bella (Calkins Creek, Boyds Mills & Kane).


Jessixa Bagley is an award-winning children’s book author-illustrator. She is a fine artist, comics creator, and illustrator with a BFA in painting and printmaking. Jessixa also professionally speaks and teaches about picture book writing and illustrating to all ages. Her love of drawing anthropomorphic woodland critters is inspired by growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Her debut picture book Boats for Papa won the 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best picture book text as well as the Washington State Book Award for Children’s Books. Her picture book Laundry Day received a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Award for writing. Many of her author-illustrated picture books are Junior Library Guild selections, including her most recent picture books Henry and Bea and Daisy. Jessixa often illustrates for other artists and also collaborates with her artist husband, Aaron Bagley. She is represented by Alexandra Penfold at Upstart Crow Literary. 


Claudia Zoe Bedrick is the publisher, editor, and art director of Enchanted Lion Books, an award-winning, independent publisher based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. A graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe College and, first and foremost, a reader, her sense of hope is nourished every day by the unfettered minds and creativity of children everywhere.


Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency in 2009. It has since grown to 14 agents, representing all genres of children’s and adult literature, with offices in New York City and London. Her list is wide-ranging—from YA to commercial fiction to select nonfiction—and includes numerous New York Times bestselling authors.


Sophie Blackall is an award-winning illustrator of over 45 books for children, including the New York Times best-selling Ivy and Bean series, the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner, Finding Winnie, and the 2019 Caldecott Medal winner, Hello Lighthouse, which she also wrote. She is the four-time recipient of The New York Times Best Illustrated Picture Book Award and has worked with UNICEF and Save the Children, the UK, on global health and literacy initiatives. Originally from Australia, she now splits her time between Brooklyn, New York, and the Catskill Mountains, where she is building a retreat for the children’s book community called Milkwood Farm.


Valerie Bolling is the author of the 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award-winning Let’s Dance! (March 2020) and has been an educator for 28 years. Since her book was released a week before the pandemic shutdown, she engaged in virtual storytimes and author panels. Immersed in the writing community, Valerie is on the faculty at Westport Writers’ Workshop, serves as the co-chair of the NESCBWI Equity and Inclusion Team, and is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, NCTE, and ILA. She is also a 2020 WNDB Mentee and a member of Kid Lit in Color, Black Creators in Kid Lit, Soaring 20s PBs, PB Crew 22, 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, and two picture book critique groups. Valerie has two books scheduled for release in 2022 and five more slated for 2023. Visit Valerie Bolling’s website here.


Alex Borbolla joined Simon & Schuster in April 2015 as managing editorial assistant but was drawn more to story editing than copyediting, so she moved down the hall to Atheneum in May 2016. She is drawn to picture books ranging from irreverent to heartfelt; middle grade that balances tough subjects with light, accessible narratives; and YA with a strong voice that has something to say. She is particularly passionate about #OwnVoices representation for the disabled and Latinx communities. Alex earned a B.A. in English and Communications from Rollins College and holds an M.S. in Publishing from NYU.


Angeline Boulleyan enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She is a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Angeline lives in southwest Michigan, but her home will always be on Sugar Island. Firekeeper’s Daughter, an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, is her debut novel.


Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency. Her agency is the largest African American-owned agency in the country and has represented and established a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. Her authors have appeared in USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as on Oprah, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSBNC, TV One, BET, and a host of others. In 2015, Publishers Weekly nominated Regina Brooks as a PW Star Watch Finalist, and she was honored with a Stevie Award in Business. Writer’s Digest Magazine named Serendipity Literary Agency as one of the top 25 literary agencies. Formerly, she held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons (where she was not only the youngest but also the first African American editor in their college division) and McGraw-Hill.        


Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer, and educator. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works: Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, & Black Girl Magic. As the founder of the diverse lit initiative, Woke Baby Book Fair, Browne is excited to release her newest poetry collection responding to the impact of mass incarceration on women and children: I Remember Death By Its Proximity to What I Love (Haymarket Books).


Cozbi A. Cabrera received a BFA from Parsons School of Design. Her cloth dolls (Muñecas) have garnered the attention of collectors around the world and have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She is the illustrator of several books, including the picture book Beauty, Her Basket, which Publishers Weekly called “a quiet treasure” in a starred review. Her work is featured in her eponymous shop and atelier in Brooklyn. She lives in New York City. To learn more about Cabrera, please visit her at


Dana Carey is an author/illustrator. She earned a degree in fine arts and graphic design and, later, a teaching certificate. She teaches English to adults and university students but, between classes, dedicates as much time as possible to writing and illustrating. She serves SCBWI France as Assistant Regional Advisor organizing webinars, writer/illustrator retreats, regional conferences, and workshops. As International Illustrator Coordinator, she advises SCBWI Illustrator Coordinators in regions outside the US and assists in the organization of the Portfolio Showcases for the International Winter and Summer Conferences. She also interviews illustrators for a monthly blog post called The Postcard Post for the Sub It Club, a support group for authors and illustrators.


Nancy Carpenter has illustrated more than 60 children’s titles, including: Mother Jones and Her Army of Mill Children; Queen Victoria’s Bathing MachineApples to Oregon17 Things I’m Not Allowed to do Anymore; Loud Emily and her most recent, The Great Stink. Her books have received numerous awards, including several ALA Notable Awards, The Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards, two Christopher Awards, and The Parents’ Choice Award. Nancy is best known for her ever-evolving multimedia technique as well as her irreverent takes on parenting, pedagogy, and historical figures.


Nancy Castaldo has been writing books about our planet for over twenty years. Her award-winning titles include Sniffer Dogs and Back from the Brink. She is the recipient of two SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards. Her work has been published by National Geographic, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Quarto, and others. Nancy will add more nonfiction books to her bookshelf in 2022 – including When the World Runs Dry and The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale.


Kayla Cichello is an agent at Upstart Crow LiteraryShe brings to Upstart Crow Literary nearly a decade of experience in children’s publishing. A former Conference Coordinator for the International Summer and Winter Conferences for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she most recently logged several years as assistant to Senior Agent Jennifer Rofé at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She is open to a wide range of books, from picture books through young adult novels, and is especially keen to discover #Ownvoices stories and champion new creators of tomorrow’s classics. For picture books she is drawn to animal protagonists with humor and heart (think I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt) and stories with an environmental hook. For Middle grade and YA, she loves dark humor, rich worldbuilding, well-crafted mysteries, and contemporary rom coms with a clever twist.


Antonio Gonzalez Cerna is the marketing director at Levine Querido. He has 15 years of experience developing marketing, advertising, and social media strategies for adult and children’s book publishers such as Hachette Book Group, Penguin Books USA, Scholastic, and non-profit institutions, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Lambda Literary Foundation. An advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equality, he has proudly served on the Children’s Book Council Diversity Committee, Lambda Literary Awards Host Committee and is a founding member of Latinx in Publishing. 


Ruth Chan is an illustrator, and author of books including Where’s the Party?, Georgie’s Best Bad Day, The Alpactory: Ready, Pack, Go!, Thank You, Neighbor!, and Hard-boiled Bugs for Breakfast written by Jack Prelutsky. Prior to illustrating full-time, she spent a decade working with youth and families in underserved communities.


Nidhi Chanani is a freelance illustrator, cartoonist, and writer. She is also an instructor in the Master of Fine Arts, Comics program at the California College of Arts. Her debut graphic novel, Pashmina (First Second/Macmillan), released in fall 2017. It received starred reviews in the School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and was reviewed in the New York Times. In March of 2019, the film adaptation of Pashmina with Netflix was announced. Gurinder Chadha (Bend it like Beckham, Blinded by the Light) is set to direct. In 2018, Jasmine’s New Pet, which she wrote and drew, released through Dark Horse Comics. Her bilingual board book, Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend, released in 2019. Her debut picture book, written by Bea Birdsong, I Will Be Fierce, released in April 2019. Her next picture book, Binny’s Diwali, written by Thrity Umrigar, released in September 2020. Her second original graphic novel, Jukebox, will release in June 2021.


Ernesto Cisneros is an author who was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, where he still teaches. He holds an English degree from the University of California, Irvine, a teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University. As an author, he believes in providing today’s youth with an honest depiction of characters with whom they can identify. His book, Efrén Divided, has garnered 4 Starred Reviews: An Indies Introduce/Next Pick, Amazon Top MG of 2020 So Far list, and is a ProjectLit Selection and 2020 Poppy Award in MG as well as the prestigious 2021 Pura Belpré Medal.


Lesa Cline-Ransome’s first book was the biography Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book and a Bank Street College “Best Children’s Book of the Year.” She later created Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, Young Pele, Words Set Me Free, Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong and Germs: Fact and Fiction, Friends and Foes, Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel Payne, Not Playing by the Rules: 21 Female Athletes Who Changed Sports and Overground Railroad. Her verse biography of Harriet Tubman, Before She Was Harriet received five starred reviews, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and received a Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. Her debut middle grade novel, Finding Langston, was the 2019 winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and received the Coretta Scott King Award Author Honor. The sequel, Leaving Lymon, released in Spring 2020. Lesa’s books have received numerous honors and awards, including NAACP Awards, Kirkus Best Books, ALA Notable, CBC Choice Awards, two Top 10 Sports Books for Youth, and an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. Visit her at


Matthew Cordell is the Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator of Wolf and the Snow and the illustrator of numerous highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Only Fish in the Sea and Special Delivery (both by Caldecott Medal-winning author, Philip C. Stead), First Grade Dropout and Second Grade Holdout (both by Audrey Vernick), The Knowing BookBob Not BobIf the S in Moose Comes LooseRock ‘n’ Roll Soul, and the wildly popular Justin Case series. Matt is also the author and illustrator of many celebrated picture books, including Another BrotherWishDream, and Hello! Hello!


Kandace Coston is the associate editor at Lee & Low Books. She grew up in the Bronx, New York, where she spent her weekends at the library reading stories and writing her own. After graduating from Barnard College, Columbia University, she won an internship grant from We Need Diverse Books and joined the Lee & Low team. Kandace enjoys working with new authors and illustrators and helping their projects grow into published picture books. She has had the great pleasure of working on the L&L picture books Sumo JoeThe Unstoppable Garrett Morgan, and The Electric Slide and Kai, which received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews! Professionally and personally, Kandace loves strong female protagonists and any story that can make her laugh.


Mary Claire Cruz (she/they) is a children’s book designer and associate art director at Penguin Workshop, a team within Penguin Young Readers. While Mary Claire primarily designs books for the Workshop list, as an art director, they oversee the design of Penguin Young Readers Licenses and Mad Libs. They’ve designed for all ages, from picture books and fully-illustrated chapter books to middle grade, YA, and graphic novels. Some favorite recent projects include Wow in the World: The How and Wow of the Human Body and the upcoming graphic novel ParaNorthern.


Pat Cummings is the author and/or illustrator of over 40 books. She teaches children’s book courses at Pratt Institute, and Parsons and her summer Children’s Book Boot Camp brings writers and illustrators together with top editors, art directors, and agents. Pat also serves on the boards of SCBWI, the Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund, and as Chair of the Founders Award Jury for the Society of Illustrators’ annual Original Art Show. Her latest books include her debut middle grade novel, Trace, from HarperCollins and Where is Mommy?, a picture book from Holiday House. Find her at or on Twitter @PatCummingsBook


Mike Curato is the author and illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. His debut title, Little Elliot, Big City, released in 2014 to critical acclaim, has won several awards and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now five books in the Little Elliot series, including Little Elliot, Big FamilyLittle Elliot, Big FunLittle Elliot, Fall Friends; and Merry Christmas, Little ElliotMeanwhile, Mike had the pleasure of illustrating What If… by Samantha Berger, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, The Power of One written by Trudy Ludwig, and contributed to What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends, Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song, and Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love. Publishers Weekly named Mike a “Fall 2014 Flying Start.” In the same year, he won the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Founder’s Award. In 2021, Mike’s debut young adult graphic novel, Flamer, was awarded a 2021 Golden Kite Award Honor for Illustrated Book for Older Readers by The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.


Adriana Dominguez is an agent at Full Circle Literary Agency. Prior to becoming an agent, she was executive editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she managed the children’s division of the Rayo imprint and Children’s Reviews editor at Críticas magazine, published by Library Journal. Adriana represents children’s picture book and middle grade fiction and select children’s nonfiction, as well as a growing roster of exceptional illustrators. She has a long trajectory of publishing underrepresented authors and illustrators and happily welcomes and nurtures submissions that offer diverse points of view. Books that she has edited or represented have received a variety of awards and become both national and international bestsellers.


Dr. Elizabeth Dulemba is an award-winning author, illustrator, speaker, blogger, and educator with over two dozen books to her credit, including her debut novel, A Bird on Water Street, which garnered her Georgia Author of the Year and fourteen literary awards. Her latest picture books were written by New York Times best-selling author Jane Yolen. Dulemba spent six years as Illustrator Coordinator for the Southern Breeze SCBWI region and five years as a board member for the Georgia Center for the Book. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Georgia, an MFA in Illustration from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and just completed her Ph.D. in Children’s Literature from the University of Glasgow. She is currently working as Associate Professor of Illustration at Winthrop University in South Carolina, and in the summers is Visiting Associate Professor in the MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating programs at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Watch her TEDx Talk, “Is Your Stuff Stopping You?” with over a million views on YouTube. Learn more at and sign up for her newsletter in which she offers giveaways and has been interviewing authors and illustrators for over a decade.


Kait Feldmann is senior editor at HarperCollins, specializing in picture books and graphic novels. She was previously an editor at Scholastic and claims to have been a bookseller at Vroman’s Bookstore (but technically was employed to sell pens). She is also the Director of Special Projects for People of Color in Publishing and was a recipient of the 2020 CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Award. Kait lives in Los Angeles in a hoarder’s paradise, surrounded by books.


Feather Flores (she/her) is an assistant editor. She has worked on the children’s editorial team at Chronicle Books in San Francisco since 2018. A lifelong writer and bibliophile and one of the first recipients of the We Need Diverse Books internship grant, she is deeply committed to championing books by and about people from marginalized communities. Feather is drawn to stories that provide a window into the beauty and diversity of the human experience: the humor, the emotion, the curiosity, the magic. Her list encompasses both fiction and nonfiction titles in various formats, everything from board books and picture books to middle grade and graphic novels. You can find her talking about what she’s reading on Instagram (@plumarosareading) or getting excited about things on Twitter (@featherfully). Website:


Marla Frazee was awarded a Caldecott Honor for All the World, and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Picture Book for her wordless book The Farmer and the Clown—the first book in the newly released Farmer Books trilogy. She is the author-illustrator of The Boss Baby; now an Oscar-nominated DreamWorks animated feature film and television series, the book’s sequel The Bossier Baby, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award-winning picture book Little Brown, as well as many others. A graduate of ArtCenter College of Design, where she’s also taught, Marla works in a small backyard cabin under an avocado tree.


Saho Fujii is a senior art director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She has designed a wide range of books, including picture books, board books, activity and novelty books, middle grade and young adult novels. She currently oversees the LBYR’s picture book list. She has worked with many award-winning illustrators, including Sophie Blackall, Bryan Collier, Michaela Goude, Molly Idle, LeUyen Pham, Jerry Pinkney, John Rocco, and Javaka Steptoe. She lives in New York City.


Eddie Gamarra is VP, Literary Affairs for Viacom, CBS’s Kids & Family Studio. Working across the Nickelodeon and Awesomeness TV brands, Eddie identifies and acquires Intellectual Property for both animated and live-action film and television. Prior to ViacomCBS, Eddie was a Literary Manager at The Gotham Group, a multi-faceted management and production company representing some of the most creative and successful screenwriters, directors, animators, authors, illustrators, and publishers around the world. He worked with numerous New York Times best-selling authors and illustrators as well as Oscar, Emmy, Caldecott, and Newbery award winners and nominees. He was also the Executive Producer of The Maze Runner trilogy from 20th Century Fox based on the New York Times best-selling book series, as well at Disney+’s production of Jerry Spinelli’s iconic love story Stargirl. Dr. Gamarra received his BA from Vassar College, a master’s from NYU, and a MA/Ph.D. from Emory University.


Donna Gephart is an award-winning author whose middle grade novels include: Abby, Tried and True, The Paris Project, In Your Shoes, Lily and Dunkin, Death by Toilet Paper and others. Her first picture book, Go Be Wonderful, released from Holiday House with a starred review from Publishers Weekly. A former creative writing teacher, Donna is a popular speaker at schools, conferences, and book festivals. Visit her online at


Nikki Giovanni is one of this country’s most widely read poets and one of America’s most renowned poets worldwide. Her poem, Knoxville, Tennessee, is arguably the single literary work most often associated with that city. Giovanni has received numerous awards in the course of her career, including seven Image Awards from the NAACP, more than two-dozen honorary degrees, the first Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award, the Langston Hughes Medal for Poetry, and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award; additionally, Oprah Winfrey recognized her in 2005 as one of twenty-five “Living Legends.” She continues to teach, write, and publish books, the most recent of which is A Good Cry. Her newest collection, Make Me Rain, was released in October of 2020.


Chloe Gong is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and international relations. She is the New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and its sequel Our Violent Ends. You can find her on Twitter @TheChloeGong or check out her website at


Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2020 ALAN Award for significant contributions to young adult literature, the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Medal for substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. The author of Coretta Scott King Author Award-winner Bronx Masquerade, and recipient of five Coretta Scott King Author Honors, her most recent titles include the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title Between the Lines, companion to Bronx Masquerade, NCTE Notable Book Words With Wings, the 2018 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book Garvey’s Choice, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor One Last Word, Printz Honor, and Sibert Honor Ordinary Hazards, a memoir in verse, Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, ALA Notable Southwest Sunrise, Kirkus Best Book Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, and IMAGE Award Nominee Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice. Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California.


Bruce Hale is an Edgar-nominated author-illustrator. He is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to open books (and actually read them).  He has written 70 seriously funny books for children, including the award-winning Chet Gecko MysteriesSnoring Beauty (one of Oprah’s Recommended Reads for Kids), and the Clark the Shark books, one of which ended up in a McDonald’s Happy Meal (not the way you think). Bruce’s newest novel, Switched, was inspired by his dog, Riley. A recovering actor, singer, and Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented nationally and internationally at conferences, universities, and schools.


Shannon Hale is the New York Times bestselling author of over thirty children’s and young adult novels, including and multiple award winners, The Goose Girl, Book of a Thousand Days, and Newbery Honor recipient Princess Academy. With illustrator LeUyen Pham, she created the graphic novel memoirs Real Friends, Best Friends, and Friends Forever; the picture book Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn; and the chapter book series The Princess in Black. On the latter, she co-wrote with her husband Dean Hale, as well as on many graphic novels like Rapunzel’s Revenge (an Eisner-nominee, illustrated by Nathan Hale); Diana, Princess of the Amazons (illustrated by Victoria Ying); and Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (illustrated by Asiah Fulmore).


Kirsten Hall is the founder and owner of Catbird, a NYC-based boutique children’s book illustration and literary agency. Of notable recent success at Catbird are the growing Jory John & Pete Oswald “Food Group” series, which includes five New York Times bestsellers and a Children’s Choice Gold Award; Michaela Goade’s We Are Water Protectors, the 2021 Caldecott award winner; Chris Sasaki’s Paper Son, winner of the 2021 ALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Best Picture Book; Felicita Sala’s She Made a Monster and Isabelle Arsenault’s Just Because, both recent New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year; Kerascoet’s I Walk With Vanessa, a Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year and also Malala’s Magic Pencil, a collaboration with Malala Yousafzai and winner of the ALA Jane Adams Award; and the Fan Brothers’ several multi-award winning picture books including The Barnabus Project, which just won Canada’s 2021 Governor General’s Award for Best Illustrated in Young People’s Literature. Kirsten is also an author herself, having penned The Jacket (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), The Gold LeafThe Honeybee (a Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor) and Snow Birds (an NCTE Notable Poetry Book of the Year).


Deborah Halverson is the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and Writing New Adult Fiction, as well as numerous teen novels, books in a series for struggling readers, and a picture book. Formerly an editor at Harcourt Children’s Books and now a freelance editor specializing in picture books and young adult/middle grade fiction and nonfiction, Deborah has been working with authors—bestsellers, veterans, debut, and aspiring—for twenty-five years. She is also the founder of the popular writers’ advice site and serves on the advisory board for the UC San Diego Extension Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating certificate program.


Vashti Harrison is a #1 New York Times bestselling author-illustrator originally from Onley, Virginia. She has a background in cinematography and screenwriting and a love for storytelling. She received her MFA in Film and Video from CalArts, where she rekindled a love for drawing and painting. Now, utilizing both skill sets, she is passionate about crafting beautiful stories for children and young adults in the kidlit world. She is the author and illustrator of the best-selling middle grade books Little Leaders, Little Dreamers, Little Legends, and the illustrator of the best-selling picture books Hair Love by Matthew Cherry and Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, which received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Vashti is also a two-time recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children. Hello, Star, written by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, is forthcoming in September 2021. @vashtiharrison 


Leah Henderson is the author of the middle grade novels The Magic in Changing Your Stars, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award finalist, and One Shadow on the Wall, a Children’s Africana Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book. Her picture books include Mamie on the MoundTogether We March, and the forthcoming A Day for Rememberin’, Daddy Speaks Love and Your Voice, Your Vote. Her writing is also including in the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America and Calling the Moon. Leah holds an MFA in Writing and is on faculty in Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. You can find her on Twitter @LeahsMark or at her website:


Saritza Hernandez is a literary agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Saritza came to agenting from a publishing industry background and currently represents over 25 writers and illustrators from underrepresented communities creating works in picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult (fiction and nonfiction). 


Zara González Hoang is an obsessive scribbler, daydreamer, and doodler. A hopeless pantser with pictures and words, she is perpetually changing things up to figure out the best way to get what’s in her brain out on paper. Her debut book as an author and illustrator, A New Kind of Wild, was published by Dial Books in April 2020 and was a Spring IndieNext Pick. She is also the illustrator of Thread of Love (Beach Lane Books, 2018), and Mi Casa is My Home. (Candlewick Press, 2021). Visit her at:


Ellen Hopkins is a former journalist, current poet, and the award-winning author of 20 nonfiction books for children, two middle grade novels, four novels for adults, and fourteen New York Times bestselling young adult novels-in-verse. 


Tiffany D. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of YA novels, including the Coretta Scott King — John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning Monday’s Not Coming, the NAACP Image Award-nominated AllegedlyLet Me Hear A Rhyme, GROWN, and her forthcoming 2021 titles Blackout, White Smoke, and Santa in the City. She received her Bachelor of Arts in film from Howard University, her Master of Arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. 


Milena Jahier is a professional illustrator. After earning her degree in Illustration at the European Institute of Design (IED) in Milan and Turin, she worked in several creative fields such as mural painting, design, and packaging. Her illustrations have been published by numerous companies and publishers of picture books, magazines, cards, and posters. Recently, her debut picture book as both the author and illustrator, The Greatest Gift, was published by Grimm Press (Taipei). A few years ago, fascinated by the possibility of creating and distributing interactive and multi-language content without having to learn how to code, she redesigned one of her picture book projects, Let’s Go Lex!, and turned it into an interactive, multi-language storybook app with narration, music, games and self-published it on the app stores. 


Allyn Johnston is VP & Publisher of Beach Lane Books, a San Diego-based children’s-book imprint of Simon & Schuster that she founded on April Fool’s Day, 2008. Among the authors and illustrators with whom she works are Mem Fox, Lois Ehlert, Marla Frazee, Jeanette Winter, Jonah Winter, Mark Teague, Linda Davick, Cynthia Rylant, Arthur Howard, Debra Frasier, Jan Thomas, Lauren Stringer, Mary Lyn Ray, Amy Schwartz, and K. L. Going.


Cecily Kaiser is the early childhood publishing director of Penguin Random House’s Penguin Workshop. She joined Penguin Young Readers in 2019 with a mission to create books of the utmost importance for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She launched the RISE x Penguin Workshop imprint in fall 2020, with a focus on empowering 0-5 year-olds with authentic, relevant, and elegant books. She oversees the World of Eric Carle imprint and Ladybird program as well. Cecily was previously the children’s publisher at Phaidon Press, and prior to that, launched the Appleseed imprint for 0-5 year-olds at Abrams Books. She began her career 20 years ago at Scholastic, first as a Book Clubs manager and then as editorial director of the Cartwheel imprint for 0-6 year-olds. Cecily holds a degree in child development from Tufts University and a Master’s in Business from NYU Stern. She is devoted to her young readership, bringing a developmental perspective to her editorial work and a commitment to ingenuity.


Naz Kutub was born and raised in Singapore and currently resides in Los Angeles. He is pretty sure his ADHD is his superpower and believes it is the only thing stopping him from becoming a supermodel: that and his unhealthy obsession with fried chicken. Oh, and there’s also this whole writing thing he can’t seem to shake off. The Loophole (Spring ’22, Bloomsbury) is his debut novel.


Tricia Lawrence is an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA). She is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA—born and raised in Oregon and now lives in Seattle. After 22 years working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kid’s books to college textbooks, but mainly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist. As an agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with character.


Mihn Lê is the award-winning picture book author of Lift (a Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2020) and Drawn Together (winner of the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature) illustrated by Caldecott-medalist Dan Santat, The Perfect Seat illustrated by Gus Gordon, and Let Me Finish illustrated by Isabel Roxas. He is also the author of Green Lantern: Legacy (his debut middle grade graphic novel for DC Comics) and appears in the anthology, The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth.  


Michelle Leo is VP, Director of Education & Library Marketing at Simon and Schuster. She is the daughter of two librarians and spent a lot of her childhood in libraries. A graduate of Fordham University, she spent a year in France teaching English to French high school students before beginning her career at Simon & Schuster where she’s worked for 23 years.


Arthur A. Levine founded Levine Querido in April 2019. His passionate belief in the importance and rich potential of voices long overlooked by American publishing continues to be the guiding light at Levine Querido. This mission resulted in the introduction to North American audiences of the work of great writers such as J. K. Rowling, Markus Zusak, and Jaclyn Moriarty, and more recently, the stunning art of Peter Van den Ende, and a new wave of South American talent led by Alejandra Algorta (Neverforgotten) and Francisco Montaña Ibáñez (The Immortal Boy). LQ’s belief that Americans see only a microscopic portion of the great writing and illustration in other countries is intimately connected with our search for the equally under-represented, powerful, unique voices and visions from the multitude of cultures closer to home, such as Daniel Nayeri (Printz Medalist for Everything Sad Is Untrue) and Darcie Little Badger (Elatsoe). In addition to overseeing the company, Arthur edits between eight and ten books annually.


Tiff Liao is a senior editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She’s had the pleasure of editing authors, including New York Times best-selling author Tomi Adeyemi, Jess Rothenberg, Margaret Owen, K.D. Halbrook, Henry Lien, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, and Tochi Onyebuchi, among others. She acquires young adult and middle grade fiction of all stripes, with a particular love for fantasy. She (mostly) tweets about bookish things at @tiff_liao.  


Laurent Linn, art director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, collaborates on picture books, middle grade, and teen novels with both celebrated and new illustrators such as Tomie dePaola, Vashti Harrison, and Raúl Colón. He is also the author-illustrator of the critically acclaimed young adult novel Draw the Line. Laurent is on the SCBWI Board of Advisors and is the artistic advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York. Laurent began his career as a puppet designer and builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for productions, including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films. He eventually became the creative director for the Sesame Street Muppets, winning an Emmy Award.    


Malinda Lo is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of several books, including the historical novel Last Night at the Telegraph Club, which received eight starred reviews. Her debut novel Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book for Children and Teens. She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She can be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, or at her website,


Torrey Maldonado is the author of the critically acclaimed Tight, Secret Saturdays, and What Lane? Torrey writes what kids, educators, and critics say is current, real, universal, and timeless. NYC’s current and former Chancellors have praised Torrey as a top teacher and author. His middle grade books consistently receive ALA Quick Pick YA awards. Tight won a humanitarian Christopher, was voted by both The Washington Post and NPR as a Best Book.


Melissa Manlove is an executive editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She has been with Chronicle for fifteen years. Melissa acquires books for all ages in nonfiction and ages 0-8 for fiction. When acquiring, she looks for fresh takes on familiar topics as well as the new and unusual. An effective approach and strong, graceful writing are important to her. She also has nineteen years of children’s bookselling experience.


Barbara Marcus is a leading business and marketing strategist in children’s content and distribution. She is currently president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books, the world’s largest children’s trade publisher. Previously, Barbara was strategic innovations advisor to Penguin Books USA. Before her tenure at Penguin and Random House, Barbara was president, Scholastic Children’s Book Publishing and Distribution, where she, among other revenue-building ventures, led the publishing effort for six out of the seven Harry Potter titles. Ms. Marcus serves on the Advisory Board of First Book; the Board of Directors of Graham Windham; the Board of Directors of the Women’s Forum of New York; and the Executive Publishing Committee of UJA. 


Janae Marks is the middle grade author of the bestselling debut From the Desk of Zoe Washington, named a Best Book of the Year by Parents Magazine, Book Riot, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Chicago Public Library, and the Boston Globe. Her second novel A Soft Place to Land, releases in Fall 2021. She has an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School and lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter. Find her online at


Alice B. McGinty is the award-winning author of almost 50 fiction and nonfiction books for children, including Jr. Library Guild Selection, The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation (March 2021, Schwartz and Wade Books, illustrated by Shonto Begay), and six upcoming books including Step By Step (August 2021, Simon and Schuster, illustrated by Diane Goode) and Bathe The Cat (Fall, 2021, Chronicle Books, illustrated by David Roberts). Alice has successfully supported herself as a writer for the past ten years. This summer, she celebrates the 10th anniversary of Words on Fire Writing Camp for Teens, which she established and leads. Alice is an SCBWI Regional Adviser Emerita of the Illinois Chapter, a presenter, writing coach and tutor, book reviewer, freelance writer, mom, and last but not least, a traveler. You can find her at, and    


Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. An award-winning author and educator, Heather uses yuck appeal to engage young minds. Her nonfiction has received recognitions from NCTE, Junior Library Guild, and VOYA, as well as earning the Alabama Book of the Year. She credits this success to knowledge gained from SCBWI. Recent and upcoming titles include: Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their KidsWho Gives a Poop? Surprising Science from One End to the Other, and What’s in Your Pocket? Collecting Nature’s Treasures.


Erin Murphy is an agent who represents writers and writer-illustrators of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and strong nonfiction. Her favorite reads feel timeless, have strong voices, and express unique creative visions. Because of her full client list, she rarely signs new writers or illustrators, but she is particularly interested in adding cultural diversity to her client list. Erin founded EMLA (Erin Murphy Literary Agency) in Flagstaff in 1999. She cut her teeth in regional publishing at Northland Publishing/Rising Moon Books for Young Readers; a beloved decades-old Flagstaff company bought out in 2007, where she was editor-in-chief. As founder of EMLA, she has focused not just on publishing books but on building careers—and creating a sense of community. In 2016, she relocated the agency headquarters to southern Maine.


Michelle Nagler oversees the Random House imprint of Random House Children’s Books US which publishes for every age in every format, from baby through young adults. The imprint is home to long-running series and brands including Step Into Reading, Magic Tree House, Babymouse, Hilo, and Uni the Unicorn; and authors and illustrators as beloved and varied as this year’s Newbery-winner Tae Keller, Kristen Bell, Emily Winfield Martin, Chris Grabenstein, Jennifer L. Holm, and Tamora Pierce. In addition to overseeing the editors and the list, Michelle acquires and edits a select number of titles and works closely with the licensing division on projects that cross into trade, like the Stranger Things novel program. Prior to joining Random House, Michelle was editorial director at Bloomsbury Children’s. She began her career at Simon Pulse and Scholastic, so her heart still beats for long-running commercial series. 


Daniel Nayeri was born in Iran and spent some years as a refugee before immigrating to Oklahoma at age eight with his family. He is the author of several books for young readers, including Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story) and Straw HouseWood HouseBrick HouseBlow: Four Novellas. He is a former publisher and pastry chef.


Debbie Ridpath Ohi is an illustrator who received many rejections before getting her first big break (and a book contract!) at an SCBWI conference, where her art was discovered in the portfolio showcase by Simon & Schuster’s Justin Chanda. Debbie is the author and illustrator of Sam & Eva and Where Are My Books? (Simon & Schuster). Her illustrations and/or writing have appeared in many books, including titles by Judy Blume, Linda Sue Park, and Michael Ian Black. I’m Sorry, written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie, launches from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Aug/2021. You can find out more at as well as on Twitter at @inkyelbows, Instagram at @inkygirl, and Youtube at @debbieohi


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 bestsellerThis year marks the launch of the second book in their new comedy series, Alien Superstar, from Abrams Books, which debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list. Lin’s collection of poetry, illustrated by the late 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 or follow Lin on Twitter @linoliveror Instagram @linoliver22.


Linda Sue Park is the author of many books for young readers, including the 2002 Newbery Medal winner A Single Shard and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent title is The One Thing You’d Save, a collection of linked poems. The daughter of Korean immigrants, Linda Sue serves on the advisory boards of We Need Diverse Books, SCBWI, and the Rabbit hOle: Children’s Literature Museum Project. She also created the website, a listing of kids’ books by Korean Americans & Korean diaspora. Linda Sue knows very well that she will never be able to read every great book ever written, but she keeps trying anyway. Visit her website at; follow her on Twitter @LindaSuePark.


Hallie Patterson is the associate director of Children’s Publicity at ABRAMS. With over a decade of experience in children’s book publicity, Hallie oversees all media outreach across Abrams Children’s Books and its publishing programs. She leads the extensive author tour and event program, coordinating hundreds of author events across the country each year.  She works with mega-bestselling ABRAMS authors, including Jeff Kinney, Bill Nye, and Savannah Guthrie. Hallie previously held positions at Hachette Books, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Disney-Hyperion.


Darcy Pattison writes, and indie publishes award-winning fiction and nonfiction books for children. Her works have received starred PW, Kirkus, and BCCB reviews. Awards include the Irma Black Honor award, five NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, Eureka! Nonfiction Honor book, two Junior Library Guild selections, two NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts, and a 2021 Notable Social Studies Trade Books. She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature.


Ann Whitford Paul is the author of the revised and expanded Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication and of over twenty picture books, including the popular series If Animals Kissed Good Night, If Animals Said I Love You, If Animals Celebrated Christmas, and If Animals Went to School, If Animals Gave Thanks, If Animals Tried to be Kind. Upcoming in 2022 If Animals Trick or Treated, (all illustrated by David Walker). Due out this fall: Who Loves Little Lemur? illustrated by Jay Fleck. 


Erica S. Perl is well-known as the award-winning author of more than thirty books for children and teens. Her next book is When Carrot Met Cookie, illustrated by Jonathan Fenske (Penguin, 2021), followed by Truth or Lie: Cats!, illustrated by Michael Slack (Random House, 2021). What is less well-known is that Erica is also an aspiring illustrator. In April 2020, she launched an Instagram account for her journal in cartoons (@ESPscrawl). Erica also co-wrote and illustrated a forthcoming middle grade novel with Alan Silberberg, and recently held her own in her first Illustrator Smackdown (with Shanda McClosky and Jenin Mohammed). Visit her at


Beth Phelan is an agent at Gallt & Zacker Agency. She is a winner of the inaugural CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Award, a Publisher’s Weekly Notable Person of the Year Reader’s Pick, twice-nominated for The Ignyte Community Award for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre by the inaugural IGNYTE Awards, and a Publisher’s Weekly Star Watch Honoree. Beth is also the Founder, President, and Executive Director of DiverseVoices, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization. She created #DVpit, a Twitter pitch event for marginalized creators, in April 2016, and DVcon, a free virtual conference for marginalized book creators. 


Tanusri Prasanna is an agent at DeFiore and Company. As an immigrant with a family filled with varied backgrounds, Tanusri is drawn to books featuring diverse voices, protagonists, and settings. She enjoys well-plotted middle grade and young adult fiction written with heart and humor and smart, funny, and meaningful picture books. In the nonfiction space, she looks for voice-driven narratives that excite the imagination and curiosity of young readers. Tanusri is currently seeking MG and YA of all types and picture books from author-illustrators. You can learn more about her list and submission guidelines at and follow her on Twitter @TanusriPrasanna.


James Ransome is an award-winning illustrator of over seventy books. He received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrations for The Creation, and he has received several Coretta Scott Honors for many of his other books. James is also the recipient of The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award, the NAACP Image Award for Illustration, and an ALA Notable Book recipient. His body of work received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York in 2001, and The Children’s Book Council named him one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. 


John Rocco is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including How We Got to the Moon, an ALA Sibert Honor winner, and National Book Award longlist selection, as well as Blackout, recipient of the Caldecott Honor. Rocco has illustrated the covers for all of Rick Riordan’s internationally bestselling series, including Percy Jackson and the Olympians, as well as the illustrations for Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods and Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. Rocco lives in Rhode Island with his wife, daughter, and a menagerie of pets. 


Jennifer Rofé is an agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She works primarily in the middle grade and picture book spaces, and she especially loves working with author-illustrators and illustrators. Overall, she seeks masterful writing, distinct voices and perspectives, and richly developed characters (if she is completely consumed by your characters, she will follow them anywhere). In middle grade novels, she is open to all genres– literary, commercial, contemporary, magical, fantastical, historical, and everything in between. She especially appreciates stories that make her both laugh and cry, and that offer an unexpected view into the pre-teen/teen experience. In picture books, she likes funny, character-driven projects; beautifully imagined and written stories; and milestone moments with a twist. Ultimately, she longs to have an emotional response to the ending of a picture book – be it a guffaw, hurrah!, or a heart-tug. In illustration, she seeks unique voices and perspectives with a voice so strong that it’s immediately recognizable as belonging to the creator. Jennifer is currently accepting queries from only middle-grade writers (if in addition to middle grade you write in other children’s categories, such as YA, you are welcome and encouraged to query), author-illustrators, and illustrators. She currently accepts YA queries through conference events or by referral only.


Pam Muñoz Ryan is an American author and the 2018 U.S. nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. She is the author of Echo, a Newbery Honor book, and the recipient of the Kirkus Prize. She has written over forty books, including the novels Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi León, Riding Freedom, Paint the Wind, The Dreamer, and Echo. She is the author recipient of the National Education Association’s Civil and Human Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for Multicultural Literature, and is twice the recipient of the Pura Belpré Medal and the Willa Cather Award. Other selected honors include the PEN USA Award, the Américas Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, and the Orbis Pictus Award. Many of her stories reflect her half-Mexican heritage.


Nadia Salomon writes picture book, middle grade, and graphic novel manuscripts with themes of South Asian and Caribbean culture, STEM concepts, nonfiction subjects, and humor. She is an active member of SCBWI. She is the winner of the 2020 SCBWI Service Award and the 2019 SCBWI WOOP Honor Award for work of outstanding progress on her nonfiction, picture book biography manuscript, Myrlie: A Voice of Hope.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Public Policy from Emerson College and has worked in television and print news.


Dan Santat is a #1 New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of over one hundred titles, including 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


Tammi Sauer, is a full-time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has 30 picture books with more on the way. In addition to earning starred reviews, Tammi’s books have gone on to do great things. Chicken Dance: The Musical is set to tour the nation, Wordy Birdy is a Kids’ Indie Next List book, the 2021 Book Choice for Read Across Oklahoma, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. To learn more about Tammi and her books, visit and follow her on Twitter @SauerTammi.


Gary D. Schmidt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning The Wednesday Wars and the Printz Honor and Newbery Honor-winning Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, as well as novels such as Okay for Now; Pay Attention, Carter Jones; Orbiting Jupiter; and most recently, Just Like That. His picture books include So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom and Almost Time. He teaches creative writing at Calvin University and Handlon Prison.


Heather E. Schwartz is an author, producer, and performerShe has written books and created content for publishers and brands, including Scholastic, Disney, Time for Kids, the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and NASA. With 150 children’s titles to her credit, she has won awards, including the Jefferson Cup Honor Award, the Eureka! Gold Award, the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, and the NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.


Ruta Sepetys is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over thirty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television. Ruta is an SCBWI success story and credits SCBWI for her path to publication. 


Karol Ruth Silverstein (she/her/disabled) is a screenwriter and writer of various genres of children’s books. Karol’s debut young adult novel, Cursed (Charlesbridge Teen), was loosely drawn from her experience of being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at thirteen. A funny, frank, and unsentimental take on the “sick kid” genre, Cursed won the prestigious Schneider Family Book Award in 2020. Karol has identified as disabled since the age of 21 and is active on the Writer’s Guild of American West’s Disabled Writers Committee. Learn more about her on Twitter @KRSilverstein, Instagram @KRSilverstein2019, and at


Ronald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novels, Black Panther: The Young PrinceThe MesmeristThe Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, and Gloomtown. His first novel, Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His next book, Where the Black Flowers Bloom, is due out in the fall of 2021. 


Sherri L. Smith is a writer, an Enchantivist, and the founder of Story Forest, a liminal space where writers follow the old tales to find their own path. She is the author of nine award-winning fiction and nonfiction books for young people, including the 2021 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Award winner, The Blossom and the Firefly, and the California Book Awards Gold Medalist, Flygirl.  Her novels appear on multiple state reading lists and have been named Amelia Bloomer, Junior Library Guild, Children’s Book Council, Southern California Independent Booksellers Award, and American Library Association Best Books for Young People selections. She also writes comics, including Wonder WomanBart Simpson Comics, and James Cameron’s Avatar.  Sherri holds a certificate in the Art of Archetypal Fairy Tale Analysis from the Assisi Institute, and a certificate in Enchantivism from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she is currently studying Applied Mythology. Enchantivism is a form of “activism for introverts” that uses deep storytelling, mythology, dreams and the environment to enact positive change in the world. Sherri teaches in the MFA Writing Program at Goddard College and the MFA in Children’s Writing Program at Hamline University. She is the 2021 Mina Hohenburg Darden Visiting Professor at Old Dominion University.  

Learn more at │ Instagram: @rhymeswithcapri │ Twitter: @Sherri_L_Smith


Christina Soontornvat is the award-winning author of over a dozen books for children of all ages. Her picture books include The Ramble Shamble Children, illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo, and Simon at the Art Museum, illustrated by Christine Davenier. She is the author of the beloved Diary of an Ice Princess chapter book series. Her recent works include the middle grade fantasy, A Wish in the Dark, which was named a 2021 Newbery Honor book and was chosen as Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and School Library Journal, and All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, which has received numerous nonfiction awards and was also named a 2021 Newbery Honor Book.


Traci Sorell is a 2021 Tulsa Artist Fellow and the award-winning author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (which is a Sibert, Orbis Pictus, Boston Globe-Horn Book, and American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor book); At the Mountain’s Base (AIYLA Honor book); and co-wrote Indian No More which won the AIYLA Middle Grade category and was the 2020 Global Read Aloud selection for upper elementary. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives on her tribe’s reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. Her 2021 nonfiction, middle grade titles include Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer, and We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know. 


Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us and A Room Away from the Wolves, both finalists for an Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel, among other novels and short stories. She co-edited the YA short story & craft anthology FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA, published by Algonquin in 2020. She teaches creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania and currently lives in Philadelphia. You can find her online at and as @novaren on Twitter and Instagram. 


Jennifer Swanson is the award-winning author of over 45 nonfiction books for children, a teacher, STEAM blogger, and a STEAM podcast host. Jennifer’s passion for science resonates across her entire STEAM-focused brand, particularly for her books Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact and BEASTLY BIONICS, which both won Florida Book Awards as well as her Save the Crash-test Dummies, which won a Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Jennifer has presented at multiple SCBWI regional conferences, the Highlights Foundation, National NSTA conferences, the Atlanta Science Festival, the World Science Festival, and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. You can find Jennifer through her website


Shaun Tan grew up in Perth and works as an artist, writer, and filmmaker in Melbourne. He is best known for illustrated books that deal with social and historical subjects through dream-like imagery, widely translated throughout the world and enjoyed by readers of all ages. Shaun is the recipient of an Academy Award for the animated short film The Lost Thing, the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden, and the Kate Greenaway Medal in the UK.


Don Tate is an award-winning author and illustrator of books for children. He has illustrated Carter Reads the Newspaper (Peachtree Publishing, 2019), No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas (Knopf, 2018), Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, 2016), The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans, 2015), and many others. He is also the author of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree, 2015); It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw (Lee & Low Books, 2012). Forthcoming titles include William Still and his Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railroad (Peachtree Publishing Company, Nov. 2020) and Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, written by Suzanne Slade (Little Brown, Nov. 2020). Don is a founding host of The Brown Bookshelf –a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers; and a one-time member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature.


Brent Taylor is a senior agent for children’s and YA books at Triada US. He joined the agency in 2014 and has since built a list of bestselling, award-winning books for young readers. In addition to his role as an agent, he manages the agency’s subsidiary rights. He describes his reading tastes as upmarket: he’s passionate about books for young readers that are extremely well-written, robust with emotion, and appeal to a wide, commercial audience. Find him online at


Aiden Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author of Cemetary Boys with an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Originally from Oakland, California, he now makes his home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans, Latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media.


Jennifer Vassel is the author and founder of I Am Unique! — a children’s book series and self-love brand aimed to inspire kids and adults to rise above their insecurities and share their unique gifts with the world. In 2014, she published her debut book entitled, My Channeled Energy — a collection of poems and short stories written from age 6-26, becoming an Amazon #1 bestseller in two categories. Her main focus now is building the I Am Unique! brand. Her work has been featured in national online publications such as Forbes, Black Enterprise, Thrive, Essence, and Good Day LA. I Am Unique! has touched the lives of children across the U.S. and internationally — reaching countries like France, the Philippines, England, Kenya, and Uganda. Jennifer is a Southern California native who holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University and a master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University. She is a board member of STUK Designs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides self-love and art programming for girls of color in underserved communities worldwide.


Padma Venkatraman is the author of the ALA Notable book The Bridge Home (winner of a Golden Kite, Crystal Kite, Walter Dean Myers, and South Asia Book Awards), and A Time to Dance, Island’s End, and Climbing the Stairs (all of which were also released to starred reviews and won multiple awards and honors). In addition to writing, Padma has taught writing workshops and presented keynote addresses and participated in panels worldwide. Her next novel, Born Behind Bars, is on pre-order now and scheduled for September release by Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin). Visit Padma at, @padmatv (twitter) and venkatraman.padma (ig, fb).


Lisa Yee’s Millicent Min, Girl Genius, won SCBWI’s first Sid Fleischman Humor Award. Since then, she has written 21 more novels, including Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, and Warp Speed, about a Star Trek geek. In addition to her American Girl books and Bobby series illustrated by Dan Santat, Lisa also writes YA. DC Super Hero Girls is her most recent series, and her newest middle grade novel, Maizy Chen’s Last Chance, debuts in February.


Phoebe Yeh is VP and publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Crown Books for Young Readers publishes reader-centric books that inspire curiosity and wonder about the world for toddlers to teens. Crown seeks to develop new voices and new formats with a special focus on Own Voices, illustrated fiction and graphic novels, and creative nonfiction by pop culture icons, newsmakers, scientists, and historians. Authors published by Crown include Lincoln Peirce, Jeffrey Brown, Geoff Rodkey, Nic Stone, Ellen Oh, Jeff Zentner, Megan Miranda, transgender activist Jazz Jennings, actress and designer Skai Jackson, astronaut Scott Kelly, and MSD High School students from Parkland. Books Phoebe has edited include Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne, Isiah Dunn is my Hero, and The Swag is in the Socks by Kelly J. Baptist; and Marcus Makes a Movie by Kevin Hart.


Paula Yoo is an author, screenwriter, and musician. Her latest YA nonfiction book, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement (Norton Young Readers/W.W. Norton & Co. Publication Date: April 20, 2021), is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and received *Starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA/Booklist. Her other books include the YA novel Good Enough (HarperCollins 2008), an Asian/Pacific American Award for Youth Literature honor book, and the IRA Notable picture book biographies Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, and Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank from Lee & Low Books. She has also written three books for Lee & Low’s “Confetti Kids” early reader series and has a chapter book series coming out in 2022 from Lee & Low. As a TV writer/producer, her credits range from NBC’s The West Wing to The CW’s Supergirl, and she has sold multiple TV pilots and feature scripts. She is also a former journalist (The Seattle Times, The Detroit News, and PEOPLE Magazine). She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in English, an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College, where she was the recipient of the Larry Levis Fiction Fellowship.


Marietta Zacker is an agent at Gallt Zacker Literary Agency. She has worked with books, authors, and illustrators throughout her career. Marietta takes pride in her work as a Latina, always on the lookout for visual and narrative stories that reflect the world we live in and make readers feel. Marietta looks for a book in which young readers can identify with the actions and reactions of the characters, not the perspectives of the author or illustrator. Diversity in the story must be inherent and authentic, not trendy. Books she is championing this year include I is for Immigrants by Selina Alko, Boogie Boogie Y’all by C.G. Esperanza, ¡Mambo Mucho Mambo! by Dean Robbins, Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne, Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar, Marshmallow and Jordan by Alia Chau., Twitter: @AgentZacker and @GalltZackerLit, Instagram: @AgentZaker and @GalltZacker.


Paul O. Zelinsky‘s illustrations have won wide acclaim and many awards, including the Caldecott Medal for his retelling of Rapunzeland three Caldecott Honors: for Hansel and GretelRumpelstiltskin, and Swamp Angel.  He also conceived and created the much-loved mechanical book The Wheels on the Bus. Trained as a painter, Paul turned to illustration when he realized that his greatest satisfaction comes from telling stories through pictures. He is known for the wide variety of styles and genres his books display, ranging from the classically painted fairy tales to the silly and popular Z is for Moose to the Expressionist-inspired pictures for All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah He has illustrated books written by such esteemed authors as Beverly Cleary, Lore Segal, and Carl Sandburg. Paul is proud to be a member of SCBWI’s Advisory Board. His newest book, to be published by Levine Querido in October of 2021, is Red and Green and Blue and White, written by SCBWI’s own Lee Wind.