Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators




(For Bios of the Up Close with Publishing Professionals faculty, click HERE)


Chad W. Beckerman is an illustration and literary agent at The CAT Agency. Chad brings over 20 years of illustration and design experience to the Agency. After studying illustration as an undergrad at RISD, Chad went on to be a designer at Scholastic, a senior designer at Greenwillow Books, and then became the creative director at ABRAMS Kids and Comic Arts, where he spent 13 years overseeing the design of 250 books a year–from picture books to novels to graphic novels, and art and entertainment books. Chad is behind the aesthetic for over forty New York Times best-selling and award-winning books, including the blockbuster Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney; the Caldecott honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning Trombone Story, illustrated by Brian Collier; and the Newbery Medal honor books El Deafo and Heart of the Samurai. Chad’s greatest joy is working with illustrators, and as an agent he is busy building each illustrator’s brand and cultivating a unique group of artists who are inspiring and innovating in children’s literature. Chad represents illustrators and author-illustrators from all over the globe who create artwork for all ages and genres.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton is an acclaimed illustrator. She attended both SVA and FIT of New York, where she studied fashion and children’s illustration. An artist swathed in retro chic, she loves all things vintage–especially books and clothes from the 40’s through the 60’s–and it shines through in her designs, which run the gamut of fun and whimsical to stylish and sophisticated. She loves to add unique touches to her work, including mixed media accents, collage, and hand lettering. Vanessa was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. Being part of a diverse, tight-knit community during such turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

Before Jemiscoe “Jem” Chambers-Black joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency, she was an assistant director for film and television. Her love for books prevailed, and she went back to school to study English Literature and Creative Writing in Fiction and earned her MFA. She represents illustrators, picture book authors and author-illustrators (by referral only), MG, YA, GN, and adult authors. She is all about happily ever afters and really connects to love stories, in whatever form they come.

Erica De Chavez is a Filipino-American children’s book designer by day for HarperCollins Publishers and by night transforms into a freelance author-illustrator. She is the illustrator for the indie-published middle grade advice book The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship by Annie Fox, and contributed over 40 fun stickers to The Future Is Ours: Feminist Stickers to Express Yourself by Duopress Labs. Her latest publication, a picture book, Mighty May Won’t Cry Today by Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo, is a National Indie Excellence Award finalist.

Maria Elias is an art director with Rise x Penguin Workshop. She has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Maria’s career began in news and magazines. Once in books, Maria designed adult books for a decade before moving on to Children’s at Disney Hyperion and later Workman Publishing. In 2019, she co-founded Rise x Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Maria’s work has been recognized by AIGA, the Type Directors Club, and others. She also writes about design and is a proud member of the LatinX/Latine in Pub community.

Samantha Fabien (she/her) is a literary agent at Root Literary. Before joining the Root team, Samantha worked at Laura Dail Literary Agency as a literary agent and international rights manager. Her background includes a Bachelor’s in PR and Journalism, a certificate from the Columbia Publishing Course, and internships/part-time work at Ayesha Pande Literary, Writers House, and Chalberg & Sussman. From these experiences, Samantha has fostered her love for sharing diverse, lasting, and inclusive stories with the world–both in the U.S. and abroad. For more information, you can visit her website: or follow her on social media as @samanthashnh on Instagram and Twitter.

Michelle Frey is an executive editor at Knopf.  She has worked on best sellers like Eragon by Christopher Paolini and Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long, and award winners like The Penderwicks and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Then there are the perennial favorites such as the Lunch Lady graphic novel series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Before her tenure at Knopf, Michelle worked closely with Christopher Myers on his Make Me a World imprint which published books such as National Book Award Finalist Pet by Akwaeke Emezi, National Book Award Longlist title Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo, and My First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huynh Kim Liên. 

Stephanie Garber is the #1 NYT and international best-selling author of the Caraval series and Once Upon A Broken Heart. Her books are published in over thirty languages. 

Farrin Jacobs is editorial director and vp at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She has edited a variety of fiction and nonfiction, including New York Times best sellers Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, and Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by author/illustrator Vashti Harrison;  I Am Malala and We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai, as well as the picture book Malala’s Magic Pencil;  I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch; and Printz-winner Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

Thao Le is an agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She represents picture books and graphic novels by author-illustrators, middle grade fiction, and young adult across genres, as well as science fiction/fantasy and select romance for adults. In the picture book realm, she’s excited to work with illustrators who write their own picture books and is most drawn to art that is emotive and vivid. Her tastes tend towards stories that are character driven, witty, progressive, and end with a twist. In middle grade and YA, whether in prose or graphic novel format, she’s currently seeking contemporary stories that are witty, heartfelt, and authentic. She’s especially drawn to stories about family and friendships from the POV of diverse protagonists. She’s a fan of young characters who are passionate about the arts, sports, STEM, activism, and geeky fandoms. She adores stories with a touch of magic and whimsy, and is a fan of mythology and fairytales. In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook and tight plotting. She is actively seeking underrepresented voices (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.

Emma Ledbetter (she/her) is the editorial director of picture books at Abrams Books for Young Readers. She joined Abrams in 2018 following eight years at Simon & Schuster, and some other things before that, including a particularly delightful summer interning on SpongeBob SquarePants at Nickelodeon. She has worked with many award-winning and best-selling authors and illustrators and is honored to have edited acclaimed picture books including Christian Robinson’s author-illustrator debut, Another; the New York Times bestselling Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham; Jillian Tamaki’s Eisner Award-winning Our Little Kitchen; and the New York Times best-selling Quiet by children’s book legend Tomie dePaola. She looks for a wide range of fresh, diverse, insightful picture books and is especially fond of Edward Gorey, Ruth Krauss, and Frances the Badger. See some of the books she’s edited and books she loves at—bonus points if you can decipher her Frances-related Twitter and Instagram handle, @brdnjamforemma.

Juana Martinez-Neal is the recipient of the 2019 Caldecott Honor for Alma and How She Got Her Name (Candlewick Press), her debut picture book as an author-illustrator. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Medal and American Indian Youth Literary Honor for Fry Bread: A Native American Story (Roaring Brook) and the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration for La Princesa and the Pea (Putnam/Penguin). Her latest picture book, Tomatoes for Neela (Viking), debuted on the NYT’s Bestseller List.  Juana is also the illustrator of A Perfect Fit: How Lena “Lane” Bryant Changed the Shape of Fashion (Clarion) and I Don’t Care (written by Julie Fogliano and co-illustrated with Molly Idle, Neal Porter Books), both forthcoming in 2022. 

James McGowan is an associate agent and children’s author. He has been with BookEnds, in some capacity, since the summer of 2015. He started as an intern, and as the joke goes: they couldn’t get rid of him. James is a Staten Island native, and holds a Master’s Degree in English from the College of Staten Island. He’s been a reader since his first Scholastic book order. His debut picture book, Good Night, Oppy, launched in Fall 2021 from Astra Books for Young Readers. James represents illustrated projects in board books, picture books, and middle grade. His list features authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators. He also is seeking adult nonfiction and select adult fiction. To find out more about how to submit to James and what he’s looking for, please visit the Submit to James page. You can query him on QueryManager. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

Denene Millner is the editorial director of Denene Millner Books, an imprint that publishes stories featuring Black children and families, by Black authors and illustrators. In her imprint’s debut year, Denene published Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, one of the most decorated picture books of 2018. Her debut list at S&S earned a second Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award Honor for Illustration when she published Cozbi A. Cabrera’s Me & Mama, along with the NAACP-nominated Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, and Wings of Ebony, a YA fantasy book that debuted on the New York Times best seller’s list. Denene is also a six-time New York Times best-selling author, Emmy Award-nominated TV show host, and award-winning journalist who has written 31 books, among them the picture book Early Sunday Morning. The Atlanta-based editor and mom of two is interested in stories that celebrate the humanity of Black children. 

Victo Ngai (倪傳婧) is an LA-based illustrator from Hong Kong. She works on projects ranging from editorial, advertising, movie, packaging, to books. She is the recipient of Forbes 30 Under 30 (Art and Style), 5 times Society of Illustrators New York Gold Medal, and the Hamilton King Award. Her latest picture book Wishes, authored by Mượn Thị Văn, was named the best picture book of 2021 by Bookpage. 

Kristen Nobles has worked in children’s books for over twenty years as a publisher, art director, and designer at independent publishing houses including Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and Page Street. Currently, as an art director at Charlesbridge Publishing, she loves to collaborate with debut talent on strong characters, stories with heart, or a surprising spin on the tried-and-true subjects of kid books. She graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in Communication Design and Art History, and has pursued further studies at SVA, Harvard, and Mass Art.

Brian Selznick broke open the novel form with his innovative and genre-breaking books creating an entirely new reading experience. He is the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of the #1 New York Times best sellers The Invention of Hugo Cabret, adapted into Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning movie Hugo; and Wonderstruck, adapted into the eponymous movie by celebrated filmmaker Todd Haynes, with a screenplay by Selznick; as well as the New York Times best sellers The Marvels and Baby Monkey, Private Eye, co-written by David Serlin. Most recently, he illustrated the 20th anniversary paperback edition covers of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. His books have garnered countless accolades worldwide, and have been translated into more than 35 languages. Scholastic recently announced it will publish Selznick’s spellbinding new novel Kaleidoscope, a multi-layered story about love and loss told over the course of twenty-four chapters, each featuring an iconic black and white graphite illustration by Selznick.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books. She serves as the Katherine Paterson Inaugural Endowed Chair on the faculty of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Cynthia is also the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate and a New York Times best-selling author of books for young readers, including Hearts Unbroken, which won the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award. Her 2021 releases are the middle grade anthology Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories For Kids and novel Sisters of the Neversea. Cynthia is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and lives in Austin, Texas.

Victoria Tentler-Krylov is an architect and children’s illustrator and author.  Her books include Just Read! (2019, Sterling), The Cyclops of Central Park (2019, G.P. Putnam, Ezra Jack Keats illustrator honor), We Are A Garden (2020, Schwartz & Wade), and Sanctuary (2022, Candlewick). Her first author-illustrator book, Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid, came out in 2020 from Scholastic and was selected as an Amazon Editors’ Choice. Her next two author-illustrator picture books, to come out in 2023 and 2024, will be A Park to Look Up To: Story of New York’s High Line and Venice (both from Abrams). Victoria’s inspiration for storytelling is fueled by architecture and urban landscapes. Her other passion is experimenting with digital and traditional art tools and pushing the boundaries of watercolor digitally. 

Lesley Worrell is senior designer at Tor/Forge Books/Macmillan in New York, NY. Her recent work focuses on teen sci-fi/fantasy fiction. Lesley studied at NYU and Parsons School of Design, and formerly worked at St. Martin’s Press and Penguin Random House. Her designs have been recognized by She Designs Books and Spine Magazine.

Kelly Yang is the New York Times best-selling author of the Front Desk series, including Front Desk, Three Keys, and Room To Dream, New From Here, and young adult novels Parachutes and Private Label. Front Desk is Kelly’s award-winning middle grade debut novel about a 10-year-old Chinese American immigrant girl who manages the front desk of a motel while her parents clean the rooms. Front Desk was awarded the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal, was the 2019 Global Read Aloud, and was named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, an NPR Best Book of the Year, and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.

Paula Yoo is a book author, screenwriter, and musician. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement (Norton Young Readers) was nominated for the 2021 National Book Award Longlist: Young People’s Literature. Her book won the 2021 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and was selected as a 2021 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard and the 2021 Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best YA. It has received 5 starred reviews and national coverage in The New York TimesTIME, NPR, The Today Show, NBC News, and Good Morning America. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry is also the National Education Association (NEA) “Read Across America” YA book selection for May 2022. Her other books include Good Enough (HarperCollins), 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 (Lee & Low Books). Her TV credits range from NBC’s The West Wing to The CW’s Supergirl, and she has sold TV pilots and feature scripts. She is also a former journalist (The Seattle TimesThe Detroit News, and PEOPLE). When she’s not writing, Paula is a professional freelance violinist. Website:

Cecilia Yung is executive art director and vice president at Penguin Books for Young Readers, where she oversees illustration and design for two imprints, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Nancy Paulsen Books. She is fortunate to have worked with some of the major illustrators of children’s books, but the highlight of her work is to discover and develop new talent. She is on the  Advisory Council of SCBWI, as well as a member of its Illustrators Committee.