PAL Faculty

Anne Appert

Anne Appert (they/them) is a nonbinary author/illustrator who spent their childhood with their nose stuck in a book, while their wild imagination transformed their New Jersey backyard into faraway places. Now, their imagination turns their dreams into words and pictures for children. Anne’s picture books include BLOB and WHAT IF YOU WISH?, both from HarperCollins. They are also illustrating the chapter book series Zoomi & Zoe by Corey Ann Haydu, publishing with Quirk Books in 2025.  Anne received an honor in the 2021 SCBWI Winter Conference Portfolio Showcase and won the 2023 New England SCBWI Conference Portfolio Showcase. They teach digital painting at Montclair State University. You can find them online at

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

When she's not traveling, doing laundry, or creating content for her dog's Instagram, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen writes stories about talking animals and perfectly imperfect humans. She is the author of over eighty books for children, including ROXIE LOVES ADVENTURE, CAKE VS PIE, and the PURRMAIDS chapter book series. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, and an adorable pug named Roxie. Find out more about Sudipta and her books at

Leeza Hernandez

Leeza Hernandez has found her footing in art licensing and online sales, and has leveraged her kidlit portfolio to generate additional income for the past five years. With a wealth of experience, including her online shop and Etsy, Leeza understands the intricacies of turning artistic passion into sustainable revenue streams. Alongside her extensive portfolio of more than 25 illustrated books, including "Cats In Construction Hats" (PRH, 2205) written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Leeza shares insights into monetization opportunities for kidlit illustrators. Based in Central Florida with her family and four cats, Leeza also coaches creatives to thrive in the evolving landscape of illustration. Visit

Andrea J. Loney

Andrea J. Loney’s children’s books celebrate diversity, joy, and kindness. She wrote the award-winning picture books DOUBLE BASS BLUES (Caldecott Honor), and TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE (Lee and Low Books New Voices Award and NAACP Image Award Nominee). Her most recent books include the picture book biography CURVE & FLOW, THE ELEGANT VISION OF L.A. ARCHITECT PAUL R. WILLIAMS, the middle-grade biography VIP: STACY ABRAMS - VOTING VISIONARY, and the futuristic chapter book series ABBY IN ORBIT. After growing up in South Plainfield, NJ, she graduated from New York University with an MFA in Dramatic Writing. Andrea now lives in Los Angeles with her towering stacks of books, her devoted family, and their incredibly spoiled pets. Learn more at

Adria Karlsson

Adria Karlsson once upon a time, may have been found teaching people, training cats and dogs, or tutoring dyslexic kids, but now they spend their time writing and illustrating while parenting 5 kids, 1 puppy, a patient old dog, and a cat that abides them all. Their debut picture book My Sister, Daisy was published by Capstone in 2021. Being an author/illustrator has been the best kind of adventure, because now they get to spend their time asking questions, figuring out answers, and sharing what they’ve learned through make-believe. And that’s definitely its own kind of happily ever after.

Robin Newman

Robin Newman, raised in New York and Paris,  is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. Author of the award-winning Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series and several picture books, she's a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project's Writers Council, Bank Street Writers Lab, PEN America (CYAB), and Read Alliance’s Advisory Council. She lives in New York with two spoiled dogs. For more information, visit

Christina Rodriguez-Unalt

Christina Rodriguez-Unalt’s illustrations have received international recognition including works that are in the permanent collection of The Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Award (CICLA) Museum in China, as well as being accepted into The Society of Illustrators West Competition. Most recently, Christina was a finalist in the 2024 PBParty Illustration Showcase, and her fourth illustrated picture book, “Pedro and the Monster Eaters” was released by Arte Público Press this May. Along with being an active member of SCBWI, Christina is also the new Co-President of the Children’s Book Illustrators Group (CBIG) of New York. She is also an Assistant Professor and the Head of the BFA Illustration program at Montclair State University where students study under the curriculum she has designed, which includes the new Children’s Book course she also wrote. You can learn more about Christina and view her portfolio at

Laura Sassi

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of eleven books for young children including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book;  Little Ewe, Bunny Finds Easter, which is a 2022 Northern Lights Book Award winner, the My Tender Heart book series and the forthcoming Faithful Feet releasing in January 2025.. She lives in Cranford, New Jersey.

Yvonne Ventresca

Yvonne Ventresca’s YA debut, Pandemic (winner of an SCBWI Crystal Kite), continues to be a timely read about surviving a widespread deadly virus. Her other published works include Black Flowers, White Lies and several short stories for middle grade, teen, and adult readers. Yvonne holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @YvonneVentresca, or visit her website,, where she features resources for teen writers (that adults just might find helpful, too) and blogs about writing productivity. Each of her NJ SCBWI presentations include raffle prizes and a detailed handout.