Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators



Sit in on these conversations to get informed and inspired!

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It’s Season 4 of our Podcasts!

Episode 9: A Conversation with Raúl the Third

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Raúl the Third is a Pura Belpré medal award-winning illustrator of graphic novels and author/illustrator of picture books and soon, early readers. In this conversation with Theo Baker, Raúl discusses his connection to art, shares some of the strategies he uses in illustrating, and recounts his path to building his own universe of characters and stories.

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Episode 8:  A Conversation with Sara Sargent

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Sara Sargent is a senior executive editor at Random House Books for Young Readers, where she publishes fiction and nonfiction in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult categories. In this conversation with Theo Baker, Sara discusses trends and readers, her career path, the evolution of her lists as an acquiring editor, and much more.

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Episode 7: A Conversation with M. T. Anderson

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New York Times bestselling author and winner of the National Book Award M. T. Anderson speaks with Theo Baker about history and time, experimentation, and literature. They also discuss research and switching between multiple projects.

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Episode 6: A Conversation with Juana Martinez-Neal

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In 2012, Juana Martinez-Neal won the Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize at the SCBWI Los Angeles conference. Today, she is a multi-award winning author/illustrator. In this conversation with Theo Baker, Juana shares about her childhood in Peru, her path to children’s books, the many media she’s worked with to create her illustrations, and balancing family responsibilities with creative time.

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Episode 5: A Conversation with Denene Millner

Denene Millner is the editor of Denene Millner Books at Simon & Schuster and a bestselling author herself. She speaks with Theo Baker about her own writing, her career path, and what her eponymous children’s book imprint is all about.

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Episode 4: A Conversation with Mem Fox

International Best-Selling Children’s Picture Book Author Mem Fox speaks with Theo Baker about her drama school background, her writing and revising, and what it means to be an Australian writer.

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Episode 3: A Conversation with Floyd Cooper

Author/Illustrator Floyd Cooper has created nearly 100 picture books, winning multiple awards along the way! In this interview with Theo Baker, Floyd shares early lessons from his career and discusses his artistic process.

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Episode 2: A Conversation with Alvina Ling

Alvina Ling is Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In this interview with Theo Baker, Alvina speaks of her career path, what’s constant in being an editor, the relationship between her and her writers and illustrators, and so much more!

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Episode 1: A Conversation with Marla Frazee

Caldecott Honor-winning and New York Times Bestselling Author/Illustrator Marla Frazee speaks with Theo Baker about her career, sharing insights, advice, and the fascinating stories behind creating some of her most popular and emotionally resonant books, including Boss Baby and The Farmer and the Clown.

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Season 3 of our Podcasts:

Episode 12: A Conversation with Christopher Paul Curtis

National Book Award finalist and Newbery Award winning author Christopher Paul Curtis speaks with Theo Baker about his own writing and publishing journey, and shares his advice on the craft of writing, offering insights into the process, and reflections on his works.

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Episode 11: A Conversation with Laurent Linn

Emmy Award-winning Laurent Linn is the art director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and the author illustrator of the YA Novel, “Draw the Line.” Laurent speaks to Theo Baker about the appeal of puppetry, his eleven years working with the Muppets, and the shift in his career path that led him to children’s books. Their conversation also explores cover design, working with new illustrators, how “every book is an experiment,” and much more!

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Episode 10: A Conversation with Elizabeth Partridge

Multi-award winning nonfiction author Elizabeth Partridge speaks to Theo Baker about how her upbringing impacted her storytelling, her way into oral histories, and the responsibility she feels towards the people she interviews. She considers how her work is “bearing witness” and shares what she’s learned about writing compelling nonfiction.

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Episode 9: A Conversation with Erin Entrada Kelly

Erin is the winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe. With many other awards and multiple books on the New York Times bestseller list, she is also a professor of children’s literature at Rosemont College. In this two-part interview with Theo Baker, Erin shares about her background in journalism, having the right mindset for feedback, how she developed her craft, and much more!

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Episode 8: A Conversation with Francesco Sedita

Francesco is the president and publisher of Penguin Workshop at Penguin Young Readers, as well the author of the Miss Popularity series. In this two-part conversation with Theo Baker, Francesco speaks of his vision for Penguin Workshop, his approach as a publisher, the influence of books like “Wimpy Kid,” and how co-writing a graphic novel has helped his own writing.

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Episode 7: A Conversation with Malinda Lo







Malinda Lo is the author of several award-winning young adult novels, including most recently A Line in the Dark. Her novel Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. Malinda speaks with Theo about the difference between popular fiction and literary fiction, the role of research in her writing, revision, her dual coming out, and so much more!

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Episode 6: A Conversation with Jenny Bent

Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency in 2009. The agency now has nine agents, offices in New York and London, and a strong focus on international rights. Jenny speaks with Theo Baker about Y.A. versus Adult, what she’s looking for, the decision behind launching her own agency, and the shift in how she approaches being an agent.

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Episode 5: A Conversation with Libba Bray

#1 New York Times bestselling and Michael L. Printz Award-winning YA author Libba Bray speaks to Theo Baker about her journey to becoming a writer, her embrace of the absurd and surreal, and shares her best writing advice!

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Episode 4: A Conversation with Namrata Tripathi

Namrata Tripathi is Vice President and Publisher of Kokila, a newly-formed imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Namrata speaks to Theo Baker about her career as an editor, her unique perspective, and the vision behind her new imprint!

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Episode 3: A Conversation with Bruce Coville

The celebrated author of over 100 books for children and young readers, Bruce Coville speaks to Theo Baker about audiobooks, covers and titles, his approach to book openings, and much, much more!

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Episode 2: A Conversation with Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney is vice president, executive editor at Scholastic Books, and is also a New York Times bestselling and multi-award winning author. Andrea speaks with Theo about her path to being a reader and an editor, the insights she’s gained from her background in journalism, the evolution of diversity in publishing, and much more!

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Episode 1: A Conversation with Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older is the award-winning and best-selling author of middle grade, young adult, and adult books, including Shadowshaper, Half-Resurrection Blues, and Dactyl Hill Squad. Daniel speaks with Theo Baker about craft, process, diversity, the “secret heart” of a story, and much more!

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Season 2

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Episode 17: A Conversation with Peter Brown

Peter Brown has written and illustrated many best-selling and award-winning picture books, including Mr. Tiger Goes WildChildren Make Terrible Pets, and The Curious Garden. His illustrations for Creepy Carrots, written by Aaron Reynolds, earned him a 2013 Caldecott Honor. His first novel for young people is The Wild Robot. Peter speaks with Theo Baker about the evolution of his style, his process and the use of technology.

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Episode 16: A Conversation with Connie Hsu

Connie Hsu is an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Publishing, a founding member of the Children’s Book Council Diversity Committee, and a member of the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Planning Committee. Her authors include Vera Brosgol, Ruth Chan, Angela Dominguez, Shannon Hale, Kathryn Otoshi, Dan Santat, Steve Sheinkin, Mariko Tamaki, Susan Tan, and Tillie Walden. Connie speaks to. Theo Baker about her journey to being an editor, how she sees an editor’s role, and what she’s looking for in a manuscript.

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Episode 15: A Conversation with Sara Varon

Sara Varon is a graphic novelist and children’s book author/illustrator living in Brooklyn. Her books include Odd Duck, which was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Children’s Books of 2013, Bake Sale, which was named a YALSA Great Graphic Novel for 2012, and Robot Dreams, which was on Oprah’s Kids’ Reading List in 2008 and selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the 150 best books of 2008. She was a recipient of the 2013 Maurice Sendak Fellowship and an Eisner nominee in 2014, and currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York. In this interview with Theo Baker, Sara shares about the evolution of her art, her style, and insights she’s gained on the journey.

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Episode 14: A Conversation with Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carson Levine’s first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine’s other books include Ever, a New York Times best seller; Fairest, a Best Book of the Year for Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, and many others. In this conversation with Theo Baker, Gail shares about her career, her process, and some of the lessons—and techniques—she’s learned along the way.

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Episode 13: A conversation with Mike Curato

Mike Curato is the award-winning author/illustrator of Little Elliot picture book series, as well as the illustrator of Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle. Mike tells Theo Baker about his career journey, what it took to get his portfolio ready, and how SCBWI changed everything.

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Episode 12: A conversation with Cheryl Klein

Cheryl Klein, editorial director at Lee & Low Books, speaks with Theo Baker about the insights she’s gained as an editor, the importance of diverse voices, the publishing and writing sides to the question “who can write what?”, and telling the story of your heart. Klein also speaks about her own books, the writing craft The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults and the picture books Things with Wings and Thunder Trucks.

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Episode 11: A conversation with Nancy Paulsen

President and publisher of her eponymous imprint at Penguin Young Readers, Nancy Paulsen shares her vision, her list, the process of revision for middle grade novels, what goes into publishing a picture book, and much more in conversation with host Theo Baker.

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Episode 10: A Conversation with Raúl Colón

Illustrator Raul Colon discusses his inspirations, from comic books to the impressionists, dives deep into his process, discusses digital versus analog methods of creating art, offers his advice to illustrators still trying to find their unique style, and much more with Theo Baker.

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Episode 9: A Conversation with Jennifer Laughran

Covering Jennifer Laughran’s running start as a (now senior) agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, the importance of sharing a vision with her author and illustrator clients, the elements of building a career, the years behind some “overnight successes,” creates a lively discussion with Theo Baker.

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Episode 8: A Conversation with Stephanie Garber

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Host Theo Baker delves into conversation with author Stephanie Garber about her publishing journey, her writing process, and the success of her debut YA fantasy, Caraval, that hit the New York Times bestseller list.

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Episode 7: A Conversation with Javaka Steptoe


Javaka Steptoe’s art education (both in-school and out) as well as his creative process and the role of curiosity are part of the conversation with Theo Baker and the Caldecott-winning, Coretta Scott King Award-winning, and New York Times bestselling author/illustrator.

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Episode 6: A Conversation with Zareen Jaffery


Spanning the challenges of being an editor, thoughts on world-building and character, and insight into the founding of the Salaam Reads imprint of Simon & Schuster, Zareen Jaffery’s conversation with Theo Baker overflows with her passion for increasing the diversity of children’s literature and smart advice about how to be part of the solution.

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Episode 5: A Conversation with Sean Qualls


Sean Qualls talks about his journey to becoming a children’s book creator, what inspired him, and how his own style evolved. An award-winning children’s book illustrator, artist, and author, Qualls’ talk with Theo Baker is packed with insights about his process, his collaborations, and much more.

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Episode 4: A Conversation with Allyn Johnston

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Vice president and publisher of Beach Lane Books Allyn Johnston’s one-on-one conversation with Theo Baker is filled with wisdom, and stories of Beach Lane Book’s authors and illustrators, including the questions Johnston asks of each project, and the lessons she’s learned as an editor and publisher.

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Episode 3: A Conversation with Neal Porter


Join Neal Porter, editorial director of Neal Porter Books at MacMillan’s Roaring Brook Press, in a discussion with host Theo Baker about how a background in theater paid off in picture books, the many different roles of an editor, the business of children’s books and where it’s going.

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Episode 2: A Conversation with Julie Strauss-Gabel


Find out about the apprenticeship process of becoming an editor, the importance of YA, what makes it on her own list, and the surprising book she read as an 8th grader that changed everything. Join president and publisher of Dutton Books, Julie Strauss-Gabel, in conversation with Theo Baker.

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Episode 1: A Conversation with Linda Sue Park 


Join Newbery Award-winning Author Linda Sue Park in a one-on-one conversation with Theo Baker covering poetry, revision, her process, #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and more.

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Season 1:


Episode 11: Jordan Brown

Jordan Brown is Executive Editor, Walden Pond Press & Balzer + Bray, at HarperCollins Children’s Books. He has worked with such esteemed authors and illustrators as Jon Scieszka, Anne Ursu, Gris Grimly, Steve Brezenoff, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Chris Rylander, Erin McGuire, and Laura Ruby. In this podcast Jordan discusses diversity, the state of publishing, and his road to publishing.


Episode 10: Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is the Newbery Award winning author of The Crossover. In this is podcast, Kwame discusses developing a love of poetry in school, working trade shows for his father’s independent publishing company, and why he chose the writerly life.



Episode 9: Emma Dryden

Emma Dryden is the founder of drydenbks, a premier children’s editorial and publishing consultancy firm. Emma has edited over a thousand books for children and young readers and many of her titles hit bestseller lists in USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly. In this podcast Emma chats about how a creative upbringing shaped her life and career, and provides her expertise on editing for authors.


Episode 8: Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins is a poet and the award-winning author of ten New York Times best-selling young adult novels-in-verse and two adult novels. Her eleventh YA, Rumble, published in 2014; and her third adult novel, Tangled, recently released in spring 2015. She is a current SCBWI Board member. Learn more about her literary upbringing, writing inspiration, and methods of craft in this episode.


Episode 7: Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has written books for readers of all ages, from picture books and middle grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert honors; Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book, and Dead End in Norvelt, the 2012 Newbery Award Winner, and the Scott O’Dell Award Winner for Best Historic Fiction. In this wide-ranging conversation, Jack Gantos delves into the heart of his craft, dispensing everything from practical writing tips to his thoughts on the fundamentals of why children read and why we write for them.
Episode 6: Pat Cummings 

Pat Cummings is the author/illustrator of over thirty-five books for young readers. She also edited the award-winning series, Talking With Artists, which profiles prominent children’s book illustrators. She teaches at Parsons and Pratt, and her children’s book illustration class has a growing number of notable illustrator/authors among its graduates. Pat serves on the SCBWI Board as well as on the boards of the Authors Guild, the Authors League Fund, The Authors Guild Foundation, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. In this podcast, Pat talks about growing up on a military base in Germany, her career as an author and illustrator, her creative process and adapting to change: “you’ve got to swim in the water the way you find it.”



Episode 5: Gill Evans

Gill Evans is an editorial director at Walker Books. She began her publishing career in 1980 at Heinemann Educational Books before moving on to Reed Children’s Books, where she worked on BlytonTintin, Winnie the Pooh, Miffy, the Little Prince, and Babar. She entered the world of digital publishing in 1997 with Ahlberg’s Jolly Postman, one of the earliest CD-ROMs. In 2000 she became Head of Publishing at Random House Children’s Books. She joined Walker Books in 2003 as Editorial Director and Fiction Publisher. Here she talks with Lin Oliver about the role of the editor in the life of a work of art, the changing publishing landscape, “360 degree publishing,” self-publishing and the future of bookselling.

Episode 4: Laurie Halse Anderson 

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times best-selling children’s book author known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity.   Her work has earned numerous American Library Association and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also made the Carnegie Medal shortlist in the United Kingdom. Laurie was the proud recipient of the 2011 Free Speech Defender Award given by the National Coalition Against Censorship and presented to her by her hero, Judy Blume. In this episode of Conversations she talks about her writing path and the issue of diversity in children’s literature.


Episode 3: Arthur A. Levine 

Lin Oliver talks with Arthur A. Levine, vice president and publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc. While Levine has edited and published exceptional books for children of all ages including Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot, Alan Say’s The Favorite Daughter, Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Corner Of White and Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince, he is perhaps most recognized as co-editor of the Harry Potter series by J. K Rowling. Levine is the author of A Very Beary Tooth Fairy, illustrated by Sarah Brannen, and Monday Is One Day, illustrated by Julian Hector. He takes special pleasure in launching the careers of authors he’s met through SCBWI.


Episode 2: Matt de la Peña 

In the second episode of SCBWI’s Conversations, we talk with author Matt de la Peña author of the young adult novels Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican White Boy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and his latest, The Living.


Episode 1: Melissa Manlove

In the first episode of SCBWI’s Conversations, we talk with editor Melissa Manlove, of Chronicle Books, about picture books, mythology, poetry and the power of the spoken word, and the life and work of a picture book editor.


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