SLJ Picture Book Palooza

Join us July 15 for our very first SLJ Picture Book Palooza, an all-day, free virtual celebration of authors and artists dedicated to the visual dance and extraordinary craft of picture books! Come for a day packed with keynotes, author panels, and illustrator spotlights with visionary creators. Visit the exhibit hall, chat with authors and publishing teams, download digital galleys, and be prepared to be inspired as you build your collection.

Event Hours: 10:00 AM ET - 5:00 PM ET


Please note that the event environment and the sessions have attendance capacity limits. If on the day of the event you find that you are unable to access the environment or join a session, please know that sessions will be available for on-demand viewing within 24hrs, and the entire event will be accessible for three months from the event date.

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10:00 AM - 10:30 AM ET | Exhibit Hall Opens

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM ET Chat with Feeding Minds Press (Feeding Minds Press)
10:00 AM - 10:30 AM ET Meet Annette Whipple, author of The Truth About Series (Reycraft)
10:05 AM - 10:25 AM ET A Mindful Morning with Susan Verde (Abrams)
10:10 AM - 10:30 AM ET Spotlight on The Sour Cherry Tree (Owl Kids)

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM ET | Opening Keynote Conversation

Black Joy Breakfast featuring a conversation with the award-winning author and illustrator, Andrea Pinkney and Brian PinkneyBright Brown Baby (Scholastic)

Studio Spotlights | Available on-demand all day starting at 10:30 AM ET
Step inside artists’ studios as they discuss their work, from technique and medium to design and collaboration.
Jen BettonBarn at Night (Feeding Minds) Watercolor art

Ned BustardThe O in Hope (IVP) Cut paper art; Technique
Cátia ChienThe Longest Letsgoboy (Chronicle) Design

Tullio CordaCat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites (Red Comet Press) Design
Andy Harkness, Wolfboy (Bloomsbury) Technique
Marie LetourneauHow to Change the World in 12 Easy Steps (Tanglewood) Digital art
Jerry PinkneyThe Welcome Chair (Simon & Schuster) Watercolor

11:00 AM -11:20 AM ET Author Chat with Audrey Bea (Xist)
11:00 AM - 11:30 AM ET Author Chat with Heidi E.Y. Stemple (SLJ)
11:00 AM -11:45 AM ET Author Chat with Alexandra Katona, Dinner on Domingos (Barefoot) 
11:00 AM -11:30 AM ET Meet Pam Fong, Author of Rou and the Great Race (Reycraft)
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET Little Sock Makes a Friend: A Reading by Author and Illustrator Christopher D. Park (Mackin)
11:45 AM -12:15 PM ET Meet Joseph Bruchach, Author of The Powwow Mystery Series and Wolf Cub's Song (Reycraft)

Two Panels Running Concurrently

11:05 AM - 11:55 AM ET | Fitting In, At Home and School
Children are the first to feel left out, and sometimes, the ones who find the way in.
Suzanne del Rizzo, Birds on Wishbone Street (Pajama Press)
Rashin KheiriyehThe Shape of Home (Levine Querido)
Magdalena MoraI Wish You Knew (Macmillan)

Bahram RahmanA Sky-Blue Bench (Pajama Press) 
Moderator: Erika Thulin Dawes, Ed. D., Lesley University, Cambridge (MA)


11:05 AM - 11:55 AM ET | We Are AAPI Creators
Creating and promoting stories and art is complicated enough. Our panelists talk about their work, coping with racism, and making books that open up the world for young readers.
Thao LamThao (Owlkids)
Huy Voun LeeLike a Dandelion (HarperCollins)
Gillian SzeMy Love for You Is Always (Penguin Young Readers)

David Namisato and J. Torres, Stealing Home (Kids Can Press)
Gracey ZhangLala’s Words (Scholastic)
Moderator: Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library (CA)

Two Panels Running Concurrently

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM ET | In Conversation
JR FordVanessa Ford, authors of Calvin (Penguin), and Adria Karlsson, author of My Sister Daisy (Capstone).
Moderator: Denise Dávila, University of Texas, Austin (TX)


12:00 PM - 12:50 PM ET | Nourishing and Nurturing
Food traditions and holiday gatherings are more than eating, bringing together family and friends while forging new traditions.
Winsome BinghamSoul Food Sunday (Abrams)
Christine Taylor ButlerThe Get-Together (Reycraft)
Angela DaltonRuby's Reunion Day Dinner (HarperCollins)
Juana Martinez-NealTomatoes for Neela (Penguin/Viking)

Meera SriramDumpling Day (Barefoot Books)
Moderator: Jessica Agudelo, Supervising Librarian for Children’s Services, NYPL (NY)

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM ET Meet Briony May Smith (Red Comet)
12:30 PM - 1:00 PM ET Meet Johnny Ray Moore and Cbabi Bayoc, Author & Illustrator of Seasonal Adventures (Reycraft)
12:50 PM - 1:10 PM ET Chat with an IVP Kids team member! (IVP Kids)
12:50 PM - 1:20 PM ET Social-Emotional Learning Showcase (Owl Kids)
12:55 PM - 1:15 PM ET Chat with Mark Teague! (S&S)

12:50 PM - 1:20 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

1:00 PM - 1:20 PM ET Chat with Author and Illustrator Kathy Wolff and Margaux Meganck (Bloomsbury)
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET Join our Author Chat! (Macmillan)
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET Booth Chat with Carter Higgins (Chronicle)
1:00 PM - 1:25 PM ET Booth Chat with Brad Montague (PRHYR)

1:20 PM - 1:50 PM ET | Lunch Keynote Conversation
Bugs for Lunch with Ashley SpiresBurt the Beetle Doesn't Bite! (Kids Can Press), and Rosemary MoscoButterflies Are Pretty...Gross (Tundra). Grab a brown bag and spend your lunch with two authors whose books deliver humor along with the facts.
Moderator: Dr. Amina Chaudhri, Associate Professor, College of Education, Northeastern Illinois University

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM ET Author Chat with Chris Willard and Olivia Weisser (SLJ)
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM ET Chat with Feeding Minds Press

1:30 PM - 2:05 PM ET Building Resilience with Picture Books (Xist)
2:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET Author Chat with Motomitsu Maehara (SLJ)

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM ET Author Chat with Meera Sriram, Dumpling Day (Barefoot)
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM ET Author Chat with Sheila Modir & Jeff Kashou (SLJ

Two Panels Running Concurrently

1:55 PM - 2:45 PM ET | #BlackJoy Is More Than a Hashtag
These illustrators discuss the passion, creativity, and unfettered curiosity of their subjects in artwork that dances, boogies, and leaps across the pages.
Keturah A. BoboOpal Lee and What It Means to Be Free (HarperCollins Christian)
C.G. Esperanza, Boogie Boogie Y’All (HarperCollins)
Frank Morrison, Kick, Push (Bloomsbury) 
Kaija LangleyWhen Langston Dances (Simon & Schuster)
Moderator: Myiesha Speight, Resident Librarian, Towson University (MD)


1:55 PM - 2:45 PM ET | Civil Rights Is Not a History Lesson
A look at forthcoming titles that highlight the work of individuals who fought for citizen rights in Congress, courtrooms, song, and behind the camera.
Maryann Cocca-LefflerWe Want To Go To School (Albert Whitman)
Alexandra S. D. HinrichsThe Traveling Camera (Getty)
Katie McCabe, We Wait for the Sun (Macmillan)
Traci ToddNina Simone (Penguin Young Readers)
Carole Boston WeatherfordThe Faith of Elijah Cummings (Random House)
Moderator: Ashley Rayner, Branch Manager, Chicago Public Library (IL)


2:45 PM - 3:15 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

2:50 PM - 3:10 PM ET Chat with Author and Illustrator Margaret Chiu Greanias and Tracy Subisak (Bloomsbury)
2:50 PM - 3:10 PM ET Debut Authors in Dialog (Owl Kids)
2:50 PM - 3:10 PM ET Chat with Samantha Cotterill! (S&S)
3:30 PM - 4:00 PM ET Meet Wook Jin Jung, Author and Illustrator (Reycraft)

Two Panels Running Concurrently

3:15 PM - 4:05 PM ET | Mindfulness as a Way to Cope
Children have weathered the pandemic and are now facing new normals. These creators discuss books on mindfulness to help kids keep calm.
Katy HudsonMindful Mr. Sloth (Capstone)
Juana MedinaI Will (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Jelani MemoryA Little Book About Fear (A Kids Book About)
Jennifer E. SmithThe Creature of Habit (Random House)
Cleo WadeWhat the Road Said (Macmillan)
Moderator: Christopher Lassen, NYPL (NY)


3:15 PM - 4:05 PM ET | Keeping Them Curious
From biography to the natural sciences, a look at what’s new in nonfiction.
Gloria AmescuaChild of the Flower-Song People (Abrams)
Amanda Davis, 30,000 Stitches (Hachette/Worthy Kids)
Kate Allen FoxPando (Capstone)
Don TatePigskins to Paintbrushes (Abrams)
Loveis WiseThe People Remember (HarperCollins)
Moderator: Julie Waugh, ELA Teacher, Smith Jr. High (AZ)

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM ET Author Chat with Diane De Anda (SLJ)
4:00 PM - 4:40 PM ET Chat with publisher Angus Yuen-Killick (Red Comet)

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM ET Inspiring Discover & Delight: The Heart of Xist Publishing (Xist) 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM ET Meet Shannon Hitchcock, Author of Saving Granddaddy's Stories and She Sang for the Mountains (Reycraft) 

4:10 PM - 4:40 PM ET | Closing Keynote Conversation
From Pain to Portraits, a conversation with Tyler Gordon, author and illustrator of We Can: Portraits of Power (Macmillan) and Bryan CollierWe Shall Overcome (Scholastic). 
Moderator: Dr. Kimberly N. Parker, Director, Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University (MA)

Keynote Speakers


Bryan Collier loves to paint. He has successfully channeled his creative energy and love of art into an illustrious career as a children’s book illustrator and writer. He began painting at the age of 15 and eventually landed a scholarship to attend Pratt Institute in New York. He has won four Caldecott Honors for Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews, and Dave the Potter by Laban Carack Hill. His first book, Uptown, won the Coretta Scott King Award and the Ezra Keats Award. He has won five more Coretta Scott King Awards and three Coretta Scott King Honors.  


Tyler Gordon is a fourteen-year-old painter whose work has been featured in TIME MagazineEssence, Good Morning America, and ABC News. In 2020, he was awarded the Global Child Prodigy Award. He currently lives in San Jose, California with his family. WE CAN is his debut picture book. 


Rosemary Mosco makes books, articles, cartoons and graphics that connect people with the natural world. Her nature comics were the subject of an award-winning museum exhibit and are collected in a book that was a 2019 ALA Great Graphic Novel for Teens. She co-wrote the New York Times bestseller The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid. She speaks at birding festivals and nature centers and writes for Audubon.


Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney have made an outstanding contribution to the field of children's literature both as individuals and as a team. Between them, they have published more than 70 children's books that have received the highest awards and accolades, including Caldecott Honors, Coretta Scott King Honors, NAACP Image Award nominations, and the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, to name a few. To learn more, please visit and

Ashley Spires is the author and illustrator of many books including the bestselling The Most Magnificent Thing and the "Binky The Space Cat" series. She is a drinker of tea, eater of candy and lover of cats. When she is not making books, she enjoys yoga, jogging and fostering orphan kittens for her local shelter. Ashley lives just outside Vancouver, British Columbia with her dog and far too many felines. 



Gloria Amescua is an educator, poet, and children’s book writer. She was awarded Lee & Low’s 2016 New Voices Honor Award for her manuscript about Luz Jiménez and was named a finalist for the Austin Chapter Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentorship Award and We Need Diverse Books’ Mentorship program. Child of the Flower-Song People (illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh) is her debut picture book. 

Jen Betton grew up playing on friends' farms in Pennsylvania, and when the BARN AT NIGHT manuscript came in she was delighted to have an excuse to lurk around old barns and feed goats. Her other books include Hedgehog Needs A Hug, which won Pennsylvania's Keystone to Reading Award, and Twilight Chant. Now she lives near Dallas with her family, and you can see more of her work at

Winsome Bingham is a soul food connoisseur, master cook, and a US Army war and disabled veteran. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and has more than 15 years of teaching experience. Soul Food Sunday (illustrated by C. G. Esperanza) is her debut picture book.

Keturah A Bobo is an artist and NYT bestselling illustrator known for creating vibrant images that are relatable and distinguishable. She is passionate about creating art that inspires, uplifts, and advocates for her community. Keturah graduated with a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design and lives in Columbus, Ohio with her family of entrepreneurs. Visit

Ned Bustard is a graphic designer, a children's book illustrator, an author, and a printmaker. His artwork is found in numerous titles, including Bible History ABCs; Legends & Leagues: Or, Mr. Tardy Goes from Here to There; and Every Moment Holy. He lives with his family near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 

Cátia Chien is a Brazilian-Taiwanese artist. She's the illustrator of such titles as The Sea Serpent and Me, which won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators; A Boy and a Jaguar, an ALA Notable Book and recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award; and The Bear and the Moon. She lives in Southern California with her family.

Maryann Cocca-Leffler is a passionate disability rights advocate as well as an award-winning author and illustrator of more than sixty books for children, including The Power of Yet, Same Way Ben, and Janine. She lives and works in Maine. Visit her online at

Author and illustrator Tullio Corda developed a passion for printmaking and oil painting while working as a graphic designer. This, combined with study at the ‘Štěpán Zavřel’ school of illustration and the discovery of a local children’s bookstore, led him to become a full-time author and illustrator. He now lives and works in Lyon, France. 

Angela Dalton likes to think that she chose writing but, the truth is, writing chose her. She is a member of an Oakland-based social justice and #OwnVoices picture book author and illustrator collective. In addition, Angela writes children's book reviews for Multiculturalism Rocks! She is an active participant in Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge and SCBWI and was once a producer of video games. Angela lives in Oakland, California and can be found online at

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator. Amanda received a B.A. in English and Studio Art from Salve Regina University, and a M.A.T. in Art Education from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She currently teaches art at a public high school in Massachusetts, where writing and reflecting are an integral part of her curriculum.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author/illustrator of My Beautiful Birds, and illustrator of several other children’s books. Suzanne Del Rizzo’s dimensional illustrations using polymer clay, acrylic, and other mixed media bring rich texture and imagination to her books. Korean, Simplified and Complex Chinese rights sold. 

Charles G. Esperanza was born in the South Bronx. In addition to being an author and illustrator of children's books, he also works as an art teacher at a senior center. You can find him online at

JR and Vanessa Ford are nationally-known advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, specifically, rights for transgender youth. Their advocacy and work has been featured in the New York TimesNewsweekThe Boston GlobeThe Washington Post, and in "Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric." They were both founding members of the Human Rights Campaign's Parents for Transgender Equality Council. They live with their two children, one of whom is trans, in the Boston, MA area. Calvin is their first book.

Kate Allen Fox lives in southern California with her husband and two sons. After a career as a public health professional, she combined her passions for research and writing and began writing picture books about science and nature. Her work has appeared in several publications, including The New York TimesPando is her first picture book.

Andy Harkness is an award-winning art director who has worked on Moana, Frozen, and Wreck-it-Ralph, among other movies. After twenty-five years at Disney, he recently moved to Sony Pictures Animation. Andy's first book, Bug Zoo, was published by Disney as an Artist Showcase Book in 2016. He lives in California with his family.

Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs is the author of Thérèse Makes a Tapestry (Getty, 2016) and I Am Made of Mountains (Charlesbridge, 2022). She holds MAs in US history and in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She works as a middle school librarian in Maine.

Katy Hudson won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award Gold in 2014 for her illustrations in the book Animal Teachers. Her debut picture book, Bear and Duck, received strong reviews, including a starred review from Kirkus. Katy is the author of the best-selling picture books Too Many Carrots and A Loud Winter's Nap, which both received numerous positive reviews. Katy lives in London. 

Adria Karlsson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family. Currently she is writing and parenting, but she has a history of teaching people, training cats and dogs, and tutoring kids with dyslexia. When their daughter let them know that they’d gotten her gender wrong at birth, Adria and her spouse were deeply grateful for the outflowing of love and support from the local LGBTQIA+ community and hope to be able to pay it forward. When she isn’t writing, Adria can often be found reading with a cat on her lap, attempting to replicate pastries from a certain British baking show, or zipping around town with a pile of children in the family cargo bike. 

Rashin Kheiriyeh has published over eighty books in countries around the world. In 2017, she was named a Maurice Sendak Fellow and was the winner of the New Horizon Award at the Bologna Book Fair. She lives in Washington, DC. 

Thao Lam is the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of THAO, Wallpaper, My Cat Looks Like My DadSkunk on a String, and The Paper Boat, named a best book of 2020 by KirkusBooklistSchool Library Journal, the Globe and Mail, CBC, and others. She has an insatiable love of colored and textured papers, and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Kaija Langley has been writing since she fell in love with words at age seven. She knew she was onto something when she wrote her first poem and her grade school classmates thought she’d copied it from a book! A proud alumna of Morgan State University, a historically black college and university in Baltimore, Maryland, she received her MFA in fiction from St. Mary’s College of California in 2005. She’s called many places home over the years—New Jersey, Maryland, DC, California, Louisiana—and currently lives, writes, and plays in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her two bonsai and her beloved.  

Huy Voun Lee came to the United States with her family at the age of six as a Cambodian refugee. Nowadays, she can be found sharing the joys of origami and art with schoolchildren as well as visitors to the American Museum of Natural History. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Huy is the author and illustrator of several picture books. She lives with her husband in New York City.  

Marie Letourneau is a picture book author and illustrator from New York.  She has two books as both author & illustrator. The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres (Tanglewood Books, 2006), which won ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year, Bronze Medal, and Argyle Fox (Tanglewood Books, 2017). Marie has a total of 5 books with Tanglewood Books. 

Juana Martinez-Neal is the illustrator of Tomatoes for Neela, written by Padma Lakshmi, and is the winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya and the Caldecott Honor Award for Alma and How She Got Her Name. Originally from Lima, Peru, she lives with her husband and three children in Arizona where she cooks with lots of Roma tomatoes.

Katie McCabe is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washingtonian Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, and Reader's Digest, among others. Her National Magazine Award–winning article on black medical legend Vivien Thomas was the basis for the HBO film Something the Lord Made, winner of three Emmys and a 2005 Peabody award.

Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author and illustrator of the Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas and other books. Juana studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Corcoran College of Art + Design (where students had plenty of chances to draw cartoons of her). She lives in the DC area, with her wife, twin sons, and their dear dog, Rosita. 

Jelani Memory is a Black entrepreneur, thinker, and constant learner. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and six kids. He still wants to be an artist when he grows up. 

Magdalena Mora is a Minneapolis-based illustrator and graphic designer with a special interest in children's books and visual storytelling. She has also illustrated Deborah Diesen's Equality's Call. When not drawing, she spends her free time reading, people-gawking, and trying to find the best tacos in the Twin Cities. Mostly the latter. 

Frank Morrison works as a fine artist and is the award winning illustrator of many books for children including Our Children Can Soar and Jazzy Miz Mozetta, for which he won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. Frank lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and their five children.

David Namisto is Canadian illustrator of Japanese descent who has written and/or illustrated a number of comic books. 

Jerry Pinkney has illustrated 100 children’s books, and his work has earned the 2010 Caldecott Medal, five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, five Coretta Scott King Honors, five New York Times Best Illustrated Book awards, and, in 2006, the Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators. Jerry Pinkney’s many acclaimed titles include John HenryMintySam and the TigersThe Ugly Duckling, and Mirandy and Brother Wind. He lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. 

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan during the civil war and the Taliban régime, Bahram Rahman studied medicine and public policy while also working as an activist. Arriving in Canada as a refugee in 2012, he is now a senior policy analyst with Ontario’s Ministry of Health. His first book, The Library Bus, was reviewed in the New York Times. French-language rights sold. 

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of eight novels for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightWindfall, and Field Notes on Love. She earned a master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages.  

As an Indian-American, Meera Sriram has lived almost equal parts of her life in both countries. Previously an engineer, she now enjoys writing for children, leading early literacy programs, and advocating for diverse bookshelves. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her family of foodies who love to read, hike, and travel. Learn more at

Gillian Sze is the author of My Love For You Is Always, illustrated by Michelle Lee. She studied creative writing at Concordia University and received a PhD in études anglaises from Université de Montréal. Originally from Winnipeg, Gillian now lives with her family in Montreal, where she teaches creative writing and literature. 

Don Tate is an award-winning author and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children, as well as a founding host of The Brown Bookshelf. His accolades include two Ezra Jack Keats Awards and an Honor, the Carter G. Woodson Book Award, Christopher Award, Lee & Low New Voices Honor, and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List selection, among many others.

Christine Taylor-Butler is the author of eighty books for children including The Get Together for Reycraft Books and The Lost Tribes, a STEM-based speculative series for Move Books. LLC. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she holds dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Art & Design. Christine has been an advocate for diversity and STEM in children's literature and has served on a number of awards committees.

When NINA: A STORY OF NINA SIMONE author Traci N. Todd was born, her father decided her initials should stand for dynamite, just like his. Traci grew up to become a children's book editor and currently lives in Jackson Heights, Queens where she writes, edits, and listens to Ray Charles and Nina Simone, while her partner draws comic books.

J. Torres is a Filipino-born Canadian comic book writer, best known for his DC Comics’ Teen Titans Go!

Cleo Wade is the author of the bestselling books, Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life, Where to Begin: A small book your power to create big change, and Heart Talk: The Journal, 52 weeks of self-love,self-care, and self-discovery. She has been called the poet of her generation by Time Magazine and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company. Cleo sits on the board of The Lower East Side Girls Club, the National Black Theatre in Harlem, the Women’s Prison Association.  

Carole Boston Weatherford, a two-time NAACP Image Award winner, is the author of the Newbery Honor Book BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, as well as three Caldecott Honor Books, including Freedom in Congo Square and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. She also wrote Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins. Born in Baltimore, she first encountered Elijah Cummings when he was president of the Monumental City Bar Association, an affiliate of the National Bar Association, for which she was publicist. Weatherford teaches at Fayetteville State University, in North Carolina. 

Loveis Wise is an illustrator & designer from Washington, DC. They are currently based in Los Angeles and their work often speaks to themes of joy and liberation. Their work can be found through The New Yorker, Google, Adobe, and the New York Times. You can find them online at  


Gracey Zhang is an illustrator and animator with a love of storytelling and verse. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and received her degree in Illustration from RISD. She is now based in Brooklyn, New York, where she can be found window watching from the train when she’s not scribbling away at her desk. Lala’s Words is her first picture book. You can visit her at




Jessica Agudelo is Supervising Librarian for Children’s Services at the New York Public Library. Most recently she served as chair of the 2021 Pura Belpré Award committee and was chair of NYPL’s debut Spanish language best-of list, Mejores libros para pequeños, in 2019. Jessica contributes book reviews to several professional publications for Children's and Young Adult titles published in both English and Spanish. She comes from a large and vibrant Colombian family and was born and raised in Queens, New York.

Amina Chaudhri is an associate professor at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, where she teaches courses in children's literature, literacy, and social studies. She is a reviewer for Booklist, a member of the Biography Clearinghouse, and a former committee member of NCTE's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. 

Erika Thulin Dawes is a Professor of Language and Literacy at Lesley University, where she strives to equip teachers with a passion for children’s literature and a wealth of creative strategies for using books in the classroom. Having worked as a classroom teacher, a reading specialist, and a literacy supervisor, she knows that great teachers and great librarians inspire lifelong readers. Erika is co-author of Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021) and the School Library Journal blog “The Classroom Bookshelf.”  

Dr. Kimberly N. Parker is an educator, literacy consultant, and writer based in Boston, and holds a steadfast belief in the power of literacy to normalize the high achievement of all students, especially Black, Latinx, and other children of color. She is currently the Director of the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University, and is completing a book with the Association for Curriculum and Supervision Development (ASCD) to document her successful literacy work based on her classroom and professional development experiences (anticipated spring 2022). Kim is the 2020 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Outstanding Elementary Educator Award; a co-founder of #DisruptTexts and #31DaysIBPOC; and the current president of the Black Educators’ Alliance of MA (BEAM). Follow her on Twitter at: @TchKimpossible.

Ashley Rayner is a native South Sider. She is also the branch manager at Greater Grand Crossing. She reads and watches anything and everything, but is partial to science fiction and fantasy. Ashley also supports most Chicago sports teams. 

Myiesha Speight holds a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in English with a minor in History from Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2019, she received her Master's of Library and Information Science with a specialization in Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Maryland College Park’s iSchool located in College Park, Maryland. Myiesha Speight is currently the Resident Librarian at Towson University where she is doing what she loves and gaining valuable experience.

Allison Tran is the Senior Librarian for Children's Services at the Mission Viejo Library in California. She is passionate about empowering children and families with early literacy skills, and is an irrepressible book recommender. Allison reviews books and apps for School Library Journal, and is active in the California State Library Association. Before earning her Masters of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2006, Allison taught English in Japan.


Julie Waugh is an 8th grade ELA teacher at Smith Jr. High and serves as an Inquiry Coach for Mesa Public Schools in Mesa, AZ. She delights in the company of children surrounded and inspired by books. Julie is a former committee member of NCTE's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children.

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