SLJ Picture Book Palooza

Join us July 14 for our second annual 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 | 7:00 AM PT - 2:00 PM PT


Register
 

All live sessions will be on Zoom. Make sure to log in to your work or personal Zoom account before the day starts to avoid having to log in for each session.

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 - 10:30 AM ET | Exhibit Hall Opens/Visit the Booths

 

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.

 

Ashwin Chacko, A Little Book About Justice (A Kids Book About)

Charlene Chua, Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome (Simon & Schuster)
Bryan Collier, Maya’s Song (HarperCollins Children's)
James Ransome, On Her Wings (Simon & Schuster)

Brian Schatell, The Bumble Brothers: Crazy for Comics! (Reycraft)

Ashley Spires, The Most Magnificent Idea (Kids Can Press)
Sabine Timm, Come On In, There’s a Party in This Book! (Astra Books for Young Readers)

 

10:30 - 11:00 AM ET | Literary Lionesses 
Where do writers come from and when do they know they are writers? Once a poet discovers the power of her words to heal, how does she get others to hear them?

Jerdine Nolen, On Her Wings (Simon & Schuster)
Renée Watson, Maya’s Song (HarperCollins Children’s) 
Moderator: Brynne Barnes, Author, English Professor

 

11:05 - 11:55 AM ET | Lives and Legacies

Lives in art and activism are spotlighted in these picture book tributes by new and award-winning authors. 

 

Emily Hughes, The Snail (Chronicle)

Suma Subramaniam, She Sang for India (Macmillan Children’s)

Ria Thundercloud, Finding My Dance (Penguin Young Readers)

Aparna Varma, Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes: The Adventurous Life of the First Giraffologist (Kids Can Press)

Carole Boston Weatherford, A Song for the Unsung (Macmillan Children’s)

Moderator: Deborah Taylor, retired, Enoch Pratt Free Library

 

11:05 - 11:55 AM ET | People and Places: Who We Are

A selection of new picture books that address identity and individuality while celebrating our connections and commonalities. 

 

Brooke Boynton-Hughes, Heart String (Chronicle)

Matt de la Peña, Patchwork (Penguin Young Readers)

Marc Majewski, Butterfly Child (HarperCollins Children’s)
Bao Phi, You Are Life (Capstone)

Esmé Shapiro, My Self, Your Self (Tundra)

Moderator: Karen Ginman, Manager of Collections & Digital Resources, Herrick District Library (MI)

 

11:05 - 11:55 AM ET | Visualizing the Text

Illustrators working in various media discuss their considerations and challenges when approaching a picture book manuscript.

 

Richard Cowdrey, illus., Fiona, Love at the Zoo (Zondervan)

AG Ford, Illus., Me & Muhammad Ali (Penguin Young Readers)

Laura Park, illus., Digestion! The Musical (Chronicle)

Miki Sato, illus., While You Sleep (Pajama Press)

Dan Yaccarino, author and illus., City Under the City (Astra Books for Young Readers)

Moderator: Jess Schriver, PhD Candidate, Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden (NJ)

 

11:55 AM - 12:30 PM ET | Break/Visit the Exhibit Hall

 

12:30 - 1:00 PM ET | Macaulay, Mammoths, and Mathematics: On Bringing Something New to the Page  

David Macaulay, Mammoth Math (DK), has famously said he can never take on a project unless he can bring something new to it, or make it new to readers. It’s a simple idea, but like his books, has layers and layers of underlying notions for us to try to unpack—over lunch.

Moderator: Kimberly Fakih, Senior Editor, Picture Books, SLJ

 

1:05 - 1:55 PM ET | How to Build a Family

The definitions of family are more flexible and welcoming than ever, and their bonds as strong.

 

Esther Chehebar, I Share My Name (Xist Publishing)

Arree Chung, Remixed (Macmillan Children's)

Sean Dixon, The Family Tree (Tundra)

Richard Edwards-Middleton, My Family and Other Families (DK)

Laurel Goodluck, Forever Cousins (Charlesbridge)

Pat Zietlow Miller, See You Someday Soon (Macmillan Children’s)

Moderator: John Scott, Library Media Specialist, Powhatan Elementary School, Baltimore County Public Schools (MD)

 

1:05 - 1:55 PM ET | Picture This: Community 

It can begin with a place, but at its heart community is often the people we share our stories and lives with.  

 

Judy Goldman, Mercado - The Heart of the Barrio (Reycraft)

Patrice Gopo, All the Places We Call Home (WorthyKids)

Alexandra Penfold, All Are Neighbors (Random House Children’s Books)

Lourdes Heuer, On This Plane (Tundra)

Moderator: J. Elizabeth Mills, Independent Researcher

 

2:00 - 2:50 PM ET | In the Mix: Humor  
A fourth little pig, raucous racoons, mutant potatoes, and others in a grab bag of good cheer and great stories.

 

Daniel Bernstrom, A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree (Astra Books for Young Readers)
Ben Clanton, Tater Tales: Greatest in the World (Simon & Schuster)

Shelli R. Johannes, Penny, the Engineering Tail of the Fourth Little Pig (Capstone)

Minh Lê, The Blur (Random House Children’s Books)

Vivek Shraya, Revenge of the Racoons (Owlkids)

Moderator: Ron Block, Branch Manager, Cuyahoga County Public Library System (OH)

 

2:00 - 2:50 PM ET | Natural Wonders

From a look at the 200-year-lifespan of a bowhead whale to a peek inside animal homes, a selection of titles that encourage an appreciation of the beauty—and fragility—of life on our planet.

 

Alex Boersma and Nick Pyenson, The Whale Who Swam Through Time (Macmillan Children’s)

Jorge Cham, Elinor Wonders Why: Forest Giants; Elinor Wonders Why: Hidden in Plain Sight (Kids Can Press)

Meg Fleming, Wondering Around (Simon & Schuster)

Jess Keating, The Girl Who Built an Ocean: An Artist, an Argonaut, and the True Story of the World's First Aquarium (Random House Children’s Books)

Maggie Zeng, illus., Room for More (Pajama Press)

Moderator: Denise Dávila, PhD, University of Texas, Austin (TX)

 

2:50 - 3:30 PM ET | Break/Visit the Exhibit Hall

 

3:30 - 4:20 PM ET | It’s Back to School

New outfits, new friends, new worries – and lucky pencils!

 

Vera Ahiyya, KINDergarten (Random House Children’s Books)

Keah Brown, Sam’s Super Seats (Penguin Young Readers)
Maggie P. Chang, Geraldine Pu and Her Lucky Pencil, Too! (Simon & Schuster)

Madison Moore, Bonnie’s New Old Outfit (Albert Whitman)

Moderator: Jenny Arch, Librarian, Michael E. Smith Middle School, South Hadley (MA)

 

3:30 - 4:20 PM ET | A Recipe for Nurturing

Love unconditionally. Listen. Spend time together. New picture books explore some of the many forms nurturing takes.

 

Barbara DiLorenzo, One Thursday Afternoon (Flyaway)

Art Twink, illus., My Paati’s Sari (Penguin Young Readers)

Tyler Merritt, A Door Made for Me (WorthyKids)

John Parra, Growing an Artist (Simon & Schuster)

Sadé Smith, Granny’s Kitchen (Macmillan Children’s)

Moderator: Dr. Claudette S. McLinn, Ed.D., Executive Director, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature

 

4:30 - 5:00 PM ET | Speaking Up, Changing the World

After her mother was deported, eight-year-old Estela Juarez wrote letters to local officials, members of Congress, the president, and anyone who could help. Now 12 years old, and the author of Until Someone Listens (Macmillan Children’s), Juarez will talk about her letter-writing campaign and her book.

Moderator: Stephanie Ramirez, Immigrant and Workers Rights Advocate, Equal Justice Center (TX)

 

KEYNOTES

When Estela Juarez was 8 years old, her mother, Alejandra, was deported to Mexico. It was then that Estela transformed her love of writing in her diary into writing letters to her local newspaper, to Congress, and to the president. The momentum built, and her Congressman decided to step in to help. Estela's story was featured at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. In 2021, her mother received temporary permission to return to her family. Estela hopes to one day become an immigration lawyer and a Congresswoman to advocate for the unification of separated families.

David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books appeal to readers of all ages. He has garnered numerous awards, including the Caldecott Medal, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, and an American Institute of Architects Medal. In 2006, he was the recipient of a MacArthurFellowship. Superb design, magnificent illustrations, and clearly presented information distinguish all of his books.

 

Jerdine Nolen is the beloved author of many award-winning books, including Big Jabe; Thunder Rose, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book; and Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, all illustrated by Kadir Nelson. She is also the author of Eliza’s Freedom Road, illustrated by Shadra Strickland; Raising Dragons, illustrated by Elise Primavera; and Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm, illustrated by Mark Buehner, which was made into a movie by the same name. Her other books include Calico Girl, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and Irene’s Wish, illustrated by A.G. Ford. Ms. Nolen is an educator and lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.

  Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award. Her children's picture books and novels for teens have received several awards and international recognition. Her picture books include A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, and The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, written with Nikole Hannah-Jones. Renée grew up in Oregon and splits her time between Portland and Harlem.   
 
SPEAKERS

Vera Ahiyya has taught Kindergarten and first grade for the last 15 years in Austin, Boston, and Brooklyn. Vera’s online presence is dedicated to influencing other educators by spreading her vast knowledge and love of diverse children’s books. Vera’s unwavering commitment to social justice and diversity is also the focal point of her professional development presentations for other educators. Vera lives in Brooklyn with her husband Lonnell and her dog, Mozi.

 

Daniel Bernstrom is a poet and the author of six picture books, including One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree and Big Papa and the Time Machine, a Minnesota Book Award winner. All Daniel’s previous books feature Black characters, reflecting everyday adventures and joy. A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree is Daniel’s first book that features animals exclusively. Daniel lives in Worthington, Minnesota, with his wife and five adorable children.

 

Alex Boersma is a Canadian scientific illustrator living in Chicago. After studying geology and studio art at Vassar College in New York, Alex worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, conducting research on whale evolution. Articles on her research have appeared in multiple news outlets, including the New York Times, BBC News, Nature, and the Washington Post. Alex has since shifted her focus to working as an independent scientific illustrator, and her work ranges from scientific figures for research papers, to editorial illustrations and animation.

 

Brooke Boynton-Hughes grew up in Loveland, Colorado, where she spent her childhood days drawing cats, mermaids, and treehouses. These days, she works as a children’s book illustrator and lives with her husband and their twins in Colorado.

 

Keah Brown is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. She is the creator of #DisabledAndCute, and her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire UK, and the New York Times, among other publications. Her debut essay collection The Pretty One (Atria Books) published in 2019, and her writing has appeared in the anthologies Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong and You Are Your Best Thing, edited by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown. 

 

Ashwin Chacko is an illustrator and motivational speaker that specializes in positively playful, visual storytelling. His mission is to champion creativity and empower people to find their inner spark.

 

Jorge Cham is an engineer-turned-cartoonist, writer and producer. He is the creator of web comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics), which he started as a graduate student at Stanford University. Together with Daniel Whiteson, Jorge created and produces the PBS Kids TV series Elinor Wonders Why. Jorge and Daniel have also written two books for adults, We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown and Frequently Asked Questions About the Universe, and they host the podcast Jorge and Daniel Explain the Universe on iHeartRadio.

 

Maggie P. Chang grew up in Kansas, where she constantly had her nose in a book and art supplies close by. She began her career in art education, but after teaching the most fabulous and talented teens at LaGuardia Arts High School (a.k.a. the Fame school), she was inspired to follow her own passion for children’s books. This Taiwanese American is the author-illustrator of the Geraldine Pu series and is also the cofounder of two education nonprofits. Maggie lives in California with her husband, their daughter, and their dog, Benihana.

 

Children’s book author Esther Levy Chehebar is a contributing writer at Tablet Magazine, where she covers Sephardic Jewish tradition and community. When she isn’t writing entertaining and informative children’s books, Chehebar enjoys running outdoors, hosting meals, and spending time with her two children. Chehebar lives in New York with her husband, their kids, their Ori-Pei named Jude, and a couple of fish. I Share My Name is her debut children’s book.

 

Charlene Chua draws many things, from baos to dragons, and everything in-between. When they are not drawing, they enjoy cooking, reading, and playing with their cats. Charlene grew up in Singapore, and now lives in Canada. Her favorite baos are still char siu baos, and her favorite dumplings are air-fryer wontons!

Arree Chung is the award winning author of Mixed: A Colorful Story, Out!, and the Ninja! series, which includes Ninja!, Ninja! Attack of the Clan, and Ninja Claus! Arree believes everyone is born creative and loves bringing ideas to life. When Arree is not making books or building a business, you can find him exploring nature or riding his bike in a new city.

 

Ben Clanton is an author and illustrator whose books include It Came in the Mail; Something Extraordinary; Rex Wrecks It!; Mo’s Mustache; The Table Sets Itself; Vote for Me!; Rot, the Cutest in the World!; and Rot, the Bravest in the World!. He lives with his wife and son in Seattle, Washington. Learn more at BenClanton.com.

 

Bryan Collier has won four Caldecott Honors for Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill. He is also the illustrator of the New York Times bestseller All Because You Matter by Tami Charles. His first book, Uptown, won the Coretta Scott King Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Award. He is the recipient of five more Coretta Scott King Awards and three Coretta Scott King Honors.

 

Richard Cowdrey’s favorite things to draw and paint are the common things seen everywhere in nature. He especially enjoys capturing the expressions, eyes, and gestures of both humans and animals. Drawing and painting Fiona was challenging, as the hippopotamus is a very unique yet beautiful creature! Richard’s bestselling picture books include The Legend of the Candy Cane; Bad Dog, Marley; Fiona the Hippo; Fiona, It’s Bedtime; and Fiona Helps a Friend.

 

Matt de la Peña is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning Last Stop on Market Street, Milo Imagines the World, Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, as well as a number of critically acclaimed young adult novels.

Barbara DiLorenzo graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration and studied painting at the Arts Students League of New York. She is the author-illustrator of Renato the Lion (Viking/Penguin Random House), which was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection, and Quincy (Little Bee), a Crystal Kite Award finalist. When she isn’t working on books, Barbara teaches at the Arts Council of Princeton and the New York Institute of Art + Design. Barbara lives with her family in central New Jersey.

 

Sean Dixon is a playwright, novelist and banjoist. His plays include Orphan Song and the Governor General’s Award nominated A God in Need of Help. Novels include The Girls Who Saw Everything, The Many Revenges of Kip Flynn, and the upcoming The Abduction of Seven Forgers, being published next year by Freehand Books. He lives in Toronto with his wife, the multi-award-winning documentary maker Katerina Cizek, and a daughter whose brilliant, funny, stubborn character permeates his work.

 

Meg Fleming is a big-time laugher and an award-winning author of several critically acclaimed books for children, including Wondering Around (illus. Richard Jones), I Was Born A Baby (illus. Brandon James Scott), Sounds Like School Spirit (illus. Lucy Ruth Cummins), and Sometimes Rain (illus. Diana Sudyka). Also, a voice teacher and former music educator, Meg draws on her love of rhythm, rhyme, and lyricism to create and imagine stories. She writes from her home outside of San Francisco with her family and their adorable dog named Opal. Visit Meg at www.megfleming.net.

 

AG Ford is a three-time New York Times bestselling children's book illustrator and recipient of two NAACP Image Awards. He has illustrated picture books by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sharon Robinson, Ilyasah Shabazz, Martin Luther King III, Nick Cannon, Jonah Winter, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He lives with his family in Frisco, Texas.

 

Judy Goldman and Ilán Rabchinskey, her son, have been fascinated by the markets of Mexico, their country, since they were children. Some of Judy’s favorite markets are the ones bursting with flowers and buzzing bees. Ilán likes the bustling markets that are full of native foods and ingredients where he can always find a new fruit or vegetable to try. Besides markets, they also love traveling and reading, usually with a cup of hot tea (Judy) or coffee (Ilán). Their first book together with Reycraft is Let’s Eat Bugs!, filled with Mexican insect-based recipes and dishes that were promptly devoured by a delighted Ilán.

 

Laurel Goodluck writes picture books with modern Native themes. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Laurel comes from an intertribal background of Mandan and Hidatsa from the prairies of North Dakota and Tsimshian from a rainforest in Alaska. Laurel has degrees in psychology and community counseling and family studies. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, where they raised two children.

 

Patrice Gopo is the child of Jamaican immigrants and was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She is an award-winning essayist and the author of All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way. Her ties to Jamaica and other parts of the world sparked her early desire to travel to the cities and countries she traced on a globe. In time, as she began writing about her experiences, Patrice became interested in how places contribute to the people we become. Patrice lives with her family in North Carolina. All the Places We Call Home is her first picture book.

 

Lourdes Heuer is a children's book author and poet. She was born in Spain to Cuban immigrant parents, then moved to the United States in 1984. She holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is an Associate Professor of English at Broward College. She lives in South Florida with her husband, son and three dogs.

 

Emily Hughes is the illustrator of the beloved Charlie and Mouse series and Everything You Need for a Treehouse. She was born in Hawaii and lives and works in the United Kingdom.

 

Shelli R. Johannes is coauthor of the Cece Loves Science series and Penny: The Engineering Tail of the Fourth Little Pig (co/Kimberly Derting). She is the author of the Theo Thesaurus series and Shine Like a Unicorn. She is also the author of teen novels (as SR Johannes) including the Nature of Grace series, Rewired, & On the Bright Side. Shelli can often be found on highways and country roads saving strays and other jaywalking critters, or volunteering with animal conservation groups. She lives in Atlanta with her pack of animals: a British husband, two kids, one bird, one fish, and two crazy Goldendoodles.

 

Jess Keating is a zoologist-turned-author who writes with the sort of wisdom you can only get from multiple crocodile bites and skunk sprays. She's received oodles of state awards and starred reviews for her books, which include the World of Weird Animals nonfiction series and the biographies Shark Lady and Ocean Speaks. She also dabbles in illustration, has her own YouTube channel, and runs a blog that's popular with teachers and librarians for its exploration of STEM subjects and the writing process. Jess lives with her husband in Ontario, Canada.

 

Minh Lê is the author of several children's books, including two others illustrated by Dan Santat, Drawn Together, which won the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and Lift which received five starred reviews. His other books include Let Me Finish! illustrated by Isabel Roxas, and The Perfect Seat, illustrated by Gus Gordon. Minh has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book, and the Huffington Post. He currently lives in San Diego, California with his wife and kids. Visit him online at minhlebooks.com or on Instagram and Twitter @bottomshelfbks.

 

Marc Majewski is a French author-illustrator based in Berlin. As a child, Marc discovered a passion for drawing and painting through the works of Gustave Doré, Maurice Sendak, Paul Grimault, and Tomi Ungerer. After obtaining a degree in literature and arts, he studied illustration and painting for two years. Marc is passionate about the environment, and loves painting landscapes and scenes from the natural world. In 2020, he published his debut picture book as an author-illustrator, Does Earth Feel?, with HarperCollins. Butterfly Child is a story inspired from his own childhood experiences as a queer kid.

 

Tyler Merritt is a Nashville-based actor, comedian, vocalist, and creator of The Tyler Merritt Project. His television credits include ABC's Kevin Probably Saves the World, Netflix's Messiah, Netflix's Outer Banks, Apple TV+'s series Swagger, Disney+/Marvel's series Falcon and the Winter Soldier, NBC’s Ordinary Joe, Lifetimes Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and A24’s upcoming feature film The Inspection. He is also the author of the memoir I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith and Being Black in America and the forthcoming children’s book A Door Made for Me.

 

Richard Edwards Middleton is a father, content creator and author living in London with his two children that he shares with husband and co-author Lewis. Richard and Lewis became a family through adoption, making them a two Dad family. In 2019 they started documenting their family life online through their social accounts Two Dad’s in London and since then, they have gone on to grow a loyal following. Seeing how much their children enjoy and learn through story time inspired them to write a fun, imaginative picture book with an important message behind it: that every family is different and that is perfectly okay.

 

Pat Zietlow Miller is a children's book lover and one of the creative forces behind the blog Picture Book Builders where she reviews books for young readers. Her picture books include Be Kind, When You are Brave, Remarkably You, Wherever You Go, Sophie's Squash and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville. Pat lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two daughters and two pampered cats.

 

Madison Moore is an arts & crafts book editor at C&T Publishing, and writes and illustrates picture books and other literature for young people. She is based in Chicago, and plays elite ultimate frisbee with Chicago Nemesis and the Milwaukee Monarchs.

 

Laura Park is a cartoonist, illustrator, and enthusiastic baker from Chicago currently living in France.

 

John Parra is an Award-winning illustrator of Latino themed children’s picture books including: Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos and Waiting for the Biblioburro. His NEW book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son (Simon & Schuster), is his debut as both author and illustrator.

 

Alexandra Penfold is a literary agent and the author of All Are Welcome, Big Feelings, The Littlest Viking, and Eat, Sleep, Poop. When she isn't writing and drinking strong iced coffee, she can be found perfecting her lattice crust. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

 

Bao Phi is an award-winning poet and children’s book author. His stunning debut picture book with illustrator Thi Bui, A Different Pond, won a Caldecott Honor, a Charlotte Zolotow Award, an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, an Ezra Jack Keats Honor, a Boston Globe—Horn Book Honor, and numerous other awards and accolades. You Are Life is his fourth picture book. Bao is a single co-parent father, an arts administrator, and a book nerd.

 

Nick Pyenson is the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. His work has taken him to every continent, and his scientific discoveries frequently appear in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Popular Mechanics, USA Today, on NPR, NBC, CBC, and the BBC. Along with the highest research awards from the Smithsonian, he has also received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the Obama White House.

 

James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for Before She Was Harriet received the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. His other award-winning titles include The Creation; Uncle Jed’s Barbershop; Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt; and Let My People Go. He frequently collaborates with his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. One of their recent titles is Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, which received four starred reviews and was an ALA Notable Children’s Book. James is a professor and coordinator of the MFA Illustration Graduate Program at Syracuse University. He lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley region with his family. Visit James at JamesRansome.com.

Miki Sato is a Japanese-Canadian illustrator who uses a variety of different textures and materials to create three-dimensional images. Originally from Ottawa, she moved to Toronto to complete her degree in illustration from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her picture books include Snow Days, which was a finalist for the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award, Sunny Days, which was a 2021 CBC Books Best Book, Windy Days, which won a Northern Lights Book Award, and Rainy Days.

 

Brian Schatell has illustrated sixteen books for children, some of which he has also written. For many years Brian has chaired the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature’s annual One-on-One Plus Conference. He has also taught children’s book illustration and writing at Parsons School of Design. Brian lives in New York City.

Esmé Shapiro grew up in Laurel Canyon, California and Ontario, Canada, and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Her previous picture books include Ooko, Alma and the Beast, and Carol and the Pickle-Toad. Esmé also illustrated Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear, Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton by Margaret McNamara and, most recently, A Garden of Creatures by Sheila Heti. She has exhibited at the Society of Illustrators, and her work has been featured in Taproot and Plansponsor magazines. Esmé lives in the Hudson Valley with her partner. Her newest book is My Self, Your Self.

 

Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, and film. Her book I’m Afraid of Men was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel” and her previous picture book, The Boy and the Bindi, was acclaimed by critics including Buzzfeed and Book Riot. She is a seven-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary, and the founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books, which supports emerging BIPOC writers.

 

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Sadé Smith is a Canadian children’s book author of Jamaican descent. She loves to write stories that will allow your imagination to take you away. Her books often involve food and recipes for readers to enjoy along with vibrant illustrations to capture the colors of the Caribbean islands. In addition to writing, she is also a designer/technologist who practices the skilled trades and home renovations.

 

Bestselling author-illustrator Ashley Spires is known for creating many quirky beloved characters, including Small Saul, which was Canada’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway in 2016, Larf and Binky the Space Cat, who is now featured on his own animated television series. Ashley’s bestselling book The Most Magnificent Thing has been translated into nineteen languages worldwide and was recently adapted into a short animated film. During the rare moments when she is not creating, she fosters orphaned kittens for her local animal shelter. She lives in Ladner, British Columbia, with her dog and many, many cats.

 

Suma Subramaniam is an Indian American author and volunteer for We Need Diverse Books. She is a contributing author for The Hero Next Door (Penguin Random House) and the author of Namaste Is A Greeting (Candlewick). She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College Of Fine Arts. She Sang for India is her nonfiction picture book debut.

 

Ria Thundercloud is from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo. She holds strong ties to her kinship in the Southwest and North, practicing both styles of traditional dance. She started training in classical dance at the age of thirteen, went professional at sixteen, and has traveled internationally as a cultural ambassador and professional dancer. Her art is influenced by the women who came before her, reclaiming stories of matriarchs that highlight the resilience and knowledge of Indigenous women.

 

Sabine Timm studied at the Arts Academy of Düsseldorf, and is a creator, a beach-trash collector, flea-market lover, and photographer. She draws, paints, assembles and shares her work nonstop on Instagram. She lives in Dusseldorf, Germany, but has fans from around the globe.

 

For Art Twink, art is for creating community and safety in a world that offers very little of either. After 6 years of working in graphic apparel design for brands like Disney, Marvel, Nintendo, and Star Wars, Art Twink is well versed in the technical and commercial world of visual art. However, Art Twink is a storyteller at heart. As a trans artist of color, they carry on the tradition of telling stories that inspire, validate, and comfort people and creatures in hard times as a trans artist of color.

 

Aparna Varma works in animation production and is the owner of stationery company Green Bean Studio. Born and brought up in India, she spent many of her formative years in Botswana and now dreams and draws in Toronto, Ontario.

 

Carole Boston Weatherford, a two-time NAACP Image Award winner, has authored more than sixty books, including the Newbery Honor title Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom and four Caldecott Honor Books, among them Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom and Unspeakable: the Tulsa Race Massacre. She is a professor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

 

Winner of prestigious awards including the Bologna Ragazzi, the New York Times 10 Best Illustrated, ALA Notable, and the Parents' Choice Award, Dan Yaccarino is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator of many beloved picture books. The Longest Storm received 4 stars and was on several Best of Year lists including the New York Times, PW, and Kirkus. Other books include I Am a Story, Five Little Pumpkins, Five Little Bunnies, Trashy Town, Every Friday, and Giant Tess.

 

Maggie Zeng is a children’s book illustrator, graphic designer, concept artist, and animator.

Born in Montreal, she attends Concordia University and previously received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Applied Arts Technologies at Dawson College. Maggie loves making story-driven illustrations that convey a feeling of adventure and wonder through fun characters and magical environments. Her first picture book is This Is the Boat That Ben Built.

 

 
MODERATORS

Jenny Arch graduated from Hampshire College, then worked at a literary agency in New York before earning her MLIS at Simmons College. She worked in public libraries in the Boston area for a decade, and is now a school librarian in Western Massachusetts. She loves connecting readers and books.

 

Brynne Barnes has been coloring the world with her pen writing stories, poetry, and music since earning her BS from the University of Michigan and MA from Eastern Michigan University. She is a full-time English professor at Schoolcraft College and loves writing books that celebrate identity and diversity. Her picture books include the multi-award-winning Colors of Me and Books Do Not Have Wings. Her latest title, Black Girl Rising, will be released with Chronicle Books on June 28, 2022. 

Ron Block is a Branch Manager in the Cuyahoga County Public Library System in Cleveland, Ohio. His passion for libraries, reading and cooking have fueled non-traditional library programs and community collaborations. He was named a 2020 Library Journal Mover and Shaker and serves as a judge for the James Beard Cookbook Awards. Ron has recently become the Podcast Host for https://friendsandfiction.com/, representing 4 NYT Bestselling authors.

 

Denise Dávila is an assistant professor of children's literature and literacy education at the University of Texas at Austin who has served on multiple book award committees. Her research agenda focuses on families' engagement with children's books by/for/and about members of marginalized communities to support early literacy development.

Kimberly Fakih, Senior Editor, Picture Books, School Library Journal.

 

Karen Ginman is a librarian and certified teacher. She is the Manager of Collections & Digital Resources for Herrick District Library in Holland, MI. She holds a M.A. in Teaching & a MLIS with a Certificate in Archives and Preservation of Cultural Materials. You can find out what she is reading on Twitter @karenginman.

 

Dr. Claudette S. McLinn is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature (CSMCL), which is among the leading educational research centers in the field of multicultural literature for young people. She has served on numerous book award committees, and recently served as Chair of the 2022 Caldecott Medal Award Committee. She is the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the ALA & ALSC, a prestigious award that honors an individual who has made significant contributions to library service to children.

J. Elizabeth Mills, Ph.D. is an independent researcher. Her research explores the nature and role of reflection in the ways public librarians plan, deliver, and assess storytimes for young children. Mills has co-conducted several research studies, including librarians’ use of new media with young children, the role of social justice, value-centric outcomes in public libraries’ outreach efforts with families and young children, and the ways in which library and museum professionals incorporate computational thinking into their work with young children and their families. Mills is the author of more than 30 books for children, including The Spooky Wheels on the Bus. Visit jemillsresearch.weebly.com to learn more.

 

Stephanie Ramirez is an immigrant rights advocate, a former DACA recipient, and a first-generation college graduate from Texas A&M University-Commerce. She has written and published work on her experience as an undocumented immigrant for local news magazines and academic research. She has a strong legal background working for non-profits and has been an active community mobilizer for refugee, low-income workers, and undocumented immigrant rights.

 

Jess Schriver is a PhD candidate of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, in Camden, NJ. She studies how childhood is constructed in public libraries—work inspired by the many trips she made to her local childhood library. She lives in southern New Jersey with her four-year-old child, her husband, and lots and lots of books.

 

A school librarian for almost 30 years, John Scott has taught in independent, international and public schools. Currently he is the Library Media Specialist at Powhatan Elementary School in Baltimore County Public Schools. John served on the 2010 Caldecott Committee and the 2016 Newbery Committee. He is also involved with the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and is hosting a Mock EJK program this year at his school. John has served on the Best Picture Books (2020) and Best Nonfiction Picture Books (2021) for School Library Journal.

 

Deborah Taylor retired from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD. She has chaired and served on many American Library Association committees and on the National Book Awards Jury for Young People’s Literature. She was a recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. Ms. Taylor has taught children’s and young adult literature and is currently Chair of the Ezra Jack Keats Awards Committee.

 

 

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