SLJ Picture Book Palooza

Join us July 27th for our third annual SLJ Picture Book Palooza, an all-day, free virtual celebration of authors and artists dedicated to the 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 & resources, and be prepared to be inspired as you build your collection.



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.

The platform is best experienced from a desktop computer, laptop, or large tablet. Using a cell phone is not recommended.

CE certificates are available in the event environment for all keynotes and panels, whether you view them live or on-demand. Certificates are not provided for sponsored content.

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

Having trouble registering? Contact


10:00 - 10:30 AM ET | The Exhibit Hall Opens / Visit the Booths

Available All Day | Studio Spotlights
Open the door and step inside illustrators’ studios for a look at where it all happens, their tools, and their works-in-progress. 

R.W. Alley, Firefighters to the Rescue! (Astra Books for Young Readers)
Tim Fite, A Bucketful of Questions (Simon & Schuster) 
Cherise Harris, Jerry Changed the Game! (Simon & Schuster)
Frank Morrison, Harlem at Four (Random House Children’s Books) 
Clara Reschke, Sonia’s Digital World (Capstone)
Lynn Scurfield, Two New Years (Chronicle) 
Lauren Soloy, The Hidden World of Gnomes (Tundra) 


In-Booth Chat

10:00 - 10:30 AM ET | Let's get creative! A chat with CONE DOG illustrator Carmen Mok, LOVE IS IN THE BEAR illustrator Nahid Kazemi, and 100 CHAPATIS illustrator Shantala Robinson on bringing kids books to life through art. Marketing & Publicity Coordinator Taylor Lytle-Hewlett will moderate. (Owlkids)

10:30 - 11:00 AM ET | Breakfast Keynote: Early Rascals in Children's Books: Caldecott, Nordstrom, (and Marcus)   

Join the incomparable Leonard S. Marcus in a conversation with the creators of two books highlighting individuals whose life work had an unprecedented impact on the field of children’s literature.

Leonard S. Marcus, historian and author of Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom (HarperCollins Children’s) and Pictured Worlds: Masterpieces of Children’s Book Art by 101 Essential Illustrators from Around the World (Abrams)
Beth Kephart, author, Good Books for Bad Children: The Genius of Ursula Nordstrom (Random House Children’s Books)
Barbara McClintock, illustrator, Tomfoolery! Randolph Caldecott and the Rambunctious Coming-of-Age of Children's Books (Chronicle)
Introduced by Kimberly Olson Fakih, Senior Editor, Picture Books, SLJ


11:05 - 11:55 AM ET | Family Ties
Despite differences and distances, family connections run deep.  

Anita Crawford Clark, Old to Joy (Gnome Road Publishing) 
Rachel Más Davidson, I Love You Mucho Mucho (Beaming Books) 
Margarett McBride, Dear Dad: Love Nelson (Free Spirit Publishing) 
Dan Santat, The Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles (Macmillan Children’s) 
Jack Wong, The Words We Share (Annick Press)
Moderator: Jessica Agudelo, Youth Collections Coordinator, BookOps (NY)

11:05 - 11:55 AM ET | They Defied Convention  
From a Bollywood star to an unsung physician, meet some 20th-century rebels that refused to let anyone or anything get in their way.

Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Desert Queen (Levine Querido) 
Michael G. Long, Unstoppable: How Bayard Rustin Organized the 1963 March on Washington (Little Bee Books) 
Katie Mazeika, Beulah Has a Hunch (Simon & Schuster)
Carrie A. Pearson, Virginia Wouldn't Slow Down!: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention (Norton Young Readers) 
Duncan Tonatiuh, Game of Freedom (Abrams) 
Moderator: Amina Chaudri, Professor, Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education, Northeastern Illinois University

11:05 - 11:55 AM ET | Traditions, Celebrations, and Special Days 
A look at the many ways families and communities celebrate together.  

Astrid Kamalyan, Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day (Charlesbridge)
Reem Kassis, We Are Palestinian (Interlink Publishing) 
Derek Mascarenhas, 100 Chapatis (Owlkids) 
Madison Webb, Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Susan Schadt Press)
Farida Zaman, Aliya's Secret: A Story of Ramadan (Owlkids) 
Moderator: Hasina Islam, Assistant Branch Manager, Brooklyn Public Library (NY)


12:00 - 12:50 PM ET | School Days 
New titles explore the fun, challenges, and friendships of a day at school. 

Andrea Beaty, Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year (Abrams) 
Vicki Johnson, Molly’s Tuxedo (Little Bee Books) 
Jen Malia, Nick and the Brick Builder Challenge (Beaming Books) 
Aisha Saeed, The Together Tree (Simon & Schuster) 
Kaz Windness, Bitsy Bat, School Star (Simon & Schuster)
Moderator: Desiree Thomas, Librarian, Worthington Library (OH)

12:00 - 12:50 PM ET | Spectacular STEM 
An otherworldly experiment, a hands-on opportunity to create an earthquake, and an inspiring story of an indefatigable scientist: new nonfiction books offer unlimited opportunities to spark your students’ curiosity.

Janice S. Harrington, Rooting for Plants: The Unstoppable Charles S. Parker, Black Botanist and Collector (Astra Books for Young Readers) 
David A. Kelly, Tee Time on the Moon: How Astronaut Alan Shepard Player Lunar Golf (Astra Books for Young Readers)
Rajani LaRocca, Your One and Only Heart (Penguin Young Readers) 
Lola M. Schaefer, Hands-On Science: Geology (Charlesbridge)
Jody Jensen Shaffer, Creep, Leap, Crunch! A Food Chain Story (Random House Children’s Books)
Moderator: Mandi Harris, PhD Student, University of Washington Information School

12:50 - 1:15 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall


In-Booth Chat

12:50 - 1:15 PM ET | Join JEFFREY LOVES BLUE author Loretta Garbutt, LOVE IS IN THE BEAR author Judith Henderson, and ALL THE FACES OF ME author Laura Alary for a chat about how they explore social-emotional learning themes in their work. Our Editorial Director, Jennifer Stokes, will moderate. (Owlkids)

1:15 - 1:45 PM ET | Lunch Keynote: Layer by Layer, Building a Perfect Picture Book 

Creators Maria Gianferrari and Monica Mikai, Thank a Farmer (Norton Young Readers), and Cristina Quintero and Sarah Gonzales, The Only Way to Make Bread (Tundra), talk about their author and illustrator roles and how their new books came to be.
Moderator: Karen Grenke, Library Co-Director, The Town School (NY)



1:50 - 2:40 PM ET | The Art of the Picture Book 
In addition to imagination, what tools do picture book illustrators employ? Artists working in a variety of styles and media share their thoughts, processes, and latest projects. 

Sylvie Daigneault, The Imaginary Alphabet (Pajama Press) 
St. Clair Detrick-Jules, My Hair Is Like the Sun (Chronicle) 
London Ladd, You So Black (Simon & Schuster) 
E. B. Lewis, The Walk (A Stroll to the Poll) (Abrams)
Daniel Salmieri, Before, Now (Penguin Young Readers)
Moderator: Jess Schriver, PhD Candidate, Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden (NJ)

1:50 - 2:40 PM ET | The Extraordinary Ordinary 
There’s no end to the surprises nature has in store for us when we take the time to stop, look, and listen. Join authors, characters, and critters as they lead the way. 

Meghan P. Browne, Bees of Notre Dame (Random House Children’s Books) 
Rasha Hamid, How to Bird (Free Spirit Publishing) 
SJ Okemow, Âmî Osâwâpikones (Dear Dandelion) (Annick Press) 
Ed Shankman & Dave O’Neill, The Lake I Love (Arcadia) 
Grant Snider, Nothing Ever Happens on a Gray Day (Chronicle) 
Moderator: Sara Pena, Children's Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library (NY)


2:45 - 3:15 PM ET

Looking Back to Move Forward: Reflecting on Your School Library and Practice

As one school year ends and before another begins, there is a moment to look back and assess what you have learned to plan for an even more successful Fall. Design thinking offers a way to examine your practice in an iterative way. Engage in a shared reflective activity with your peers to discover new ideas and approaches and brainstorm ways to grow and strengthen your practice.  
Presenter: J. Elizabeth Mills, Program Manager, WebJunction

2:45 - 3:15 PM ET

All A-Board! Selecting the Best Board Books  

With piles of board books published each year, how do you select and develop a collection for your library? Learn what babies and toddlers respond to at different stages of their development and discover the different formats and features available for them.
Presenter: Rachel G. Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library (NY)


Read More Pictures

Learn about an inclusive, collaborative project for K-5th grade students that focuses on storytelling and story elements through analyzing and creating wordless stories. The project integrates content learning, art techniques, and parent involvement. Presenters will provide tips for recreating the activity in your library and art room and share a bibliography of students' favorite wordless books. 

Presenters: Andrea Ramirez, Art Educator, Northampton Elementary, Klein ISD and Jessica Scheller, Eiland Elementary Library, Klein ISD (TX)

3:15 - 3:40 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

In-Booth Chat

3:15 - 3:40 PM ET | A chat with debut creators about writing and illustrating their first children's books. We'll be talking to HOW TO MAKE A PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH IN 17 EASY STEPS author and illustrator Bambi Edlund and ELEANOR'S MOON author Maggie Knaus. Director of Sales and Marketing Judy Brunsek will moderate. (Owlkids)



3:40 - 4:30 PM ET | The Creative Response 
Music, art, and dance can serve to/are vehicles to express joy and community, to inspire and heal, to protest and challenge. A selection of fiction and nonfiction titles focus on those who have found their voice through the arts. 

Angela Joy, Ordinary Days: The Seeds, Sound, and City That Grew Prince Rogers Nelson (Macmillan Children’s) 
Aly McKnight, Why We Dance: A Story of Hope and Healing (Abrams)
Nikkolas Smith, The Artivist (Penguin Young Readers)
Rachel Werner, Moving and Grooving to Fillmore’s Beat (Capstone) 
Shannon Wright, Holding Her Own (Scholastic)
Moderator: Eric Carpenter, School Librarian, Parkside Elementary School (GA) 


3:40 - 4:30 PM ET | Navigating Our Emotional World 
Understanding new situations, or their own feelings, can be confusing, sometimes frightening, to children, but with support they learn to navigate their worlds. 

Patricia Austin, Elephant of Sadness, Butterfly of Joy (Susan Schadt Press)  
Andi Diehn, Mama’s Days (Reycraft Books) 
Gabriel Frye-BeharPepita Meets Bebita (Random House Children's Books)
Maya Tatsukawa, Mole Is Not Alone (Macmillan Children’s) 
Moderator: J. Elizabeth Mills, Program Manager, WebJunction

Afternoon Keynotes: Top Tips from Top Talent—Beloved Illustrators Grab the Spotlight

4:35 - 4:45 PM ET | 10 Books That Influenced Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s Art
Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Nesting Dolls (Random House Children’s Books)

4:35 - 4:45 PM ET | 10 Tips for Young Illustrators
David McPhail, Truffle (Peter E. Randall Publishing) 

4:50 - 5:00 PM ET | 10 Tips for Collaborating
Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey, There Was a Party for Langston (Simon & Schuster)

4:50 - 5:00 PM ET | 10 Things That Inspire Lane Smith
Lane Smith, Stickler Loves the World (Random House Children’s Books)



Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children's book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author and illustrator of Grandma's Purse, Just Like Me, and Becoming Vanessa, and has illustrated numerous children's books. Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. Learn more about Vanessa and her artwork at and on Facebook and Instagram. 


Maria Gianferrari is a picture book reader/writer, tea-drinker, dog-lover, and birdwatcher. Maria writes books that honor our bonds with creatures both domestic and wild and that celebrate the natural world around us, including Ice Cycle: Poems about the Life of Ice illustrated by Jieting Chen, Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness illustrated by Pete Oswald, Bobcat Prowling illustrated by Bagram Ibatouilline, and Be a Tree! illustrated by Felicita Sala. Her new book, Thank a Farmer, will be published by Norton Young Readers in September 2023. Find out more about her at


Sarah Gonzales is a Filipino-Canadian illustrator born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Canada. Sarah has been drawing ever since she can remember and has never stopped; she eventually went to the Alberta College of Art and Design, where she focused on illustration and design. Sarah lives in Montreal, Quebec. 


Beth Kephart is a National Book Award finalist and an award-winning author of over thirty books for adults, young adults, and children, including the picture books And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth's World and the forthcoming A Room of Your Own: Virginia Woolf and Where We Go to Think, Dream, and Be. She is also a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania and a widely published essayist, with work appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune,, and elsewhere. 


Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world’s leading authorities on children’s books and the people who create them. His award-winning books include Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books, Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon, and Show Me a Story!: Why Picture Books Matter. A frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and a commentator on radio and television, Marcus is a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts and lectures about his work across the world. He lives in New York City. 


Barbara McClintock has written and/or illustrated over forty books for children, including her highly acclaimed Adèle & Simon series. Her books have received five New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book awards, three ALA Notable Children’s Book citations, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor, and two Golden Kite honors, as well as many other accolades, best book selections, and starred reviews. 


David McPhail is a beloved author-illustrator of many books for children including best-selling picture books, board books, and novelty books. He received a New York Times Best Illustrated Books honor for Edward and the Pirates. He has also received a Boston Globe-Horn Book honor, a Children’s Choice Award, a Parents’ Choice Award, a Children’s Booksellers Choices Award, a Best Books of the Year award from Publishers Weekly for Mole Music, and many state awards. He lives near the sea in New Hampshire with his wife Jan Waldron. 


Monica Mikai has a BA from Rider University where she double majored in Art and Elementary Education. She also holds an MFA from The New York Studio School where she studied Painting. She has illustrated Build a House, by Rhiannon Giddens; My Name is a Story, by Ashanti; You Are Getting Sleepy, by Lori Alexander; and her new book with Maria Gianferrari, Thank a Farmer, will be published by Norton Young Readers in September 2023. Find out more about her at  


Jarrett Pumphrey is an award-winning author-illustrator who makes books for kids with his brother, Jerome. Their books include It’s a Sign!, Somewhere in the Bayou, The Old Boat, and The Old Truck, which received seven starred reviews, was named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly, and received the Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award Honor. They also illustrated Jason Reynolds’s There Was a Party for Langston. Jarrett lives near Austin, Texas. 


Jerome Pumphrey is a designer, illustrator, and writer, originally from Houston, Texas. His work includes It’s a Sign!, Somewhere in the Bayou, The Old Boat, and The Old Truck, which received seven starred reviews, was named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly, and received the Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award Honor—all of which he created with his brother Jarrett. They also illustrated Jason Reynolds’s There Was a Party for Langston. Jerome works as a graphic designer at The Walt Disney Company. He lives near Clearwater, Florida. 


Cristina Quintero is a first-generation Colombian-Canadian of both Afro-Colombian and Indigenous-Colombian descent. As a child of immigrants, she understands the importance of stories that go beyond trauma and struggle and instead highlight the everyday joy that is created within immigrant communities. Cristina lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta. 


Lane Smith is the author-illustrator of numerous award-winning and bestselling books for children. He is the recipient of the Kate Greenaway Medal, two Caldecott Honors, five New York Times Best Illustrated Book selections, and lifetime achievements from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Society of illustrators. He is the illustrator of Penguin Problems, Giraffe Problems, and Cat Problems, all written by Jory John. Lane Smith lives in Connecticut with his wife, Molly Leach, an award-winning graphic designer. 


R.W. Alley is the author and illustrator of many children’s books. For more than 20 years, he has been the illustrator of the revived Paddington Bear series, across multiple formats. Other recent work includes There’s a Princess in the Palace: Five Classic Tales Retold, and Mitchell on the Moon. Books he has illustrated have been selected by Junior Library Guild and included in lists such as ALA Notable Books for Children, Bank Street Best Book of the Year, Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, among others. 


Patricia Austin has published two children's books, Elephant of Sadness, Butterfly of Joy and The Cat Who Loved Mozart. She has also published a teaching memoir, Tales from a Teaching Life: Vignettes in Verse. Her career as a primary school teacher was followed by a move to higher ed including a stint at Tulane and twenty-six years as professor of Children’s Literature at the University of New Orleans. She chronicles that journey in the memoir. She is currently the Curator of the Children's Library at the University of New Orleans. 


Andrea Beaty is the author of many beloved children’s books, including the bestselling Questioneers series, I Love You Like Yellow, Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau, and One Girl. She lives just outside Chicago.  


Meghan P. Browne received her MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut picture book, Indelible Ann, was named the 2022 Texas Great Read and received a starred review from Kirkus. She is also the author of Dorothy the Brave. Meghan lives on and runs a farm in South Austin, Texas, called the Honey Browne Farm, where she raises bees. 


Anita Clark grew up chasing butterflies and fishing crawdads from a nearby creek during scorching Sacramento summers. Anita began formal art training at Parsons School of Design before transferring to The University of California - Davis where she earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology. She went on to earn graduate degrees in Creative Writing and Psychology. A veteran teacher, Anita has taught nearly every grade and especially takes pleasure in directing musical theatre productions for her students. Old to Joy is her debut picture book as an author-illustrator.  


Sylvie Daigneault, an award-winning commercial artist and author-illustrator originating from Montreal, Quebec, enjoyed painting and drawing from a young age. She studied at Montreal’s École des Beaux-Arts and her works were featured at a variety of venues and galleries before she began focusing on her passion for children's illustration using colored pencil. She has illustrated fifteen books, most memorably the Bruno series, The Good Garden, which won several awards and accolades, and Sarah Saw a Blue Macaw. Sylvie currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. 


Rachel Más Davidson is a Cuban American author-illustrator who enjoys creating positive stories and art. She previously taught K-12 art and gave private art lessons. Rachel earned a BFA from the Art Institute of Dallas. She lives in Texas. Website: 


St. Clair Detrick-Jules is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer, author, activist, and public speaker. She captures personal stories and intimate moments centering Black liberation, immigrant justice, and women's rights. An Afro-Caribbean artist who remains rooted in her community, St. Clair grounds her work in radical love, joy and the knowledge that a more just world is possible. 


Tim Fite is a musician, singer-songwriter, and multimedia artist who likes to sing, draw, and consider himself a pebble in the shoe of iniquity. Visit him at 


Gabriel Frye-Behar is a Brooklyn based writer, filmmaker and photographer. He has a BFA in Film & TV Production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He currently teaches in the Drama Department at NYU/Tisch. Pepita Meets Bebita is his first picture book and he and his wife can’t wait to share it with their own lovely pepita and bebita. 


Jyoti Rajan Gopal is the author of American Desi and My Paati's Saris. Growing up, she lived in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, India and China. She now lives in New York, in a quirky old Victorian in Yonkers, with her husband, where they raised their two daughters. Her favorite place in the house is the wrap-around porch where she loves to gather with family or friends, read, write and drink coffee. Her newest picture book is Desert Queen, forthcoming from Levine Querido. 


Rasha Hamid attended New York City public schools before earning a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies and Education at Vassar College, and a master’s degree in special education at Bank Street College of Education. Rasha has developed her practice in classrooms in East Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Khartoum, and Brooklyn for over twenty years. She began creating picture books with her classes to fill the need for books reflecting her students, their experiences, and their passions. Rasha lives in New York City. 


Janice N. Harrington is an award-winning poet and children’s author. Her recent title, Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner, was listed among NSTA Best STEM Books and the Nonfiction Detectives’ Best Nonfiction Book, and Chasing a Storyfish was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. Her books The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County and Going North won many awards and citations. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 


Cherise Harris spent much of her childhood in Barbados writing stories and making art. She completed her Associate Degree in Visual Arts at the Barbados Community College, her BFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and her MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice at Falmouth University in the UK. She is inspired by childhood memories, and the books and movies she enjoyed growing up in the ‘90s, which often had to do with children going off on big adventures. Cherise currently lives in Barbados with her husband and two children. 


Vicki Johnson was born and raised in rural Georgia where she spent her days reading, listening to the radio, and sweating. She is a Lambda Literary Fellow, a proud first-generation graduate of Smith College and Emory Law School, and a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts where she is pursuing her MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults. Vicki lives in a historic log cabin in West Virginia where she tends to her three cats, two dogs, and one college kid. She never wears dresses. Find out more about her at 


Angela Joy was born and raised in North Minneapolis, MN, half a block from the little pink house that Prince called home. She found inspiration, training, and opportunity within his tight-knit community of artistic colleagues, priming her for a successful career in music. In 1999 she performed live with Prince at Madison Square Garden. Angela now uses lessons learned in music to write lyrical poetry, including the award-winning books Black is a Rainbow Color and Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement


Astrid Kamalyan comes from a big, happy family and is the oldest of five. She spent most of her childhood in Armenia. As a child, she wished she could one day paint the beautiful mountains of Artsakh. Now she paints with words and writes for the most important people in the world—kids. Astrid holds an MBA degree from the American University of Armenia. She currently shares her time between Chicago and Yerevan, Armenia. 


Reem Kassis is a Palestinian-American writer and award-winning author of two cookbooks: The Palestinian Table and The Arabesque Table. Her articles have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Food & Wine, Saveur and others. She chose a writing career in order to preserve the traditions and stories of Palestinians for her two daughters (soon to be three!) and to share them with the world. We Are Palestinian is the first children's book. 


David A. Kelly is a children’s author best known for his book series Ballpark Mysteries and Most Valuable Player. He lives in West Newton, MA. Visit

Newbery Honoree Rajani LaRocca grew up loving both science and stories. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, she lives outside Boston, where she practices medicine and writes books for young readers.    

London Ladd is a graduate of Syracuse University with an MFA in illustration. He uses a unique mixed media approach, combining cut paper textured with acrylic paint, tissue paper and colored pencil to bring his diverse subjects to life. London’s artwork is steeped in intensity and emotion, a reflection of the artist himself. His hope is that You So Black will be passed down through generations, reaffirming African Americans’ strength, beauty, power and love. His goal is to open a visual arts community center where lower-income families can create their own art. London lives in Syracuse, New York. 


E.B. Lewis is the award-winning illustrator of numerous books for children including Coming on Home Soon (a Caldecott Honor Book), Talkin’ About Bessie (a Coretta Scott King Award winner), and The Bat Boy and His Violin (a Coretta Scott King Honor book). In 2003, the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota purchased a collection of original watercolors from Lewis's first 50 children’s books. Today, his works are displayed in museums, owned by private collectors, and sold by art galleries throughout the United States and Europe. He lives in New Jersey.  


Michael G. Long has a Ph.D. from Emory University and is the author or editor of numerous books on nonviolent protest, civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, politics, and religion. Long's first YA nonfiction biography—a coauthored book titled Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington—earned starred reviews in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the School Library Journal. Long lives in Lower Allen Township, PA, with his family and their Boston terrier, George Abner. 


Jen Malia is an associate professor of English and the creative writing coordinator at Norfolk State University. Originally from Pittsburgh (where The Infinity Rainbow Club series is based), Jen lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and three kids. Jen is the author of Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism. Jen was diagnosed with ASD in her late thirties and has three neurodivergent kids with different combinations of ASD, ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. Website: 


Derek Mascarenhas is a graduate of the University of Toronto SCS Creative Writing Program, a finalist and runner up for the Penguin Random House of Canada Student Award for Fiction, and a nominee for the Marina Nemat Award. His short story collection, Coconut Dreams, was acclaimed by Quill and Quire and The Globe and Mail. Derek lives in Toronto, Ontario, and 100 Chapatis is his first picture book. 

Katie Mazeika is an author and illustrator who can’t imagine a better job than making books. Katie specializes in telling stories based on real people and events and likes to highlight disabled voices in her work. When she’s not drawing Katie likes to spend her time gardening or reading other people’s books. Katie currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio. You can visit Katie online at  
Margarett McBride, M.A., is a Developmental Psychology Ph.D. candidate who resides in North Carolina. During her undergraduate experience, Margarett cofacilitated arts-based workshops for formerly incarcerated people through the Prison Creative Arts Project in Michigan. Currently, she is an instructor for an “Introduction to Psychology” college course where she teaches people who are incarcerated through the UNC Correctional Education Program. You can learn more about Margarett at, or you can follow her on social media @RenaissanceMars.   
Aly McKnight is a self-taught watercolor artist and illustrator whose art features vibrant colors and Indigenous stories. Aly is an enrolled member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and grew up in a small farming community in northern Nevada. She is the second-youngest of eight children and is now based out of Utah, where she lives with her partner, Brockton, of Hawaiian/Samoan descent, and their daughter, Paoakalani. Visit her on Instagram @alymcknight.    

Elizabeth Mills, Ph.D., is a program manager at WebJunction, where she develops various educational materials for library staff to enhance and strengthen their practice. Her research focuses on the role of reflection in the ways in which children's librarians produce their programs, as well as the nature and role of technology in the lives of families and how children's media can be used to promote diversity and inclusion. She is also a children's book author, and her book The Spooky Wheels on the Bus is a perennial bestseller, soon to be followed by the sequel The Merry Wheels on the Bus in Fall 2024. 


Frank Morrison started his journey as a graffiti artist in New Jersey. It wasn’t until he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris as part of the Sugar Hill Gang's dance entourage that he realized painting was his true path. His work has been featured at Art Basel, SCOPE Miami Beach, and Red Dot art fairs, and shown at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Mason Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta. He is the illustrator of over twenty children’s books, including R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Jazzy Miz Mozetta, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone and Let the Children March.  

Rachel G. Payne (M. Ed., MLS) is coordinator of early childhood services at Brooklyn Public Library where she manages new initiatives and facilitates professional development for 60 branches. She contributed to Reading with Babies, Toddlers, and Twos (Sourcebooks, 2013) and Library Services Birth to Five (Facet, 2015). She writes the “First Steps” column for School Library Journal and the board book round-ups for The Horn Book Magazine. She is a founding jury member of the Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award.   

Carrie Pearson is an author and speaker from Marquette, Michigan. As a child, Carrie read voraciously. As an early childhood educator, Carrie experienced how books delighted, healed, and enlightened young people. As a mother, she used story to strengthen family bonds. Today, Carrie writes books that expand our world and bring us closer to it. She is the author of Virginia Wouldn’t Slow Down (Norton Young Readers, August 2023), Real Princesses Change the World, Stretch to the Sun, and more. 

Andrea Ramirez is a public-school art teacher in Houston,Texas. She and Jessica Scheller often collaborate to create new ways for students to experience and express understanding of standards through visual art. They have been awarded several grants that support literacy development through art and storytelling and have presented at the International Reading Association conference in Dublin, Ireland and the Texas Library Association Annual conference.   

Clara Reschke graduated as a designer at UFSC with a year of study at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Since becoming a professional illustrator, she has illustrated several children’s books across Europe, Brazil, and the USA. She has also worked for the animation industry doing character design and backgrounds. She is currently living by the sea with her partner, her son, and their sweet dog. 


Aisha Saeed is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of books for children. Her middle grade novel, Amal Unbound(Penguin), received multiple starred reviews and was a Global Read Aloud for 2018. Her picture book, Bilal Cooks Daal(Simon and Schuster) received an APALA honor. Aisha is also a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. 

Daniel Salmieri is the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of Dragons Love Tacos and numerous other picture books, and the author/illustrator of the critically acclaimed Bear and Wolf. His editorial illustrations can be seen in The New Yorker and The New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and young son.   

Dan Santat is the Caldecott Medal–winning and New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and the road trip/time travel adventure Are We There Yet? His artwork is also featured in numerous picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade novels, including Dav Pilkey's Ricky Ricotta series. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and many, many pets. 


Lola M. Schaefer was a classroom teacher in grades K-7 for eighteen years. She began writing books for children because she saw how important a good book was to each of her students. Lola is now a writing consultant and the author of more than 275 children's books. She and her husband live in the mountains of north Georgia. 

Jessica Scheller has been an ESL and Montessori classroom teacher, an elementary science specialist, curriculum writer and is now an elementary public-school librarian in Houston, Texas. She has presented at state and local conferences on ways librarians can be curriculum leaders by integrating literature with core content concepts. She and Andrea Ramirez have presented their collaborative projects that build literacy through collective experiences at the International Reading Association conference in Dublin, Ireland and the Texas Library Association Annual conference.   

Lynn Scurfield’s work is defined by bright colors, fun textures, and strong emotions. In their spare time, Lynn enjoys knitting, watching tours of beautiful houses online, and going on hikes with Taro, her small (but barky) dog. Lynn resides in Toronto, Canada.  


Jody Jensen Shaffer is the author of several books for fiction and nonfiction for children, including Bear and Friends, a forthcoming, 6-book early reader series with Highlights Press, Prudence the Part-Time Cow (Godwin/Holt), a 2017 National Book Festival selection for Missouri and a finalist for the 2019-2020 Missouri Show Me Award, It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! (Beach Lane/S&S), an Amazon best-seller and Amazon Prime Book Box pick for September 2019, It's a Field Trip, Busy Bus! (Beach Lane/S&S), A Chip Off the Old Block (Paulsen/Penguin), Emergency Kittens! (Doubleday/Random). 

Nikkolas Smith is an Artivist, picture book author, and Hollywood film illustrator. He illustrated the picture books I Am Ruby Bridges, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: The Courage to Dream, That Flag, and the New York Times bestselling The 1619 Project: Born on the Water. He speaks on his Artivism at conferences, workplaces, and schools around the world, and he also leads workshops about digital painting. Born in Houston, Texas, Nikkolas lives in Los Angeles, California.   
Grant Snider is an orthodontist by day, finding hidden hours to write, draw, and create cartoons and picture books, including What Color Is Night?, What Sound Is Morning?, and One Boy Watching. He grew up riding his bike around town with his twin brother, exploring the creeks and parks of Derby, Kansas. Today he loves finding hidden trails and green spaces in Wichita, Kansas, where he lives with his family.   

Lauren Soloy has lived on both coasts of Canada, always within reach of the sea. She currently lives in Nova Scotia, in a house that is exactly 100 years older than she is, with her librarian husband, two curious children, an ever-expanding collection of books, two hives of bees and one grumpy cat. She is the author and illustrator of When Emily Was Small and Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem, as well as the illustrator of the I’s the B’y: The Beloved Newfoundland Folk Song. Her new book is The Hidden World of Gnomes. 


Maya Tatsukawa is a children’s book illustrator and designer residing just out of Boston with her cat/studio manager. When she's not designing, illustrating, or thinking about children's books, you can find her baking cream puffs, eating ice cream, or searching for the perfect scone. She is the author and illustrator of Sunday Pancakes and The Bear in My Family


Duncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is an award-winning author-illustrator. He is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and graduated from Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College in New York City. His artwork is inspired by pre-Columbian art. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but are relevant to today’s people, especially children. He currently lives in San Miguel with his family but travels in the United States often.  


Madison Webb is a mom of three young boys. She studied Journalism at the University of Florida and was a contributing writer for the Independent Florida Alligator, the Coronado Eagle & Journal, and She spent her career in development and grant writing at science museums in North Carolina and California. She has lived all over the country, but New Orleans is the only city that feels like home. Madison enjoys writing about inspirational people and places. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, Matt, their three boys, and their dog, Margeaux. 


Rachel Werner is the founder of The Little Book Project WI, a bi-annual community arts and nonprofit printmaking collaboration. Her literary writing and craft essays have been published by Off Menu Press, Digging Through the Fat, and Voyage YA Literary Journal. A selection of Rachel's recipes are also included in Wisconsin Cocktails (UW-Press, 2020)—and her poetry in the anthology Hope Is The Thing: Wisconsinites On Hope and Resilience in the Time of Covid-19 (The Wisconsin Historical Society, 2021). 


Kaz Windness is an author-illustrator who loves to make her readers laugh. When she’s not writing or illustrating books, Kaz teaches illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and enjoys making deep-dish pizza. Kaz lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, two children, and Boston terrier. She’s the author of picture books Swim, Jim! and Bitsy Bat, School Star. She also created the Level 1 Ready-to-Read Graphics Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends and the Level 1 Ready-to-Read Cat vs. Vac. Visit her at


Jack Wong is based in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Jack creates stories indelibly marked by a first-generation Asian Canadian experience. 

Shannon Wright is an illustrator and cartoonist based in Richmond, Virginia. She is the co-creator, with Varian Johnson, of Twins, and she illustrated two picture books, My Mommy Medicine by Edwidge Danticat and I’m Gonna Push Through! by Jasmyn Wright. Shannon graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she co-teaches a comics course during the summer. To learn more, visit her online at   

Farida Zaman is an author and illustrator who has been drawing since she was old enough to pick up a pencil. Her art is influenced by her South Asian roots and from living all over the world. She attended art school in London, England, and now creates picture books, posters, and all kinds of gift products. Farida lives in Toronto, Ontario in a studio filled with leafy plants and light, with her husband, daughter, son and a fluffy dog called Pippa. 


Jessica Agudelo is the Youth Collections Coordinator at BookOps, the technical services organization serving the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library. Most recently, she served on the award committee for the 2023 John Newbery Medal and was chair of the 2021 Pura Belpré Award committee. 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.  

Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Parkside Elementary in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also a book reviewer for Horn Book Magazine and has served on a number of award and list committees including the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Committee. He is currently serving on ALA's Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table's Best Comics for Kids Committee. 


Amina Chaudri is a Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, where she teaches courses in children’s literature, literacy, and social studies in the department of Teacher Education.


Karen Grenke is the Library Co-Director at The Town School (NYC) and the Resident Librarian at the Onteora Club. She is a second generation librarian, hailing from Canada by way of Taiwan. Her book-related projects have been published in SLJ and she’s twice been a panelist at Book Expo. Karen is a company member of Nerve Tank Media and a recipient of an Audio Verse Award for Best Storyteller. She is the current co-chair of the Education and Information Technology committee for the New York State Association of Independent Schools.  

Mandi Harris (Cherokee Nation) is a children’s librarian and PhD student at the University of Washington Information School, where she uses Indigenous Systems of Knowledge to examine children’s literature, education, and the futures of libraries. She is an American Library Association Spectrum Doctoral Fellow. Mandi has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Washington and has a decade of experience working in youth services at public libraries.  

Hasina Islam is an information scientist who lives and works in New York City. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantasy.


Elizabeth Mills, Ph.D., is a program manager at WebJunction, where she develops various educational materials for library staff to enhance and strengthen their practice. Her research focuses on the role of reflection in the ways in which children's librarians produce their programs, as well as the nature and role of technology in the lives of families and how children's media can be used to promote diversity and inclusion. She is also a children's book author, and her book The Spooky Wheels on the Bus is a perennial bestseller, soon to be followed by the sequel The Merry Wheels on the Bus in Fall 2024. 


Sara Pena is a Children's Librarian at Brooklyn Public Library in New York City. Before earning her MLIS and joining BPL, she served as an elementary school librarian in Brooklyn, and taught adult literacy on a volunteer basis. She now serves on several BPL committees to bring inspired and innovative services to children throughout the borough. 


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.

Desiree Thomas is a Youth Services Librarian in Worthington Ohio. She has worked in libraries for the past 22 years and believes that our lives are made better when we share stories and learn about each other. She is an avid gardener, yogi, and reader’s advisory enthusiast.   




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