SLJTeen Live!

Join us Thursday, August 17th for our 12th annual SLJTeen Live! virtual event! Come learn about the latest and most exciting forthcoming titles for teens and tweens. From rom-coms and mysteries to graphic novels and classic coming-of-age stories, our daylong program of author panels, in-depth conversations, and keynote talks will keep you inspired and entertained.

You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the virtual exhibit hall to meet with leading publishers, enjoy additional chats, and download digital galleys and other free resources.


EVENT HOURS: 9:00 AM ET – 5:00 PM ET



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 Virtual Environment is optimized for 1024 X 768 screen resolution. Joining the environment with a cell phone is not recommended. Please make sure your computer and browser are up to date. Chrome tends to work best. The event platform does not support IE11 + Windows 7 or older versions.

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, please 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.

If you have any questions, contact the Event Manager.

9:00 – 9:30 AM ET | Exhibit Hall Opens / Visit the Booths


9:00 – 9:30 AM ET | Join us in the Image Comics booth for a live chat with Mat Groom, author of INFERNO GIRL RED! Mat will be speaking one-on-one with librarians and taking your questions!

9:45 – 10:15 AM ET | Join us in the Image Comics booth for a live chat with Will Morris, author and illustrator of GOSPEL! Will will be speaking one-on-one with librarians and taking your questions!

9:30 – 10:00 AM ET | Opening Keynote with Ellen Oh, The Colliding Worlds of Mina Lee (Random House Children's Books)

When a Korean American teenage artist gets sucked into the world of her own web comic, she must find a way out with the help of a cute boy all while facing off against a villainous corporation. Inspired by the A-ha's "Take on Me" music video, this entertaining YA novel is a grounded speculative fiction adventure from the co-founder of We Need Diverse Books.
Moderator: Crystal Chen, Teen Center Coordinator, YA Services, New York Public Library


10:30 – 11:00 AM ET | Join us in the Image Comics booth for a live chat with Emma Kubert, illustrator of RADIANT PINK and author/illustrator of STONE HEART, Emma will be speaking one-on-one with librarians and taking your questions!


10:05 – 10:50 AM ET | Beyond Boundaries: Celebrating Diversity and Identity
Join these phenomenal authors as they explore the rich spectrum of LGBTQIA experiences, celebrating love, acceptance, and the power of self-discovery.

Jennifer Dugan, The Last Girls Standing (Penguin Young Readers)
Jason June, The Spells We Cast (Disney Publishing Worldwide)
Naz Kutub, No Time Like Now (Bloomsbury)
Anthony Uzarowski, Friends of Dorothy: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Icons (Charlesbridge)
Moderator: Dontaná McPherson-Joseph, Collection Management Librarian, Oak Park Public Library (IL)


10:05 – 10:50 AM ET | Teen Spirit: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Adolescence
Join our panel of authors as they delve into the rollercoaster ride of adolescence, sharing their stories, insights, and advice for surviving and thriving during these transformative years.

David Arnold, I Loved You in Another Life (Penguin Young Readers)
Jennifer De Leon, Borderless (Simon & Schuster)
Ananya Devarajan, Kismat Connection (HTP Books)
Terry Moore, Strangers in Paradise (Diamond)
Moderator: Alea Perez, Youth Services Librarian, Forest Park Public Library (IL)


10:55 – 11:40 AM ET | Chills and Thrills: Tales That Haunt Your Dreams
Brace yourself for heart-pounding suspense and spine-tingling stories as our authors discuss their bone-chilling books that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Rebecca Barrow, And Don't Look Back (Simon & Schuster)
Linda Cheng, Gorgeous Gruesome Faces (Macmillan Children's)

Genevieve Valentine, Two Graves, Volume 1 (Image Comics)

Joelle Wellington, Their Vicious Games (Simon & Schuster)
Moderator: Crystal Chen, Teen Center Coordinator, YA Services, New York Public Library

10:55 – 11:40 AM ET | Love Chronicles: Sweet, Swoony, and Everything in Between
Fall head over heels with this delightful panel as they share their enchanting tales of love, relationships, and the magic that unfolds within the pages.

David Levithan, Ryan and Avery (Random House Children's Books)
Jennifer Mathieu, Down Came the Rain, (Macmillan Children's)
Katarina E. Tonks, Death Is My BFF (Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group)
Moderator: Ashley Leffel, Librarian, Frisco (TX

11:45 AM – 12:30 PM ET | Above the Stars: Adventures in Teenage Galaxies
Embark on a cosmic journey with visionaries who will take you to extraordinary worlds, pushing the boundaries of science and imagination.

Rodney Barnes, Monarch (Image Comics)
Alechia Dow, A Song of Salvation (HTP Books)
Melissa Flores, The Dead Lucky, Volume 1: Radiant Pink (Image Comics)
Michelle Fus, Ava's Demon, Book One: Reborn (Skybound Entertainment)
Moderator: Ashley Rayner, Librarian at NORC, University of Chicago (IL)

12:30 – 1:00 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall


12:30 – 1:00 PM ET | Join us in the Image Comics booth for a live chat with Melissa Flores, author of THE DEAD LUCKY and RADIANT PINK! Melissa will be speaking one-on-one with librarians and taking your questions!

12:30 – 1:00 PM ET | Join us in the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group booth for an in-booth panel with authors BELLA HIGGIN (Belle Morte series), JESSICA CUNSOLO (With Me series), and PHILLINE HARMS (Love and Other Wicked Things).

1:00 – 1:30 PM ET | Afternoon Keynote with Chloe Gong, Foul Heart Huntsman (Simon & Schuster)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends comes the second book in the captivating Foul Lady Fortune duology following an immortal assassin in 1930s Shanghai as she races to save her country and her love.
Moderator: Allison Tran, Library & Cultural Services Supervisor, City of Mission Viejo (CA)


1:30 – 2:00 PM ET | Join us in the Image Comics booth for a live chat with Wes Craig, author and illustrator of KAYA, BOOK 2! Wes will be speaking one-on-one with librarians and taking your questions!

1:35 – 2:20 PM ET | Voices Rising: Teens Fighting for Change
Hear from a diverse group of authors who spotlight the power of activism, inspiring readers to stand up, speak out, and make a difference in their communities.

Kim Johnson, Invisible Son (Random House Children's Books)
Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Emily Posts (Penguin Teen Canada)
Leanne Schwartz, A Prayer for Vengeance (Page Street Publishing)
Traci Sorell and Charles Waters, Mascot (Charlesbridge)
Moderator: Dr. Grace Gipson, PhD, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University


2:25 – 2:55 PM ET | Revibing Your Library
COVID, virtual learning, book banning and budget cuts giving you low vibrations? It's time to "revibe" your library and yourself through engaging resources, lesson plans and passive programming ideas sure to give you good vibes for the upcoming year.

Presenters: Brandi Grant, Teacher-Librarian, Frisco ISD (TX) and Heather Lassley, Librarian, Frisco ISD/ Trent Middle School (TX)

2:25 – 2:55 PM ET | Passionate about Passive Programming
Passive programs offer flexible engagement with teens without the time, space, and staff commitments of a full program. Join us for some fun ideas to draw in and engage teen users on their own time.
Presenters: Amelia Jenkins, Assistant Library Technician 2 and
Amber Reifsneider, M.Ed, MLS.

2:55 – 3:25 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

3:25 – 4:10 PM ET | Realm of Wonder: Unleashing Imagination and Magic
Enter a world of mythical creatures, epic quests, and enchanting realms as our panel of authors reveals the secrets behind their captivating and immersive fantasy novels.

Hanna Howard, Our Divine Mischief (HarperCollins Christian)
Elizabeth Lowham, Beauty Reborn (Shadow Mountain Publishing)
Sajni Patel, A Drop of Venom (Disney Publishing Worldwide)
Mairghread Scott, Sea Serpent's Heir Book Two: Black Wave (Skybound Entertainment)
Moderator: Myiesha Speight, Book Reviewer, SLJ

4:15 – 5:05 PM ET | Mind Matters: Tales of Resilience and Growth
Delve into the pages of these remarkable books, where authors explore the complexities of mental health and offer messages of hope, strength, and understanding.

Olivia A. Cole, Ariel Crashes a Train (Random House Children's Books)
Shideh Etaat, Rana Joon and the One and Only Now (Simon & Schuster)
Susan Lee, The Name Drop (HTP Books)
Mel Mallory, Letters from Bed World (West 44 Books)
Julie Wright, Swimming in a Sea of Stars (Shadow Mountain Publishing)
Moderator: Monisha Blair, Head Librarian, Key Middle School, Fairfax County (VA)




Ellen Oh is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and an award-winning author of numerous middle-grade novels and the YA Prophecy trilogy. She has edited and contributed to You Are Here: Connecting Flights; Flying Lessons and Other Stories; and A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. Ellen is a former lawyer who loves K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows. A Gen Xer who grew up with MTV, Ellen credits A-ha's iconic “Take On Me” video as the inspiration for Colliding Worlds. Ellen lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, three human children, and two dog children, and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

Chloe Gong is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Secret Shanghai novels, as well as the Flesh and False Gods trilogy. Her books have been published in over twenty countries and have been featured in The New York Times, People, Forbes, and more. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double majored in English and international relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chloe is now located in New York City, pretending to be a real adult. 

David Arnold is the New York Times bestselling author of Mosquitoland, I Loved You in Another Life, The Electric Kingdom, Kids of Appetite, and The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. He has won the Southern Book Prize and the Great Lakes Book Award, and was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for his debut. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his wife and son. 
Rodney Barnes is the award-winning writer/producer of HBO’s Showtime, Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Marvel’s Runaways, Starz’s American Gods, and a host of other television programs and films. He has also authored graphic novels for Lion Forge’s Quincredible and Star Wars - Lando: Double or Nothing, as well as Falcon for Marvel Comics. He is now writing Killadelphia for Image Comics. Rodney resides in Los Angeles. 
Rebecca Barrow is the critically acclaimed author of  Bad Things Happen Here, This Is What It Feels Like, and several others. She is a lover of sunshine, Old Hollywood icons, and all things high femme.  She lives and writes in England. 
Linda Cheng was born in Taiwan and spent her childhood moving between cultures and continents. She received her BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design and worked as an art director across South Carolina and Georgia where she developed a deep love for sweet tea, grits, and Southern Gothic stories. She currently resides in Vancouver, Canada, where she spends her off days exploring the British Columbia Coast and introducing her daughter to the wonderful world of obscure 90’s anime. 
Olivia A. Cole is a writer from Louisville, Kentucky. Her essays have been published by Bitch Media, Real Simple, the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Gay Mag, and more. She teaches creative writing at Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, where she guides her students through not only poetry and fiction but also considerations of the world and who they are in it. She is the author of several books for children and adults. 
Jennifer De Leon is the award-winning author of the YA novels, Borderless, featured on the TODAY show, and Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From. She is also the author of White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing. She is an active speaker, presenter, and educator who loves to connect with readers of all ages. Jenn lives outside the Boston area with her husband and two sons. Find her online at or on Instagram @jdeleonwriter. 
Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, librarian, and author of Young Adult sci fi-fantasies: The Sound of Stars and The Kindred. When not writing, you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, reading, or traveling. 
Jennifer Dugan is a writer, a geek, and a romantic who writes the kinds of stories she wishes she’d had growing up. She’s the author of the graphic novel Coven, as well as the young adult novels Melt With You, Some Girls Do, Verona Comics, and Hot Dog Girl. She lives in upstate New York with her family, their dog, a strange kitten who enjoys wearing sweaters, and an evil cat who is no doubt planning to take over the world. 
Shideh Etaat is an Iranian American writer living in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Her work has been published in Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian Americans, Day One, Foglifter, Nowruz Journal, and My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora. Rana Joon and the One and Only Now is her first book. When she is not busy writing you can find her helping her five-year-old son navigate life. 
Melissa Flores, writer, producer, consultant and creative executive with over a decade of experience, helped revitalize the Power Rangers brand when it was bought by Saban Brands from Disney in 2010, until its sale to Hasbro in 2018. In 2020, she wrote and co-created the popular Twitch digital hybrid series The Unleashed, which was also featured as a backup series in the superhero Image series RADIANT BLACK. Her new Image comic book series THE DEAD LUCKY and RADIANT PINK released in 2023. She also voices the characters Kat Ranger and Gia Moran in Power Rangers: Battle For the Grid. 
Michelle Fus graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2011 for Computer Art and Animation. After interning at Pixar and working at Dreamworks Animation for two years, they decided to follow their dreams by telling stories and creating comics. Fus has been working on their sci-fi/fantasy epic AVA’S DEMON for over eight years and hopes to continue to add new and exciting installments to the story for as long as they can. They want to thank you for supporting their work and hope you thoroughly enjoy this book! 
Brandi Grant has 12 years’ experience as a school librarian and currently is a middle school librarian at Pearson Middle School in Frisco ISD.  The mission statement that guides her professionally is to strive to educate, prepare, and inspire all students to achieve their highest potential with various resources, a contagious love of reading and a positive and fun environment. What she holds tight is to provide a safe, inclusive, and flexible learning environment where whoever enters through the doors feels that they are free to COLLABORATE, INNOVATE, and ESCAPE. 
Hanna C. Howard started writing books in the fourth grade—and they were always about dogs. Her tastes have expanded since then, but her favorite stories still tend to have a dog in them somewhere. When she isn’t writing or reading with a pot of tea nearby, she prefers to be in her rambling cottage garden, conjuring beauty and nurturing compost. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, three young hobbit children, and their athletic rescue mutt. 
Amelia Jenkins is a life-long Alaskan and a life-long youth caretaker. She has an MLIS from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has worked in university libraries and has been in her current position at the Juneau Public Libraries for nearly 25 years. In this position, she provides library services to teens in a youth detention facility, a youth treatment center, Christian private schools, public high schools, and home school families. When not at work, she volunteers with high school exchange students and drag shows and goes hiking whenever she can.  
Kim Johnson held leadership positions in social justice organizations as a teen. She is now a college administrator who maintains engagement throughout the community while also mentoring and supporting Black youth. This Is My America was her award-winning debut novel. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park. Kim lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and two kids. 
Jason June is a New York Times bestselling author from Austin, Texas, who as of this writing has no magical powers. Bummer. He’s a big fan of Pomeranians, stories that center the power of queer love, and Torchy’s Tacos, “trashy” of course. His novels include Out of the Blue, Jay’s Gay Agenda, and Riley Weaver Needs a Date to the Gaybutante Ball
Naz Kutub, author of THE LOOPHOLE, is half-Indian, half-Malay immigrant from Singapore. His novels are inspired by his personal experiences growing up as a queer Muslim and as someone raised on a calorie-rich diet of Eastern lore. 
Tanya Lloyd Kyi is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults, and she is always polite. Tanya has worked in the past as a graphic designer, an editor, and a dishwasher. (She considers herself entirely qualified for that last one.) Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is cheese, and her favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time. When she is not dreaming up semi-vegan activists, Tanya teaches for the UBC School of Creative Writing in Vancouver, BC. 

After 7 years of being a teacher, Heather Lassley felt a calling to another area in the school, the library. Heather has worked in Frisco ISD as a librarian for 13 years in the middle school area. Her passions are collection development, teaching research, and building a library for all students.     

Susan Lee has had a lifetime of careers, but she was born to be a storyteller, and she has channeled her myriad of experiences into her writing of light-hearted, quirky novels about the oftentimes hilarious human condition. And love. Always write about love. She currently lives in Southern California with a pack of three feisty chihuahuas and a too-hearty obsession with K-pop and K-dramas. She is the author of Seoulmates
David Levithan is the author of several books for young adults, including Lambda Literary Award Winner Two Boys Kissing; Every Day; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (co-authored with Rachel Cohn); Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored with John Green); and Boy Meets Boy. In 2016, David received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. 
Elizabeth Lowham dreams of a future house that is seventy-percent library with at least three lavish window seats. Her reality is five bookshelves and a rocking chair, which isn’t so bad. Apart from reading and writing, her hobbies include sewing, sketching, dancing, eating, and other -ing verbs. Plus yoga. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and works as an author, editor, and screenwriter. She is a sexual abuse survivor who believes stories have a unique power to lift and heal for author and reader alike. She lives with her husband and son in the Loveland area of Colorado. 
Mel Mallory (she/her) works at a peer-led mental health organization. Her previous verse novels include Survive and Keep Surviving and The Best Part is at the End. She also writes for The Squeaky Wheel, a satire publication written by and for disabled people. 
Jennifer Mathieu is the author of Devoted, Afterward, The Liars of Mariposa Island, and The Truth About Alice, which won the Teen Choice Debut Author Award. Her 2017 novel, Moxie, was developed into a film by Amy Poehler for Netflix. Jennifer teaches high school English in Texas, where she lives in the Houston area with her husband and son. 
Terry Moore began his career in comics with the critically acclaimed epic series, Strangers in Paradise, the compelling love story between three unlikely friends who find themselves bound together by their pasts. The long running series garnered many awards including the coveted Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story and the National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Reuben Award. Strangers in Paradise has been translated into nineteen languages. The recipient of numerous industry awards worldwide Moore continues his legacy of strong female characters in extraordinary stories such as Echo, Rachel Rising and Motor Girl and Serial. In addition to publishing work under his own label, Abstract Studio, Moore has worked for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Boom! and other major publishers throughout his career. Terry celebrates thirty years in the comic book industry in 2023. 
Sajni Patel is an award-winning author of women’s fiction and young adult books. Her works have appeared on numerous Best Of the Year and Must Read lists from Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Apple Books, AudioFile, Tribeza, NBC, Insider, and many others. 
After spending 7 years teaching 7th grade language arts, Amber Reifsneider transitioned to being a middle school librarian and has not looked back since! When she is not in the stacks, she enjoys reading with an iced coffee, checking out used bookstores and thrift shops, running, and spending time with her family, especially her one-and-a-half-year-old son!   
Aisha Saeed is the author of the New York Times bestseller Amal Unbound, Written in the Stars, Yes No Maybe So (with Becky Albertalli), and Diana and the Island of No Return, and is a Pakistani American writer, teacher, and attorney. As one of the founding members of the We Need Diverse Books Campaign, she is helping change the conversation about representation in literature. Aisha lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and sons. 
Leanne Schwartz is a Pitch Wars alum mentored by Alechia Dow and Sheena Boekweg. Formerly a teacher, Leanne believes in arduous work, actively dismantling systems of oppression, and the power of singing along to show tunes. She lives in San Diego, California. A Prayer for Vengeance is her debut novel. 
Mairghread Scott is an animation and comic book writer. Her animated work includes Justice League Dark: Apocalypse War, Star Wars: Resistance, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Her comics work ranges from Batgirl to Transformers. She has also released two original graphic novels, The City on the Other Side and Toil and Trouble. A native of Dearborn, Michigan, she now lives in sunny Los Angeles with her husband and son, even though she spends most of her days writing dragons and aliens in your favorite fictional universes. 
Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction for children featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located. 
Katarina E. Tonks is an award-winning author who began her career on the Wattpad platform. She has over 100 million reads collectively on the early drafts of her Death Chronicles and the Vendetta series and is considered one of Wattpad’s most influential writers. one to color between the lines, her books are often dark romance with morally gray love interests. She will soon graduate from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and is pursuing her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Kat is a Jersey Girl and lives with her family and many pets. 

Anthony Uzarowski is the author of Jessica Lange: An Adventurer’s Heart and coauthor of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies. He has written numerous articles on cinema and the arts, with his work appearing in the Guardian, Film International, Gay Times, Queerty, and many other publications. You can also see his head pop up in the occasional documentary, where he shares his love for classic movies and their stars.    

Genevieve Valentine is the author of Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti (2012 Crawford Award), The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Persona, and Icon. She has written Catwoman for DC Comics, and is the co-creator of TWO GRAVES, alongside Ming Doyle and Annie Wu, for Image Comics. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen Best of the Year anthologies, including Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her cultural criticism has appeared at, The AV Club, LA Review of Books, Vice, Vox, and The New York Times, among others. 
Charles Waters is a children’s poet, actor, educator, and coauthor of African Town; Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z; and the award-winning Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship. He lives near Atlanta. 
Joelle Wellington grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where her childhood was spent wandering the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Her love of the written word led her to a B.A. in Creative Writing and International Studies. When she is not writing, she is reading, and when she is not doing that, she is attempting to bake bread with varying degrees of success or strengthening her encyclopedia-like pop culture knowledge. 
Julie Wright began writing her first book when she was fifteen years old. Since then, she has written 26 novels and her books have received several starred reviews. She’s a sucker for almost all things nerdy: Doctor Who, Disneyland, the Marvel Universe, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, fairy tales, and Jane Austen. She believes in second chances, getting up and trying again, and in the power and magic of love, forgiveness, generosity, and compassion. She loves writing, reading, traveling, snorkeling, hiking, playing with her family, and watching her husband make dinner. 

Monisha Blair is the head librarian at Key Middle School in Springfield, VA. She earned her Masters of Information from Rutgers University in December 2020, with a concentration in School Library Media. She achieved a B.A. in Journalism from George Washington University in 2005. Since January 2020, Monisha has reviewed middle grade fiction, picture books, and young adult fiction for School Library Journal. She served on the SLJ Best Books Committees for 2020-2022. 

Crystal Chen is a Digital Educator Support Manager & Archivist at Facing History & Ourselves and is a 2018 American Library Association Emerging Leader. She’s worked in public libraries for over 10 years and currently serves as a community admin for We Here (, a supportive community for BIPOC in LIS. 

Kristyn Dorfman has been a school librarian for over a decade and has worked with children of all ages, from early childhood to High School Seniors. She has been reviewing for School Library Journal since 2013 and has served on several ALA and ALA affiliate committees including most recently APALA's 2020-2021 Youth Literature Award. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, doing the crossword, and spending time with her three young children.  

Kate Frick is a former Youth Services Librarian and current part-time editor for School Library Journal. While not working, they enjoy playing video games – you can occasionally find them streaming online – and going on walks around their Columbus neighborhood.

Elisa Anais Garcia is the Supervising Librarian of MyLibraryNYC, Collections at The New York Public Library in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, The Brooklyn Public Library, and The Queens Public Library. She is motivated to foster a love of reading in reluctant readers and therefore strives to introduce them to a diverse world of experiences through books. 

Grace D. Gipson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a Black future feminist/pop culture scholar, Dr. G's area of research interest centers on Black popular culture, digital humanities, representations of race and gender within comic books, Afrofuturism, and race and new media. Outside of the classroom, you can find Dr. G working in the community and on her social networks: Instagram- @lovejones20 and Twitter- @GBreezy20. 

Ashley Leffel is the librarian in Frisco, TX.  Before becoming a librarian, she taught music for many years. She loves reading all types of books and fangirling for her favorite authors. When not reading, she enjoys Broadway musicals and can quote just about every episode of Bob’s Burgers. 

Dontaná McPherson-Joseph is an avid reader and dedicated librarian with a passion for curating diverse collections. An active member of the American Library Association, she currently serves as Chair of the Rainbow Round Table. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her pets Monroe and Pistachio, and several overflowing bookshelves. 

Alea Perez has been a Youth and Young Adult Services manager in the Chicago suburbs since June 2015. She aims to help children, teens, and their caregivers discover the many services libraries provide. Alea is dedicated to advocacy for youth and teen services, youth and teen services management, graphic novels for youth and teens, and equity and inclusion in the field at large. 

Ashley Rayner is a research librarian at NORC at the University of Chicago. She has been an academic and public librarian as well, all within the Chicagoland area. Ashley loves reading any genre but she has a special love for speculative fiction, historical fiction, and thrillers. She started writing book reviews for Booklist in 2020 and they help her stay connected to fiction as a librarian at a social science research organization. When she's not reading or researching, Ashley can be found playing video games, cooking, planning her next karaoke debut song, tweeting at @ashley_rayner, or hanging out with her husband and two kids. 

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 a Book Reviewer for SLJ.

Allison Tran is a Library & Cultural Services Supervisor for the City of Mission Viejo in California. She's dedicated to fostering self-expression, curiosity, and empathy in the community through art and literature. Before earning her Masters of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2006, Allison taught English in Japan. 




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