SLJTeen Live! What's Next

Join us Thursday, August 5, 2021 for our tenth annual SLJTeen Live! virtual event!

With hope on the horizon of an unprecedented, traumatic year, educators, librarians, and students are wondering: Where do we go from here?

So much of adolescence is preparing for the future—college, careers, adulthood, the next grade—and that's even tougher when no one knows what the future will look like. As we adjust to a new normal, we must move forward while remembering where we’ve come from. After a pandemic and amid continued tragedies of racist violence, teens and adults alike are called to heal and grow, to learn more, and to further conversations about history and justice. Through it all, books reflect and illuminate our lives, telling boundary-pushing stories that take publishing to the next level. As teens consider what comes after childhood, we all must think about what the future holds for students and storytelling.

The conference’s author panels and library programming sessions will help you support and engage teens in this new moment and beyond.


Event Hours: 9:00 AM ET - 5:00 PM ET


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

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9:00 AM - 9:30 AM ET | Exhibit Hall Opens / Welcome Message by Michelle Obama

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM ET | Opening Keynote Conversation

Powerhouse YA authors (and spouses) Nicola and David Yoon have brought readers stunning and sigh-inducing novels like The Sun Is Also a Star and Frankly in Love. Their latest project? Launching a YA romance imprint that will showcase the love stories of people of color--because they are deserving of their own happily-ever-afters.
Moderator: Shelley Diaz, Reviews Editor, SLJ

9:45 AM - 10: 15 PM ET Live Creator Chat - Emma Kubert (Image Comics
10:00 AM - 10:30 AM ET Tyler Chin-Tanner, The Orphan King (Diamond Distributors)

Two Panels Running Concurrently

10:05 AM - 10:50 AM ET | Make ‘Em Laugh
A little humor goes a long way, and these titles are sure to keep young readers laughing until the last page.
S.K. AliMisfit in Love (Simon & Schuster)
Sonia HartlThe Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story (Page Street)
Jason JuneJay’s Gay Agenda (HarperCollins)
David ValdesSpin Me Right Round (Bloomsbury)
Moderator: Sandra Farag, MLIS, Head of Youth Services, Kalamazoo Public Library (MI)


10:05 AM - 10:50 AM ET | Truth Be Told
Nonfiction and memoirs take readers on unforgettable journeys, imparting wisdom and lessons from the past.
Wade HudsonDefiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South (Random House Children’s Books)
Kekla MagoonRevolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People (Candlewick Press)
Marisabina RussoWhy Is Everybody Yelling? Growing Up in My Immigrant Family (Macmillan)
Jason SommerShmuel’s Bridge: Following the Tracks to Auschwitz with my Survivor Father (Charlesbridge)
Moderator: Amanda Borgia, Teen Services Librarian - Uniondale Public Library (NY)

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM ET Live Creator Chat - Pornsak Pichetshote (Image Comics)

Two Panels Running Concurrently

10:55 AM - 11:45 AM ET | Summer Lovin’
No two love stories are alike yet the quest for romantic connections remains a constant.
Meredith IrelandThe Jasmine Project (Simon & Schuster)
Laekan Zea KempSomewhere Between Bitter and Sweet (Little, Brown)
Lynn Painter, Better Than the Movies (Simon & Schuster)
Eric SmithYou Can Go Your Own Way (Inkyard Press)
Peyton ThomasBoth Sides Now (Penguin Young Readers)
Moderator: Kristyn Dorfman, Lower and Middle School Librarian, Friends Academy (NY)


10:55 AM - 11:45 AM ET | Panel by Panel
Graphic novels continue to storm the shelves, offering visual readers an escape in every page.
Andrew AydinRun (Abrams)
Angela De VitoHeartless Prince (Disney)
Huda FahmyHUDA F ARE YOU (Penguin Young Readers)
Julio AntaHome (Image Comics)
Alissa Sallah, Weeaboo (Oni Press)
Moderator: Alea Perez, Head of Kids' Library, Elmhurst Public Library (IL)

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM ET Neo Edmund, The Rise of the Candy Creeper (Diamond Distributors)
11:45 AM - 12:05 PM ET Author Chat with Makiia Lucier (Clarion)
11:45 AM - 12:25 PM ET Chat with the Creative Team Behind Choose Your Own Adventure: Eighth Grade Witch - The Graphic Novel (Oni Press)
11:45 PM - 12:15 PM ET Live Creator Chat - Ed Brubaker & Marcos Martin (Image Comics)
11:45 AM -12:05 PM ET Chat with Margarita Longoria and David Bowles (PRH Author Spotlight)

11:50 AM - 12:10 PM ET Chat with Sarah Raughley (Simon & Schuster)

11:45 AM - 12:15 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM ET Steve Niles, Sacred Hearts (Diamond Distributors)
12:00 PM - 12:30 PM ET Chat with Breeana Shields, The Splendor (Page Street)

12:20 PM - 12:50 PM ET | Lunch Keynote Conversation
What’s the difference between a retelling and a remix? Find out as these two authors discuss the importance of crafting stories that bend familiarity with a modern sensibility.

Bethany C. MorrowSo Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix (Macmillan)
C.B. LeeA Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix (Macmillan)
Moderator: Desiree Thomas, Librarian, Worthington Library (OH)

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM ET Learn More About Between The Pages With Alane! (Alane Adams)

Two Panels Running Concurrently

12:55 PM - 1:40 PM ET | Rhythm and Rhyme
Poetry engages the heart, through winding verse and word form art.
Mahogany L. BrowneChlorine Sky (Random House Children’s Books)
Tina CaneAlma Presses Play (Random House Children’s Books)
Amber McBrideMe (Moth) (Macmillan)
Elisabet VelasquezWhen We Make It (Penguin Young Readers)
Moderator: Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, Adult and Teen Services Manager, Morley Library (OH)

12:55 PM - 1:40 PM ET | Coming of Age
As older teens prepare for the world beyond high school, crossover titles offer a glimpse into what lies ahead.
Julie MurphyMeant to Be: If the Shoe Fits (Disney)
Kelly Loy GilbertWhen We Were Infinite (Simon & Schuster)
Ariel Henley, A Face for Picasso (Macmillan)
Jasmine WallsThe Last Session (Mad Cave)
Moderator: Sabrina Carnesi, School Librarian, Book Reviewer, Doctoral Candidate

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET Arvind Ethan David (Gray Volume 1) (Diamond Distributors)

1:40 PM - 2:10 PM ET | Break / Visit the Exhibit Hall

1:40 PM - 2:10 PM ET Live Creator Chat - Julio Anta (Image Comics)
1:40 PM - 2:10 PM ET Chat with Stan Stanley, The Hazards of Love (Oni Press)
2:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET Meghan Parker, Teaching Artfully (Diamond Distributors)
2:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET Chat with Zack Smedley (Page Street)

Two Concurrent Fast Learning Sessions

2:10 PM - 2:40 PM ET | What Makes These Librarians TikTok?
The social media platform has taken the world by storm, even pushing some YA books to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. This panel will share some tips on how to use TikTok to engage your teens.
Kelsey Bogan, MSLIS, Library Media Specialist, Great Valley High School (PA)
Alaysia Hamilton, Youth Services Assistant, McCracken County Public Library (KY) 
Moderator: Kelly Jensen, Editor and Author


2:10 PM - 2:40 PM ET | Prepping Teens for Adulthood
Adulting can be hard, but two librarians working to ready teens for it—Buckley has a series of videos with tips and tricks on topics such as money management and self-care, while Mokuau created a club that helps students in Hawaii visit the East and West Coasts for college tours—discuss how libraries can help.

Kimberli Buckley, Senior Community Library Manager, Concord Library (CA)
Diane Mokuau, Librarian, Moloka’i High School (HI) and SLJ’s 2021 School Librarian of the Year
Moderator: Amanda Mastrull, YA Editor, SLJ


2:15 PM - 2:45 PM ET Chat with Alissa Sallah, Weeaboo (Oni Press)


2:45 PM - 3:15 PM ET | Afternoon Keynote
Best-selling author Marissa Meyer discusses Gilded (Macmillan), her chilling take on the classic story of Rumpelstiltskin and the cursed miller’s daughter.
Moderator: Emma Carbone, Senior YA Librarian, Central Youth Wing, Brooklyn Public Library (NY)


2:50 PM - 3:15 PM ET Chat with the creators behind Orcs in Space (Oni Press)

Two Concurrent Sessions

3:20 PM - 4:10 PM ET | The Suspense Is Killing Me
Mysteries keep readers on the edge of their seats and leave them guessing at every turn.
Faridah Àbíké-ÍyímídéAce of Spades (Macmillan)
Tiffany D. JacksonWhite Smoke (HarperCollins)
Barry LygaTime Will Tell (Little, Brown)
Mariko TamakiCold (Macmillan)
Kara ThomasThe Weekend (Random House Children's Books)
Moderator: Sarah Hannah Gómez, Senior Sensitivity Editor, Kevin Anderson & Associates


3:20 PM - 4:10 PM ET | Between Worlds
Sometimes a break from reality is just what readers need, and these titles will transport them to imagination-stretching worlds.
Cherie DimalineHunting By Stars (Abrams)

Kate PentecostThat Dark Infinity (Little, Brown)
Akshaya RamanThe Ivory Key (Clarion Books)
Caroline Tung RichmondThe Great Destroyers (Scholastic)
Xiran Jay ZhaoIron Widow (Penguin Teen Canada)
Moderator: Ashley Leffel, Librarian, Frisco ISD (TX)

4:15 PM - 5:00 PM ET | Closing Keynote Conversation
All SIX award-winning authors of Blackout (HarperCollins) engage in a conversation you won’t forget. Join Dhonielle ClaytonTiffany D. JacksonNic StoneAngie ThomasAshley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon as they discuss the inspiration behind their collaborative title.

Moderator: Ashleigh Williams, Associate Editor of Chapter Books and Middle Grade, SLJ



Welcome Message



Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama served as First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A product of Chicago public schools, Michelle Robinson studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she met her future husband, Barack Obama. She later worked in the Chicago mayor’s office, at the University of Chicago, and at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Mrs. Obama also founded the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an organization that prepares young people for public service. Through her four main initiatives, she has become a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education. When people ask former First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn't hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha's mom.


Keynote Speakers



Dhonielle Clayton is the New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series and the coauthor of the Tiny Pretty Things duology, which was made into a Netflix original series. She is COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and owner of CAKE Literary. @brownbookworm


Tiffany D. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of Allegedly, Monday’s Not ComingLet Me Hear a Rhyme, and Grown. A Walter Dean Myers Honor Book and Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, her master of arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. The Brooklyn native still resides in the borough she loves. You can visit her at

C.B. Lee (she/her/hers) is a Lambda Literary Award nominated writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her works include A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix, the Sidekick Squad series (Duet Books), Ben 10 graphic novels (BOOM! Studios), and Out Now: Queer We Go Again (HarperTeen). She loves to write about queer teens, magic, superheroes, and the power of friendship. Lee’s work has been featured in Teen VogueWired Magazine, Hypable, Tor’s Best of Fantasy and Sci Fi and the American Library Association’s Rainbow List. 


Marissa Meyer is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles series, the New York Times-bestselling Renegades trilogy, as well as the graphic novel Wires and Nerve: Vol. 1 and 2, and The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book. Her first stand alone novel, Heartless, was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and their two daughters. 


Bethany C. Morrow is a recovering expat recently returning from six years in Montreal, Quebec, to live and write in north country, New York. A California native, Bethany graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Sociology. Following undergrad, she studied Clinical Psychological Research at the University of Wales, Bangor, in Great Britain before returning to North America to focus on her literary work. She is the author of the adult novel Mem, So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix and the national bestseller A Song Below Water, and the editor of the young adult anthology Take the Mic


Nic Stone is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of William C. Morris Award finalist Dear MartinDear JustyceOdd One OutJackPotClean Getaway, and the Shuri novel series with Marvel Comics. @getnicced.


Angie Thomas’s award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000. She is also the author of On the Come Up and Concrete Rose@angiecthomas.


Ashley Woodfolk worked in children’s book publishing before becoming an author full-time. Her novels include the highly-acclaimed The Beauty that Remains and When You Were Everything@AshWrites.


David Yoon grew up in Orange County, California, and is the author of Super Fake Love Song and the New York Times bestseller Frankly in Love, which was a William C. Morris Award finalist and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature Honor book. Alongside his wife, Nicola Yoon, David is also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a new YA imprint at Random House Children's Books geared toward telling stories of big love and the joys of people of color. 

Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient, and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. Nicola grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist David Yoon, and their family. Alongside her husband, David Yoon, Nicola is also co-publisher of Joy Revolution. She is a hopeless romantic who firmly believes that you can fall in love in an instant and that it can last forever. 



Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a writer from South London who has dreamt of writing books about black kids saving (or destroying) the world all her life. She is an avid tea drinker, and a collector of strange mugs. Faridah currently studies English Literature at a university in the Scottish Highlands. 

S. K. Ali is the author of Saints and Misfits, a finalist for the American Library Association’s 2018 William C. Morris Award and the winner of the APALA Honor Award and Middle East Book Honor Award; and Love from A to Z, a Today show’s Read with Jenna Book Club selection. Both novels were named best YA books of the year by various media including Entertainment Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.

Julio Anta is a writer based in New York City. Raised in Miami, in a Cuban and Colombian family, his writing focuses on the intersection of Latinx identity and American life. His debut comic book series "HOME" began publication in 2021, courtesy of Image Comics. Forthcoming work includes FRONTERA, a YA graphic novel from HarperAlley, and SI SE PUEDE, an Adult non-fiction graphic novel from Ten Speed Press. 

Andrew Aydin is an award-winning comics writer. He was the Digital Director and Policy Advisor to the late Georgia congressman John Lewis, and his co-author for March and Run

Kelsey Bogan is a high school Librarian who loves that she gets to work with teens and other educators every day. Kelsey is also a professional speaker who presents nationally within the library & education world on such topics as: tiktok & social media for librarians, media literacy, and how to develop diverse and representative library programs and collections.  

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) & Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign) & as an Arts for Justice grantee, is excited to release her first YA Novel Chlorine Sky in January 2021. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can find Mahogany online at and @mobrowne.

Kimberli Buckley is a Senior Community Library Manager at Contra Costa County Library in Northern California. Her educational background includes a MLIS from San Jose State University, a MA in Consciousness Studies from John F. Kennedy University. She has been a blogger for the Programming Librarian and the YALSA Hub and maintains her own blog Hey There Mrs. Librarian Lady. Kimberli is currently writing a book with ALA Editions that focuses on how important adulting is in today’s world. She teaches courses at San Jose State University with the iSchool - School of Information and a 4-week online workshop called Growing Up Is Hard that teaches library staff how to plan adulting programs at the library. She loves to be creative when it comes to library programs and she has been known to frequently tap into her inner unicorn to bring all of her program ideas to life. 

Tina Cane grew up in downtown New York City during the 70s and 80s, surrounded by artists and writers and musicians, and she draws much of her creative inspiration from that era. The founder/ director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI, Tina also currently serves as the poet laureate of Rhode Island where she lives with her husband and three children, who are also a major source of inspiration. 

Angela De Vito is a freelance animator, storyboard artist, and character designer working in NYC. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Animation in 2014. Since then she has worked on animation for commercials and series pitches. Angela has worked for such studios as Hornet, Inc.; Titmouse, Inc.; Aardman Nathan Love; Click 3X; CHRLX; and Disney Digital Network. She also animation directed Comedy Central Digital’s Loafy, created by Bobby Moynihan. She lives with her family and her two adorable, rambunctious cats. 

Huda Fahmy, the creator of the graphic novel Huda F Are You?, grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, and has loved comics since she was a kid. She taught English to middle and high schoolers for eight years before she started writing about her experiences as a visibly Muslim woman in America and was encouraged by her older sister to turn these stories into comics. Huda, her husband Gehad, and their son reside in Houston, Texas. 

Kelly Loy Gilbert believes deeply in the power of stories to illuminate a shared humanity and give voice to complex, broken people. She is the author of Conviction, a William C. Morris Award finalist, and Picture Us in the Light, and lives in the SF Bay Area. 

Alaysia Hamilton is a Youth Services library assistant in Paducah, KY. From storytime to k-pop parties, everyday is a blast when working in an environment that encourages nurturing your inner child/teen. She invites you to follow her at her library’s tiktok and other social media platforms (@mclibdotnet), and her personal instagram account (@alaysia.h_20).

Sonia Hartl is the author of Not Your #Lovestory and Have a Little Faith in Me (Page Street), which received a starred review in BookPage and earned nominations for the Georgia Peach Book Award, YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and ALA’s Rise: A Feminist Book Project List. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s enjoying pub trivia, marathoning Disney movies, or taking a walk outside in the fall. She lives in Grand Rapids, MI, with her husband and two daughters.  


Ariel Henley is a writer from Northern California with a B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of Vermont. She is passionate about writing as a form of activism, and hopes to use her story to promote mainstream inclusion for individuals with physical differences. A Face for Picasso is her debut novel. 

Wade Hudson is an author, a publisher, and the president and CEO of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publisher of books for children and young adults. He has published over thirty books, including the anthologies We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, which received four starred reviews; The Talk, which earned four starred reviews and was a New York Times Best Book of the Year; and Recognize: Black Lives Matter. These powerful collections were co-edited with his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson.

Meredith Ireland was born in Korea and adopted by a New York librarian. Her love of books started early and although she pursued both pre-med at Rollins College and law at the University of Miami, stories were her fate. She currently resides with her two children, and Bob, a carnival goldfish, who’s likely a person. She writes young adult books, some of which you may like. The Jasmine Project is her debut novel. 

Jason June is a gay, genderqueer, list-making, Virgo Sun, Taurus Moon, Pokémon-playing writer living in Austin, TX. If he had a Gay Agenda, "marry the love of your life", "be mom to two extremely pampered Pomeranians", and "get accidentally kicked in the face by Kylie Minogue as an extra in her music video" would all be crossed off. Visit Jason June on social media @heyjasonjune, and on his website at

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicanx grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is her debut YA contemporary novel. She invites you to visit her at or follow her on Twitter @LaekanZeaKemp.

Barry Lyga is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including BangI Hunt Killers, its sequel Game, and his debut, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. He now knows way too much about how to dispose of a human body. Barry lives and writes in New York City. His website is  

Kekla Magoon's young adult novel The Rock and the River, which won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award, was the first mainstream novel for young people to feature the Black Panther Party. She is the Margaret A. Edwards Award-winning author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Fire in the Streets and How It Went Down. She is also the coauthor, with Ilyasah Shabazz, of X: A Novel, which was long-listed for the National Book Award and received an NAACP Image Award and a Coretta Scott King Honor. Kekla Magoon grew up in Indiana and now lives in Vermont, where she serves on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Amber McBride is an English professor at the University of Virginia and holds an MFA in poetry from Emerson College. Her poetry has been published in several literary magazines including Ploughshares and The RumpusMe (Moth) is her young adult debut. 


Julie Murphy is the New York Times best-selling author of several books, including Dumplin’, now a Netflix original movie starring Jennifer Aniston. She lives in North Texas with her husband, dog, and cats. 

Lynn Painter lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and pack of wild children. She’s a biweekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald’s parenting section, even though she is the polar-opposite of a Pinterest mom. When she isn’t chasing kids, she can be found reading, writing, and shot-gunning Red Bulls. 

Kate Pentecost was born and raised on the Texas/Louisiana border, but has lived in many different places. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently lives in Houston with her dog, Stevie Nyx, and has plans to build her own black caravan, just for the fun of it. Elysium Girls was her debut young adult fantasy novel.

Akshaya Raman was born in India and immigrated to the US with her parents at age nine. She is a cofounder and contributor of Writer’s Block Party, and has served on the teams of the Boston Teen Author Festival and DivBookFest. She lives in the Bay Area. 

Caroline Tung Richmond is the author of the alternative history novels The Only Thing to Fear and Live in Infamy, as well as the historical fiction novel The Darkest Hour. She’s also the program director of We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit that seeks to create a world where all children can find themselves on the pages of a book.
A self-proclaimed history nerd and cookie connoisseur, Caroline lives in Maryland with her family and her dog, Otto von Bismarck—named for the German chancellor (naturally). You can find out more about at her at 

Marisabina Russo is the acclaimed author and illustrator of numerous books for young people including two picture books based on her family’s wartime experiences, Always Remember Me and I Will Come Back for YouWhy Is Everybody Yelling? is her first graphic novel. She lives in Westchester, New York. 

Alissa Sallah is a cartoonist (and cosplayer) from small-town Ohio. She edits and contributes to the Bonfire Yearly Anthology (Stratos, Topia, Silk & Metal), has been featured in the Bitch Planet Triple Feature, the Yakuza 6 Song of Life artbook, and was the colorist on the Image comic series Sleepless. Her work can be found at

Eric Smith is an author and literary agent from Elizabeth, New Jersey. When he isn't working on other people's books, sometimes he tries to write his own. He enjoys pop punk, video games and crying during every movie. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and best friend, Nena; and their son, Langston. 

Jason Sommer is author of five poetry collections, including most recently, Portulans in the University of Chicago’s Phoenix Poets series. He has been recognized with an Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for poems about the Jewish experience and has read from his work at the program “Speech and Silence: Poetry and the Holocaust” at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife and son.

Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian writer of comics and prose. She writes comic books for BOOM! Studios, Marvel and DC Comics. She is the co-creator of the New York Times bestseller, This One Summer with Jillian Tamaki, which received Eisner and Governor General awards, as well as Caldecott and Printz Honors, and the Printz Honor winner, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me with Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. Mariko lives in Oakland.  

Kara Thomas is an unsolved mystery enthusiast who dreams of one day solving a cold case. She lives on Long Island with her husband, son, and rescue cat. She is the author of The Darkest CornersLittle MonstersThe Cheerleaders, and That Weekend. To learn more about Kara and her books, visit her at or follow @karatwrites on Twitter and @karathomaswrites on Instagram.

Peyton Thomas is a freelance journalist with bylines in PitchforkBillboard, and Vanity Fair. He was a 2016 Lambda Literary Fellow, studying under Benjamin Alire Sáenz. He lives in Toronto, and Both Sides Now will be his debut novel. 

David Valdes is the author of the nonfiction books Homo Domesticus, The Rhinestone Sisterhood, and Today Show pick A Little Fruitcake, as well as a dozen produced plays. A former Boston Globe columnist and Huffington Post blogger whose posts have received over a million hits, he currently writes for Medium, and was recently featured in the New York Times’s Modern Love column. He also teaches writing at Boston Conservatory and Tufts. David lives in the Boston area with his teen daughter.

Elisabet Velasquez is a Boricua writer born in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in Muzzle MagazineWinter Tangerine, Latina MagazineWe Are Mitú, Tidal and more. She is a 2017 Poets House fellow and the 2017 winner of the Button Poetry Video Contest. Her work is featured in Martín Espada's anthology What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump. Elisabet lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, and When We Make It is her debut novel. 

Jasmine Walls is a California based writer, editor, and artist with a passion for inclusive and creative stories that are fun, engaging, and critical. She makes unapologetically queer, diverse, and colorful stories. She has done work with Mad Cave Studios, Levine Querido, BOOM! Studios, The Atlantic, The Nib, and Oni Press.

Xiran Jay Zhao is a first-gen immigrant from small-town China who was raised by the Internet​. A recent graduate of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, they wrote science fiction and fantasy while they probably should have been studying more about biochemical pathways. You can find them on Twitter for memes, Instagram for cosplays and fancy outfits, and YouTube for long videos about Chinese history and culture.  



Amanda Borgia's library career began as a teen shelving books in her local library. In 2015 she graduated from CUNY Queens College with her MLS and became a librarian in that same library not long after. As of 2018, she has been a Teen Services Librarian at Uniondale Public Library on Long Island. In 2019, Amanda became a reviewer for SLJ. While Amanda can often be found reading or listening to a great book, you can also find her having solo dance parties and baking up a sweet treat.

Emma Carbone is a librarian and blogger. She has been blogging about books at Miss Print ( since 2007. When she isn’t reading, you can find her baking, crocheting, or exploring local museums.

Sabrina Carnesi is currently living a bi-coastal lifestyle between Virginia’s Tidewater Region and Washington’s Seattle Sound.  She is the committee chair for In The Margins Book Awards, which produces an annual list for librarians who work with youth in detention facilities throughout Canada and the United States.  She has 30+ years of educational experience, and is currently finishing up her doctoral studies in the iSchool at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Her specialized focus grounds her in research and children’s literature that allow BIPOC youth the opportunity to experience a powerful impact with text without compromising their identity. She can be reached by email at or by phone at (206)221-5623.

Shelley Diaz, Reviews Editor, School Library Journal.

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. 

Sarah Hannah Gómez is Senior Sensitivity Editor at Kevin Anderson & Associates, the first position of its kind in the publishing industry. She is a doctoral candidate in critical theory of children's and YA literature at the University of Arizona. Learn about her other adventures in the worlds of fitness, writing, academia, and Hollywood at her website. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Clubhouse @shgmclicious

Kelly Jensen is an editor and author of three critically-acclaimed and award-winning YA anthologies, as well as an editor for Book Riot. She's a former librarian who is passionate about reaching and serving teens.  

Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the Adult and Teen Services Manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activiti es for Teachers and Librarians (ABC-CLIO). She reviews YA for School Library Journal and blogs for Teen Librarian Toolbox, and her passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. Lisa has served on both the Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s teams. She can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach

Ashley Leffel is the librarian at Griffin Middle school 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.

Diane Mokuau, Molokai High School Librarian, Molokai, Hawaii.

Alea Perez, the 2020-2021 President of the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table, has been a Youth Services manager in the Chicago suburbs since June 2015. For over ten years, she has aimed to help children, teens, and their caregivers in both Illinois and Arizona discover the many services and opportunities libraries provide. Alea is dedicated to advocacy for children and teens, youth services management, graphic novels for children and teens, and anti-racism in the field at large.

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.

Ashleigh Williams, Associate Editor of Chapter Books and Middle Grade, School Library Journal.


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