The Color of Children's Literature
Conference Presenters

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Victoria Wells Arms, Founder and Agent at Wells Arms Literary

Victoria started as an editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, and then Putnam. One day she spotted an ad for an editorial director at Bloomsbury and soon was setting up Bloomsbury USA’s children’s division. Starting with three people (and a dog), Bloomsbury grew quickly, soon hitting the bestseller lists and acquiring major awards.

In 2013 Victoria opened her own agency, Wells Arms Literary, where she represents authors and illustrators for the full range of children’s books, from board books to young adult, as well as some non-fiction. When she’s not reading, or attempting yoga, Victoria can be found in the kitchen, teaching her three daughters to cook. 

Seeking: I like to be surprised in my reading, I like to read something I don’t think I’ve read or seen before. I especially enjoy contemporary young adult fiction, middle grade with magical realism elements, and picture book texts that are fun to read aloud, but leave a sweet and profound aftertaste. Everyone has good ideas; I like to see writers who can put those ideas into their own brilliant words.

Twitter: @VWArms and @WALiterary


Tracey Baptiste, Author of The Jumbies & The Totally Gross History of Ancient Egypt

Tracey Baptiste, M. Ed is the author of THE JUMBIES, which was a New York Public Libraries Staff Pick, and a Junior Library Guild Selection, among other accolades. She is also the author of ANGEL’S GRACE, and several nonfiction books for children. Her latest is THE TOTALLY GROSS HISTORY OF ANCIENT EGYPT. Ms. Baptiste is on the faculty at Lesley University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, and works as a freelance editor for various publishing companies as well as running her own editorial company, Fairy Godauthor.


Stacey Barney, Senior Editor at Penguin / Putnam Books for Young Readers

Stacey Barney acquires middle grade, young adult and select nonfiction and picture books. She has edited the 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winning Firebird by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers as well as critically acclaimed The Wrath and the Dawn, a sumptuous retelling of Arabian Nights by author Renee Ahdieh. Stacey also has the pleasure of editing award-winning authors Kristin Levine (The Lions of Little Rock), Tara Sullivan (Golden Boy) and Sheila O’Connor (Sparrow Road). Upcoming, Stacey is excited about The Reader by Traci Chee, a sprawling, stunning fantasy set in a world where reading is unheard of; and Free Verse a poignant, bittersweet tale wherein a young girl loses her entire family and then her voice to the coal mines West Virginia.

Seeking: Both Middle Grade and Young Adult, including fantasy; realistic contemporary; thriller; magic realism


Regina Brooks, Founder and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC

Regina Brooks is the Founder and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency, since 2000. Serendipity is the largest African American owned agency in the country and home to a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and children's literature.   She’s the founder of the YA Discovery Contest.  In 2015, Publishers Weekly nominated Brooks as a PW Star Watch Finalist and Writers Digest named Serendipity as one of the top 25 agencies.  She’s the author of Writing Great Books for Young Adults and You Should Really Write a Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir.   

Seeking: Picture book illustrator/author only,  Early readers, middle grade, YA (all genres, limited fantasy)


Joseph Bruchac, Author of Killer of Enemies & Trail of the Dead

Joseph Bruchac is a storyteller, poet, and author of more than one hundred twenty books for adults and young readers. His work, which often draws on his Abenaki ancestry, has won numerous awards, including ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Boston-Globe-Horn Book Honor, National Wildlife Federation Award, and multiple state association awards. Bruchac lives in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him.

He has authored more than 120 books for adults and children, including The First StrawberriesKeepers of the Earth (co-authored with Michael Caduto), Tell Me a TaleWhen the Chenoo Howls (co-authored with his son, James), his autobiography Bowman's Store and such novels as Dawn LandThe Waters BetweenArrow Over the Door and The Heart of a Chief.



Joanna Cardenas, Editor at Viking Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Joanna Cárdenas is associate editor at Viking Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Among other projects, Joanna edited Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller, Archie the Daredevil Penguin by Andy Rash, and the upcoming middle grade novel The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. Joanna is a San Diego native and former bookseller.

Seeking:  Picture books with laugh-out-loud humor, unexpected endings, and stories that turn classic conventions upside down; 
chapter books that have irresistible characters with big personalities and big imaginations and middle grade novels that are contemporary realistic stories or realistic stories with a hint of magic. Equal parts funny and heartfelt.

For more information, visit or follow Joanna on Twitter @joannananamc. To learn more about Viking, please visit


Sona Charaipotra, Co-author of Shiny Broken Pieces & Co-Founder of Cake Literary

Sona Charaipotra is a journalist and author who’s written for everyone from the New York Times to Teen Vogue. The co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book packaging company with a decidedly diverse bent, she spends much of her time poking plot holes in TV shows like Pretty Little Liars — for work of course. She’s the co-author of the dance drama Tiny Pretty Things and its sequel Shiny Broken Pieces, due July 12 from HarperTeen. She is proud to serve as VP of content for We Need Diverse Books. 

Twitter: @sona_c


Sheela Chari, Author of Vanished & Find Me in Dobbs Ferry

Sheela Chari is the author of VANISHED, a Children’s Honor Book by the Asian/Pacific-American Library Association (APALA), an Edgar Award nominee for best juvenile mystery, and an Al Roker’s Book Pick on the Today Show. Her next mystery novel, FIND ME IN DOBBS FERRY, will be published by Abrams in 2017. Sheela holds an MFA in fiction from New York University and has taught writing courses at New York University, Boston University, and the Rye Arts Center. She lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.

Facebook: sheela.chari
Twitter: @wordsbysheela


Dhonielle Clayton, Co-author of Shiny Broken Pieces & Co-Founder of Cake Literary

Dhonielle Clayton hails from the suburbs of Washington, DC on the Maryland side. She is COO of We Need Diverse Books, and co-founder of CAKE Literary — a creative kitchen whipping up decadent — and decidedly diverse — literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers. She earned an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. She is a former school librarian and teacher. She is the co-author of Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces (July 2016) from HarperTeen, and author of The Belles (Winter 2017) from Disney/Hyperion.

Twitter: @brownbookworm


Edwidge Danticat, Author of Untwined & Mama's Nightingale, A Story of Immigration and Separation

Edwidge Danticat is the author of many award-winning books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah’s Book Club pick; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award nominee; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award Winner; and Brother, I'm Dying, a National Book Critics Circle winner. Danticat is a 2009 winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant. Danticat lives in Miami, Florida with her family. Please visit her online at


Jessica Echeverria, Editor at Lee & Low Books

Jessica Echeverria is an editor at Lee & Low Books, an independent children’s book publisher focusing on diversity. Over the past seven years, she has worked on a variety of different formats including early readers, bilingual books, Middle grade fiction, and picture books to name a few. Some of her recent publications include the 2015 Asian/Pacific American Award Picture Book Winner Juna’s Jar, the Charlotte Zolotow Award-Highly Commendable Title The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen, and the Social Justice Literature Award Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank.

Seeking: English or bilingual fiction picture books with a touch of whimsy, unique girl characters, magical realism, and nonfiction for children ages five to twelve.
Not Seeking: YA, animal stories, or stories without diversity.
Our website is


Zetta Elliott, Author of A Hand to Hold & Billie's Blues

Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to the US in 1994. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington PostSchool Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. She is the author of twenty books for young readers, including the award-winning picture book Bird. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing. She currently lives in Brooklyn. 

Twitter: @zettaelliott
Photo credit: Valerie Caesar


T.S. Ferguson, Associate Editor at Harlequin TEEN

T.S. Ferguson is an Associate Editor with Harlequin TEEN, where he acquires and edits commercial fiction for teen girls across all genres, and has the privilege of working with authors such as Kady Cross and Amanda Sun. Prior to Harlequin, T.S. worked for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where he worked with bestselling and award-winning authors such as Jennifer Brown, Cris Beam, Sherman Alexie, Sara Zarr, and Julie Anne Peters. When he’s not reading or feeding his addiction to karaoke, T.S. is working on a Young Adult novel of his very own. You can follow him on Twitter: @TeeEss



Antonio Gonzalez, Senior Marketing Manager, Scholastic
Editor-at-large, Lambda Literary Review

Antonio Gonzalez is a senior marketing manager with Scholastic's trade publishing division and editor-at-large of the Lambda Literary Review. Previously he's held advertising and publicity positions at Penguin Book Group and Grand Central Publishing respectively. He's also actively involved with the Lambda Literary Foundation, The Publishing Triangle, the Children's Book Council, and Latin@ Publishing Professionals. Antonio works specifically on graphic novels and middle grade.


Katherine R. Harrison, Editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Katherine R. Harrison is an Assistant Editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. She primarily focuses on middle grade and young adult novels. An erstwhile student of International Relations at NYU, she is particularly interested in international or multicultural stories.

She has also been known to write the occasional song.

Follow her on Twitter @KidlitKat


Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books

He specializes in middle grade and young adult fiction and has the privilege of working with bestselling and award-winning authors, including Noelle Stevenson, Dan Gutman, Madeleine Roux, Zac Brewer, and more. Originally from Georgia, Andrew graduated from the University of Chicago, where he double-majored in Germanic Studies and Fundamentals: Issues and Texts. In his spare time, he is a knitter, a gamer, a piano and tennis player, and a general fanboy.

Seeking: all formats and genres of middle grade and young adult fiction, including heavily illustrated fiction and graphic novels. I love fantasy, realism, magical realism, new weird, sci-fi, horror, etc. etc.

You can visit HarperCollins at You can find me at, or on Twitter, tumblr, and Pinterest @andrewasalways.


Connie Hsu, Senior Editor at Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan

Connie Hsu worked at Little, Brown Young Readers for eight years before finding a home at Macmillan as Senior Editor at Roaring Brook Press. She works on picture books, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction.

Seeking: Hilarious, smart, diverse, and uniquely beautiful voices; illustrated middle grade and young adult novels and graphic novels; anything that breaks existing formats or expectations; debut authors and artists.

Recent Titles: Picture books: Crankenstein by Samantha Berger and Dan Santat, This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and Tom Lichtenheld, The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin and Scott Magoon. Middle grade: Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch, Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale. Young adult: While We Run by Karen Healey.



Cheryl  Willis Hudson, Editorial Director of Just Us Books, Inc. 

Cheryl Willis Hudson is editorial director of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publishing company that focuses on Black interest books for children and young adults. She and her husband Wade Hudson, founded Just Us Books in 1988 to address the need for more African American children’s books in the market place. The Hudsons are also partners, with their children Katura and Stephan, in Hudson Publishing LLC, which recently founded Marimba Books, a new multicultural children's book imprint dedicated to publishing titles that reflect our country’s diversity. Ms. Hudson is also a children's book author. In 2003, she was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of diversity in literature and has served as an parenting expert for ClubMom. She is also a member of PEN America’s Children Book Committee. 

For more information, visit and


Grace Kendall, Editor, Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers / Macmillan

Since joining FSG in 2014, Grace has acquired exciting projects from a range of talent, including Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by debut novelist Kate Beasley, featuring illustrations from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki; Mama Africa! by National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine; Borderlines by critically acclaimed author Mitali Perkins, as well as her first picture book, Gifts for Abuela, to be illustrated by Pura Belpré Honoree Sara Palacios; Betty by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson; as well as the Lou Lou and Pea middle-grade series by Jill Diamond and the Jasmine Toguchi chapter books by Debbi Michiko Florence. Previous to FSG, Grace spent seven years at Scholastic.

Seeking: Picture books, MG, YA, and nonfiction. Anything but contemporary romance, thrillers, lighter-fare YA, and "I love you" picture books.


Cheryl Klein, Executive Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic

Cheryl Klein is the executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic. The many titles she has edited across multiple age ranges and genres include Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older; Grounded:  The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison; The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton; The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork; and Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg. In 2011, Cheryl self-published Second Sight:  An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults; a new book, The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, will be published September 6, 2016.

Seeking:  Literary picture books, middle-grade, YA in all genres; narrative nonfiction

Contact:;; @chavelaque


Celeste Lim, Author of The Crystal Ribbon

Celeste Lim was born in China and raised in Malaysia. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and an MA from Manhattanville College. She is represented by Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio and her debut middle-grade novel, The Crystal Ribbon, is forthcoming from Scholastic Press in Spring 2017. Set in Medieval China, the story tells of a girl who is sold by her family to become the nursemaid and wife to a three-year-old husband. It follows her eventual escape and homecoming journey.



Alvina Ling, VP and Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Alvina Ling is VP and Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers where she’s worked since 1999. She edits children's books for all ages, from picture books to young adult, and has worked with such authors and illustrators as Peter Brown, Bryan Collier, Ed Young, Grace Lin, Wendy Mass, Justina Chen, Chris Colfer, Laini Taylor, Libba Bray, Barry Lyga, Holly Black, Sherman Alexie, and Matthew Quick. She is the co-founder and former chair of the CBC Diversity Committee. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Seeking: picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult, both fiction and nonfiction. All genres—mystery, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction—with a strong preference for literary fiction featuring diverse characters.


Nnedi Okorafor, Author of Akata Witch 2: Akata Warrior

Nnedi Okorafor is a novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation,” the New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning.” Nnedi Okorafor’s novels include Who Fears Death (winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and Le Prix Imaginales for Best Translated Novel), Akata Witch (an Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (winner of the CBS Parallax Award). In addition, her novelette, "The Girl with the Magic Hands" was released through's Worldreader program , where it became their most read young adult title (read by thousands in Africa). Her young adult novel Akata Witch 2: Akata Warrior will be released in Fall 2016. In September 2015, Lantana Publishing released her children's book Chicken in the Kitchen. Nnedi's novels Who Fears Death and Akata Witch have both been optioned for films. 

Nnedi is a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Buffalo. You can also find Nnedi on twitter (@Nnedi) and facebook. 


Daniel José Older, Author of Shadowshaper 

Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015), which was nominated for the Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature. Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the Locus and World Fantasy nominated anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.comSalonBuzzFeedFireside Fiction, the New Haven ReviewPANKApex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies The Fire This Time and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel has been a teaching artist for more than ten years. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at, on youtube and @djolder on twitter.


Beth Phelan, Literary Agent at Bent Agency

Beth Phelan is a literary agent at the Bent Agency. After graduating from New York University, she got her start in publishing with an internship at Levine Greenberg Rostan. She later held positions at Waxman Leavell Literary and Howard Morhaim Literary before joining the Bent Agency in 2013. Beth is also the creator of #DVpit, a new Twitter pitch event focused on the voices and stories of marginalized writers, which will debut on April 19, 2016. 

Beth represents: YA fiction in all genres except historical. MG fiction in all genres except historical. 

She can be found at,, and on Twitter at @beth_phelan.


Lynne Polvino, Editor, Clarion Books

Lynne Polvino has been with Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for seventeen years. Some of the notable books on her list are Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award-winner Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith; New York Times bestseller, National Book Award nominee, and Edgar Award-winner Greenglass House by Kate Milford; and the New York Times bestseller and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award-winning Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. She also works with Eileen Christelow, creator of the Five Little Monkeys series; bestselling author Firoozeh Dumas; and award-winning novelist Karen English. Before Clarion, Lynne worked for several years at a small literary agency. In her free time, she plays bass in a children’s publishing-themed band called The Effin’ Gs.


Sean Qualls, Illustrator of Little Cloud and Lady Wind

Sean Qualls is an award winning, Brooklyn-based, children’s book illustrator, artist and author. He has illustrated a number of highly acclaimed books for children, including Giant Steps to Change The World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis-Lee, Little Cloud and Lady Wind by Toni Morrison and her son Slade and Before John Was a Jazz Giant, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor. Sean also created the art for Dizzy by Jonah Winter and Skit Scat Raggedy Cat by Roxane Orgill. His work has received two Blue Ribbon citations from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books where he was also cited for his “serious craftsmanship” and an “original style.” Qualls has created illustrations for magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. His work has been shown in galleries in New York and across the country. Sean draws inspiration from an array of influences such as movies, television, childhood memories, aging and decaying surfaces, architecture, old buildings, nature, folk art, fairy tales, Americana, black memorabilia, outsider art, cave paintings, collectibles, African art, golden books, vintage advertisement graphics, psychology, mythology, science fiction, music, and literature. His most recent titles include Emmanuel's Dream written by Laurie Ann Thompson and The Case for Loving which he illustrated with his wife, illustrator/author Selina Alko. He lives in lives in Brooklyn (where you can find him DJing on occasion) with his wife and their two children.



Natalia Remis, Assistant Editor, Scholastic Press and Blue Sky Press

Natalia Remis is an Assistant Editor at Scholastic Press and the Blue Sky Press, imprints of Scholastic Inc. One of her favorite projects has been assisting with ELEPHANT IN THE DARK by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, a picture book based on a poem by the 13th-century Persian writer Rumi. She has also worked on the How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague, the nonfiction Sunlight Series by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, and books by authors David Shannon, Jon J Muth, Barbara McClintock, and Rodman Philbrick.

Seeking: picture books, middle grade, and nonfiction at any level.


Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Author of 8th Grade Superzero & co-author of Two Naomis

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of the middle grade novel 8th Grade Superzero and co-author of the forthcoming Two Naomis. She writes for Brightly and Heinemann's Digital Campus, and has contributed to The Journey Is Everything: Teaching Essays That Students Want To Write for People Who Want To Read ThemOpen Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, and Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself.  She is a member of the Executive Committee of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), and serves as VP of Community and Team Member Relations.

Olugbemisola lives with her family in NYC where she writes, makes things, and needs to get more sleep. She loves to visit with readers and writers like you; until then, find her online at


Eileen Robinson, Editor / Publisher Move Books

Editor/Publisher Eileen Robinson loves the power of stories.  The stories that excited her were by Judy Blume, Louisa May Alcott, and later, Shakespeare, writers from the Harlem Renaissance, and the controversial - The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.  Landing at Scholastic, she was in heaven.  She would actually get paid to read, create and have an opinion!  Now she’s a publisher, releasing the first book for Move Books in 2012. And she still helps authors through and a joint venture, She’d like to read a good adult book but that is nearly impossible.  Any recommendations?

Our Books - A Ride Through Our Trailer

The Entrepreneurial Spirit and Move Books


Rachel Stark, Assistant Editor, Sky Pony Press

After five years in children's book marketing, including stints at Simon & Schuster and Bloomsbury USA, Rachel Stark recently joined Sky Pony Press as an Assistant Editor. She acquires fiction and graphic novels for the middle grade and young adult markets, and is particularly interested in complex female characters with deep, well-articulated inner worlds; speculative fiction that uses the conventions of its genre to critique or subvert the rules that structure contemporary society; and stories in any genre that reflect the diversity of the world we live in and speak directly to communities that face oppression. 

Seeking: Primarily fiction and graphic novels for the middle grade and young adult markets, with the occasional picture book and very targeted nonfiction project.


Mekisha Telfer, Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers & Salaam Reads

Mekisha Telfer is an editorial assistant at S&S Books for Young Readers and Salaam Reads, a new children’s imprint at Simon & Schuster focused on offering Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works. She’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute. A few projects she’s excited to be assisting on are the forthcoming YA novel The Education of Margot Sanchez by debut author Lilliam Rivera, the middle grade Wells & Wong Mystery series by Robin Stevens, and the next book by Jenny Han, the author of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

She is a lover of MG and YA fiction across all genres, with a particular fondness for narratives that shine a spotlight on the not-often-seen characters of children’s literature—queer, disabled, of color, or otherwise. You can find her on twitter @MekishaTelfer

Website: &


Harold Underdown, Independent Editor and Publishing Consultant

Harold Underdown critiques and develops manuscripts and provides other editorial and consulting services for individuals and publishers. As an in-house editor, he worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge, and has experience in trade and educational publishing. Harold wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Children's Book Publishing, now in its third edition. He founded and runs "The Purple Crayon," a respected website with information about the children's publishing world at He also speaks and gives workshops through the Highlights Foundation, SCBWI's national and regional conferences, and Kid’s Book Revisions (online and on-site tutorials, webinars, and workshops in partnership with Eileen Robinson):


Eric Velasquez, Illustrator / Author of Grandma's Gift

Illustrator / Author Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem. His dual heritage coupled with the experience of living in dual cultures in New York City gives Eric a rich and unique cultural perspective.

To describe illustrator Eric Velasquez as a ‘prolific artist,'” wrote The Brown Bookshelf in 2010, “would be an understatement.” In 1999, he was awarded the Coretta-Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for the illustrations in his debut picture book, Debbi Chocolate’s The Piano Man, published by Walker Books for Young Readers. He recently won the Pura Belpre award for illustration for Grandma's Gift.



Stacy Whitman, Founder and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books

Stacy Whitman is the founder and publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books that publishes diverse middle grade and young adult fiction. Books she has edited include American Indian Youth Literature YA Award and Top Ten Quick Picks title Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac, and Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, which received a starred review from School Library Journal and has been placed on numerous lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, School Library Journal’s Best of 2012 List, and the Lone Star Reading List. In 2013 Stacy founded the New Visions Award, which honors a new unpublished writer of color. The first New Visions Award winner was published in spring 2015, Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani, which garnered a starred review from Kirkus. Stacy is a founding member of the CBC Diversity Committee and currently serves as a Publisher Liaison to We Need Diverse Books. She holds a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College.

Seeking: Middle grade and YA fiction—including graphic novels—starring people of color and indigenous characters, particularly mystery and thriller, fantasy, contemporary realism, historical fiction, and science fiction with strong literary quality. Particularly interested in books about LGBTQ and disabled characters of color and indigenous characters.

Contact:,; @tubooks and @stacylwhitman on Twitter


Phoebe Yeh, VP, Publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers

Phoebe Yeh joined Random House Children’s Books as VP, Publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers where she is publishing children’s books for all ages with a focus on commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction. Prior to joining HC in 1996, Yeh was a senior editor at Scholastic Press, where she edited the Magic School Bus books and was an editor of the SeeSaw Book Club. As Editorial Director at Harper Collins she acquired the New York Times best sellers BIG NATE by Lincoln Peirce and THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani.  Recent Crown titles include A DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE & FEEDING OF HUMANS by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder; FROSTBORN by Lou Anders and UP FROM THE SEA by Leza Lowitz.  Crown acquisitions include LUCY & ANDY NEADERTHAL by Jeffrey Brown; STORIES FOR YOU, ME & THE KID OVER THERE with WeNeedDiverseBooks; WIZARD’S DOG by Eric Kahn Gale; DEAR MARTIN by debut novelist Nic Stone and the teen thriller, MISSING by Kelley Armstrong.

Seeking: humorous illustrated fiction; fantasy, realistic, sci-fi, lite thriller, coming-of-age


Click here for the conference program