The Color of Children's Literature
Conference Presenters

Saturday, April 6, 2019

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Samira Ahmed is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters, Internment, and the forthcoming, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know. She was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Samira has taught high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and New York City, worked in education non-profits, and spent time on the road for political campaigns. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Jaggery Lit, Entropy, the Fem and Claudius Speaks as well as the anthologies, This is What a Librarian Looks Like and Who Will Speak for America and the forthcoming, Color Outside the Lines and Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance.
Twitter & Instagram: @sam_aye_ahm

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K. Ancrum grew up in Chicago Illinois. She attended Dominican University to study Fashion Merchandising but was lured into getting an English degree after spending too many nights experimenting with hard literary criticism and hanging out with unsavory types, like poetry students. Currently, she moonlights as a legal assistant and goblin who skulks about writing in the corner of Starbucks.
Twitter: @kaylaancrum

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bernadette baker-baughman, literary agent, victoria sanders & associates

After completing a Master’s Degree in Writing at Portland State University, and spending several years in-house (first editorial, then marketing) I began agenting in 2005. I have worked with VSA since 2010. I am drawn to strong storytelling in all genres, though I have a special interest in thrillers, contemporary novels, magical realism, young adult, and books for kids. I am also open to pop-culture, gift books, and memoir. I love smart writing, high concept books, work with great emotional resonance, and humor. I am always looking for authors with a distinctive voice. I’ve represented a number of New York Times bestselling and award winning writers and illustrators, including Leslye Walton, Faith Erin Hicks, Tony Cliff, Maris Wicks, Liv Constantine, and Carson Morton, to name a few.



Alessandra Balzer is vice president / co-publisher of Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children's Books. Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray formed their imprint in 2008 after working together for twelve years at Hyperion Books for Children. They like to do “books that are risk-taking, when it’s appropriate, and when it offers a new voice and perspective.” Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, Beyond the Pond, authored and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler, I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah Ariel and Leah on The OffBeat by Becky Albertalli are just a few of the New York Times bestselling, critically-acclaimed and award-winning titles that Balzer + Bray have published.  Many of these titles have also become feature films, including The Hate U Give

Twitter: @ABBalzer

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Rudine Sims Bishop, Author of Free within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children's Literature

Rudine Sims Bishop grew up in Pennsylvania, where she began her career teaching elementary school. Subsequently she became a teacher educator at the university level. She is Professor Emerita at the Ohio State University, where she had specialized in children’s literature. Active in the National Council of Teachers of English and the American Library Association (ALA), Prof. Bishop has served on important professional committees and won prestigious awards. She has authored several articles and book chapters, as well as professional books focused on African American children’s literature. She received the 2017 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award from ALA.



Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self taught illustrator whose passion for children's books began when she read The Snowy Day by Erza Jack Keats as a child. Snowy Day marked one of the first representations of black children in picture books, and seeing a character who looked like her and lived in a neighborhood like her own was a turning point in Vanessa's life. She hopes to inspire young readers as Keats did for her. Vanessa has illustrated over 80 books and is the author of Let Freedom Sing, Don't let Auntie Mabel Bless The Table and Grandma's Purse. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and daughter and greedy cat named, Stripes. &


REGINA BROOKS, CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC

Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, and the author of Never Finished, Never Done, Writing Great Books for Young Adults, You Should Really Write A Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir, and is on the faculty of the Harvard University publishing program and several Low residency programs. Serendipity Literary Agency clients have received many notable awards including National Book Award, Newbery, Michael Printz, and Caldecott honors and winners of the NAACP Image Award and Edgar Award and a host of others. She was named Woman of the Year by The National Association of Professional Women, and is a two-time winner of the StevieTM Award for Women Entrepreneurs. She is on the board of Grub Street Literary Council, National Book Foundation Jr Committee, a member of the Association of Author Representatives, the Authors Guild of America, and New York Women in Film and Television.
Twitter: @serendipitylit



Hilda’s parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic before she was born, and she grew up in Washington Heights, New York City, as the third of four sisters. She and her husband have two grown children (and an adorable little dog), and live near Philadelphia, where she works as a lawyer. Her first book, Ana María Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle, is a middle grade novel that was released in October 2018 by Tu Books. It has received starred reviews by Kirkus Reviews and the School Library Journal, and is a Junior Library Guild Selection.
Twitter: @HildaEBurgos1

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Esther Cajahuaringa is currently an editorial assistant at Disney Hyperion. As a former educator and non-profit organizer, Esther draws upon her experiences working directly with kids when thinking about today’s readers. She earned her master’s degree in Curriculum & Teaching with an emphasis in literacy from Teachers College, Columbia University. Esther is a daughter of immigrant parents and truly believes in the power of storytelling, because it changed her world.

Twitter: @cajameansbox

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Soman Chainani believes in fairy tales wholeheartedly. When studying at Harvard, he practically created his own fairy-tale major. He is an acclaimed screenwriter and a graduate of the MFA Film Directing Program at Columbia University. His films have played at more than 150 film festivals around the world, and his writing awards include an honor from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference. He lives in New York City. You can visit him online at
Insta: @somanc
Twitter: @somanchainani


sona charaipotra, author of symptoms of a heartbreak

Sona Charaipotra, Co-Founder, CAKE Literary. Sona Charaipotra is the co-author of the YA dance dramas Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces, as well as the upcoming Rumor Game, and author of the forthcoming Symptoms of a Heartbreak, due from Imprint/Macmillan in May 2019. She runs CAKE Literary, a boutique book packaging company with a decidedly diverse bent, focusing on high concept, fun reads for the YA, MG and women’s fiction markets. Recent titles include The Gauntlet, Love Sugar Magic, as well as the forthcoming A Match Made In Mehendi, The Trouble With Shooting Stars, and Tristan Strong Punches a Hole In the Sky. You can submit materials to CAKE Literary on the web via

Twitter: @sona_c

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Kandace Coston is the assistant editor at Lee & Low Books, an independent, multicultural children’s book publisher. She grew up in the Bronx, NY, where she spent weekends reading stories and writing her own. After graduating from Barnard College, she won an internship grant from We Need Diverse Books, a non-profit organization that advocates change in the publishing industry, and joined the Lee & Low team. Kandace enjoys working with new authors and helping their manuscripts evolve into picture books. Professionally and personally, Kandace loves books about strong female protagonists as well as any story that can make her laugh.
Twitter: @whatsticks

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Art Coulson is a writer, editor and storyteller who served as the first executive director of the Wilma Mankiller Foundation in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma after a 25-year career in journalism. A Navy brat, Art traveled the world, attending 14 schools on three continents before graduating high school. He is the author of The Creator’s Game (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013), Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Beat Army (Capstone, 2018) and The Reluctant Storyteller (Benchmark, fall 2019). His short stories will appear in upcoming anthologies from Benchmark and HarperCollins.
Instagram and Twitter: @upwiththemooses
Facebook: ShufflingTowardTheNightland

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Pat cummings, author/illustrator of TRACE

Author and/or illustrator of over 40 books for young readers, Pat also teaches children's book courses at Parsons and Pratt and holds a summer Boot Camp to bring writers and illustrators together with top editors and art directors. She serves on the boards of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and Authors League Fund and as Chair of the Founders Award Jury for the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show. Her debut middle grade novel, Trace, and her most recent picture book, Beauty and the Beast, are both published by HarperCollins.
Twitter: @PatCummingsBook.

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lygia day peñaflor, author of all of this is true & Unscripted joss byrd

Lygia became a writer by writing letters to a friend she met on a cruise ship when she was 14. She is the author of Unscripted Joss Byrd and All of This Is True. Lygia also teaches child stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order SVU, I Am Legend, and others. She lives on Long Island, where she rides horses and watches reruns of everything.
Twitter: @lygiaday

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Adriana Domínguez has 20 years of experience in publishing and a long trajectory of working with underrepresented authors and illustrators. Books that she has edited or represented have been awarded the Pura Belpré Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor, and been finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the NAACP Award among others. Her list includes national and international bestsellers, and titles counted among the “Best of the Year” by highly respected outlets. Adriana represents fiction and narrative nonfiction as well as author/illustrators. Her list of author/illustrators includes Ana Aranda, Tania de Regil, Rafael López, John Parra, Tony Piedra, Lorena Siminovich and Lila Quintero Weaver. Her author client list includes Michaela and Elaine DePrince, Reyna Grande, Sylvia Acevedo, Katheryn Russell-Brown and Angela Cervantes.
Twitter: @vocesblog



Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to the US in 1994 to pursue her PhD in American Studies at NYU. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington Post, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. She is the author of over twenty-five books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and Melena's Jubilee. Her middle grade fantasy novel, Dragons in a Bag, will be published by Random House in 2018. Her own imprint, Rosetta Press, generates culturally relevant stories that center children who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and/or rendered invisible in traditional children’s literature. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing. She currently lives in Philadelphia.
Twitter: @zettaelliott


michaela goade, illustrator of salmon boy & ENCOUNTER

Michaela Goade is an illustrator and artist residing in Juneau, Alaska, where she was also raised. Rooted in the coastal wilds of Southeast Alaska, her work is inspired by the magic and vibrant cultures of the region. She is an enrolled member of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Since 2017, she has illustrated several picture books for Sealaska Heritage Institute, an Alaska Native nonprofit that promotes cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. One of these books, "Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy," was awarded the American Indian Library Association’s 2018 Best Picture Book Award.

Michaela's next publications include "Encounter," by Brittany Luby (Fall 2019, Little, Brown and Company for Young Readers), and "We Are Water Protectors," by Carole Lindstrom (Spring 2020, Roaring Brook Press).
Instagram: @michaelagoade
Facebook: @MichaelaGoadeDesign

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heidi heilig, author of for a muse of fire

Heidi Heilig is the author of THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE series as well as FOR A MUSE OF FIRE. She was born in Hawaii but lives and rants in Brooklyn.
Twitter: @heidiheilig
Instagram: @heidi.heilig



Alyson joined the Aladdin team in 2008 after a two-year stint in the Simon & Schuster Associates Program. She acquires picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and the occasional YA, but her heart is in contemporary middle grade. Aly is actively looking for non-fiction projects as well for our list. On both the non-fiction and fictional side, she has a particular affinity for strong female characters who kick butt and take names, stories that represent the under-represented and stories that take on tough stuff in the middle grade space. Some recent and upcoming books she’s edited range from nonfiction projects, (Life in Motion YR Edition by Misty Copeland, The Distance Between Us YR Edition by Reyna Grande, Born Just Right by Jordan and Jen Lee Reeves), picture books (Way Past Bedtime by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Rich Wake) to series (Goddess Girls and Thunder Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams), to contemporary MG reads (Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee, Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen).

Twitter: @EditorAlysonH

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Leah Henderson, author of One Shadow on the walL

Leah Henderson is the author of One Shadow on the Wall, an Africana Children’s Book notable and a Bank Street Best Book of 2017 starred for outstanding merit. Her work appears in the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her forthcoming picture books include Together We March, Day For Rememberin’, and Mamie on the Mound. She volunteers for Kweli Journal and We Need Diverse Books events. Leah received her MFA from Spalding University and lives in Washington, D.C.
Twitter: @leahsmark

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Connie Hsu is an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press at Macmillan Publishing, and a member of the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Planning Committee. Her authors include Vera Brosgol, Angela Dominguez, Kristina Forest, Shannon Hale, Lita Judge, Susan Tan, Dan Santat, Steve Sheinkin, and Tillie Walden. She grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @missconnieh

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cheryl willis hudson, vp & editorial director, just us books, inc.

CHERYL WILLIS HUDSON is an author, editor and publisher of children’s books. She is vice president and 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. Cheryl is the author of Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, (with Bernette Ford) AFRO-BETS ABC Book, Good Morning, Baby, (Scholastic), Hands Can (Candlewick Press), My Friend Maya Loves to Dance (Abrams) and is co-editor with Wade Hudson of the middle grade anthology, We Rise We Resist, We Raise Our Voices (Crown/Random House). A member of the Children's & YA Committee of PEN America, Cheryl considers herself a diversityjedi. She and her husband Wade live in northern New Jersey.
Twitter: diversitymom_ch

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wade hudson, president of Just us books

WADE HUDSON is president of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publisher of books for children and young adults.  His 30 published books for children and young adults include Book of Black Heroes from A to Z, Jamal's Busy Day, Pass It On: African American Poetry for Children, Powerful Words: More Than Two Hundred Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans and It’s Church Going Time. He is co-editor with Cheryl Hudson of the middle grade anthology, We Rise We Resist, We Raise Our Voices (Crown/Random House). He has received a New Jersey Stephen Crane Literary Award,  Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award presented by the Center for Black Literature (2008) and the Madame C. J. Walker Legacy Award given by the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Foundation (2012).  He has also been induced into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.
Twitter: @hudsonwade


Tiffany d. jackson, author of allegedly & Monday’s not coming

Tiffany D. Jackson is the author of the critically acclaimed, NAACP Image Award-nominated ALLEGEDLY, MONDAY’S NOT COMING, and the forthcoming LET ME HEAR A RHYME (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books). A TV professional by day, novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.
Twitter & instagram: @writeinbk


GRACE KENDALL, SENIOR EDITOR FSG Books for Young Readers/Macmillan

Grace Elizabeth Kendall, Senior Editor, Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan. Grace works on a wide range of material from picture books to YA novels, fiction and nonfiction. She publishes exciting projects from debut authors, seasoned veterans, and award-winners, including MAMA AFRICA! by National Book Award Winner Kathryn Erskine, illustrated by CSK John Steptoe Winner Charly Palmer; YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by Mitali Perkins, which was a Walter Honor, South Asia Book Award Winner, and a National Book Award Nominee; and BETTY BEFORE X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson. Grace also publishes ongoing series, like the Jasmine Toguchi chapter books by Debbi Michiko Florence.
Twitter: @GraceKendallLit.
Instagram: @GraceKendallBooks

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Cheryl Klein is the editorial director at Lee & Low Books. She previously worked at Scholastic, where her titles included the New York Times bestselling Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older; Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork; Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich; The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson; The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda; and The Snow Day by Komako Sakai. Cheryl is the author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, and its earlier self-published incarnation, Second Sight. Her first picture book, Wings, will be published in 2019.
Twitter: @chavelaque.

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minh lÊ, author of drawn together & let me finish!

Minh Lê is the author of Let Me Finish! (an NPR Best Book of 2016) illustrated by Isabel Roxas and Drawn Together illustrated by Caldecott medalist Dan Santat, both published by Disney-Hyperion. He is also writing Green Lantern: Legacy, a graphic novel for the new DC Comics middle grade imprint, DC Zoom. A member of the kidlit consortium The Niblings, Minh has written for a number of national publications, including the New York Times, HuffPost, and the Horn Book. He is currently serving as a judge for the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. Outside of spending time with his beautiful wife and sons, his favorite place to be is in the middle of a good book.



Celia is an editor at Scholastic where she primarily acquires for the Cartwheel Books and Orchard Books imprints, which includes anything from board and novelty books to picture books and early illustrated chapter books. She double majored in English Literature and Art History at Virginia Tech and earned a MS in Publishing from NYU. She previously worked for Scholastic’s Book Clubs division, where she scrutinized every Honeybee and Firefly catalog to make sure every book looked great. A lifelong learner and traveler (i.e.: military brat), Celia enjoys expanding her worldview on anything and everything.

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E.B. Lewis, illustrator of Preaching to the Chickens: The story of young john Lewis

Inspired by two artist uncles, Earl Bradley Lewis displayed artistic promise as early as the third grade. At the Temple University Tyler School of Art, he discovered that his medium of preference was watercolor. After graduating, he taught art in public schools for twelve years. In 1992, E.B. began painting illustrations for the book Fire on the Mountain, and his career as an “Artistrator” was launched. To date he has illustrated more than fifty picture books and received numerous awards, including a 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Talkin’ About Bessie; a 2009 Coretta Scott King Honor Award for The Bat Boy and His Violin; a 2005 Caldecott Honor for Coming on Home Soon; and a 2009 Coretta Scott King Honor Award for The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia.
Twitter: @eblewis
Instagram: @iameblewis

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tiffany liao, editor at henry holt books for young readers, macmillan

Tiffany Liao is an editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. She acquires middle grade, young adult, and select nonfiction. She’s had the pleasure of editing authors such as Tomi Adeyemi, Margaret Owen, K.D. Halbrook, Kristin Tubb, Tochi Onyebuchi, Lesley Livingston, Rhoda Belleza, and Henry Lien, among others. She (mostly) tweets about bookish things at @tiff_liao.
Twitter: @tiff_liao

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Carole is Anishinabe/Metis and is a tribally enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe.

Carole has been a voracious reader and library geek ever since she was growing up in Nebraska. On weekends you could usually find her at the library lost in the book stacks or holed up in her bedroom with a good book. It wasn't until she had her son, that she discovered her love of writing for children and began to work seriously on her writing. She lives in Maryland with her family. She is represented by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

GIRLS DANCE, BOYS FIDDLE, (Pemmican Publishers, 2013), was inspired by the fiddle and its importance to her Anishinabe/Metis culture. WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, (Roaring Brook Press, Spring 2020), a picture book inspired by Standing Rock, and all Indigenous Peoples' fighting for clean water.
Facebook: carole.lindstrom.1
Twitter: carole.lindstrom


Alvina Ling, VP and Editor in Chief, Little, Brown Books for Young readers

Alvina Ling is VP and Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (a division of Hachette Book Group) where she has worked since 1999. She edits children's books for all ages, from picture books to young adult. She has edited such books as A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin; Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown; Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin; The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer; Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert; and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat, Venus.
Twitter: @planetalvina
Instagram: @alvinaling

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Andrea J. Loney is an award-winning author of children’s picture books. After receiving an MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU, she ran away with a circus, then she joined the Walt Disney Company. Currently a computer professor at LA Trade Technical College, she’s a member of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge and The Brown Bookshelf. She’s also a 2nd grade reader/coordinator for Her works include TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DER ZEE (Lee & Low Books 2017), BUNNY BEAR (Albert Whitman & Company 2017), and DOUBLE BASS BLUES (Random House Knopf 2019).
Twitter: @andreajloney


RAFAEL LOPEZ, ILLUSTRATOR OF THE DAY YOU BEGIN & We’ve got the whole world in our hands

The artwork of Rafael López is a fusion of strong graphic style and magical symbolism. He is inspired by his rich cultural heritage growing up in a family of architects, poets, musicians and artists in central Mexico. Rafael paints on wood boards, selecting each board for grain and texture, he applies acrylic paints with sable brushes then distresses with hand pottery tools to create brilliant backgrounds and rich colors.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson debuted as #1 New York Times Picture Book Bestseller! Rafael’s other award-winning picture books include Drum Dream Girl (written by Margarita Engle, HMH), Tito Puente: Mambo King/Rey del mambo (written by Monica Brown, HarperCollins), and Book Fiesta! (written by Pat Mora, HarperCollins).

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Kevin Noble Maillard is the author of the upcoming FRY BREAD, to be published by Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan in Fall 2019. He is also a professor and journalist who lives with his family on the 13th floor of a 115-year old bank in the heart of Manhattan. He is a regular writer for the New York Times, and has interviewed politicians, writers, tribal leaders, and even some movie stars. When he was 13 years old, he won a fishing derby for catching 72 fish in two hours. Originally from Oklahoma, he is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey band.
Twitter: @noblemaillard

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juana martinez-neal, author/illustrator of alma and how she got her name, illustrator of la princesa and the pea

Juana Martinez-Neal is the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration for “La Princesa and the Pea” (Putnam/Penguin 2017). “Alma and How She Got Her Name” and “Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre” (Candlewick 2018) are her debut picture books as an author and illustrator.

Juana was named to the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honor list in 2014, and was awarded the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize in 2012. She was born in Lima, the capital of Peru, and now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and three children.
Twitter: @juanamartinez
Instagram: @juanamartinezn


tanya mckinnon, literary agent at mckinnon McIntyre

Tanya McKinnon is the founder of McKinnon McIntyre, a full-service agency that represents New York Times bestsellers, award-winning public intellectuals, award-winning children's books, and New York Times bestselling graphic novels. In picture books, she looks for high concept, warm-spirited work. In middle grade and Y/A fiction, she looks for work that is character-driven and engrossing with a strong voice. She has a particular interest in multicultural and African American work.

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Tony Medina, author of I am Alfonso Jones & Thirteen ways of looking at a black boy

Tony Medina is the author/editor of 20 books for adults and young people, the most recent of which are I Am Alfonso Jones, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy, and Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky. The first full professor of Creative Writing at Howard University, Medina's poetry, fiction and non-fiction has been featured in over 100 publications. Medina has read/performed his work all over the United States, as well as in Germany, France, Poland, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands.
Twitter: @poettonymedina

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Martha Mihalick, Executive Editor, Greenwillow Books/Harpercollins

Martha Mihalick is the executive editor at Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. In more than fifteen years at Greenwillow, she has worked with many acclaimed authors and artists on books for all ages, from picture books to young adult novels. Books she has edited include New York Times bestseller and National Book Award longlist title Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson; #1 New York Times bestseller This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab; The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig; National Book Award longlist title We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss; A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman; The Collectors by Jacqueline West, Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan, Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg, and This Is It by Daria Peoples-Riley.

Twitter & Instagram: @marthamihalick

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Susan Muaddi Darraj's short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. It was published in 2015 and won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her latest project is a chapter book series, Farah Rocks, starring a Palestinian-American girl, which will be published by Capstone in 2020. She lives in Baltimore.
Twitter: @SusanDarraj

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An Na, author of the place between breaths

An Na was born in South Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. She is the author of A Step from Heaven, Wait for Me, The Fold, and The Place Between Breaths. Her awards and honors include: Michael L. Printz Award, International Reading Association Award, National Book Award Finalist, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Junior Library Guild Selection, and New York Times Book Review Notable. She lives in Vermont and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program.
Instagram: @AnWriting

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Emily X.R. Pan is the New York Times bestselling author of THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top twelve books of the season. Emily lives in Brooklyn but was originally born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She was the founding editor-in-chief of Bodega Magazine, has been awarded residencies at Djerassi and Caldera, and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology.
Twitter and Instagram: @exrpan.

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Karyn Parsons is best known for her role as Will Smith’s ditsy cousin Hilary Banks on NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After leaving acting behind, Karyn has gone on to found and produce Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning series of children’s animated films, to share stories about unsung black heroes in history, featuring narration from stars such as Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, Chris Rock and Laurence Fishburne. It’s been screened on HBO and Netflix, and enjoyed by schools and libraries across the country. How High the Moon is Karyn’s self-authored debut novel. &
Facebook: Karyn Parsons
Twitter: @Karyn_Parsons
Instagram: @KarynParsons

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Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is author of 8th Grade Superzero, a Notable Book for a Global Society and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She is co-author of the NAACP Image Award-nominated Two Naomis, and its sequel, Naomis Too. Her nonfiction work includes Above and Beyond: NASA's Journey to Tomorrow, and the picture book biography Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins. Olugbemisola is also the editor of The Hero Next Door, a 2019 middle grade anthology from We Need Diverse Books. A member of The Brown Bookshelf and We Need Diverse Books, Olugbemisola lives with her family in New York City.

Twitter: @olugbemisola
Instagram: @olugbemisolarhudayperkovich.



Associate Art Director Jasmin Rubero has designed books by critically-acclaimed and bestselling artists and authors, including the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series by Jacky Davis and David Soman; Pura Belpré Award winner Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raul Colón; and Junot Díaz’s debut picture book Islandborn, illustrated by Leo Espinosa.

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Aida Salazar is a writer, arts advocate and home-schooling mother whose writings for adults and children explore issues of identity and social justice. She is the author of the forthcoming middle grade verse novels, THE MOON WITHIN (Feb.26, 2019), THE LAND OF THE CRANES (Spring, 2020), the forthcoming bio picture book JOVITA WORE PANTS: THE STORY OF A REVOLUTIONARY FIGHTER (Fall, 2020). All books published by Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic. She is a founding member of LAS MUSAS, the first debut/sophomore group for Latinx kidlit authors. Her story, BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON, was adapted into a ballet production by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history. She lives with her family of artists in a teal house in Oakland, CA.
Twitter: @mimawrites
Facebook: @aidawrites
Instagram: @aida_writes
Goodreads: @aidawrites

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When I founded Victoria Sanders & Associates in 1992, it was the first step toward the culmination of a dream and a calling. Following my law school graduation, driven by a lifelong love affair with reading and books, I immersed myself in the world of publishing. I worked in the legal/contracts departments of Simon & Schuster, and at two literary agencies. It's been an incredibly exciting journey, and one that keeps getting better. As a literary agent for these 25 years, I've taken great pride in having represented many of my clients for their entire careers. I am honored to work with the extraordinary group of visionary writers and thinkers who grace this agency, the publishing marketplace, and their devoted readers with their talent and artistry.

Victoria Sanders is proud to represent a diverse and exciting array of writers of both fiction and non-fiction. She is a champion for new and diverse voices and is the agent for internationally bestselling and award-winning authors, including Tanya McKinnon, Jeff Chang, Carolina De Robertis, Denene Millner, Cozbi Cabrera, and many more. Victoria’s recent books include Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon, which received starred reviews from Kirkus and Horn Book, and she was the co-agent for the New York Times bestselling memoir When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele.

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Eric Smith is a literary agent and Young Adult author from New Jersey. He represents books across all categories, but specializes in YA. His latest novel, The Girl & the Grove, was published in 2018 with Flux.
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks


Sydney tillman, publicity assistant, random house children’s books

Sydney Tillman is a Publicity Assistant at Random House Children’s Books. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017 with a B.A. in Media and Journalism. She is on the steering committtee for RCHB’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Outreach Committee, People of Color in Publishing’s Outreach Committee, and co-leads RHCB’s PS 123 Volunteer program. She's worked on publicity for Cheryl & Wade Hudson's WE RISE, WE RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES, and the NYT Bestselling picture book ALL ARE WELCOME. When her head’s not stuck in a book, she enjoys eating new cuisines at food halls, belting (read: butchering) show tunes, and binge watching lots of The Great British Baking Show.

Twitter: @melaninreader



Namrata Tripathi is Vice President & Publisher of Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers dedicated to centering stories from the margins. Previously, Namrata held editorial positions at HarperCollins, Disney-Hyperion, and Simon and Schuster. She is the editor of the picture books Islandborn by Junot Díaz and Leo Espinosa and The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken; the middle grade novels The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, and Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley; and the YA novels Where Things Come Back, Noggin, and Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley. Namrata grew up in Afghanistan, India, Canada, Pakistan, Germany, and Poland, and has happily called New York City home for the last twenty years.
Twitter: @Tweetpathi; @KokilaBooks

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Neela Vaswani is the author of Where the Long Grass Bends; You Have Given Me a Country; Same Sun Here (co-author Silas House); and This is My Eye. She is the recipient of the American Book Award, a PEN/O.Henry Prize, the ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Medal, and many other literary honors. She received a Grammy for her narration of I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World and an Audie Award for her narration of Same Sun Here. She teaches at Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.
Instagram: neelavaswani


Renee watson, author of piecing me together & Watch us rise

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. To date, she has published six books. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together, received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her children's picture books and novels for teens have received several awards and international recognition. She has given readings and lectures at many renown places including the United Nations, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Embassy in Japan. The New York Times calls Renée’s writing, “charming and evocative.” In the summer of 2016 Renée launched I, Too Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts. She launched the #LangstonsLegacy Campaign to raise funds to lease the Harlem brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and created during the last twenty years of his life. Her hope is to preserve the legacy of Langston Hughes and build on it by providing programming for emerging writers.

Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon and currently lives in New York City.
Twitter: @reneewauthor
Instagram: @harlemportland


alicia d. williams, author of genesis begins again

Alicia Williams is a graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University. An oral storyteller in the African-American tradition, she is also a middle school teacher who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Genesis Begins Again is her debut novel.
FB: FB: authoraliciadwilliams
Instagram: aliciadiand70
Twitter: @storiestolife

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Rita Williams-Garcia is the celebrated author of a dozen acclaimed books for children and teens. Her most known title, One Crazy Summer received the Coretta Scott King Author Award, the Newbery Honor, the Scott O’Dell Historical Prize for Fiction, the Parents’ Choice Award, and the Junior Literary GuildAward.  One Crazy Summer and Jumped were named National Book Award finalists while P.S. Be Eleven also received the Coretta Scott King Author Award. Her other notable titles, including Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, Every Time A Rainbow Dies, Catching the Wild Waiyuuzee, No Laughter Here, Like Sisters on the Homefront, Fast Talk on a Slow Track, Blue Tights and Gone Crazy in Alabama have received numerous citations. Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street is her second picture book. Rita served on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program for writing for children and young adults.  She resides in Queens, New York with her husband, and has two adult daughters. When Rita isn’t writing, she is knitting, daydreaming, and boxing.



Lakita Wilson, an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, is the recipient of the 2017 SCBWI On the Verge Emerging Voices Award for her middle-grade manuscript, BOOKS LIKE ME.

Lakita currently runs a social media account (@thesweetpeagirls), currently at 26.8K followers, where she promotes diverse children's books. In May 2018, The SweetPeas Girls Instagram page was featured in a NewsOne article for its role in literary activism in the African American community.

Most recently, Lakita was appointed as the Published and Listed Member Coordinator for her regions SCBWI chapter.
Twitter: @LakitaWrites
Instagram: @thesweetpeagirls



Jacqueline Woodson is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor Award, and NAACP Image Award. Her adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist, and her many books for young readers include Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and the picture book Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, She lives in Brooklyn.

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Karina Yan Glaser is the author of the middle grade book The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, a 2017 New York Times Notable Children's Book and World Magazine's Novel of the Year, and The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden. Both are published by HMH Books for Young Readers. Karina is a contributing editor for Book Riot, the largest independent book media website in North America. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, and an assortment of rescue animals. One of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can’t go anywhere without a book.

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PHOEBE YEH, VP/Publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, Random House Children's Books

Phoebe Yeh is a VP/co-publisher at Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House. She worked with Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen on The Magic School Bus series and with Walter Dean Myers for twenty years. She edited MONSTER the first Printz winner and the New York Times bestselling series BIG NATE by Lincoln Peirce and THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani. For Crown, she has edited ENOUGH! 20 Protesters Who Changed America by Emily Easton/illustrated by Ziyue Chen; the JAKE THE FAKE series (Robinson/Mansbach/Knight); WE RISE. WE RESIST. WE RAISE OUR VOICES edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson; and FRESH INK in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, edited by Lamar Giles. Upcoming titles include MAX & THE MIDKNIGHTS by Lincoln Peirce; WE’RE NOT FROM HERE by Geoff Rodkey and ODD ONE OUT by Nic Stone.

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Marietta has worked with books, authors and illustrators throughout her career. She takes pride in her work as a Latina, always on the lookout for visual and narrative stories that reflect the world we live in and make readers feel. Marietta looks for a book in which young readers can identify with the actions and reactions of the characters, not the perspectives of the author or illustrator. Diversity in the story must be inherent and authentic, not trendy. Books she is championing this year include THE MOON WITHIN by Aida Salazar, TRACE by Pat Cummings, and I GOT NEXT by Daria Peoples-Riley.
Twitter: @AgentZacker
Instagram: @GalltZacker

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Ibi Zoboi is the author of the Young Adult novels American Street, a National Book Award Finalist, and Pride. She is the editor of the anthology, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Her forthcoming middle grade debut, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich is due out in the summer of 2019. Her award-winning writing has been published in the New York Times Book Review, The Horn Book Magazine, and the Rumpus, among others. She holds an MFA in writing for children from Vermont College, and she lives with her husband and three children in Brooklyn.
Twitter: @ibizoboi


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