We are not your typical conference. Picture Book Summit welcomes all authors and illustrators who want to quickly learn industry updates each year, without the hassles and cost of traveling!
Kate McMullan, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children, will uncover sources of inspiration for picture books. Drawing from her own creative process and interviews with contemporary and classic picture book writers, she’ll provide tools you can use to tap your own muse.
LeUyen Pham will discuss the critical balance between text and illustration in picture books, both as an author/illustrator and as an illustrator only. She'll address the need to match the style of illustrations to the particular story, whether or not every story needs an illustration sub-text, and what she wishes authors knew about leaving room for illustrators to contribute their artistic vision.
What goes into finishing a book? Legendary author-illustrator and Caldecott honoree David Shannon talks about how to end a story, designing front and back covers and end papers, and how to deal with the psychological fatigue while you continue to tweak your book until you can rejoice in the final product!
If you equate research with dry facts and figures or think it’s limited to nonfiction, you may be in for a surprise. Bestselling author-illustrator and Director of ICL Katie Davis shows you how much fun research can be and how to use it to make your writing sizzle and your characters come alive.
In this workshop, Renée LaTulippe, creator of the Lyrical Language Lab, will discuss word-level revision and share strategies to add musicality to your writing. Topics to be covered include poetic techniques, the importance of word choice, weeding out weak words, how language affects pacing, and when less is more.
Emma Walton Hamilton and Julie Hedlund, co-creators of the Complete Picture Book Submission System, share the key components of a killer query letter and break down three real queries critiqued by Julie or Emma that resulted in agent representation or a book contract. Includes actionable items you can apply immediately to your own queries.
What’s it like to be in the room when books are chosen for publication? Little Brown Books for Young Readers Editor-in-Chief Alvina Ling peels back the curtain to reveal the behind-the-scenes of the acquisitions process and what it takes for a book to get through the gauntlet.
Since joining Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Catherine has had the pleasure of working with a number of acclaimed and New York Times bestselling authors, such as Tommy Wallach, Michelle Hodkin, Heather W. Petty, The Fan Brothers, Jessie Sima, A.L. Sonnichsen, Susan Hood, and Stacey Kade, among others. Catherine loves discovering new talent and is currently looking to acquire fiction picture books that have a timeless feel to them and nonfiction picture books about unsung real-life legends or diverse role models. She is particularly interested in stories featuring friendships, siblings, and parent-child relationships, as well as characters with unusual hobbies or passions.
Cheryl Willis Hudson is an author, editor and publisher. She is co-founder and editorial director of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent company that focuses on Black interest books for children and young adults. Cheryl has authored over two dozen books including BRIGHT EYES, BROWN SKIN, (with Bernette Ford) AFRO-BETS ABC BOOK, (Just Us Books); FROM WHERE I STAND (Marimba Books); HANDS CAN AND CONSTRUCTION ZONE (Candlewick); and MY FRIEND MAYA LOVES TO DANCE (Abrams). A member of the CYAB Committee of PEN America, Cheryl has served as a diversity consultant to educational publishers and organizations.
Karen Greenberg is an Assistant Editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, where she has worked for the past five years. She edits picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. Picture books that exemplify Karen’s list include JOAN PROCTER, DRAGON DOCTOR by Patricia Valdez/illustrated by Felicita Sala; 10 LITTLE NINJAS by Miranda Paul/illustrated by Felicita Sala; MERMAID SCHOOL by JoAnne S. Wetzel/illustrated by Julianna; and YOU SEE, I SEE: ON THE FARM by Michelle Sinclair Colman/illustrated by Paul Schmid.
Kristen Nobles is the founding Publisher of Page Street Kids, the new children’s division of Page Street Publishing. Prior to Page Street Kids, she spent 13 years as an Art Director at Candlewick Press and Walker Books Group and was a Senior Designer at Chronicle Books for 5 years. Kristen focuses on collaborating with new talent and publishing art-led narrative picture books, picture book biographies, visually driven concept books, and distinct board books. She loves strong characters, stories with heart, a unique style or retro look made new again, and looks for a surprising spin on traditional themes in children’s books.
Jennifer Mattson has been with Andrea Brown Literary Agency for nearly a decade, and began working in children’s publishing immediately out of college— including five years as an editor at Dutton and five years as a Books for Youth reviewer with Booklist. She represents all audiences and genres, and looks for authors or author-illustrators who bring a deep professionalism, an open mind, and a fresh point of view to their work.
Picture books she represents include Linda Ashman’s RAIN! (Houghton Mifflin) and WILLIAM’S WINTER NAP (Disney*Hyperion); Lisl H. Detlefsen’s IF YOU HAD A JET PACK (Knopf); and Kim Norman's popular triology TEN ON THE SLED, IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT, and SHE’LL BE COMIN’ UP THE MOUNTAIN (all Sterling).
Jennifer is based in Chicago, and you can follow her on Twitter: @janmatt.
Marietta Zacker 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. She loves books that make readers feel and shies away from those that set out to teach the reader a lesson. 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. Picture books she is championing this fall include LUCÍA THE LUCHADORA AND THE MILLION MASKS by Cynthia Leonor Garza, UNSTINKY by Andy Rash, INKY’S AMAZING ESCAPE illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford, HANNAH’S TALL ORDER illustrated by Kayla Harren, and MONSTER BOOGIE by Ben Clanton.
Wendi Gu grew up in the sleepy suburbs of Chicago and studied Creative Writing at Northwestern University. As an undergraduate, she interned with children’s book agent Brenda Bowen at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, and continued working there as a literary assistant after graduation. She soon began representing her own picture books, middle-grade, and young adult titles with a special interest in girl power, family relationships, and the immigrant experience. She likes stories that root for the underdog. Her favorite books have voices that range from warm and lyrical, to witty and deadpan. She is lucky enough to work with authors of new and forthcoming titles like STERLING, BEST DOG EVER by Aidan Cassie (FSG Books for Young Readers, Spring 2018) and PAPER SON: THE STORY OF TYRUS WONG by Julie Leung and illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Schwartz & Wade, Fall 2019).
Agent Jenna Pocius of Red Fox Literary has a background in children’s editorial and is also a children’s book author (Robyn Hood series, ABDO 2019). During her time as an editor she acquired everything from board books to YA novels, and many of her books have gone on to receive starred reviews and awards, including THE WONDERFUL HABITS OF RABBITS by Douglas Florian and SMALL by Gina Perry. As an agent she’s had numerous exciting sales, including picture books THE ETERNAL SOLDIER written by Allison Crotzer Kimmel and illustrated by Rotem Teplow (little bee books, Summer 2019); THIS IS A SEA COW by Cassandra Federman (Albert Whitman, Fall 2019); THE LONGEST LETSGOBOY written by Derick Wilder and illustrated by Catia Chien (Chronicle, Spring 2021); and more.
Jenna is looking for character-driven novels with strong voice and world-building, picture books with STEM connections, and stories across age groups that highlight diversity and female empowerment. She is also a sucker for animal stories, especially dogs.