Picture Book Summit | 2017

Picutre Book Summit 2017 Program

If you want to find out more about Picture Book Summit’s past conferences, you’ve come to the right place. On this page you’ll find more info about our 2017 event:

  • Superstar Speakers
    • Bio and title of presentation
    • Mentor text articles for writers (no cost picture book study guides)
    • Links to recorded presentation available to purchase at any time
  • Workshop Presentations
    • Bio and title of presentation
    • Links to recorded presentation available to purchase at any time
  • Agents and Editors
    • Bios
    • Submission opportunities and panel recordings are not available to non-Summiteers

2017 Superstar Picture Book Presenters Included


Morning Q&A with Picture Book Legend

Tomie dePaola

From his Irish-Italian roots to his adventures in musical theatre, his time as a Benedictine monk and his work as a fine artist and teacher, legendary author/illustrator Tomie dePaola has always drawn from life experience. But how does a character inspired by your own grandmother become so universal? Find out in this intimate interview with one of our industry's most esteemed, beloved and prolific talents.

Tomie dePaola has been writing and illustrating books for children for over 50 years. His 260+ books have sold 25 million copies worldwide, including Strega Nona, 26 Fairmount Avenue, The Art Lesson, and Christmas Remembered. The American Library Association has honored him with a Caldecott Honor Book, a Newbery Honor Book, and the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his ``substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.``

In ``TAPPING THE TRUTH: Tomie dePaola on Writing What You Know (and the tap shoes he still owns),`` Emma Walton Hamilton interviews this children's literature legend.

Check out our Author Study on Tomie HERE.

To purchase Tomie’s presentation “Tapping the Truth,” click HERE.

Mid-Conference Keynote Superstar Speaker

Carole Boston Weatherford

New York Times bestselling author Carole Boston Weatherford, an award-winning poet and a master of picture book nonfiction, discusses how she selects subject and premise, determines point of view and verb tense, develops voice, and mashes up the genres of poetry, biography, historical fiction and informational books.

Books by Carole Boston Weatherford have received three Caldecott Honor Medals, multiple Coretta Scott King awards and honors, two NAACP Image Awards, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor, Flora Steiglitz Straus Award, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, Arnold Adoff Poetry Award and Honors, Charlotte Zolotow Award, Jefferson Cup, and Carter G. Woodson Award. Her 50-plus titles include Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom ; Freedom in Congo Square ; and Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane . Her latest picture books include The Legendary Miss Lena Horne, In Your Hands, Dorothea Lange: How the Photographer Found the Faces of the Depression; and Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library . Recipient of the North Carolina Award for literature, Carole teaches at Fayetteville State University.

Check out our Author Study on Carole HERE.

To purchase Carole’s presentation “Decisions, Decisions: Picturing a Book,”, click HERE.

Closing Superstar Keynote Speaker

Adam Rex

EB White once wrote, “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.” Humor is difficult to nail down and everyone has a different style, yet New York Times bestselling and award winning author, Adam Rex will attempt the impossible—teaching authors how to be funny.

Adam Rex wrote and/or illustrated all the books you like including the New York Times bestselling Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich , the New York Times bestselling School’s First Day of School,`` and also a number of titles about which the New York Times has been strangely coy. His first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday,`` was adapted into the DreamWorks feature film Home. Having your book get turned into a movie is like that section in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where the woodsman systematically chops off all his body parts one by one and replaces them with tin. But in a good way? Like maybe with the heart still intact? This isn’t one of Adam Rex’s better metaphors.

Check out our Author Study on Adam HERE.

To purchase Adam’s presentation “Dissecting the Frog: Analyzing Humor, God Help Us,” click HERE.

2017 Workshops From Top Picture Book Writing Experts:

Let Them Read Layered Picture Books

Julie Hedlund

A truly delicious book must contain multiple layers. If you've ever gotten feedback that your story is ``slight``, Julie's recipe for creating a picture book with depth and heart is exactly what you need. You'll leave knowing how to bake layers into your own books.

Julie is an award-winning picture book author, 21st century publishing expert and founder of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. Since 2012, 12 x 12 has encouraged thousands of picture book writers to get their stories out of their heads and onto the page. Julie is a frequent speaker at writing retreats and conferences. Her picture book credits include My Love For You is the Sun and A Troop is a Group of Monkeys.

For more information about this workshop, click here.

STEAMpower: Bringing Nonfiction to Life

Steve Swinburne

Through humor and storytelling, veteran nonfiction author, Steve Swinburne, fresh from travels with sea turtles, wolves, manatees, and sloths, will take writers into the heart of narrative nonfiction storytelling. Learn to use “story” to create quality, informational books that hook young readers on topics of science, technology, engineering, art and math as well as people and history.
Steve is the author of over 30 children’s books. Steve’s most recent title include, Sea Turtle Scientist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Safe in a Storm (Scholastic), about animals finding cozy places to stay safe and warm. Steve visits nearly a hundred schools a year across the United States as well as many international schools.

For more information about this workshop, click here.

Purpose without Preaching

Laura Backes Bard

Are you talking down to your audience and not even realizing it? Children are clever and they know when they're getting a morality lecture. Didactic picture books will get your story rejected in a snap. Learn to master picture books with purpose so children -- and editors -- will embrace your story.
Laura is publisher of Children’s Book Insider, The Children’s Writing Monthly, and co-owner of WritingBlueprints.com (along with husband Jon Bard). Laura has edited and critiqued thousands of picture book manuscripts. Her credits include Best Books for Kids Who (Think They) Hate to Read (Random House); articles for Writer’s Digest, The Writer and Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market; and technical editor of Writing Children’s Books for Dummies.

For more information about this workshop, click here.

The Agent's Perspective: Pitching and Selling Picture Books

Brenda Bowen

Can you convey your book’s unique qualities to an agent? And after you're published, how will your book get the attention it deserves? Brenda Bowen guides you through the author/agent relationship and the process of selling and marketing your purposeful picture book.
As an agent at Greenberger Associates, Brenda represents authors and illustrators who are national and international bestsellers, as well as winners of Newbery and Caldecott awards. Before becoming a literary agent in the summer of 2009, Brenda held a variety of positions during her 25-plus years in children’s publishing. She has been editorial director of Henry Holt & Books for Young Readers, Scholastic Press, Disney/Hyperion, and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

For more information about this workshop, click here.

2017 Editors and Agents

Each year, our editors and agents appear on pre-recorded panels for the Picture Book Summit attendees. This is the only pre-recorded portion of the conference. Summiteers are given submission opportunities for select agents and editors. Neither the panels, nor the submission opportunities, are available for later purchase.

Executive Editor, Holiday House

Grace Maccarone

Grace Maccarone is Executive Editor at Holiday House, where she works on picture books and I Like to Read® Books for new readers. She has worked with many award-winning authors and illustrators such as Betsy Lewin, Ted Lewin, Emily Arnold McCully, Tedd Arnold, Ruby Bridges, Eric Velasquez, R. Gregory Christie, Walter Wick, and Marc Simont, as well as on best-selling series such as I Spy, Fly Guy, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. She has also written more than sixty picture books and books for beginning readers.

Editorial Director, Candlewick Press

Mary Lee Donovan

Mary Lee Donovan is Editorial Director at Candlewick Press where she is celebrating her 25th anniversary. Mary Lee is the editor of the 2008 Newbery Medal winner, Good Masters, Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village and the 2013 Newbery Honoree, Splendors and Glooms, both by Laura Amy Schlitz; the 2014 Caldecott Honor picture book, Journey by Aaron Becker; the Judy Moody and Stink series by Megan McDonald; The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, as well as books by Doreen Rappaport, Rosemary Wells, Scott Nash, Carol Diggory Shields, George O’Connor, Annette Simon, Catharine O’Neill, and many others.

Senior Editor, Chronicle Books

Melissa Manlove

Melissa Manlove is a Senior Editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She has been with Chronicle for 12 years. Her acquisitions tend to be all ages in nonfiction; ages 0-8 for fiction. When acquiring, she looks for fresh takes on familiar topics as well as the new and unusual. An effective approach and strong, graceful writing are important to her. She has 17 years of children’s book selling experience.

Publisher, Ripple Grove Press

Rob Broder

Rob Broder is the President and founder of picture book publisher Ripple Grove Press. Graduation Day by Piotr Parda will be published in Spring 2017. RGP’s spring 2016 list includes Salad Pie written by Wendy BooydeGraaff and illustrated by Bryan Langdo, and Lizbeth Lou Got a Rock in Her Shoe, written by Troy Howell and illustrated by Kathryn Carr. Monday Is Wash Day, written by MaryAnn Sundby and illustrated by Tessa Blackham is coming this fall; Monday is Wash Day just received a star review from Kirkus.

Hen&ink Literary Studio Founder

Erzsi Deàk

Erzsi Deàk brings her nearly 30 years of experience on the international stage, connecting individuals and companies with those around the globe who can make things happen – no matter where you find yourself. She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.
With her growing list of prize-winning writers & illustrators, and new voices from around the world, Erzsi Deàk meets often with publishers in the US and UK and aggressively markets domestic and foreign rights, attending the Bologna, London, and Frankfurt rights fairs. Starting the French chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) in 1995, Erzsi eventually ran the international arm of the SCBWI for nearly ten years, developing and mentoring writers, illustrators and publishing programs in 28 countries. She founded and organized the SCBWI Bologna Conference and was awarded the SCBWI Member of the Year in 1999 and 2008. In 2009, she began working with La Martinière Groupe in France, acquiring approximately 40 titles a year for their Le Seuil and La Martinière Jeunesse imprints.

Andrea Brown Literary

Kelly Sonnack

Kelly Sonnack is a Senior Literary Agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She represents works for all age ranges and a wide assortment of genres. Some of the novels Kelly has represented include SCBWI Sue Alexander winner and NYT bestselling Sharon Cameron’s newest YA, The Forgetting (Scholastic), David Elliott’s novel-in-verse Bull which received seven starred reviews (HMH/Houghton), and Gordon McAlpine’s middle grade series The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe, with illustrations by Sam Zuppardi (Penguin/Viking). Picture books she’s sold include Mustache Baby, written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Joy Ang (HMH/Clarion), Ashlyn Anstee’s Are We There Yeti? (S&S), and Alastair Heim’s No Tooting at Tea (HMH/Clarion). Kelly teaches, and is on the Advisory Board, for UC San Diego’s certificate in Writing and Illustrating for Children and is the founder of the City Heights Young Writers Workshop.

Rubin Pfeffer Content Founder

Rubin Pfeffer

Rubin Pfeffer founded Rubin Pfeffer Content in 2014 as a natural extension of his 40-year career in the publishing industry. Starting as a designer at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich directly out of college, Rubin has traversed the seas of the children’s book-industry. In his 30 years at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Rubin served in a multitude of positions including Art Director, Editor-in-Chief, and President. In 2001, Rubin transitioned from Harcourt to become Pearson’s Chief Creative Officer. Wishing to return to trade publishing, Pfeffer transitioned to Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, working as a Vice President and Publisher in 2003. After a number of years at Simon & Schuster, sensing a changing tide in the industry, Rubin became an independent agent at East/West Literary Agency in 2009. Rubin has found his passion in working closely with authors and illustrators, in strengthening and nurturing their work, and in helping writers and illustrators demonstrate their potential to publishers.

Upstart Crow Literary

Susan Hawk

Susan Hawk has worked in children’s books for over 25 years, and her clients include Alison Oliver, illustrator of the bestselling Baby Lit board books and the forthcoming picture book Moon; Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves Science board book series; Marcie Colleen, author of the Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series and the forthcoming picture books Love, Triangle and The Adventure of the Penguinaut; Lisa Tyre, whose debut middle-grade novel, Last in a Long Line of Rebels, was a BEA Buzz Book title; Sarah Lariviere, whose middle-grade novel The Bad Kid is an 2017 Edgar Award Nominee; and Rachael Allen, author of the YA novels 17 First Kisses and The Revenge Playbook. She joined Upstart Crow Literary after seven years at the Bent Agency. Before agenting, Susan worked in the children’s marketing departments of Penguin Books for Young Readers, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and North-South Books, where she managed campaigns for many books and authors including Eric Carle, Mary E Pearson, Richard Peck and Joan Bauer.

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