Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2023 Spring Thaw Faculty



Our industry professionals— art director, agents & editors— provide coaching advice and pitch practice to get you in the game!


Confirmed faculty from left: Kelly Barrales-Saylor, Josh Gregory, Jordan Kost (not pictured) , Jennifer Mattson, Alicia Sparrow, & Alexandra Weiss


Kelly Barrales-Saylor
Editorial Director, Sourcebooks eXplore (Nonfiction)

New approaches for nonfiction; commercial nonfiction for pre-schoolers; social-emotional learning

Kelly Barrales-Saylor is the editorial director of Sourcebooks eXplore, a children’s nonfiction division of Sourcebooks. She has acquired and published hundreds of books throughout her career, including numerous New York Times best sellers. Her goal is to publish books that affect people’s lives in a positive  way by making them laugh, learning something new, or just creating shared moments at bedtime. When she’s not editing, Kelly can be found cooking, gardening, reading celebrity memoirs, or watching da Bears.




Josh Gregory
Editor, Albert Whitman & Co.

FORMATS: Picture Books (fiction and nonfiction), Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Josh Gregory is a Chicago-based editor and writer with more than a decade of experience working on books for young readers. Prior to joining Albert Whitman & Company as an editor, he worked as a book packager for clients including Scholastic, Cherry Lake Publishing, and Bearport Publishing. He is also the author of more than 250 nonfiction children’s books.Right now, he is seeking fiction and nonfiction picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and YA, with a focus on exciting stories that are directly relatable to kids’ lives, regardless of style, category, or genre.

Josh’s MSWL

Jordan Kost  
Art Director, Sourcebooks


Bio forthcoming





Jennifer Mattson
Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

FORMATS: Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Jennifer Mattson is a Chicago-based agent with boutique children’s book agency Andrea Brown Literary. Her career in children’s publishing began immediately out of college—including time as an editor (Dutton Children’s Books) and a reviewer(Booklist magazine).She represents all audiences and genres within the children’s literature umbrella, from picture book through young adult, and looks for authors or author-illustrators who bring a deep professionalism, an open mind, and a fresh point of view to their work. Her list primarily focuses on fiction, but she’s also open to occasional, impeccably researched nonfiction projects. She’s currently especially looking to add more middle grade novelists to her roster, especially those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, and she has soft spots for mindbending speculative and gripping survival stories of all kinds. But she’ll always give more than a passing glance to a slam-dunk of a picture book!

Jennifer’s MSWL


Alicia Sparrow
Acquisitions Editor, Chicago Review Press

FORMATS: Picture Books / Young Adult / Graphic Novels

Alicia Sparrow has been in the book industry since 2013, and a serious reader long beforehand. Starting in an independent bookstore in Chicago, she maneuvered her way first into a sales position working directly with the buyers from Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million, then on to an editorial position at the University of Chicago Press. Now at Chicago Review Press, she is the acquisitions editor for the imprints Lawrence Hill Books and Amberjack Publishing. Her interest is in diverse children’s stories and authors from across cultures, and she is a major supporter of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and the #OwnVoices movements. She is currently interested in age-appropriate pulse-pounding YA (Delicious Monsters,The Taking of Jake Livingston, The Children of Blood and Bone), and loves all genres

Publishers Marketplace




Alexandra Weiss
Agent, Azantian Literary Agency

FORMATS: Picture Book (fiction and non-fiction), Middle Grade, Young Adult, Graphic Novels

Alexandra Weiss (but please call her Alex) joined the world of publishing in 2016, as an associate agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. In 2021, she joined Azantian Literary Agency where she represents fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels. She’s dedicated to representing marginalized creators and diverse stories and is always seeking to represent BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, genderfluid, neurodiverse, and disabled voices for all ages and genres. 

She holds a BFA in creative writing and publishing from Columbia College Chicago and has nearly a decade of experience in freelance writing and copyediting. In her rare spare time, she likes to bake up a storm, snuggle her cat, and play video games. 

Alex’s MSWL



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