Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators



Click on faculty INTRO VIDEOS for a very personal greeting from each of our faculty members, below!




Esther Cajahuaringa
Esther Cajahuaringa, Assistant Editor, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Esther Cajahuaringa is an assistant editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. As a former educator and non-profit organizer, Esther draws upon her experiences working directly with kids when thinking about today’s readers. She has worked with Joe Cepeda, David Goodner, Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Rhode Montijo, Andrea Tsurumi, and Mo Willems to name a few. She’s avidly seeking picture books and graphic novels. 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.


Meghan McCullough

Meghan McCullough, Assistant Editor, Levine Querido


Meghan Maria McCullough is an Assistant Editor at Levine Querido, where she acquires works for children from picture books through Young Adult. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. Prior to joining Scholastic, she worked in marketing at Penguin Random House. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from The New School.


Wendy McClure, Editorial Manager, Albert Whitman and Company (critiques only)

Wendy McClure is Editorial Manager at Albert Whitman and Company, where she edits picture books, middle grade, and YA. Recent projects include Beatrix Potter, Scientistby Lindsay Hanson Metcalf and A Vote is a Powerful Thing by Catherine Stier. She is the author of It’s a Pumpkin! and several other books for children and adults. She lives in Chicago with her husband.


Andrea Tompa

Andrea Tompa, Executive Editor, Candlewick Press

Andrea Tompa is an executive editor at Candlewick Press, where she has worked for the past seventeen years and where she is proud to edit a wide range of books. Her recent and upcoming titles include nonfiction, such as All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat  and Wonder Women of Science by Tiera Fletcher and Ginger Rue; picture books and early readers, such as See the Cat by David LaRochelle and the Fergus and Zeke series by Kate Messner; middle grade novels, such as the Raymie Nightingale trilogy by Kate DiCamillo and My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver; and graphic novels, such as the Blue Stars series by Kekla Magoon and Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Deeba Zargarpur

 Deeba Zargarpur, Editor,

Simon & Schuster, Salaam Reads & Books for Young Readers (critiques only)

Deeba Zargarpur enthusiastically joined Simon & Schuster in March 2020. A graduate of Drexel University, Deeba began her editorial career at Disney-Hyperion and Freeform, where she worked on both middle grade and young adult titles, including a few New York Times bestsellers. Then, she took a detour into book packaging, where she created and edited a wide range of children’s and adult literature. Her aim is to acquire commercial books that empower young people from diverse backgrounds. Deeba is also the founder of Writers of Afghan Heritage, an initiative that advocates, supports and mentors diverse Afghan voices in traditional publishing, due to launch in late 2020. Follow Deeba on Twitter and Instagram at @deebazargarpur.






Claire Draper

Claire Draper, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency

After studying Queer Diversity in Children’s Literature at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, I continued my pursuit of great books for young readers by interning at Rare Bird Lit and the Children’s Book Council, and eventually joined InkWell Management and wore many hats in my time there. In early 2019, I moved to the Bent Agency as an agent of graphic novels and a mix of fiction and nonfiction for children of all ages.

I’m currently looking for young adult fiction and middle-grade fiction, graphic novels for all ages, body positive or feminist memoirs, collections of feminist essays, romance novels for adults, hobby and craft books, self-help and how-to books. I am particularly interested in books with queer protagonists that are not issue-driven.

Jas Perry
Jas Perry, Associate Agent, KT Literary
Jas Perry is a Manhattan-based associate agent with KT Literary. She attended New York University in Florence and London before graduating with a degree in English from CUNY Hunter College. She was awarded the We Need Diverse Books Internship Grant and held several editorial intern positions with Levine Querido and Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, where she assisted on titles by Kelly Yang, Varian Johnson, Daniel José Older, Eric Gansworth, A.S. King, Francisco X Stork, and Cherie Priest, among others. Jas is Black American/Japanese and interested in representing a diverse range of strong voices, especially by disabled and/or QTPOC creators.
Jas represents Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction across all genres, including novels-in-verse and graphic novels. In particular, she is currently seeking grounded SFF, voicey and/or humorous MG, and well-researched contemporary YA that engages a range of adolescent subjects. Joyful #OwnVoices stories are especially welcome.Query Jas at


Art Directors



Rick DeMonico

Rick DeMonico, Art Director, Albert Whitman


For over 25 years, Rick DeMonico has provided his imagination and creativity in children’s publishing and entertainment.

He is currently the Art Director at Albert Whitman & Company were he oversees the design and production of over 100 children’s books per year.

He previously spent 13 years as an Art Director at Scholastic. There he designed all kinds of children’s books, many of which went on to be New York Times bestsellers.

He started his career in design firm in which he worked on all types of design for clients like Disney, The Jim Henson Company, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, and Warner Bros.

He graduated from School of Visual Arts with BFA in Graphic Design.


Ellice Lee

Ellice Lee, Art Director, Philomel Books, an Imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

Ellice Lee, Art Director of Philomel Books, joined the team in 2017. She holds a BA in Sociology from UCLA and a BFA from Art Center College of Design. Ellice has worked with award-winning talent including Alexandra Boiger, Rafael Lopez, Loren Long, Le Uyen Pham, Christian Robinson, Kadir Nelson, Ed Young, and Floyd Cooper. Titles she has worked on have appeared on the New York Times best-seller lists (most recently, Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton), featured in New York magazine, TIME magazine and have won Caldecott honors, Coretta Scott King awards, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award. Ellice loves working with talent who have a compelling story to share—from the political to the social to the inane. 



SCBWI PAL Authors & Illustrators


Sarah Aronson

Sarah Aronson, Author
Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published three stand-alone novels: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, and Believe, a young MG series, The Wish List (Scholastic, 2017-2019) as well as the picture book biography, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books), illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Look for her next picture book, Brand New Bubbe, in 2022.When Sarah is not writing or reading (or cooking or riding her bike), she is talking to readers about creativity, writing, social action, and of course, sparkle power! She loves working with other writers in one of her classes at  the amazing Highlights Foundation or Writers on the Net ( She currently serves as PAL coordinator for SCBWI-Illinois–and the SCBWI-IL initiative, Read Local. Warning: She overuses exclamation points. When she gets really excited, she makes funny faces and talks with her hands. She lives in Evanston, Illinois. Like writing tips? Find out more than you ever need to know:

Vanessa Brantley Newton

Vanessa Brantley Newton, Author-Illustrator
Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, poet and crafter who studied fashion illustration at the 
Fashion Institute of Technology and children’s book illustration at the School Of Visual Arts in NYC. She is a the author and illustrator of Grandma’s Purse and Just Like Me. She has illustrated numerous children’s books, including Mary Had A Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert and Presenting… Tallulah by Tori Spelling.  Vanessa wants all children to see themselves beautifully illustrated in pictures books. Diversity is at the heart of all the things she illustrates. Vanessa makes her nest in Charlotte, NC with her husband of over 25 years , their daughter and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. To learn more about Vanessa and her work please visit

Vanessa Brantley-Newton on Instagram and Vanessa Brantley-Newton on



Cozbi Cabrera

Cozbi Cabrera, Author-Illustrator

Cozbi A. Cabrera is a multimedia artist.  Trained as an art director, this Parsons School of Design grad left her dream job creating music packaging in NY (art direction and design for artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and award winning platinum selling artist Ginuwine) to make handmade collectible cloth dolls (Muñecas) in honor of her Honduran heritage. Her dolls were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Martha Stewart Living, Land Of Nod catalogue, and many US networks. Solo exhibitions include Thread That Binds (2017-18) at the Jewish Fund Gallery, Ernest Rubenstein Galleries and the Lincoln Center Education Art Gallery. Her dolls, quilts and paintings exhibited concurrently with the Gees Bend Quilts at the Myrtle Beach Art Museum (2017).

 Cozbi’s star reviewed illustrated titles include: Beauty Her Basket/Sandra Belton, and Thanks A Million/Nikki Grimes, Greenwillow Books; Stitchin’ and Pullin’ A Gees Bend Quilt/Patricia McKissack, Random House; Most Loved in All the World/Tonya Cherie Hegamin, Houghton Mifflin; Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks/Suzanne Slade, Abrams Books. She’s currently painting Elizabeth Jennings Takes a Stand/ Amy Hill Hearth, Greenwillow Books and has authored/illustrated My Hair Is A Garden/Albert Whitman 2018 and Me and Mama/Simon & Schuster 2020.


Kate Hannigan

Kate Hannigan, Author

Kate Hannigan writes fiction and nonfiction, and especially loves mining history for remarkable people whose stories deserve to be told. Her first nonfiction graphic novel —THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE: Rising From the Ashes — published in June with First Second. Her new historical fantasy series with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin —THE LEAGUE OF SECRET HEROES — features graphic novel elements and real-life figures from World War II history. CAPE (Book 1) published in August 2019 and received the Oklahoma Book Award for young adult writing, and MASK (Book 2) hit shelves in August 2020. Kate’s historical fiction THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT (Little, Brown), about America’s first woman detective, received the 2016 Golden Kite Award for best middle-grade novel. Other honors include a California Young Reader Medal honor, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, and Nerdy Book Club Award Winner. Her picture book biography A LADY HAS THE FLOOR: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights (Boyds Mills) was a Society of Midland Authors honoree, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Chicago Public Library Best Book. She has eight books forthcoming. When Kate isn’t reading, researching, or chasing down her nervous dog, she likes to spend time with her busy family. You can find her online at


Esther Hershenhorn

Esther Hershenhorn, PAL Author & SCBWI-IL Regional Advisor Emeritus


Chicagoan Esther Hershenhorn writes picture books, poetry, middle-grade fiction and nonfiction, teaches adult Writing for Children workshops at the Newberry Library and the University of Chicago’s Graham School’s Writers Studio and coaches writers of all ages to help them tell their stories. She also proudly advocates for children’s book creators via her past service on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and current service as the Illinois Chapter’s Regional Advisor Emeritus. Visit Esther’s website to learn more about her books, classes and coaching. She blogs at


Barb Rosenstock 

Barb Rosenstock, Author
Barb Rosenstock likes true stories about real people. She is the author of nonfiction and historical fiction picture books that combine deep research and playful language to bring history to life. Her book, The Noisy Paint Box, illustrated by Mary Grandpré, received a Caldecott Honor in 2015. Other awards include the SCBWI Golden Kite, an Orbis Pictus Honor, a Sydney Taylor Honor, the South Asia Book Award and Illinois’ Prairie State Award, as well as numerous national and state recognitions. Barb loves sharing stories and inspiring students in schools and libraries across the country. She lives with her family north of Chicago.

John Herrington

John B. Herrington, PhD CDR USN (Ret) Astronaut & Author  

John Bennett Herrington is a retired United States Naval Aviator, Naval Test Pilot, and former NASA astronaut. A native of Wetumka, OK, he graduated from Plano Senior High School, Plano, Texas, in 1976; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, in 1983, and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1995. He also received a PhD in Education from the University of Idaho in 2014.  As a NASA mission specialist, he made history becoming the first Native American in space aboard the Shuttle Endeavour in 2002, logging over 330 hours in space, including 3 EVAs totaling 19 hours and 55 minutes. Shortly after retiring from NASA, Herrington began working on his new goal: to help spur a renewed interest in science and engineering among young people, specifically the Native American youth. He did this with a 4,200-mile, 63-day cross-country bicycle ride that occurred in 2008 and was titled Rocketrek. He recently completed his first children’s book, Mission to Space, published by the Chickasaw Nation White Dog Press.  Commander Herrington is a proud citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.