What goes into building a great picture book? Why is this one successful and that one … not? That’s what we’re here to explore – how one element of a picture book’s story or art manages to grab us or wow us or strike an emotional chord. We hope you’ll follow along and feel free to comment anytime. We are:
Kevan Atteberry is an illustrator/writer living in the Seattle area. He has designed and illustrated many things including award-winning children’s books. Among them are FRANKIE STEIN and FRANKIE STEIN STARTS SCHOOL, by Lola Schaefer, and TICKLE MONSTER and BOOGIE MONSTER, by Josie Bisset. His first authored picture book, BUNNIES!!!, came out in 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books, the follow up book, PUDDLES!!! came out in 2016. And yes, he illustrated them too. His next book, I LOVE YOU MORE THAN THE SMELL OF SWAMP GAS will be out in 2017. Up until now, Kevan’s biggest claim to fame is creating Clippy the paperclip helper in Microsoft Office which still annoys millions of people every day. Learn more here: www.kevanatteberry.com
Jill Esbaum is the author of 19 picture books, with more on the way. Her newest is Stinkbird Has a Superpower (Putnam), the first of a new series illustrated by Bob Shea. Others include We Love Babies, Where’d My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Teeny Tiny Toady, Elwood Bigfoot – Wanted: Birdie Friends, I Hatched! (Dial), and more. Her I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! won a 2015 Crystal Kite from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and her books have been nominated for a number of state awards. She has also authored a variety of nonfiction books for National Geographic Kids. Jill lives on a farm in Iowa. Learn more at www.jillesbaum.com
Pat Zietlow Miller wanted to be an author ever since a teacher read her square-dancing essay and said: “This is the first time a student paper has given me chills.” (Thanks, Mrs. Mueller! You rock!) Pat’s first book, Sophie’s Squash, was illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf and published by Schwartz & Wade. A sequel, Sophie’s Squash Go to School was released in 2016. Also out in the world are: Wherever You Go (from Little, Brown, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler); Sharing the Bread (from Schwartz & Wade, illustrated by Jill McElmurry); and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville (from Chronicle, illustrated by Frank Morrison). Books in process include: My Brother, the Duck (with Chronicle); Be Kind (with Roaring Brook Press, to be illustrated by Jen Hill); Wide-Awake Bear (with HarperCollins, to be illustrated by Jean Kim); Remarkably You (with HarperCollins, to be illustrated by Patrice Barton); and Brave (with Little Brown, to be illustrated by Eliza Wheeler). Learn more at www.patzietlowmiller.com
Jennifer Black Reinhardt is an illustrator/author whose recent children’s book titles include: Playing Possum (Clarion), Gondra’s Treasure (Clarion), Sometimes You Fly (Clarion), Blue Ethel (Margaret Ferguson Books, FSG)Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs (Clarion), The Inventor’s Secret (Charlesbridge Publishing), Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons (Charlesbridge Publishing), The Adventures of a South Pole Pig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Footer Davis Probably is Crazy (Simon and Schuster). Jennifer graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Carnegie Mellon University and currently lives in Iowa City, Iowa. For more about Jennifer: www.jbreinhardt.com.
Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit tammisauer.com and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.
Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of picture books The Nian Monster (Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor), Magic Ramen (Sakura Medal, Freeman Book Award Honor), and Watercress (Boston Globe – Horn Book Honor Award, JLG Gold Standard Selection, seven starred reviews). The Many Meanings of Meilan, her debut MG novel, publishes in August 2021. Andrea’s work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. She is also the author of seven non-fiction titles for the library and school market. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family and pandemic pup, Tupelo. Learn more about Andrea and her books at andreaywang.com.
Sara Ackerman is the author of several forthcoming picture books including THE GABI THAT GIRMA WORE, co-authored with Fasika Adefris and illustrated by Netsanet Tesfay (Little, Brown, winter 2024) and NOT JUST THE DRIVER illustrated by Robert Neubecker (Beach Lane Books, spring 2024). She is an early childhood educator who lives in Brooklyn, NY right down the street from the library. Sara can be found at www.saraackerman.com and on Twitter at @sara_h_ackerman.
Rebecca Gardyn Levington is a children’s book author, poet, and journalist with a particular penchant for penning both playful and poignant picture books and poems – primarily in rhyme. She is the author of BRAINSTORM! and WHATEVER COMES TOMORROW and has six additional rhyming picture books forthcoming, including AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure (Penguin Random House/Rocky Pond Books, 2024), LITTLE DREIDEL LEARNS TO SPIN (Scholastic, 2024), and I WILL ALWAYS BE… (HarperCollins, 2025). Rebecca’s award-winning poems and articles have appeared in numerous anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her family. Find out more about Rebecca and sign up for her monthly newsletter at www.RebeccaGardynLevington.com.