(Pictured left to right, Deborah Taylor, Melissa Iwai, Rita Auerbach, Jennifer Brown, Pat Cummings, Carmen Agra Deedy, Dean Schneider, Vaunda Nelson, Chris Rashka)
Deborah Taylor, Coordinator, Student & Youth Services (Retired), recently retired from the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore. MD. She has chaired and served on many American Library Association (ALA) committees, including the 2015 Sibert Award for Outstanding Informational Books for Children, the Newbery Awards, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and the Michael L. Printz Award. She was named the 2015 recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Melissa Iwai, Author/Illustrator, Melissa Iwai has illustrated over thirty picture books and has been privileged to work with such beloved authors as Eileen Spinelli and Anne Rockwell. Dumplings for Lili, which she both wrote and illustrated, was a 2022 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner. She illustrated Thirty Minutes Over Oregon, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, which was honored as an Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction in 2019. She has been the keynote speaker at the Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI conference and has led workshops on writing and illustrating at the Highlights Foundation. When she is not creating, she can be found doing crossword puzzles with her husband, author Denis Markell, in Brooklyn.
Rita Auerbach, Librarian (Retired), is a member of the Coretta Scott King Archives and History Committee. She chaired ALA’s 2018 Legacy Award Committee which honored Jacqueline Woodson and the 2010 Caldecott Award Committee which honored The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. She has also chaired the Ezra Jack Keats Award Committee and ALA’s Notable Children’s Books Committee, and has served on the Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Batchelder, and New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Committees.
Jennifer M. Brown, Senior Editor, Shelf Awareness, an e-newsletter for the book trade and also for consumers, has spent the past 30 years toggling between her two passions–education and bookmaking. She has served as director of the Center for Children’s Literature and interim children’s librarian at Bank Street College of Education, and publisher of Knopf Books for Young Readers. When she’s not combing bookshelves for her next read, you can find her performing cabaret at Don’t Tell Mama in New York. Jenny lives with her husband in Hewitt, NJ.
Pat Cummings, Author and/or illustrator of over 40 books, Pat teaches children’s book illustration at Pratt and Parsons. Her annual Children’s Book Boot Camp introduces writers and illustrators to top editors, art directors and agents. She serves on the Advisory Council of SCBWI, the boards Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund and as Chair of the Founders Award Jury for the Society of Illustrators’ annual Original Art Show. Pat’s latest books include Trace, for middle graders and the picture book Where is Mommy?
Carmen Agra Deedy, Author/Storyteller,is an award-winning author of fifteen books for young readers, including The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day, and 14 Cows for America, a New York Times Bestseller. Her latest book, Wombat Said Come In, was released in October 2022. An editor, and life-long advocate for libraries, she has served as a Library Trustee in Dekalb County as well as serving on the Advisory Board of Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, and will do so again, as of January 2023.
Dean Schneider, Author/Educator has taught reading and writing for 45 years and is in his thirty-fourth year at Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a long-time writer and reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and has served on several other book award committees, including the Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, and Boston Globe-Horn Book. When not teaching, reading, and writing, he is cooking up a storm in his Nashville kitchen.
Vaunda Nelson, Author, Librarian (Retired), is a former children’s librarian and a children’s book author. Her many awards include a Coretta Scott King Author Award for Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction for No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller, and a Western Writers of America Spur Award for Let ‘Er Buck: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion.
Chris Raschka, Author/Illustrator, is a multi-award-winning author/illustrator of over 70 books for children. Named “one of the most original illustrators at work today” by Publishers Weekly, Raschka has been the recipient of two Caldecott Medals (for The Hello, Goodbye Window and A Ball for Daisy,) as well as a Caldecott Honor Award for the book Yo? Yes! A graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Chris had set his eyes on a career in medicine till he realized that his heart was in art. Shortly after this discovery, he moved to New York City where he saw his dream of illustrating children’s books come to fruition.