Jewish Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Seminar

Have you written or illustrated a Jewish children's book that you'd like to have published? Do you have a story idea? Have you already been published, and would like to network with others in your field? The Annual Jewish Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Seminar, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council, brings together agents, editors, illustrators, and authors for a full day of discussion about Jewish children's book publishing.

In addition to presentations by professionals in the field of children's book publishing, the seminar will include a book and illustrator portfolio display during the lunch break, the chance to submit first pages and query letters, and private consultations with agents, designers, and publishers, by appointment only and for a fee. These opportunities are only open to those attending the seminar.

This year's seminar will be held Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 520 8th Avenue, 4th Floor in New York City

Seminar Fees:
         $140.00 Early Registration for all sessions and catered lunch, due September 26th. This deadline has now passed
         $160.00 Standard Registration for all sessions and catered lunch, due November 3rd.

Registration is now open!



2017 Seminar Presenters

Learn about the speakers that will be presenting at the 2017 Jewish Writers & Illustrators' Seminars below.

The 19th Annual Jewish Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Seminar features the following presenters:
  • Joanne Oppenheim, author of more than 50 children's books, including The Knish War on Rivington Street (Scholastic)
  • Susan Krawitz, author of debut novel Viva Rosa! (Holiday House)
  • Erica S. Perl, author of the forthcoming middle grade novel, All Three Stooges, as well as many other books for children and younger readers (Knopf)
  • Sacha Lamb, author of the short story Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live
  • Talia Benamy, Assistant Editor at Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers),
  • Dianne Hess, Executive Editor at Scholastic
  • Phoebe Yeh, VP/co-publisher at Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House
  • Lizzy Mason, the Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • Josh Redlich, Publicist at Random House Children’s Books
  • Vivian Newman, Educational Consultant to PJ Library
  • Dena Neusner, Executive Editor at Behrman House
  • Joni Sussman, publisher at Kar-Ben Publishing
  • Susan Kusel, chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee
  • Aileen Grossberg, current chair of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Competition
  • Marjorie Shuster, librarian at the Stettenheim Library of Temple Emanuel of the City of New York
  • Stephen Barbara, Literary Agent with InkWell Management
  • Tanya Mckinnon, Lierary Agent at McKinnon McIntyre
  • Carrie Hannigan, Literary Agent at Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency

  • Past Seminar Presenters

    Learn about the speakers from the previous Jewish Writers & Illustrators' Seminars below.

    2016 Seminar Panelists and Presenters:

    Meryl G. Gordon is the author of The Flower Girl Wore Celery, the first picture book in the marketplace about a lesbian Jewish wedding. She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in mathematics and philosophy, as well as certification to teach math. She holds a Master’s degree in computer science from Iona College and is a former computer programmer/analyst. Meryl’s passion is supporting, promoting and advocating for lifelong Jewish education.

    Matthue Roth is the author of the picture books The Gobblings and My First Kafka, as well as three other novels and a memoir. He's the co-creator of BimBam and Hevria.com, and he was a writer for Sesame Street. Now he is a creative writer at Google. He keeps a secret diary online at www.matthue.com.

    Robert Sharenow’s debut My Mother the Cheerleader was named one of the “Best Books of the Year” by the American Library Association, School Library Journal, and the New York Public Library. The Berlin Boxing Club, his second novel, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award and was a finalist for the Walden Award. He currently serves as Executive Vice President and G.M. of A&E Network and Lifetime. His recent novel for young readers, The Girl in the Torch, was a 2015 – 2016 JBC Network book.

    Judy Gitenstein began her career at Dell Yearling, which published paperback editions of Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family series as well as Milton Meltzer’s book for young readers, World of our Fathers. At Bantam Books she published a reformatted early-reader edition of Barbara Cohen’s Molly’s Pilgrim and Jacob’s Rescue: A Holocaust Story by Malka Drucker and Michael Halperin. She was advisor to Sleeping Bear Press on Richard Michelson’s A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet, illustrated by Ron Mazellan. She currently edits freelance, helping writers prepare their manuscripts for submission or for self-publishing.

    Karen Greenberg is an Editorial Assistant at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from Queens College and interned at Sterling before moving on to Random House, where she has been ever since. Karen works on picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels.

    Renee Hooker is an Assistant Editor at Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Renee primarily works on middle grade series, early chapter books, and leveled readers. She has helped edit New York Times bestselling series such as Who Was? (illustrated biographies) and Here’s Hank (chapter books co-written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver). Renee is looking for books within the age range of 0 – 12 years old. Renee is particularly drawn to quirky characters and unique writing styles, with stories that incorporate humor and feature compelling female protagonists with distinct voices. She is currently accepting manuscript submissions.

    Katherine Perkins is an associate editor at Putnam (Penguin Random House). After getting her English degree from the College of William and Mary, Katherine attended the Columbia Publishing Course and has been a Penguin ever since. She is growing her own list of middle grade and young adult novels as well as picture books. She’s always on the lookout for stories that transport her: either to a different place or time, or with a fresh way of seeing the world.

    Ayanna Coleman is the Director of Marketing at Tanglewood Publishing, where she handles all marketing and advertising for current and backlist titles as well as helps select new titles for future Tanglewood lists. Before joining the company in 2016, she worked as a children’s librarian, partnerships and strategic planning director at a nonprofit for children’s publishers, and as a development director for a literacy nonprofit. In every role, she has focused on helping wonderful, diverse books reach the readers who crave them.

    Lizzy Mason is the Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. She previously worked in publicity at Disney, Macmillan Children’s, and Simon & Schuster, and graduated from Manhattan College (which is in the Bronx) with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. Lizzy dedicates whatever spare time she can to writing YA fiction and is represented by Stephen Barbara at Inkwell Management. She lives with her husband and their cat in Queens, NY.

    Rachel Pinnelas is a comics editor. A comic fan from a young age, she started her professional career in the industry as a Marvel intern, and has worked for both Marvel and DC Comics. She lives, reads, and writes in New York City.

    Aileen Grossberg is a professional librarian who has worked in public libraries, public school libraries, and synagogue libraries for many years. Trained as an English and Latin teacher, Aileen is currently the librarian at Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, NJ and Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, NJ. She is active in the Association of Jewish Libraries , as well as other professional organizations. Aileen served on the Garden State Book Award Committee, sponsored by the Children’s Services Section of the New Jersey Library Association, and was chair of the Association of Jewish Library’s Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She is the current chair of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Competition, sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries, and is also a book reviewer for the Essex County Association of School Librarians. She writes a regular column for two synagogue publications. Aileen is a graduate of Brown University and holds advanced degrees from Yale and Rutgers Universities.

    Susan Kusel is the librarian at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. She is also the children's book buyer and selector for Words bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey and the owner of Dream On Books, a book consulting company. She was a member of the 2015 Caldecott Medal selection committee. She is on the board of the Association of Jewish Libraries and is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

    Meredith Lewis is the Director of Content and Engagement for PJ Library in North America. In this role, she manages the subscriber experience, including overseeing book selection, content creation, community programming and partnerships with Jewish and secular organizations. She previously worked at 70 Faces Media, where she served in a variety of roles, including managing editor, interim executive director, and chief operating officer, and helped lead MyJewishLearning.com into its merger with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Meredith has also held positions as a writer, editor, youth group director, and teacher.

    Dena Neusner is Executive Editor at Behrman House and its imprint, Apples & Honey Press. She leads the highly-talented editorial team and is responsible for managing the editorial pipeline and acquiring and editing new projects. Dena was instrumental in launching Apples & Honey Press in 2015, which is a partnership between Behrman House and Jerusalem-based Gefen Publishing. She is interested in picture book stories that reflect a Jewish multicultural or interfaith experience, stories set against a backdrop of Hanukkah or other holidays, humorous stories, stories that offer a Jewish angle on popular subjects or themes in American culture, contemporary stories set in Israel, and bible stories told in a fresh, new way.

    2015

    The 2015 Seminar included representatives from young readers imprints at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Sterling Books, Bloomsbury, Kar-Ben, Behrman House, and more!

    Marjorie Ingall is a Life & Religion columnist and contributing editor at Tablet magazine. Her book, Mamaleh Knows Best, about the history and reality of the Jewish Mother stereotype, will be published next year by Crown Publishers. She often writes about children’s books for The New York Times Book Review and has written for many other magazines and newspapers, including Self (former contributing writer), Glamour (former contributing editor), Ms., Food & Wine, and the late, lamented Sassy (where she was senior writer and books editor). She's also a ghostwriter. For a while she was a writer/producer for the Oxygen TV network, but she discovered that her perkiness levels were not up to a job in daytime television. She has consulted for Scholastic, Nickelodeon, MTV Books, The Exploratorium Museum, New Line Pictures, and others. She lives in NYC's East Village with her husband Jonathan Steuer, daughters Josie (age 14), Maxine (age 11), and two exuberant cats.

    Renee Hooker is an Assistant Editor at Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Renee primarily works on middle grade series, early chapter books, and leveled readers. She has helped edit New York Times bestselling series such as Who Was? (illustrated biographies) and Here’s Hank (chapter books co-written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver). Renee is looking for books within the age range of 0-12 years old. Renee is particularly drawn to quirky characters and unique writing styles, with stories that incorporate humor and feature compelling female protagonists with distinct voices. She is currently accepting manuscript submissions.

    Dena Neusner is Executive Editor at Behrman House and its new imprint, Apples & Honey Press. She leads the highly-talented editorial team and is responsible for managing the editorial pipeline and acquiring and editing new projects. Dena was instrumental in launching Apples & Honey Press, which is a partnership between Behrman House and Jerusalem-based Gefen Publishing, focusing on lively, values-based children’s literature. Dena has been with Behrman House for more than seven years. Before that she worked in children’s book publishing for 15 years, at Puffin Books, Golden Books, Scholastic, and Parachute Publishing. Dena spends a lot of time reading children’s books for “professional development,” but she loves them too much to call it work.

    Caron Levis is the author of the soon to be released picture book, Ida, Always (Atheneum, 2016); Stuck with the Blooz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was selected as one of Bankstreet College's Best Children's Books of the Year. Forthcoming titles include Stop That Yawn! (Atheneum); May I Have a Word? (FSG). Short stories for teens and adults have been listed in the Best American Non-required Reading, published in Fence Magazine, The New Guard Review, and in anthologies by Persea Books and W. W. Norton. Caron is an adjunct professor and the coordinator for the Writing for Children/YA MFA program at The New School. Caron's acting training is an essential part of her writing process and led her to create the workshop series Act-Like-A-Writer. Find more about Caron at www.caronlevis.com.

    Joni Sussman is the Publisher at Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of children’s book publisher Lerner Publishing Group in Minneapolis. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Kar-Ben publishes Jewish-themed picture books for children, both fiction and non-fiction for preschool through approximately 6th grade, including Jewish holiday books, life-cycle stories, Bible tales, folktales, picture book biographies, stories about American and world Jewish history, Israel, the Holocaust and other Jewish topics. In particular, Kar-Ben seeks stories that reflect the rich cultural diversity of today’s Jewish family.

    Vivian Newman is an Educational Consultant to PJ Library®, working to ensure that the books and materials produced by PJ Library remain closely aligned with principles of child development and educational theory. Vivian is a member of PJ’s Book Selection Committee. She also assists in the development of educational curricula and family engagement materials that encourage deeper exploration of the values and lessons contained within PJ Library books. A graduate of Bank Street College of Education, Vivian has served as an early childhood teacher and consultant and as an adjunct faculty member of Hebrew College and Bank Street College of Education. She is the author of two Jewish children’s books, Ella’s Trip to Israel (Kar Ben, 2011) and Tikkun Olam Ted (Kar Ben, 2013).

    Katherine Perkins is an assistant editor at Putnam (Penguin Random House). After getting her English degree from the College of William and Mary, Katherine attended the Columbia Publishing Course and has been a Penguin ever since—she enjoys working on picture books, young adult novels, and everything in between.




    Joshua Redlich entered the book publishing industry as an undergraduate, interning at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin Literary Agents, where he evaluated manuscripts and managed all unsolicited queries; Publishers Weekly, where he edited and wrote reviews of newly published books; and The Overlook Press, where he assisted in the publicity campaigns for various works of adult and children's fiction and nonfiction. He now works as a Marketing & Publicity Coordinator at Sterling Publishing, where he handles a wide range of titles, including craft books, coffee table books, and children's picture books. He is also a reviewer for the blog Fantasy Book Critic, the Social Chair for the Young to Publishing Group (YPG), and a member of the Publishers Publicity Association (PPA) planning committee. He graduated from Yeshiva University in May 2012 with a degree in English literature and a Minor in creative writing.

    Linette Kim is a New York City transplant from Northern California working School & Library Marketing at Bloomsbury Children’s Books.


    2014

    The 16th Annual Jewish Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Seminar, held at the Jewish Book Council, featured the following presenters:

    • Seth Fishman has worked as a literary agent at The Gernert Company since 2010, after beginning his career as an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Born in Midland, Texas, he graduated from Princeton University and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. His interests are wide-ranging, but they boil down in particular to literary and commercial fiction, popular (fun) science, young/middle grade, humor, sci-fi/fantasy, thrillers and graphic novels (of both a traditional, webcomic and literary bent).

    • Shira Schindel, Head of Content and Acquisitions at Qlovi

    • Avery Briggs is an assistant editor at Penguin Random House and editor of Earnest Magazine. She studied Media, Culture, and the Arts at King's College and has worked in editing and design with Penguin since.

    • Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum is the author of A Grandma Like Yours and Meg Goldberg on Parade, a forthcoming children’s book about a girl who dreams of leading the Israel Day Parade on Fifth Avenue.

    • Linda Marshall was raised in Newton, MA and attended Barnard College (Columbia University) in New York City. Prior to writing for children, she taught early childhood and parenting education, pursued a doctorate in Anthropology, raised four children and a small flock of sheep, wrote for magazines, taught English to speakers of other languages, and owned and operated an independent bookstore. Her Jewish-themed picture books include Talia and the Rude Vegetables, Grandma Rose's Magic, The Mitzvah Magician, Talia and the Very YUM! Kippur, Sh…Sh…Shabbat (all KarBen), and The Passover Lamb (Random House). Several are PJ Library selections. Linda is currently completing a middle-grade novel set on her (now-sheepless) Hudson River Valley farm. She and her husband are grandparents to nine (with a tenth expected any day).

    • Leslie Kimmelman is the author of many popular and award-winning children's books, including The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah and The Very Crowded Sukkah She lives in New York and is a children's book editor at Sesame Workshop.

    • Vivian Newman, Educational Consultant for the PJ Library

    2013

    The 15th Annual Jewish Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Seminar, held at the Center for Jewish History, featured the following presenters:

    • Dori Weinstein, author of the YaYa and YoYo series, including Sliding into the New Year (Yotzeret Publishing, 2011) and Shaking in the Shack (Five Flames Press/self-published, 2013)
    • Mallory Kass, editor at Scholastic Books and YA author
    • Ann Koffsky, illustrator and author
    • Matthue Roth, author of Never Mind the GoldbergsYom Kippur a Go-Go, and the "eerie and imaginative" (The New Yorker) picture book My First Kafka.
    • Joni Sussman, Publisher of Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.
    • Vivan Newman, author, educator, and member of the PJ Library Book Selection Committee

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