Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet the 2019 Mentors

Middle-Grade Mentors

Ailynn Knox-Collins started working life as a lawyer, then moved on to be a teacher, and is now a writer of children’s books. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. She mentors young writers through the Society of Young Inklings and has been a member of SCBWIWWA since 2008. She has published a series of 6 MG science fiction books called Redworld, and is working on 2 more for another series, coming out next year. She has a graphic novel, and a nonfiction picture book out in the world, seeking a home.

Sundee T. Frazier is the Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in ItThe Other Half of My Heart, and the Cleo Edison Oliver booksHer heartfelt, entertaining stories address subjects close to her heart: biracial/bicultural identity, growing up in interracial families, and multi-generational dynamics. Her books have been nominated for twelve state children’s choice awards, appeared in Seattle Public Library’s Global Reading Challenge, and been nominated for the WA State Book Award. Frazier, a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, lives in Renton, WA. Learn more about her and her work at

Suzanne Selfors is a national best-selling author who writes for kids of all ages. She’s received six Junior Library Guild awards, earned starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Library Media Connection and Publisher’s Weekly. The Sasquatch Escape won the WA State Book Award, was an Amazon Best Children’s Book. She’s won a Cybils award and been on numerous state lists including the Texas Bluebonnet list. Though her books can be found all over the world, she lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest where she hopes it is her destiny to write stories forever after.

Kristin (K.D.) Halbrook is the author of several critically-acclaimed middle grade and young adult novels, including the forthcoming MG series, SILVER BATAL AND THE WATER DRAGON RACES (June 5, 2019; Henry Holt BFYR/MacMillan). She is also a former literary agent, representing children’s fiction and non-fiction. In 2010, she co-founded the website, a resource for writing and reading YA. She has taught and appeared as a guest at numerous book festivals, universities, and conferences, and enjoys working with emerging writers to develop their craft and talent. Kristin lives in Seattle and, when not writing, loves sports, gardening, baking, travel, and ugly crying over books and movies.

Kirby Larson is the acclaimed author of the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, Hattie Big Sky, and its sequel, Hattie Ever After. In addition to the Dogs of WWII series– which includes Duke,Dash (Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Prize), Liberty, and Code Word Courage— she has written The Friendship DollThe Fences Between Us and Audacity Jones to the Rescue andAudacity Jones Steals the Show (an Edgar award nominee).

With good friend Mary Nethery, Kirby has written the award-winning Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival (illustrated by Jean Cassels) and the New York Times bestseller, Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle. Follow her on Twitter, @KirbyLarson, Facebook, @KirbyLarsonAuthor, or read my blog

Mark Maciejewski is the author of I Am Fartacus, and the Kirkus Starred I Am Fartacus: Electric Boogerloo. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and napping. His love of comics and graphic novels is a major influence on his work. He lives in Seattle with his wife, kids, three dogs, two frogs, and a bunch of glow-in-the-dark fish. You can find him at or on Twitter @Magicjetski

Kim Baker’s first middle grade novel, PICKLE, about a secret middle school prank society, has been selected for many reading lists and was a Children’s Choice Awards Book of the Year finalist, one of Mamiverse’s Top 50 Latinx Children’s Books, and the recipient of the SCBWI Crystal Kite award. She is a former SCBWI Western Washington regional advisor, teacher, and crisis counselor. Her next middle grade novel, THE WATER BEARS, about wishes, maybe-magic, and a taco truck, will be out April 2020 from Wendy Lamb Books/Random House. See more at


Dan Gemeinhart is a teacher-librarian and father of three daughters. His debut novel, The Honest Truth, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, an Best Book of the Month, and an Indie Next List pick. His follow-up, Some Kind of Courage, was met with critical acclaim, garnering two starred reviews. Dan’s other ravely reviewed books are Scar Island, Good Dog, and The Remarkable Dan lives with his family in Cashmere, Washington. Visit him at

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Young Adult Mentors

J. Anderson Coats is the author of The Wicked and the Just, one of Kirkus’s Best Teen Books of 2012, a 2013 YALSA Best for Young Adults (BFYA) winner, and a School Library Journal Best Books of 2012 selection. It also won the 2013 Washington State Book Award for Young Adults. Her newest book is R is for Rebel, a middle-grade novel about coercion and resistance in a reform school in a fictional occupied country. She is also the author of The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming, a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection and one of Kirkus’s Best Historical Middle-Grade Books of 2017.

Kelly Jones worked as a librarian and a bookseller before becoming an author. Her first book, the middle grade contemporary fantasy Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, was an Indies Introduce Pick, an ALA Notable Book, an SLJ Best Book, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book. Her second book, the YA Regency fantasy Murder, Magic, and What We Wore, made the 2018 Amelia Bloomer List of the best feminist books for young readers and received a starred review from School Library Journal. You can find her at her website:, or on Twitter and Instagram: @curiosityjones.

Kevin Emerson is the author of numerous middle grade and YA novels, including the Chronicle of the Dark Star series, and the forthcoming ANY SECOND. His recent release, LAST DAY ON MARS received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, and was selected for ALA’s LITA List for science fiction and the TLA Lone Star List. Kevin is a former K-8 science teacher and teaching artist with Writers in the Schools and Richard Hugo House. He has won a spelling bee, lost a beauty pageant, and once appeared in a Swedish TV commercial.

Learn more at

Jeanne Ryan writes young-adult thrillers that could take place next week–but let’s hope they don’t! Her first novel NERVE, about an online game of truth or dare taken to dangerous extremes, was adapted for film by Lionsgate, spent six months on the NYT bestseller list, and has been published in twenty countries. Her second novel, CHARISMA, is about a cripplingly shy girl who accepts an underground gene therapy to transform herself from meh to magnetic, with unintended, and possibly lethal, consequences. You can find out more at

Michele Bacon Michele Bacon writes contemporary realistic fiction for all ages. From a young age, Michele was drawn to people’s stories, and she remains eager to learn how you met your best friend or fell in love. Her work focuses on families, friends, and the complicated relationships therein. Michele is a nerd for Harry Potter, tabletop game enthusiast, passionate skier, grammarian, lover of prime numbers, and voracious traveler. She’s visited all 50 states and dozens of countries, always eager to hear people’s stories and immerse herself in other cultures. Wherever she goes, Michele enjoys helping other writers find their voices.

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Non-fiction Mentors

Curtis Manley grew up in Pennsylvania, where he read science fiction about aliens and long trips to other star systems. Later, he wrote poems, studied volcanoes, and learned about the geology of our solar system’s planets and moons. In the high desert of Idaho, he mapped huge lava flows similar to ones on Venus. His background in both science and poetry helps him include nonfiction elements in both fiction and nonfiction stories that entertain while making the universe a little more understandable. Curtis now lives near Seattle with his wife, their daughter, and a cat.


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Picture Book Text Mentors

For 35 years, Peggy King Anderson has taught writers of all ages. She loves it! She was awarded the SCBWI (W. WA) Lifetime Achievement award in 2012. She’s taught creative writing both in colleges, and in conferences ranging from SCBWI, to the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop in Chautauqua, New York. She has four published books, including THE FALL OF THE RED STAR (co-author, Helen Szablya), featured on Children’s Book TV. Her MG historical fiction novel, TWO MOON JOURNEY, is due for publication in fall of 2018. She writes a monthly fiction series, TREE FROG TRAIL, for Pockets Magazine. Check out Peggy’s website at

Brianna Caplan Sayres is the author of the bestselling picture book, WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT?, which has now become a series of vehicle bedtime books. Brianna is also the author of NIGHT NIGHT, CURIOSITY (coming soon), TIARA SAURUS REX and ASTEROID GOLDBERG’S PASSOVER IN OUTER SPACE (coming soon). Brianna has been published in magazines, including Highlights for Children, Highlights High Five and Cobblestone, Brianna is thrilled to be living her childhood dream of being a children’s book author, and she is looking forward to helping another author by being a mentor!

Terri Cohlene is the author of nine picture books, including Won’t Papa Be Surprised!Something Special, and Witch’s Brew~Wicked, Wacky Poems for a Dark, Dark Night. She was Senior Editor/Art Director for an independent children’s book publisher, and is an SCBWI PAL member, Madness!Poetry authlete, and freelance editor in Olympia, WA. A past-president of the Seattle Chapter of SCBWI, Terri has experience coaching/consulting/teaching the craft of writing for children for over 30 years. Her current project is co-designing Best Friends Forever!, a story game about ‘tween girl friendship.

Rebecca Van Slyke has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She writes picture books, easy readers, nonfiction, and poetry. Her picture books MOM SCHOOL and DAD SCHOOL, LEXIE THE WORD WRANGLER, and WHERE DO PANTS GO? are on bookshelves near you. LANA LYNN HOWLS AT THE MOON, THESE ARE MONSTER’S TRUCKS!, and GOODNIGHT, ALLIGATOR are due to be published. Besides teaching writing to adults, Rebecca is also a second-grade teacher in Lynden, where she lives with her husband and two very spoiled dachshunds.

Rae McDonald has viewed life from many bridges as teacher, librarian, author, and artist. For Rae, creating books is wonderful work, and a good day is always a creative day whether it’s working out the bones of a story or digging into art. Rae’s picture books, often nature inspired, include A Fishing Surprise, a buoyant mystery, and Gran, Gran, Granny celebrating an ancient fir tree. A rascal Northern Flicker is soon to debut inWicky. SCBWI, a long-standing critique group, and numerous classes guide her travels in writing and illustrating for children.



Facebook: RaeMcDonaldauthor

Instagram: RaeMcDonaldaut

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Picture Book Text and Illustration Mentors

Kevan Atteberry is a writer and illustrator of award-winning children’s books. Before breaking into picture books —a lifetime goal of his—he spent decades running a graphic design studio, owning a greeting card company, and toying with fine art. . His books include, Bunnies!!!Puddles!!!, and the recently released I Love You More than the Smell of Swamp Gas. Among books he has illustrated for others are Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson, Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett, and Frankie Stein by Lola Schaefer.

But Kevan’s biggest claim to fame may be creating Clippy the Paperclip, the Microsoft Word helper. At one point it was annoying hundreds of millions of people a day. He finds an odd kind of pride in this…


Former Seattle P-I newspaper artist, Wendy Wahman now writes and illustrates children’s books. Her debut picture book ,”Don’t Lick the Dog,” was selected as a 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, starred for Outstanding Merit and accepted to the Society of Illustrators Original Art show. Other books include “A Cat Like That,” “Rabbit Stew,” “Pony in the City,” and “Nanny Paws,” and coming Fall 2021, “Old Pearl.” Wendy’s editorial illustrations have appeared in major publications such as Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, and The LA Times.

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Illustration Portfolio Mentors

Author-illustrator Amy Hevron draws inspiration from wildlife, nature, and travel. She is a two-time winner of the Portfolio Honor Award from the SCBWI National Conference. Amy illustrated picture books TREVOR by Jim Averbeck, MOON BABIES by Karen Jameson, and DUST BUNNY WANTS A FRIEND which she also wrote. She is currently writing and illustrating the non-fiction picture book THE LONGEST JOURNEY: AN ARCTIC TERN’S MIGRATION which comes out Spring 2021 from Neal Porter Books. Previously, Amy worked as an art director and designer at design firms and game companies.

Jing Jing Tsong’s illustrations marry traditional print making techniques and digital collage. Of her illustrations for Trees (by Verlie Hutchens, published by Simon and Schuster, March 2019), The School Library Journal writes, “The artwork is full of sensitivity and whimsy and highlights the interconnectedness of all life; this is where the book truly shines.” Trees was recently featured in the New York Times Book Review article, “Enchanted Poetry Picture Books”. Her first picture book, A Bucket of Blessings ( by Kabhir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, published by Simon and Schuster, April 2014) was a New York Times best selling Picture Book.

website: Jing Jing Tsong

instagram: @jingjingtsong


Jo Gershman is an illustrator and book designer living in Seattle, WA. She has illustrated over 35 books for children and adults, working with publishers including Feiwel and Friends (Wind Dancer Series) and Peter Pauper Press (The Nutcracker Ballet, Welcome to the White House). Also working with self-published authors, she has designed and illustrated five children’s picture and chapter books, winning multiple awards including the IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Children’s Books (Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream). Originally an English major, she loves the interplay of text and art on a page. You can view her work at


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