Z.B. Asterplume began her illustration career as a scenic artist for the Denver Center Theater Company. With her scene painting days behind her, Z.B. has adjusted her artistic process to be much less messy, and smaller in scale. Yet, you’ll see that theatrical bent in her design and tone – those origins of drama – in her endearing children’s book illustrations. In 2018, she was awarded a mentorship through SCBWI’s Rocky Mountain chapter to work with the 2019 Cook Prize Award winner, rising star Dow Phumiruk, a fellow East/West client.
“As someone who has enjoyed some success in my profession, as someone who has been nurtured in this work by a supportive community, and as someone who has benefited from a lot of privilege along the way, I strive to be an advocate for others—for other authors who may not have the odds stacked in their favor as I have had. And I strive to be an advocate for the endlessly diverse array of young people whose futures might be shaped more by the books that these other authors create than by my own. And I strive to be an advocate for these young people who themselves have stories to tell, and who have the potential to themselves shape the lives of those who come after them.” Chris Barton is an author of more than twenty award-winning books—both fiction and nonfiction—for young readers. He’s visited hundreds of schools across the country and internationally and spoken at conferences and festivals around the country. How did he get here? Chris grew up about 80 miles east of Dallas, in the small town of Sulphur Springs, Texas. It was there, at Lamar Elementary, that he wrote his very first first story: The Ozzie Bros. Meet The Monsters (you can see and read the whole thing!). It was inspired in equal parts by Star Wars (recurring dialogue: “Let’s get out of here!”), the Muppets, Abbott & Costello, and the movie-monster books he loved to check out from the school library. As a teenager, Chris loved writing with his friends, whether it was making up parodies of superheroes and soap operas or putting out an award-winning student newspaper. It was that love of being part of a writing community that led Chris to the University of Texas at Austin, where he immediately joined the staff of The Daily Texan (and eventually graduated with a degree in history). A few years later, he stumbled into another group of Austin writers and children’s writers. When Chris was 29, his toddler son began asking again and again to tell him the story of how Chris had installed a smoke detector. The story had drill sounds and alarm sounds and a captivating plot, and he couldn’t get enough. Chris thought: If I could make him happy with that story, I could come up with other stories, and maybe other kids would like them, too. That day Chris not only realized he wanted to create books for children but also discovered a community of other writers and artists pursuing the same thing. Soon after, Chris remembered a newspaper article about the brothers who invented daylight fluorescent colors—those oranges and yellows and pinks and greens so bright that they glowed in ordinary daylight. That would make a cool story for children, he thought. Eight years later, it became Chris’s first book—the Sibert Honor-winning nonfiction picture book The Day-Glo Brothers, illustrated by Tony Persiani. His second book, Shark vs. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, became a bestseller. Chris was off to a good start. He loved his job. He works hard at it and has been very fortunate. Today, Chris has more books on the way and lots of ideas for other stories. When he’s not writing, reading, researching, or revising or talking about all of that with audiences of all ages, Chris loves to cook, listen to music and podcasts, gather with friends, and find out where his thoughts will take him on long walks and runs. Chris lives in Austin with his wife, author Jennifer Ziegler, their dog, Ernie, and they occasionally catch glimpses of their four young-adult children. Chris and Jennifer co-host “This One’s Dedicated to. . .”, a video series in which they talk with other authors and illustrators about the dedication pages in their books.
Kalynn Bayron is the New York Times and Indie bestselling author of the YA fantasy novels Cinderella Is Dead and This Poison Heart. Her latest works include the YA fantasy This Wicked Fate and the middle grade paranormal adventure The Vanquishers. She is a CILIP Carnegie Medal Nominee, a three-time CYBILS Award nominee, a LOCUS Award finalist, and the recipient of the 2022 Randall Kenan Award for Black LGBTQ fiction. She is a classically trained vocalist and musical theater enthusiast. When she's not writing you can find her watching scary movies and spending time with her family.
Brittany Cicchese, a public librarian and illustrator, lives with her family in Denver, Colorado. When Brittany and her husband went to the animal shelter to adopt a new pet, they fully intended to take home a kitten. Instead they left with Sherbert, a three-year-old cat who completely stole their hearts. The Kitten Story is Brittany’s picture book debut.
I was born in the 70s, in Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. I don't remember reading much as a child. The few memorable books from my childhood were picture books. One of my favorite ones was CHAPEUZINHO AMARELO, by Chico Buarque, illustrated by Ziraldo. It told the story of a little girl who was afraid of everything. I still love the way she loses her fear, with a smart play of words. In 2000, after studying journalism, I moved to the United States to pursue a Master of Education. College hadn't turned me into a reader and neither did graduate school. I became a reader because of my daughter. When she was a toddler, one of our favorite activities was going to the library. We spent hours there. We attended baby story times. We read books. We played with the toys. As I read to her, and learned new English words from board books, I developed an appreciation for books. That appreciation turned into love. Suddenly, a whole new world opened up. Classics, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so familiar to an American child, were completely new to me. I devoured picture books. Like a child, I eventually upgraded to chapter books, middle grade, YA, and adult, but PB and MG are still my favorites. As much as I loved the library, there was one thing that always bothered me: I never once found a book by a Brazilian author or featuring Brazilian characters. I relied on family members to send me Brazilian stories, so my daughter could see herself and the culture she came from on the pages of books. Many years later, after working as an Academic Advisor and after having another baby, I started looking for something I could do from home. For a while, I worked as a translator, but translators work with someone else’s words and don't have much room for creativity. So, I decided to give writing for children a try...
Troy Cummings is the creator of the New York Times bestseller Can I Be Your Dog? and its companion picture book I Found a Kitty! He has written and illustrated a bunch of other books, including The Eensy Weensy Spider Freaks Out! (Big-Time!), Little Red Gliding Hood (written by Tara Lazar), Those Are Not My Underpants! (written by Melissa Martin), and the chapter book series The Notebook of Doom. He lives in Greencastle, Indiana, with his messy kids and neat cats.
Lindsay Lackey is an author of middle grade fiction and former library services worker. She was born in Colorado, but now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their spoiled dogs. Her debut novel, All the Impossible Things received critical acclaim. Her second novel, Farther Than the Moon, is coming in September 2023.
Mike Lowery is a New York Times bestselling illustrator who has worked on dozens of award winning books for kids, including The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, Mac B., Kid Spy series by Mac Barnett, How to Be a T. Rex, and many others. He's also written several books, including the Graphix Chapters Bug Scout series, Everything Awesome About series, Doodle Adventures series of graphic novels, and Random Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird, and Totally Not Boring Things to Know.
Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Claudia Guadalupe Martínez's core childhood memories are set in El Paso, Texas. The dynamic of growing up between borders inspires her writing. Her books include: The Smell of Old Lady Perfume, Pig Park, Not a Bean, Spirit Untamed: The Movie Novel, and Still Dreaming. Her work has garnered her two Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Awards, a Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, an Américas Award Commendation, Library Guild Award and multiple starred reviews.
Diane Muldrow is the author of the New York Times bestselling Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book series, and a prolific author of award-winning children’s books. She worked for over 30 years as an editor in the children’s book industry, notably as the longtime editor of the famous Little Golden Books.
David Obuchowski & Sarah Pedry
David Obuchowski is a writer and a musician. He writes about real-life stuff like cars, people, and birds, but he also makes up stories, too. Author Residence: Denver, CO Sarah Pedry is an artist whose paintings and illustrations reflect her passion for nature and new places. Illustrator Residence:Denver, CO
Mitali Perkins has written many books for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for a National Book Award) and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. Her goal is to make readers laugh or cry, preferably both, as long as their hearts are widening. She lives and writes in the East Bay.
Dow Phumiruk (pronunciation below*) is a clinically retired pediatrician who has found her passion in creating children's books. Though creative throughout childhood, she put this artistic part of her aside as she pursued a career in medicine. Years later, when she chose to take time off to be a stay-at-home mother (2003), she rediscovered her love of all things creative, finding much joy especially in children's book illustration. She experimented with different mediums and styles on her own for a while. Finally realizing she couldn't do it all alone, she took the plunge into SCBWI in 2011 - and hasn't looked back! Now she primarily works digitally (mostly because she really, really, really needs to erase sometimes) and is represented by East West Literary Agency. Her favorite subjects are children (especially girls) and animals. She has written and/or illustrated several books. Clients include HarperCollins, Henry Holt/Macmillan, Hachette Book Group (including Little, Brown and Christy Ottaviano Books), Abrams, Viking, Candlewick, Sleeping Bear Press, Penguin/Random House, Levine Querido, and Eerdmans Young Readers. See my section of books for details. Dow was born in Krung Thep (Bangkok), Thailand. She now lives in Colorado with her husband of three decades, three artistic daughters and a dog. Dow also enjoys fast and furious sewing projects and limited (she's not that athletic) hiking. *Pronunciation: Dow rhymes with "wow!" :) Phumiruk has a sneaky silent h: Poo' mee ruck.
Shawna Railey taught herself to read at age three and started writing stories when she was only four years old. Born and raised in Southern California, it was hard to compete with the beach in her backyard . . . but that's exactly what books did. Now that she's lived in Colorado with her daughter for over a decade, she has a new love in the Rocky Mountains. If she isn't reading or writing, you can find her golfing, hiking, camping, playing poker, enjoying a movie, or putting together her extensive Harry Potter Lego collection. The Messy Life of Blue is her first novel.
Ruth Spiro is the author of more than 30 children’s books, with over one million copies in print worldwide. Her bestselling Baby Loves Science board books are the groundbreaking originals that introduce big ideas to the littlest listeners in an age-appropriate and engaging style. The series has been praised by the Los Angeles Times, NPR, TODAY, Popular Science, Working Mother, and more. Fans who have publicly shared their love of her books include former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, Chelsea Clinton, and Chance the Rapper. In addition to these board books, Ruth is the author of picture books including Made by Maxine, Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever, and Love Grows. The enthusiastic response to the Baby Loves Science books inspired a new picture book series perfect for early elementary readers, How to Explain Science to a Grown-Up. Ruth graduated with a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and earned an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago. She worked for advertising agencies in both account management and broadcast production, and coordinated a large-scale research grant at DePaul University funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her articles and essays have been published in FamilyFun, The Writer, CHILD, and Chicago Parent. Ruth’s stories have also been included in popular anthologies, notably The Right Words at the Right Time, edited by Marlo Thomas, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Ruth’s work has won awards and recognition from the National Science Teaching Association, Bank Street College of Education, Illinois Reads, Purdue Engineering, Willamette Writers, and Writer’s Digest. A frequent speaker at schools and conferences, Ruth’s previous appearances include Windy City Live on ABC-TV, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, World Science Festival, Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row LitFest, Children’s Festival of Stories, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She hopes her books inspire kids to observe the world, ask questions, and when it comes to their futures, DREAM BIG!
Dave Valeza grew up in Covina, California, after emigrating with his family from Manila, Philippines. Pursuing his love of drawing, Dave earned a bachelor's degree in illustration and a master's degree in sequential art. He's a passionate visual storyteller, and he especially loves drawing people, fashion, and technology. In his spare time, Dave enjoys biking and doodling around Savannah, Georgia, where he lives with his husband, cat, and dog.
Brendan Wenzel is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Book They All Saw a Cat, as well as the acclaimed picture books A Stone Sat Still, Hello Hello, and Inside Cat. He has also illustrated numerous works for children including Some Pets and Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi and Life by Cynthia Rylant. With a great affection for all things furred, feathered, and scaly, he is a proud collaborator with many groups working to protect and conserve wild places and creatures. He lives in Brooklyn and invites you to visit him at brendanwenzel.info.
Lily Williams is the author and illustrator of many books including the nonfiction picture book series If Animals Disappeared, and graphic novels Go With The Flow and Look On The Bright Side. She grew up in Northern California and worked in feature animation before moving to Colorado. Lily seeks to inspire change, engage audiences, and educate people of all ages with her artwork.
Kaz Windness is an author-illustrator who loves to make her readers laugh. When she’s not writing or illustrating books, Kaz teaches illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and enjoys making deep-dish pizza. Kaz lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, two children, and Boston terrier. She’s the author of picture books Swim, Jim! and Bitsy Bat, School Star. She also created the Level 1 Ready-to-Read Graphics Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends and the Level 1 Ready-to-Read Cat vs. Vac. Visit her at WindnessBooks.com.
Salina Yoon is an award-winning author/illustrator of over 170 books for children such as Penguin and Pinecone, Penguin on Vacation, Penguin in Love, Penguin and Pumpkin, Penguin’s Big Adventure, Penguin’s Christmas Wish, Found, Stormy Night, Bear’s Big Day, Be a Friend, Penguin and Penelope, as well as the Duck, Duck, Porcupine chapter book series—including the Geisel Honor winner My Kite is Stuck!. She is also the illustrator of Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship by Marie Kondo. She lives in San Diego, California, with her family.