Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Faculty and Workshops


Catherine Austenis the author of two young adult novels, Walking Backward and All Good Children (Orca); two middle-grade comedies, 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 (Lorimer); and one unfortunately-titled picture book, My Cat Isis (Kids Can Press). Her books for young readers have won several awards, and her short stories for adults have appeared in numerous literary journals. She revised them all many, many times before publication.


Using the example of her just-finished middle-grade adventure story, Catherine will take participants through the god-awful process of revision, and help them apply her advice to their own works-in-progress. This is not a line-by-line editing workshop. We’re talking about cutting characters and changing the ending, amping up the tension, and clarifying the action. Discover the heartline of your story and then revise to show it off. Because no, right now, it’s just not good enough.



Katherine Battersbyis the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of eight picture books, including the Squish Rabbit series and Little Wing, which have been published in Australia, the U.S., and China. Her books have been shortlisted for numerous awards and have received glowing reviews in The New York Times and starred Kirkus reviews.

In another life, Katherine worked as a pediatric occupational therapist, specializing as a children’s counsellor. She has also studied graphic design. She grew up by the beach in Australia and now lives in Canada. Visit her at


What makes a story worth telling? What makes a reader believe? Whether you tell your stories with words or images, join Katherine as she uses both classic and modern picture books to help you explore these questions and get to the heart of what makes a story truly shine. Come ready with a picture book idea and a sense of play.



Laura Godwinis vice president and publisher of Godwin Books, an imprint of Macmillan publishers. She was the publisher of Henry Holt Children’s Books for twenty years, and has worked with many fabulous authors and illustrators, young and old, beginners and veterans, including  Michael Curato, T.L. McBeth, Kenard Pak, Margarita Engle, Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier, Karen Katz, Peter McCarty, Eric Carle, and Misa Saburi.


Laura will guide you through a workshop on picture book structure, showing you the important role it plays in telling a good story. She will also talk about the differences between picture books, concept books, and board books. 



Elly MacKayis a children’s book author and illustrator. She wrote and illustrated the picture books Waltz of the Snowflakes and Butterfly Park, both Junior Library Guild Selections, among others. She also illustrated the book Maya, which recently won the South Asian Book Award.

Elly studied illustration and printmaking at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and received an informal education in paper arts from members of the Movable Book Society. Her distinctive illustrations are made using ink, cut paper, and photography.

Elly lives in Owen Sound, Ontario, with her husband and two children.


Elly will take you on the journey of creating a picture book, from contract to published book, as she shares her unique method of illustration and talks about how you can find your own niche in publishing. She will outline her process, from thumbnails to final art, offering insights on working in collaboration with an art director, along with practical tips and templates. 



Elizabeth Parisi

has been an essential part of Scholastic Inc.’s trade division’s success for almost three decades now, brilliantly guiding the look of their novels and leading her remarkable fiction design team of seven designers and art directors. As VP, creative director, Elizabeth pilots her group through the design of hundreds of books every year, in ways that continue to draw acclaim and sales, and foster creativity. She is invaluable in keeping her eye on both the bigger picture and the minutiae, intuitively helping to focus Scholastic’s paradigm on covers that become springboards for visual assets in a variety of physical and digital forums.

In addition to her outstanding work as a creative director, Elizabeth’s own iconic design work has graced the covers of such bestsellers as The Hunger Games trilogy, The Whatever After series, and award winners such as Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse and What I Saw and How I Lied, a National Book Award winner by Judy Blundell.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a B.F.A. in illustration, Elizabeth is a lynchpin to the success of all the imprints she works with: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic Paperbacks, Chicken House, and David Fickling Books. Working in middle grade, young adult fiction, and nonfiction genres, she has become synonymous with Scholastic and its design mission.

Elizabeth has also won two gold medals as an art director from the Society of Illustrators, and has judged the Editorial/Book show numerous times.


Working with the guidance of Elizabeth Parisi, illustrators will have the opportunity to take part in a pre-conference assignment. At Scholastic, Elizabeth’s main focus is cover design, so pre-conference participants will be given a current illustration brief. Illustrators will then gather online for materials and peer feedback.

At the conference, Elizabeth will then critique the covers, offering information on how to develop, create, and submit for this lucrative (and often overlooked) part of the illustration market.

Please register early, to allow yourself time to complete the pre-conference assignment! You will be given a choice between an early reader and a middle-grade novel cover illustration. There may also be exciting prizes for this workshop!



Aubrey Pooleis an editor at Hachette’s JIMMY Patterson Books imprint, acquiring middle grade and young adult projects. She is the editor for James Patterson’s bestselling Pottymouth & Stoopid, Crazy House, and Treasure Hunters series, as well as the forthcoming IndieNext pick Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely and The Unflushables by Ron Bates.

Prior to joining JIMMY, Aubrey worked with a number of award-winning and top-selling authors such as Nancy J. Cavanaugh, author of This Journal Belongs to Ratchet and Texas Bluebonnet nominee Always Abigail; Emma Shevah, author of Dream On, Amber, which received four starred reviews and is a Booklist Top 10, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book, and an NYPL Top 100 of 2015; Cori McCarthy, author of Breaking Sky, which received multiple starred reviews and was optioned for film by Sony Pictures; New York Times and USA Today bestseller Suzanne Brockmann; USA Today bestseller and RITA winner Juliana Stone; award-winner and RITA nominee Patty Blount; Natasha Preston; award-winner Jen Calonita; and picture book author/illustrator Bill Cotter.


How to get an editor to keep turning the pages with a killer first line: writing exercises to craft the perfect opening sentence.


Whether you have a kernel of an idea for a series or you’re drafting book three, Aubrey will discuss the process of creating a book series, from initial idea to marketable product. She will also address the editorial concerns that go into selecting a series for publication, deciding when and if to invest in follow-up titles, and ensuring that a series meets its full potential, as well as the craft behind choosing the type of series you want to write, shaping each individual book, and making the overall series into a satisfying reading experience.


is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency. She specializes in children’s fiction—young adult, middle grade, and picture books—and cool nonfiction projects for readers of all ages.

Maria provides support to her clients through all stages of the writing and publication process and is dedicated to managing authors’ literary brands for the duration of their careers. She has affinities for literary prose, diverse characters, original storytelling formats, and anything geeky. You can find Maria at


Being an author is just like running a small business—and every successful business needs a brand. It can be tricky when you are the face of the product you’re selling (your books), because every picture you share publicly online, every industry event you attend, and every word you write down on paper is a reflection of your business.

This workshop dives into the different ways you can start building your literary brand, whether you’re ready to publish your first book or your twentieth. We’re going to brainstorm, plan, and give you the tools necessary to create the literary brand that’s right for you. Some specific topics include writing an author bio, claiming a specialty, building a website, and navigating social media.


World building is the construction of an imaginary world. It’s often thought of as exclusive to speculative fiction, like fantasy or sci-fi, but it’s actually an important part of every novel. You want your readers to fall in love with your story, and to do so they need to truly understand where it takes place.

In this workshop, we’ll go over everything you need to know about enhancing your novel’s setting and making the world—whether based on fact or fiction—its very own character.