Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

JambaLAya 2021 Faculty


Linda Sue Park is the author of many books for young readers, including the 2002 Newbery Medal winner A Single Shard and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent title is Prairie Lotus, a historical fiction middle-grade novel. When she’s not writing, speaking, teaching, or caregiving for her two grandchildren, she spends most of her time on equity/inclusion work for We Need Diverse Books and the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. She is also on the advisory board of the Rabbit Hole national children’s literature museum project. Twitter: @LindaSuePark


Elizabeth Law has 30 years’ experience in children’s book publishing. She began her career at Viking Children’s Books and Puffin Books, and held positions as Associate Publisher at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and as Publisher of Egmont USA.  She is currently senior editor at Holiday House Publishing, and has worked with many authors and artist including Andrew Clements, Dan Gutman, Tony diTerlizzi, Gail Gibbons and Lane Smith.  Elizabeth has a soft spot for contemporary middle grade and YA fiction, such as debut novelist Polly Farquhar’s Itch, and also likes books about sports, anything funny or scary, doll and dollhouse books, and picture books on unusual or interesting topics. You can find her at or Twitter and Instagram: @Elawreads


Talia Benamy is an Associate Editor at Philomel Books (an imprint of Penguin Young Readers), where she focuses on everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels. She has worked on books by Chelsea Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, Temple Grandin, Jane Yolen, Jeffrey Kluger, Lisa Graff, Ruta Sepetys, Dev Petty, Sarah Brannen, and Terry Border. She sees books as having the amazing power to shape kids’ worldviews, and looks for manuscripts that have the potential to do just that. You can follow her on Twitter @taliabenamy


Maria T. Middleton designs books for kids. She began her career at HarperCollins, spent a decade creating award-winning books at Abrams, and then led the middle-grade team at Random House Children’s Books. As Art Director of Imprints at Candlewick Press, Maria currently works across a variety of children’s book genres. She’s a fan of quirky characters, hand lettered typography, serial commas, strong coffee, and the color red. Maria lives in Richmond, VA, with her husband and their rescue pup, Wyla. You can find her at and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @mariatmiddleton


Alysson Bourque Award-winning children’s book author, Alysson Bourque, began her career as a teacher after graduating from University of Louisiana Lafayette with a degree in Elementary Education. She earned a Juris Doctor law degree from the Southern University Law Center in 2007. After practicing law for six years, it was time to trade in writing trial briefs for writing children’s books. She is the creator of The Alycat Series and co-owner of Foreword Publicity—a marketing and PR firm for authors. Alysson was born and raised in Lafayette, LA. After starting a family, Alysson and her husband moved to Sunset, LA in 2008 with their two children, two cats, and Corgi. You can find her at as well as on Facebook at Foreword Publicity.

Lori Orlinsky Award-winning children’s book author, Lori Orlinsky, is a freelance writer and marketing director. Lori is the mother of two little ladies who are small but mighty. At 5″1, she wishes her children’s picture book Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All), was around when she was growing up. She is also the author of The Tooth Fairy’s Tummy Ache, Balloons for Tiger, and is co-owner of Foreword Publicity—a marketing and PR firm for authors. Lori lives in Chicago an is certified by the CDC in Bullying Prevention and Response Training. You can find her at as well as on Facebook at   Foreword Publicity.


250x Nina KooijNina Kooij is the editor in chief of Pelican Publishing in New Orleans, a regional-only imprint of Arcadia Publishing in Charleston. She has worked with many New Orleans luminaries, including Leah Chase, Errol and Peggy Scott Laborde, and Richard Campanella. Her children’s authors include Johnette Downing, Jim Harris, and the late Dianne de Las Casas, Mary Alice Fontenot, and James Rice. She estimates that she has edited over 650 books in her career. Follow Pelican Publishing on Twitter: @PelicanPub


Catherine Frank is the owner of Catherine Frank Editorial Services, LLC, an editorial consultancy specializing in children’s literature and publishing, which opened in 2011. Books acquired and edited by Catherine have received numerous honors and awards including the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, the New York Times Best Illustrated Award, SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Catherine actively works with authors, agents, app developers, packagers, and publishers large and small. In conjunction with her freelance editorial work, in the spring of 2020 Catherine joined Peachtree Publishers as an editor at large, acquiring and editing a limited number of manuscripts and focusing on middle grade fiction. She is a member of the SCBWI and the Women’s National Book Association and lives with her family in New Orleans. You can find her at Edited by Catherine.