Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Critiquer Bios

Faculty Critiquers (attending conference)

All critiques will be in written form and returned at the end of the day.

Stephen Fraser, Senior Agent, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Stephen Fraser, CritiquerStephen Fraser, a Senior agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, has been voted top agent for both picture books and middle grade fiction. Stephen has been an agent for 14 years. His clients have won awards such as the Newbery Honor Medal, PEN International Award, and the Edgar. With more than twenty-five years’ editorial experience at major publishers including Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, and Scholastic, Stephen has edited such creative talents as Mary Engelbreit, Gail Gibbons, Michael Hague, Ann Rinaldi, Kathryn Lasky, and Brent Hartinger. He is graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont with a degree in English Literature and has a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston.

Critique Preferences: Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult


Ann Rose, Agent, Prospect Agency

Ann Rose, CritiquerAnn is one of Prospect Agency’s newest agents, but she isn’t new to publishing. Over the last few years she has been exploring this field by working and mentoring with literary agents in various capacities. Everything she has experienced, from editorial work to the magic of finding the perfect match between author and editor, has hardened her resolve to join this wonderful profession. Now she’s thrilled to be building her own list and is actively seeking clients ready to grow amazing careers with her. Ann’s perfect manuscript is a character-driven story that isn’t afraid to push boundaries. She loves an unlikeable character — even though she is incredibly likeable herself! Ann is the author of YA books Road to Eugenica (18) and Breakout (19), from Entangled Teen, and writes under the pen name A.M. Rose.

Critique Preferences: Middle Grade, Young Adult


Mekisha Telfer, Associate Editor, Roaring Brook Press

Mekisha Telfer, FacultyMekisha Telfer is an associate editor at Roaring Brook Press (Macmillian), where she is building a list of picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. She got her start in publishing in 2014 as an editorial assistant with Simon and Schuster BFYR/Salaam reads and has also worked briefly at Glasstown Entertainment. Some titles she’s had the privilege of working on include the New York Times bestselling Emergency Contact by Mark H. K. Choi, I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest, The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, and Stuart Gibb’s Moon Base Alpha series. Mekisha is committed to supporting unrepresented voices and is always on the hunt for character-driven stories with a mix of humor and heart.

Critique Preferences: Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult


Mary Kole, Book Editor

Mary Kole, CritiquerFormer literary agent Mary Kole provides consulting and developmental editing services to writers of all categories and genres, working on children’s book projects from picture book to young adult, and all kinds of trade market literature, including fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and memoir.

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Movable Type Management. She has been blogging at since 2009. Her book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, a writing reference guide for writers of middle grade and young adult fiction, is available from Writer’s Digest Books.

Critique Preferences: Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult


Nancy Brennan, Art Director, Penguin Random House

Nancy Brennan, CritiquerNancy Brennan is the Art Director at Viking Children’s Books and is celebrating her 17th year with Viking. During her many years in graphic design she has worked with a diverse range of clients including professional sports teams and Grammy-nominated recording artists. Her real passion is for children’s books, and at Viking she oversees all facets of the process from commissioning illustrators and art direction to cover and interior design. Nancy’s work can be seen across the entire spectrum of books for young readers including YA, nonfiction, middle grade, board books, and, of course, picture books. She has developed many award-winning books. You can see a sampling of her work at

Illustrator Critiquer


Jessixa Bagley, Award-winning Author/Illustrator

Jessixa Bagley, CritiquerJessixa Bagley is children’s book author/illustrator. Her love of books and storytelling are inspired by classic storybooks and her childhood experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Her fine art background and BFA in painting and printmaking informs her art sensibilities. Jessixa’s debut picture book, Boats for Papa, has won numerous awards including the Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award and a SCBWI Golden Kite Award for picture book writing. Her picture book Laundry Day is the winner of a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Award for Writing. She lives in Seattle with her husband and son.

Illustrator Critiquer


Off-Site Critque Professionals (not attending conference)

Amanda Ramirez, Assistant Editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Amanda is passionate about diverse, commercial fiction from humorous YA to fanciful middle grade adventures, as well as graphic novels. Learn more about what Amanda is looking for on Twitter: @AmandaIsA_Ram or at her website:

Critique preferences: Middle Grade, Young Adult


Amy Bishop, Agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

Amy joined the literary agency as an assistant in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. She represents a wide variety of adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as YA and middle grade. Before diving into the world of publishing, she graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Creative Writing. Though raised upstate, she currently resides in Astoria, Queens. You can find her on Twitter @amylizbishop.

Critique preferences: Middle Grade, Young Adult


Hannah Mann, Junior Agent, Writers House

Since starting at Writers House in 2013, Hannah Mann has had the privilege of working closely with a variety of extraordinarily talented bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators of works ranging from very young picture books to middle grade and young adult. As a junior agent actively building her own list, Hannah is seeking clients who work in primarily those genres and who draw brilliant characters; at the moment, she is especially yearning for powerful middle grade novels.

Critique preferences: Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult


Karyn Fischer, Agent, BookStop Literary Agency

Karyn joined the agency in 2014 and is currently looking to build her client list. She is particularly drawn to young adult and middle grade novels. Her favorite genres include gothic novels with twisty narratives and dark secrets, historical fiction, literary thrillers, well-drawn fantasy, and heart-tugging contemporary stories. She’s looking for anything with memorable characters, an engaging voice, and a tightrope- taut plot. Karyn holds an MFA in Creative Writing, has completed three publishing internships, and previously worked as a bookseller and buyer in a small independent bookstore.

Critique preferences: Middle Grade, Young Adult


Patricia Newman, Award-winning Author

Patricia Newman’s award-winning books show kids how their actions can ripple around the world. She is the author of Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem; as well as the NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Eavesdropping on Elephants: How Listening Helps Conservation; Zoo Scientists to the Rescue, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book; Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; Booklist Editor’s Choice title Ebola: Fears and Facts; and Neema’s Reason to Smile, winner of a Parents’ Choice Award. Newman hopes to empower young readers to act. Visit her at

Critique preferences: ­­­­­­­Picture Book


Nick Thomas, Senior Editor, Levine Querido

Nick Thomas edits illustrated books, fiction, and nonfiction, and is looking for extraordinary authors and illustrators that reflect the diversity of the world around us. He has had the honor of editing award-winning authors such as Kelly Yang, Varian Johnson, Eric Gansworth, and Amy Sarig King.

Critique preferences: Middle Grade, Young Adult


Courtney Code, Associate Editor, Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books

Courtney’s list is made up of picture books and chapter books, with some select middle grade. She looks for stories that put the child reader first while packing an emotional punch. Plus, she’s particularly passionate about building an inclusive list that centers around underrepresented creators and stories.

Critique preferences: ­­­­­­­Picture Book

Thank you to John Ledda for our gorgeous conference masthead!