Summer Conference

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Conference Schedule

Keynote Speakers

Fred Koehler


Fred Koehler is an artist and storyteller whose real-life misadventures include sunken boats, covert border crossings, and fighting off robbers in the dead of night. Whether free diving in the Gulf of Mexico or backpacking across Africa, Fred’s sense of adventure and awe of nature overflow into his characters’ stories.  His books include What If? Then We…, How to Cheer up Dad, and Puppy, Puppy, Puppy.

Emma Virjan


Emma is the author-illustrator of the Pig in a Wig Book series – What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush, What This Story Needs is a Munch and a Crunch, and  What This Story Needs is a Bang and a Clang. Emma makes her home in Austin, Texas, where she spends her days writing and drawing.

R. Gregory Christie


R. Gregory Christie is an Atlanta-based children’s book illustrator with over 20 years of experience and more than 60 books to his credit.  Mr. Christie recently received a Caldecott Honor for his illustration work in Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He is a three-time recipient of the New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award, a five-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration, and a winner of the Boston Globe’s Horn Book Award, and the NAACP’s Image Award.

Jessixa Bagley


Jessixa grew up in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. She decided to follow her childhood dreams of being a cartoonist and picture book maker. Jessixa attended the University of Washington and then Cornish College of the Arts where she graduated in 2004 with a BFA in painting and printmaking.  Her picture books include Boats for Papa, Laundry Day, and Vincent Comes Home.

Adam Watkins


Adam lives in southern Ohio with his wife, Amy and their two kids, Lucy and Fletcher. He graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2004, where he majored in Illustration. His books include picture books R is for Robot, Ray Bot, Talking Turkey, and Stubborn as a Mule.

Allison Black


Originally, from Upstate New York, Allison received her BFA at Syracuse University and has since lived in LA, Minneapolis, and now Columbus, Ohio. Allison has books such All These Things I Wish for You, Barnyard Boogie, and What Do They Do with All That Poo? Along with being a picture book maker, Allison also had a stationery company called Hip-Hip.

Erin Stead


Erin Stead is an award-winning illustrator living in Ann Arbor, MI.  Before creating picture books, Erin worked at Books of Wonder in New York City and also as an assistant in the publishing industry.  She and her husband, Philip collaborated on A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which won the Caldecott Medal in 2011, and Bear Has a Story to Tell.  Erin’s other books include And Then It’s Spring, Tony, and If You Want to See a Whale.   

Philip Stead


Philip Stead is the author of the Caldecott Medal winning book A Sick Day for Amos McGee, also named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2010 and a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2010, illustrated by his wife, Erin E. Stead.  Philip, also an artist, has written and illustrated several of his own books including Hello, My Name is Ruby, Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, and A Home for Bird.

Matthew Cordell


Matthew Cordell is an award winning author and illustrator of books.  His books include Wish, Dream, Hope (a three book series), King Alice, Another Brother, and the 2018 Caldecott Medal book, Wolf in the Snow. Matthew lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, author Julie Halpern, and their two children.