Mar Sabrina (mentored by Jeanette Bradley)
Mar Sabrina is an illustrator and child psychologist from Argentina. She aims to give her art a unique touch from her experiences as a Latina and considers it very important to work from a human rights and mental health perspective, promoting the creation of worlds that are respectful of all identities and cultural backgrounds. She has worked with clients for personal commissions and also in conjunction with Real Change News to create the cover of the Nov. 24-30, 2021 issue, with a focus on representing diverse families and their daily challenges. Her experiences working with children inspired her to experiment with textures and colors, their hidden meanings and the different feelings that they can produce. In her own childhood, she spent her time exploring nature and reading countless fairy tales which is why she now loves slow walks in the park and cozy mornings. You can find her online at @marsabrinart on Instagram and Twitter. Her website is https://marsabrinart.wixsite.com/site.
Shanelle Serrato (mentored by Nicole Neidhardt)
Shanelle believes in inclusive and diverse picture books for kids where they see themselves in narratives and learn from different cultures and communities. She, as a result, loves to represent and share her Mexican culture in her vibrant illustrations. Furthermore, in her work, Shanelle enjoys exploring children’s narratives with lively, imaginative colors, and textures that have appeal and whimsy. When she is not illustrating she loves to spend time with her pup, friends, and family, especially her twin sister, Shayla. You can find her work at https://shanelleserrato.squarespace.com. Her Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter handles are shanellescribbles.
Zuzu (mentored by Lala Watkins)
PICTURE BOOK MENTEES
Norma Cárdenas (mentored by Kao Kalia Yang)
Trenise Ferreira (mentored by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow)
Trenise Ferreira has been a storyteller for her entire professional career. She holds a bachelor's degree in Broadcast & Digital Journalism from the University of Southern California and a master's degree in Multimedia Journalism from UC Berkeley. Her career has spanned being a sports journalist, a publicist at Walt Disney World Resort and a DEI corporate communication manager. She's always had story ideas dancing in her head and finally poured those ideas out of her imagination and into writing journals in 2020. Since then, Trenise has focused primarily on writing picture books, though she has a couple of chapter book and middle-grade ideas waiting in the wings. Since her first love was sports journalism, Trenise enjoys writing about the magic of truth and the thrill of “this really happened!” She strives to center black excellence and community in her stories, particularly for black children who, like her, grew up in predominately white spaces. When not writing about culture, Trenise loves telling stories about animal science, history and general silliness. Having the opportunity to work with her mentor, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, is a dream come true, and she is so grateful to WNDB for the opportunity.
Christine Kornylak (mentored by Vicky Fang)
Wendy Maldonado (mentored by Anika Aldamuy Denise)
MIDDLE GRADE MENTEES
Dina Mousa (mentored by Christine Day)
Dina has won several awards and placements including being long-listed in The Golden Baobab Prize for African authors for early chapter book, and was also the Artist-in-Residence at Château d’Orquevaux, a fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar Young Culture Innovators, and a finalist at The Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Dina is a peace lover, and believes in the power of art in bringing people together. Dina has a deep love for historical fiction and strong female characters. She finds herself often inspired by her country, the women in her family, and both Egyptian and African mythologies. Dina’s passion is to bring stories of the Ancient Middle East to receptive wider audiences.
Monica Nawrocki (mentored by A.J. Sass)
Benjamin Orion (mentored by Nicole Melleby)
YOUNG ADULT MENTEES
Gia R. Davis (mentored by Bethany C. Morrow)
Gia discovered her passion for writing at eleven years old when she hopped on a computer and began using Microsoft Word and its Clip Art function to write fictional stories about fairies, princesses, and mermaids. She unearthed her desire to become an author at the age of fourteen. Now, as an adult, she continues to strive towards that goal.
When not writing about Black girls taking on the world, doing magical things, falling in love, and solving mysteries, Gia can also be found reading, playing mother to a German Shepherd, wandering off into la-la land, binge-watching anime, and battling a life-long addiction to sweets and French fries.
Stephan Nance (mentored by H.E. Edgmon)
Yania Padilla Sierra (mentored by Aminah Mae Safi)
Jade Wilburn (mentored by Victoria Lee)
Jeanette Bradley has been an urban planner, an apprentice pastry chef, and the artist-in-residence for a traveling art museum on a train. Now she writes, draws, and makes books for kids. Her books include Something Great;, No Voice Too Small; No World Too Big; Love, Mama; and When the Babies Came to Stay. Jeanette lives in Rhode Island with her wife and kids. jeanettebradley.com
As an author/illustrator, I know that it can be hard to find critique partners who can speak to both the writing and the visual storytelling in a work in progress. I'd love to work with a writer/illustrator or an illustrator contemplating writing on polishing a book dummy and getting their query package ready. I'm also happy to share my experience with researching and querying agents, and cheer you on through that anxiety-producing process.
Working together, I hope to help bring out what makes your heart emote, the heart-eyed emoji. Let’s discuss the type of stories and illustrations you’d like to add to the world of children’s books, suggestions, critiques on illustration pieces, and ideas for new pieces to create. Any questions about the industry, having an agent, what it’s like being a children’s book illustrator, pitching, and anything that comes to mind. My goal is to help you plant the seeds into what you want to be in this industry that can be hard but not impossible to thrive in.
PICTURE BOOK MENTORS
Anika Aldamuy Denise is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction picture books. She enjoys celebrating the lives of influential Latinas in her powerful picture book biographies. Anika’s books have been featured in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Today.com, Kids Indie Next List, Book Riot, Junior Library Guild, and Bank Street College of Education's Best Books editions. In 2020, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, won a Pura Belpré Author Honor, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor, and the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award. Anika’s next picture book biography, A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was chosen for the 2022 RISE Feminist Book Project. This fall, Anika's newest picture book, Phenomenal AOC: The Roots and Rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will be published by HarperCollins. In addition to writing, she is a Madrina for Las Musas Latinx Kidlit Collective and a proud supporter of We Need Diverse Books.
I’m good at strengthening concepts with craft to make books appealing to agents and editors, especially for fiction and interactive books. I write and illustrate across board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books. I’m open to sharing what I’ve learned along the way about both the art and the business of writing/illustrating children’s books!
MIDDLE GRADE MENTORS
I am the author of humorous middle grade, including chapter books, as well as non-fiction and narrative non-fiction and picture books. As a mentor I would want to develop a friendship and collaborative relationship with my mentee. I would hope to guide my mentee to bring out the best in a manuscript while respecting that writer’s vision for the project, following the mentee’s lead on what areas of the manuscript he/she would like to work. I will both mentor and be a cheerleader. I will provide a virtual or actual hanky if the need arises. I will share the tools that have served me well and the pitfalls into which I have fallen. I am more of the blue-collar work hard and stick-to-it kind of writer. It would my goal to see the project through to completion and I am really looking forward to this new mentorship opportunity.
Writing can be a lonely experience, and it always helps to have someone in your corner--especially someone who understands what it's like. My goal with mentoring is to provide that understanding, while also continuing to help edit and develop and support my mentee's work. As a writer of queer middle grade books, I also would love to mentor a marginalized writer; in a world with book bans and soft censorship, sometimes it just makes it all easier to have someone to navigate those waters with.
Growing up, I rarely saw aspects of my identity represented in the books I read, and I’ve since heard other marginalized authors express similar sentiments. As an adult, reading books that centered queer, Jewish, and neurodivergent characters changed my life for the better. Some of these stories offered me a mirror to my own experiences; others, a window that expanded my understanding and empathy for what others may experience. Especially in light of recent efforts to ban books that center these narratives, I hope to work with someone as committed as I am to getting more stories like these out into the world, whether the representation is a big part of the storyline or more incidental.
My strength is in editorial. In the decade prior to becoming an author, I first worked as a tech journalist, then managed a team of writers who created nonfiction content for online spaces, helping them craft accounts of events and people in factually correct, engaging, and nuanced ways. I have since mentored fiction writers in various programs like Pitch Wars, Author Mentor Match, and #WriteMentor, across a variety of genres such as contemporary, fantasy, and sci-fi. I’m interested in both nonfiction and fiction, and have experience across the children’s literature space, from picture books to middle grade to YA (so if you’re a middle grade writer interested in writing for other age categories, I may be a good fit for you!).
Writing can often feel like a solitary activity, so my aim is not only to offer editorial feedback but also lend a friendly ear and be a resource for an industry that might initially seem opaque and confusing. We’ll work to revise your manuscript to align with your vision, discuss the process of querying agents, and more. I hope to tailor this mentorship to the needs of my mentee while making it a positive experience that allows them to hone their craft and equip themself with industry knowledge.
YOUNG ADULT MENTORS
He has an eclectic little family of his own design, led by a ferocious toddler. The queer collective has lived, together and separately, all over the country, from Florida to Alaska, from NYC to Texas. Their latest adventure finds them in the Pacific Northwest, where they hope to put down roots.
H.E.’s debut, THE WITCH KING, was released on June 1st 2021 from Inkyard Press. A contemporary YA fantasy about witches and fae, The Witch King was an Indie Next May/June 2021 selection and named one of the best YA books of 2021 by Publishers Weekly and the New York Public Library. The sequel, THE FAE KEEPER, closed the duology on May 31st, 2022. His forthcoming works include: GODLY HEATHENS, the first book in his next YA fantasy series, coming from Wednesday Books, FLICKER, his MG debut from Feiwel & Friends, and several anthology appearances. He is represented by Victoria Marini and Lee O’Brien at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
The publishing industry is full of gatekeepers -- my priority is to pry the gate open as wide as I can. As an editor, my style includes highlighting what you're best at, letting you know all the parts of your manuscript I loved, but being blunt about what I think needs to change to see it succeed in traditional publishing. As a mentor, I'll be forthcoming about the good and bad experiences I've had behind the scenes at this job, walk you through what to expect at different stages in your career, and help you tap into a network of other industry professionals. I am incredibly business-minded, and will push you to think more about that side of things so you are best able to advocate for yourself. That said, craft is still my top concern, and I believe my own strengths lie in narrative voice, ensemble casts, and blending humor with horror. While currently published in YA contemporary fantasy, I have experience across age ranges and genres. My schedule tends to be quite busy, so I would do best with casual but frequent texting and a video call once a month.
Aminah Mae Safi is the author of four novels, including Tell Me How You Really Feel (Feiwel & Friends) and Travelers Along the Way: a Robin Hood Remix (Feiwel & Friends). She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise.