Speakers

Introducing Our Conference Speakers

  • Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
    Author
    Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a writer from South London who has dreamt of writing books about Black kids saving (or destroying) the world all her life. Her debut novel ACE OF SPADES came out in June 2021 and was an instant New York Times and IndieBound bestseller, as well as hitting number 2 in the UK Children’s & YA Chart. Faridah is listed as a young star on 2021’s POWERLIST: Britain’s Most Influential People of African, African Caribbean and African American Heritage and also featured in VOGUE magazine’s 12 boundary-breaking young visionaries bringing fresh, exciting perspectives to the creative industries. Photo credit: Joy Olugboyega
  • Patrice Aggs
    Artist and illustrator
    Patrice Aggs has illustrated countless children's books over the years, and written a few, but her primary passion is comics. Since her early collaboration with Philip Pullman on Count Karlstein, she's pushed for greater recognition of comics in the publishing world. Patrice has made comics for The Phoenix since its launch, and long-running strips created with her son John produced The Boss, Zara's Crown and Zara's Masterpiece. Patrice is now working with Joe Brady on the sequel to No Country, a comic drawing attention to an urgent untold story Her lockdown was spent writing a graphic memoir of 1960s Alabama, from a world full of untold stories.
  • Lisette Auton
    Writer, activist, poet, novelist, actor
    Lisette Auton is a disabled writer, activist, poet, novelist, spoken-word artist, actor, film & theatre-maker and creative practitioner. She's an award-winning poet who has performed at Northern Stage, ARC, The Southbank Centre and the Sage, in pubs, in a crypt, at festivals, indoors, outdoors, on a bridge and in a launderette. She was the 2019 Early Careers Fellow for Literature at Cove Park and on the TSS Publishing list of Best British & Irish Flash Fiction. Lisette works with many creative collaborators to create unique and innovative cross artform works. The Secret of Haven Point is her debut novel, forthcoming from Puffin in February 2022. Photo Credit: Laura Tindall
  • David Baddiel
    Comedian and author
    David Baddiel is a comedian and author. He began his career as a writer after graduating from Cambridge with a double first in English literature in 1986. He was a judge for the Guardian First Book Award in 2000 and the Man Booker Prize in 2002. David’s first children’s book The Parent Agency won the inaugural LOLLIES (Laugh Out Loud) award in 2016. He lives in London with his family.
  • Jasveen Bansal
    Farshore
    Senior marketing executive
    Jasveen is the Senior Marketing Executive at Farshore, working on campaigns across picture books, fiction, brands and Farshore’s YA imprint, Electric Monkey.
  • Ailsa Bathgate
    Barrington Stoke
    Publisher
    Ailsa Bathgate is Publisher of Barrington Stoke, an independent publishing house established over 20 years ago to provide a gateway to reading for children and young people with dyslexia and other learning differences.
  • Helen Boyle
    Pickled ink
    Literary and illustration agent
    Helen is a literary and illustration agent at Pickled Ink, representing a small clutch of authors and illustrators. She has worked in children’s publishing for nearly twenty years, beginning her career in marketing and publicity before feeling the lure of editorial, and then agenting. Her authors and illustrators include Laura Ellen Anderson, Phil Corbett, Dominique Valente, Melissa Castrillón, and Camila Sucre.
  • Cerrie Burnell
    Author, actress and presenter
    Cerrie Burnell is an actress, singer, playwright, author and former television presenter for CBeebies (2009–2017). She was born with half a right arm and has sought to increase visibility of disabled people through her career in presenting, writing and acting, and most recently as the BBC’s first Disability Ambassador. Cerrie is the author of eleven children’s books, including I Am Not A Label, a non-fiction anthology celebrating the lives of 34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past and present.
  • Mark Burton
    Wonder Worldwide
    Principal and c.e.o
    Founded by veteran film and television producer Mark Burton, Wonder Worldwide was formed in 2013. Since 2000, Mark has produced/executive produced 16 films and television series, including the Academy Award nominated film WATER. Netflix is currently streaming Wonder Worldwide’s second film in the CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES franchise, directed by Chris Columbus; and is in production on the Netflix pre-school animation series, ADA TWIST SCIENTIST, alongside Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground and Chris Nee’s Laughing Wild Productions, which debuts on September 28. Mark was mentored by the legendary Indian producer Boney Kapoor, and worked on a number of iconic Bollywood films including, JUDAAI; PUKAR; and ASOKA, with India’s most successful actors including Shah Rukh Khan, Sridevi, Salman Khan, and Anil Kapoor. Mark is a member of The Producers Guild of America and The British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.
  • Caroline Carpenter
    The Bookseller
    Deputy features editor and YA Book Prize chair
    Caroline is deputy features editor at The Bookseller and chair of the YA Book Prize, as well as being a co-host of children's book radio show Down the Rabbit Hole. She has worked at The Bookseller since 2013, following publishing internships and a stint at The Voice newspaper, and is also the author of Guide to the Hunger Games.
  • James and Lucy Catchpole
    The Catchpole Agency
    Directors
    James and Lucy run The Catchpole Agency for authors and illustrators of children’s books, and explore disability representation in their own picturebook What Happened To You? and on their Instagram account @thecatchpoles.
  • Cassie Chadderton
    World Book Day
    Chief executive
    Cassie is Chief Executive of World Book Day. She was previously Head of UK Theatre, the major professional association for theatre and the performing arts and Director, Media and Stakeholder Relations at Arts Council England, working to promote the importance of the arts to society and the creative economy. Before then Cassie held publicity roles at publishing companies including Fourth Estate and Random House and led campaigns for a range of bestselling fiction, non-fiction and celebrity authors. She is a Fellow of the RSA and Trustee for the National Campaign for the Arts. She works with Speakers for Schools and Creative Access.
  • Kate Clarke
    Pembroke Dock Community School
    Head of health and wellbeing
    Kate Clarke is Head of Health and Wellbeing at Pembroke Dock Community School in a deprived area of west Wales; she also leads the school’s EmpathyLab work. She is extremely proud that Pembroke Dock is a Pioneer School for the new Welsh Curriculum, focusing on health and well-being. She is passionate about this area of learning which helps learners develop and maintain their physical health, and also their mental health and emotional wellbeing. There is a huge focus on empathy in the new curriculum and she is proud to be working with EmpathyLab to drive this forward. The school is also a Lead Network School for the Athrofa Initial Teacher Education Programme with University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
  • Sophie Clarke
    Daniela Schlingmann Literary Scouting
    Scout
    Sophie joined Daniela Schlingmann Literary Scouting in 2019 after working at Penguin Random House Children’s, Curtis Brown and Bell Lomax Moreton. She has degrees in English, Comparative and Children’s Literature from Cambridge and Edinburgh. Sophie is the Scout for children’s and YA books mainly, but also dabbles in sci fi and fantasy and commercial women’s fiction at DSLS. When not working, she is a (park)runner, knitter, water polo player and swimmer, Dungeons and Dragons paladin, and reader of many romance novels.
  • Catherine Coe
    All Stories
    Founder and children's book editor
    Catherine has been an editor for over twenty years and freelance since 2011, with a wide range of clients including publishers, literary agents and writers. She launched the All Stories mentorship programme for writers from underrepresented backgrounds earlier this year, determined to do something to tackle the lack of diversity in children’s books. In its inaugural year All Stories is providing 14 mentorships to unpublished, unagented children’s book writers who can’t afford editorial support, delivered by freelance and in-house editors and funded by Arts Council England and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society. Catherine is also the author of over 40 children’s books, including the Blossom Wood and Lucky Bunnies series (Scholastic).
  • Ruth Comerford
    The Bookseller
    Reporter
    Ruth has been with The Bookseller for just over a year. She covers everything from the realities of independent bookselling today to Faber's Sally Rooney campaigns, investigating the industry's whispered problems along the way. Do get in touch with her with your stories!
  • Cressida Cowell
    Author and Children's Laureate
    Current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell is the number one bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series, and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, illustrated by Neal Layton. She has sold over 11 million books worldwide in 38 languages. How to Train Your Dragon is also an award-winning billion-dollar DreamWorks film series, and a TV series shown on Netflix and CBBC; The Wizards of Once has also been optioned for film by DreamWorks. Cressida is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, a trustee for World Book Day, founder patron of the Children’s Media Foundation and is on the Council of the Society of Authors. She has won numerous prizes for her books, including the Blue Peter Book Award and the Ruth Rendell Award for Championing Literacy. She is an honorary fellow of Keble College Oxford, and has a honorary doctorate from the University of Brighton. She grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland and she now lives in Hammersmith with her husband, three children and two dogs called Pigeon and Zero.
  • Molly Cusick
    International Literary Properties LLC
    Vice president, Literary
    Molly has over a decade of experience in the publishing industry as an agent, editor, and advocate for authors, including many New York Times bestsellers and award-winners.
  • Katie Daynes
    Usborne
    Managing editor
    Katie has been writing non-fiction children's books for almost half her life and loves questioning the world from a child's point of view. She's developed some of Usborne's bestselling series, including the See Inside books and Lift-the-flap Questions & Answers. When she's not writing, she likes drinking coffee, walking on the moors and playing competitive board games with her children.
  • Rachel Denwood
    Simon & Schuster Children's Books
    Managing director
    Rachel Denwood has been Managing Director of Simon & Schuster Children’s Books since July 2019. She began her career in children’s editorial at Macmillan, working with Eva Ibbotson and Meg Cabot, before joining HarperCollins Children’s Books as Publishing Director in 2008 as part of a new growth strategy. At HarperCollins, Denwood worked with authors, illustrators and brands including Anna James, Holly Smale, Rob Biddulph, Veronica Roth, Soman Chainani and David Walliams. At Simon & Schuster Denwood leads a fast-developing list of quality commercial Picture Books, Children’s Fiction and YA, growing bestsellers and award-winners such as Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, Ben Miller, Smriti Halls, Michelle Harrison, Nadia Shireen, Katie and Kevin Tsang and Adam Silvera. Under Denwood’s leadership, Simon & Schuster Children’s Books was shortlisted for Children’s Publisher of the Year, and for four other Nibbies, at the 2021 British Book Awards. Her team have successfully won global auctions for hot new fiction properties Skandar and The Unicorn Thief by A. F Steadman and Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu both major launches in 2022.
  • Charlotte Eyre
    The Bookseller
    Children's editor and conference programmer
    Charlotte Eyre is the children’s editor of The Bookseller magazine, where she writes news and features about the children’s publishing industry. She programmes the annual The Bookseller Children’s Conference and launched The YA Book Prize in 2014, and is a regular guest on radio programmes such as "Open Book" on BBC Radio 4.
  • Aimée Felone
    Knights Of
    Managing director
    Aimée Felone is managing director of Knights Of – a commercial children’s publisher whose main focus is publishing inclusively by commissioning writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds, as well as hiring diversely. At Knights Of she has opened Brixton’s only children’s bookshop, Round Table Books, which exclusively stocks titles from underrepresented authors and illustrators.
  • Tom Fickling
    David Fickling Books
    Managing director
    Tom has been Editor and Managing Director of The Phoenix Comic since 2015, and has overseen huge growth in the circulation of the comic, which this year passed the milestone of its 500th issue. He is also a director at David Fickling Books, the independent publisher whose wide range of titles includes many comic books based on properties from the Phoenix.
  • Eddie Gamarra
    ViacomCBS Kids & Family Studio
    Vice president, literary affairs
    A former college professor, Eddie Gamarra is VP, Literary Affairs for ViacomCBS's Kids & Family Studio. Working across the Nickelodeon and Awesomeness TV brands, Eddie identifies and acquires Intellectual Property for both animated and live action film and television. Prior to ViacomCBS, Eddie was a Literary Manager at The Gotham Group, a multi-faceted management and production company representing some of the most creative and successful screenwriters, directors, animators, authors, illustrators, and publishers around the world. He worked with numerous New York Times best-selling authors and illustrators as well as Oscar, Emmy, Caldecott, and Newbery award winners and nominees. He was also the Executive Producer of THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy from 20th Century Fox based on the NY Times best-selling book series, as well at Disney+’s production of Jerry Spinelli’s iconic love story STARGIRL. Dr. Gamarra received his BA from Vassar College, a Masters from NYU and a MA/ PhD from Emory University.
  • Athena Georgaklis
    Nelvena
    Head of development
    Athena Georgaklis, a highly respected animation executive, leads the acquisition of rights and the development of all original content for Nelvana. Committed to develop creator-driven content, working with the studio’s producers, creators, and talent that will resonate with all age groups, in all markets. She helmed the creation of The Most Magnificent Thing, DNAce, Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel, The Hardy Boys live action series. Athena has worked in Canadian production for over 22 years. Before Nelvana, she oversaw all original animation production for Corus’ kids networks, supervising the development and production of content in both languages. During her time, she worked on hit shows like Johnny Test, Camp Lakebottom, Mysticons, 6TEEN, and the Total Drama Island franchise.
  • Mary Hamley
    Oxford University Press
    Head of primary digital literacy and reading
    Mary Hamley is Head of Primary Digital Literacy and Reading at Oxford University Press, where she has been for 9 years. Previously, she worked at Pearson and before that Orchard Books. Mary’s role involves helping to determine strategy, exploring new opportunities, analysing government policy, conducting market research and developing texts for teachers and children. She is now involved in OUP’s work to embrace diversity and inclusion and to ensure that the texts we put in front of children reflect the diversity and richness of their lives.
  • Georgia Henry
    Rocket
    Campaign manager (Children’s Specialist)
    With a master’s degree in Children’s Literature, contributing writer for The Bookseller and campaign manager at Rocket - Georgia knows a thing or two about publishing! One of the early innovators in the world of BookTok, her campaign for ‘They Both Die at the End’ went viral and has been viewed by 5.1million people. She joins us today to talk campaigns, influencers and what platform could be next.
  • Fozia Irfan OBE
    Children in Need
    Director of children and young people
    Fozia Irfan OBE is the Director of Children and Young People at Children in Need, specialising in equitable funding distribution and investment for young people. She was previously awarded the national 'Rising Star CEO' award by the National Charity Times and voted one of the 25 Most Influential Charity Leaders in the sector. Fozia set up the groundbreaking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coalition of foundations, leading fifteen major national foundations in the implementation of more effective and equitable grantmaking strategies. Fozia completed a Masters in Grantmaking, Philanthropy and Social Investment at Cass Business School with Distinction. She is also a NED of Fair4All Finance and a former Trustee of the Association of Charitable Foundations. She was appointed a Leadership Fellow in 2019 and Churchill Fellow in 2020. Fozia is also a Visiting Lecturer at Cass Business School on the Charity Management Masters Programme
  • Sarah Judge
    Stoke Newington Bookshop
    Assistant manager
    Sarah Judge was born in New Zealand but left at 18 to study design and travel the world before landing in London seven years ago. She brought her passion for children's literature to Stoke Newington Bookshop and spearheaded the creation of an extensive graphic novel section for young readers. A lover and practicioner of illustration, she is always drawn in by a map at the beginning of a book.
  • Molly Ker Hawn
    The Bent Agency
    Literary agent
    Molly Ker Hawn joined the Bent Agency in 2012 and leads its London office. Working primarily in children’s and YA publishing, she represents authors whose books have been New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers and that have won and been shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, and more. Molly serves on the committee of the Association of Authors’ Agents and in 2020 she was named one of The Bookseller‘s most influential people in the UK publishing industry.
  • Justine King
    Show Racism the Red Card
    North East education coordinator
    Justine has worked in the Equalities sector for almost 25 years, primarily but not exclusively, in the area of racial equality. Whilst now the North East Education Coordinator at Show Racism the Red Card, she has in the past worked in posts within training, infrastructure, and capacity building organisations working towards social justice and empowering individuals and communities. She has over 25 years of training, facilitation and education delivery experience within the public, private and voluntary sectors. In additional to specialised adult training she has much experience training to primary and secondary educational bodies (pupils and teachers), at risk youth and excluded communities, and is currently working around the area of Hate Crime advocacy and support. In her spare time she makes up for her total lack of musical ability by supporting those that have some. She is passionate about live music and adding to her vinyl album collection.
  • Jodie Lancet-Grant
    Bluebird
    Author and communications director
    Jodie Lancet-Grant (nee Mullish) is an award-winning Communications Director at Pan Macmillan imprint Bluebird. She has over ten years of publicity and marketing experience in the industry, and has also worked as a freelance copywriter and journalist. Jodie's debut picture book The Pirate Mums, illustrated by Lydia Corry, is published by Oxford Children's Books. She lives in East London with her wife and their twin daughters.
  • Sam Langley-Swain
    Owlet Press
    Founder
    A Welsh author based in Warwick, Sam was originally inspired to write by his two adopted children and sold over 8,000 copies of his debut in his first 12 week. He then set up Owlet Press, an inclusive publishing company in 2017, with the hope of creating books for all children which are relevant, current, have meaning, embrace differences, diversity and inspire kindness.
  • Patrice Lawrence
    Author
    Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer of stories for children and young people. Orangeboy, her debut book for young adults was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award, won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstones Prize for Older Children's Fiction and has been shortlisted for many regional awards. Indigo Donut, her second book about young adults, was published in July 2017. It was book of the week in the The Times, Sunday Times and Observer and one of The Times top children's books in 2017. Both books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award.
  • Arthur A. Levine
    Levine Querido
    Founder
    Arthur A. Levine founded Levine Querido in April 2019, after a 23-year tenure as the President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. He founded Arthur A. Levine Books in 1996, coming over from Knopf Books for Young Readers where he had been Editor in Chief. His determination to bring a diverse selection of "The Best of the World's Literature for Young People" to American readers was the guiding principal in all of AALB’s publishing since its beginnings, and continues to be the guiding light at Levine Querido. This mission resulted in the introduction to North American audiences of the work of great writers such as J. K. Rowling, Markus Zusak, Nahoko Uehashi, Daniella Carmi, Luis Sepúlveda, and Jaclyn Moriarty. Arthur sees this search for great writers from around the world as a continuum with Levine Querido’s search for diverse, powerful, unique voices and visions from the multitude of cultures closer to home. In addition to overseeing the company, Arthur edits between eight and ten books annually.
  • Lorraine Levis
    Penguin Random House, Ireland
    Key account executive
    Lorraine Levis is a Key Account Executive for PRH Children's in Ireland and author of 'Once Upon a Reader: Raising Your Children with a Love of Books', published by Currach Books in 2020. She started her career as a children's bookseller and has spent over a decade becoming one of Ireland's leading experts in the market as well as a regular commentator for the Irish Times on the subject.
  • Katy Lewis
    Pearson Edexcel
    Head of English, Drama and MFL
    Katy Lewis is the Head of English Drama and MFL at Pearson Edexcel, the UK's largest awarding organisation. Katy's team is responsible for the design, development and support of the GCSE and A Level English qualifications. Prior to joining Pearson in 2009, she spent 4 years working as an English teacher.
  • Valentina Manzetti
    Dea Planeta Libri (DeAgostini)
    Fiction editor
    Valentina Manzetti is a fiction editor, specialising in children’s and YA literature. She joined Dea Planeta Libri in 2017, after working at Mondadori. She has degrees in Italian literature, with a particular focus on comic authors. She loves comedy, fantasy, dramedy, brilliant chick-lit and she wrote a novel for middle grade readers, Catgirl, published by Piemme (Mondadori) in 2019. She's also a swimming addict and when she's not working or writing she can be found at the beautiful Lake Orta in Piedmont.
  • Alexandra Maramenides
    Five Mile
    C.e.o
    Alexandra Maramenides has over twenty years’ experience in the publishing industry and has run publishing houses in the UK and Australia for the last eleven years. She has worked with global best-selling authors, illustrators and licences. Alexandra is the CEO of Five Mile and is the founder of rêve agency. Prior to this she was the MD of Simon & Schuster Children’s UK, MD of Echo and Five Mile Press, and she worked at global publishing houses, including Hachette and Phaidon.
  • Miranda McKearney OBE
    EmpathyLab
    Founder
    Miranda McKearney OBE, EmpathyLab founder. Miranda has spent 35 years turning kitchen table ideas into nationwide campaigns, culminating in founding The Reading Agency in 2002. Having “retired” to go trekking, she became fascinated by the building body of scientific research showing that reading builds empathy, which led to her founding non-profit EmpathyLab in 2015, and launching Empathy Day in 2017. She leads the EmpathyLab team, with fellow founders Sarah Mears, Craig Hill and Caroline Scott.
  • Catherine Millar
    BookTrust
    Reading consultant
    Catherine Millar is an experienced primary teacher, former assistant headteacher, governor and mother of three with a passion for reading and children's literature. Her experience in promoting reading for pleasure has transformed outcomes for children. Catherine has spoken at national conferences at the Guardian Education Centre since 2014 and now sits on the advisory panel to the Waterstones Children's Laureate, Cressida Cowell, through the BookTrust. She is supporting the six schools receiving a new library through Cressida's Life-changing Libraries campaign to embed a culture of reading for pleasure within their schools. During lockdown Catherine established the online Lockdown Children's Litfest, hosting interviews with a diverse range of children's authors such as Katherine Rundell (Rooftoppers), SF Said (Varjak Paw) and Katherine Woodfine (The Clockwork Sparrow) as well as experts in children's literature such as Julia Eccleshare MBE, Children's Books Editor, the Guardian & Emily Drabble, BookTrust. She is also behind 'Bringing up Booklovers, a supportive FaceBook group aimed at helping parents turn their children from screen addicts to bookworms.
  • Zaahida Nabagereka
    Lit in Colour
    Programme manager
    Zaahida Nabagereka is Programme Manager for Lit in Colour, working between Runnymede Trust and Penguin Random House. Lit in Colour is campaign designed to increase the representation of authors of colour in English Literature taught in UK schools. Zaahida completed her doctorate at SOAS focusing on linguistic imperialism and how it affects contemporary literature production in indigenous languages. She co-founded Afrikult, a literary organisation seeking to widen access to African literatures through interactive workshops in 2014. Since then Arikult has devised and facilitated workshops at schools, festivals and conferences in England, Wales, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. Zaahida has guest lectured at SOAS, UCL, UEA and was a Visiting Lecturer on the BA English programme at City, University of London. She tweets at @ZNabagereka
  • Kelly-Jade Nicholls
    Woke Babies
    Founder
    Kelly-Jade Nicholls is a creative entrepreneur, children’s book illustrator, associate literary agent and founder of Woke Babies, the UK’s first and leading Black children’s book subscription service and publisher. Nicholls is committed to increasing representation in children’s books and believes “you can’t be what you can’t see.” It is this that led her to create and publish her first book, ‘My Favourite Bible Stories,’ an illustrated book featuring diverse characters. The book reached bestseller status and was picked up by publishing powerhouse, HarperCollins and was republished in 2020. The overwhelmingly positive response to the book unearthed that many parents struggled to find academic, inspirational books featuring Black protagonists. Nicholls took the opportunity to set up Woke Babies, a monthly book subscription service where she curates a collection of the very best children’s books from around the globe, providing parents with a range of diverse books and characters. In early 2021, Nicholls published three books inspired by fairytales; Zel, Let Out Your Hair, Jack and the Hair Stalk and The Puppet Who Wanted Hair. Written by picture book legend Trish Cooke and published in collaboration with hairbrush brand Tangle Teezer, these books aim to inspire readers to celebrate their natural hair. In May 2021, Nicholls joined Mulcahy Sweeney as an associate literary agent with a focus on helping the agency find new children’s writers and illustrators, as well as develop projects that will help Black creatives find publishers.
  • Jeff Norton
    Dominion of Drama
    Writer and executive producer
    Jeff Norton is an award-winning author, writer, and executive producer. He is the author of the award-winning thriller series MetaWars (Hachette), the laugh-out-loud books Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie (Faber), the sci-fi comedy-adventure Alienated: Grounded At Groom Lake (RandomHouse), and the adventure series Dino Knights, which is currently in development for television with The Jim Henson Company / OmniFilm Entertainment. He’s also the creator and co-writer of the best-selling Princess Ponies series (Bloomsbury). In 2019, Jeff packaged and executive produced Susan Hill’s Ghost Story (The Small Hand) for ViacomCBS, debuting on U.K.’s Channel 5 to nearly 2 million consolidated viewers. Jeff also developed and packaged the NYT best-selling Trucktown (Simon & Schuster) picture books by Jon Scieszka and served as Executive Producer on 80 episodes of the pre-school adaptation for Nelvana (part of Corus Entertainment). As a television writer, he has scripted projects in funded development with broadcasters on both sides of the Atlantic. Previously, was an SVP at Chorion Ltd. where he ran the Enid Blyton literary estate and acquired new IP, including The Octonauts and the literary estate of horror-master Dennis Wheatley (The Devil Rides Out). Before moving to the UK, he worked in creative development in Hollywood and produced the award-winning Choose Your Own Adventure interactive movie featuring William H. Macy and Frankie Muniz. Originally from Canada, Jeff lives in the UK. Jeff is on the web at www.jeffnorton.com and tweets as @thejeffnorton.  
  • Okenna Nzelu
    Bright Light Books
    Founder
    Okenna Nzelu is a founding partner of Bright Lights Books which focuses on increasing representation in children’s literature. Okenna teaches children’s creative writing in Lagos and leads the annual Bright Lights Books childrens writing competition. He is the author of Bright Lights and Bold Hearts, a childrens book of true-life stories from across the African continent.
  • Kiera O'Brien
    The Bookseller
    Charts & data editor
  • Hannah Penny
    Farshore
    Head of PR
    Hannah Penny is Head of PR for Farshore, an imprint of HarperCollins. She leads a passionate PR team to manage creative publicity and events for books including Winnie-the-Pooh, Laura Ellen Anderson, Michael Morpurgo and B.B. Alston. She also supports Farshore’s thought leadership strategy, using their unique consumer insight to ensure our books reach every young reader. She has worked in publicity and marketing in arts and education for over 10 years, with time at Oxford University Press and the University of Oxford.
  • Steven Pryse
    Pickled Pepper books
    Co-owner
    Steven is co-owner of Pickled Pepper Books with Urmi Merchant. Established in 2012 Pickled Pepper is a specialist independent children's bookshop in North London with a daily programme of pre and after school activities as well as weekend community theatre and author and illustrator events. He is currently Chair of the Booksellers Association Children's Booksellers Group; member of the World Book Day Strategic Advisory Group and has recently joined the Children's Laureate Steering Group. In addition to a wealth of bookshop experience, Steven has a background of over 10 years working in the voluntary youth sector including at a national level helping organisations develop good practice in youth participation and informing government policy. All these skills and experience informs the experience for everyone who engages with Pickled Pepper Books from children, their families and carers through to schools and library services.
  • Jason Reynolds
    Author
    Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. His many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Run series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Correta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was the winner of the 2021 CILIP Carnegie Medal. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Jason is also the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in the USA. Photo credit: Adedayo Kosoko
  • Jasmine Richards
    Storymix
    Founder
    Jasmine Richards has worked in children's publishing for over 15 years and written over a dozen books for children, ranging from picture books to teen fiction. Her most recent books are Lucas Dives Deep and Aziza's Secret Fairy Door, which she has co-written with Tọlá Okogwu, under the pen name Lola Morayo. She also features in the Happy Here anthology of Black British writers and illustrators, which will be distributed to every school in England. Her new novel, The Unmorrow Curse, comes out in May 2022 and she is also a screenwriter on PJ Masks. Jasmine is the founder of Storymix, a children’s book incubator with a social purpose. We create stories with inclusive casts of characters. All children, regardless of background, get to be the heroes in our stories. She is actively seeking writers from underrepresented backgrounds to write for Storymix. It doesn’t matter if you are published, unpublished or self-published - she'd love to hear from you! She is passionate about creative writing education and has visited schools across the country to run creative writing workshops for children. She has also taught on the Oxford University Diploma for Creative Writing and for Book Bound, who run retreats and workshops for unpublished children’s authors. To follow more of Jasmine’s publishing adventures, you can find her on Twitter and Instagram. Storymix can be found on bookshop.org and @storymixstudio on social media!
  • Sarah Richardson
    Filament Projects
    Co-director
    Sarah Richardson is Co-Director of Filament Projects, an independent theatre company producing creative adventures for audiences of all ages. Specialising in projects for children and families, Filament’s work uses live performance, audio installation, immersive storytelling and digital content to explore big ideas relevant to young people’s lives. Previous commissioning partners include National Trust, Staffordshire Libraries & Arts Service and Appetite (Arts Council England’s Creative People & Places programme). As an experienced theatre director and education practitioner, Sarah has created work for children and families for a range of cultural organisations including New Vic Theatre, Storyhouse and Just So Festival.
  • Alison Ruane
    Macmillan Children's Books
    Communications director
    Alison Ruane is a marketing, brand strategy and communications specialist with over 20 years experience in bringing some of the biggest names in children’s books to market and connecting them to millions of readers. She held senior marketing and brand strategy roles at HarperCollins Children’s Books for over 10 years and has been Communications Director at Macmillan Children’s Books since May 2020.
  • Elaina Ryan
    Children's Books Ireland
    C.e.o
    Elaina Ryan is the CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to inspire a lifelong love of reading in children and young people in Ireland. Children’s Books Ireland shares expertise and enthusiasm with families and other adults who influence children’s reading. They support authors and illustrators who make work for children and they champion every child’s right to excellent books and live literature events. Through a range of projects spanning book-gifting, recommended reading lists and guides, the annual KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards, Children’s Books Ireland works towards its vision of making every child a reader.
  • Rashmi Sirdeshpande
    Author
    Rashmi Sirdeshpande is a lawyer turned children's writer who writes a mix of fiction picture books and illustrated nonfiction. Her debut picture book with Diane Ewen, Never Show a T-Rex a Book has won the 2021 Society of Authors Queen's Knickers Award and has been shortlisted for the Lollies 2022. Her latest books are Never Teach a Stegosaurus To Do Sums (illustrated by Diane Ewen) and Good News: Why The World Is Not As Bad as You Think (illustrated by Adam Hayes).
  • Sam Smith
    Macmillan Children's Books
    Publisher - Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Books
    Publisher - Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Books, Macmillan Children’s Books Sam Smith is the current Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Book Publisher at Macmillan Children's Books, looking after a list that includes Julia Donaldson, Lenny Henry, Marcus Rashford and the Treehouse Series. Her previous roles at Scholastic Children's Books and Little, Brown Book Group in editorial and marketing, found her managing the publishing for Liz Pichon, Philip Pullman, Dav Pilkey and Stephanie Meyer among many other talented authors and illustrators. She has an MA in English Literature from King's College London and an MBA from London Business School.
  • Claire Storey
    Literary translator and co-editor of World Kid Lit
    Claire Storey is a literary translator from German and Spanish. Translating for adults and children, she has a particular interest in books for younger readers. With Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, she is co-editor of World Kid Lit, a website dedicated to translated books for children and young adults. Claire also speaks in schools about languages and translation, and was named Outreach Champion 2021 by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.
  • Jaclyn Swope
    Nielsen Book
    Senior account manager, Book Research
    Jaclyn joined Nielsen Book in 2013 while completing her Master’s degree in Publishing at Kingston University. She now works as a Senior Account Manager on the Book Research team, analysing book industry trends and providing support to publishers in understanding and utilising sales and consumer data.
  • Jessica Tarrant
    Yoto
    Content director
    Jessica Tarrant is Content Director at Yoto, a British start-up that puts children in control of the stories, music and podcasts they listen to. The founders of Yoto were inspired by Montessori principles to create a screen-free audio device that kids could safely control themselves; they called it Yoto Player. As Content Director, Jessica is responsible for licensing and creating the content that goes onto Yoto’s NFC-enabled audio cards, curating a library that features classic authors, contemporary music, big-brand licenses and innovative new educational experiences. Prior to joining Yoto in 2019, Jessica was Editorial Director at Hachette Children’s Group for seven years, working across author-led fiction, IP creation and audio programming for the children’s list.
  • Claire Wade
    Author
    Claire Wade is the author of The Choice and winner of the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition and the East Anglian Book Award 2020 for Fiction. She also co-founded the group Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses (ADCI). Bed bound for six years with severe ME, her only escape was through her imagination. She now writes about women breaking free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she says she is deeply familiar with. Author and co-founder of Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses (ADCI). Photo credit: Kerry Curl
  • Nick Walters
    SuperAwesome Gaming
    Managing director
    Nicholas Walters is Managing Director, SuperAwesome Gaming. SuperAwesome’s kidtech platform enables safe, compliant digital engagement with kids and young teens around the world. As leader of SuperAwesome’s gaming practice, Walters and his team work with some of the largest brands in the kids space to create and deliver strategies to successfully reach audiences through gaming. Their work spans everything from game development to research, insight and gaming influencers. SuperAwesome was acquired by Epic Games in 2020. Prior to joining SuperAwesome, Walters was founder and CEO of Hopster, the app that helps kids learn through the stories they love. Founded by Walters in late in late 2012, the Hopster app grew to serve eight languages and over 100 countries, topping the App Store grossing charts in over 20 markets, and being downloaded over 2m times. Before founding Hopster Walters spent six years at Viacom International Media Networks, most recently as General Manager for Russia and CIS. Walters was named the UK’s Startup Entrepreneur of the Year (2015). He is a recovering strategy consultant.
  • Faith Young
    Tiktok creator and writer
    Faith is 22, she’s a writer and actor studying Creative Writing at Roehampton University. She’s been reviewing books on TikTok for a year now and has amassed over 4 million likes. She reviews YA fantasy and really enjoys seeing herself represented in sapphic fantasy. Here favourite author is Claire Legrand and she loves enemies to lovers romances.
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