BEST CONFERENCE EVER! New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference 2017

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I say this every year, but cross my heart it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference is the BEST conference ever!

What makes it great? I’m so glad you asked. Here goes my laundry list:

Critiques, first pages, workshops covering every imaginable kidlit topic from picture books to YA, pitches, connecting with editors and agents, and more editors and more agents, getting solid feedback on your stories and illustrations (the good, the bad, and the sad ugly truth), inspiration galore, and lifelong friendships. Shall I go on?

Here are a few photographic highlights:

Behind the scenes the day before the conference.

Opening Keynote with Stephen Savage

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Blake Hamilton and Matthew Winner

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Sheela Chari and Leslie Zampetti

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Me with Detectives Wilcox and Griswold on the job

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Anita Arakelian and me (Mawrters in the house – Anassa kata ’89)

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Virginia Law Manning, me, Leslie Zampetti

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Leslie Santamaria

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The Liza Royce Crew!

(Left to right: Me, Laurie Wallmark, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Liza Fleissig, Leslie Santamaria, Yvonne Ventresca)

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Me and David Lubar

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(Top row, left to right: Kathy Temean, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, me)

(Bottom row, left to right: Katey Howes, Jody Staton, Colleen Rowan Kosinski)

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Me and Hallee Adelman

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Cathleen Thole Daniels and Rosanne Kurstedt

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Anita Arakelian

 

 

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Heather Montgomery

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Stephen Savage, Mike Ciccotello, Annie Silvestro

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Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

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Cathleen Thole Daniels, Kirstine Erekson Call, me

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Closing keynote with David Lubar

I’d like to shout out a HUGE THANK YOU to the amazing, incredible, you-take-my-breath-away NJ SCBWI team, including but certainly not limited to, Cathleen Thole Daniels, Rosanne Kurstedt, Karen Romagna, Annie Silvestro, Kelly Calabrese, Charlotte Bennardo, Guy Olivieri, Mike Ciccotello, Linda Bozzo, Tami Charles, and to all the incredible volunteers.

And do you want to know a little secret? If you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and cross your fingers and toes and hope the publishing gods are on your side, you’ll notice the hint of publishing contracts in the air. How could any conference ever get better than this?

Celebrate Children’s Book Weekend at the Empire State Center for the Book on Governors Island

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The Empire State Center for the Book is hosting its first Children’s Book Weekend on May 6th & May 7th at Governors Island. It is a twofold celebration in honor of the close of Children’s Book Week and the opening of the 2017 Summer Season on Governors Island.

Authors and illustrators will read and sign their books at the Empire State Center for the Book’s pop-up site, House 4B in Nolan Park. The site had been the former home of an 1855 field officer.

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Here’s the schedule of events:

Saturday, May 6 

11:30 Elizabeth Upton

12:00 Christopher Browne

1:00 Jackie Azúa Kramer

2:00 Rowboat Watkins

2:30 Sergio Ruzzier

3:00 Jeff Baron

Sunday, May 7

12:00 Melanie Hope Greenberg

1:00 Robin Newman

2:00 Laurie Wallmark

So bring your kids, picnic basket, and blanket, and be prepared to enjoy the literary festivities.

For information on visiting Governors Island, please click here.

Let the reading begin!

 

KidLit TV’s Live Stream Read Aloud

I’m a tad late to the party in posting about this AMAZING event hosted by KidLit TV, but better late than never.

March is National Reading Awareness Month and to celebrate KidLit TV invited authors and illustrators to read their picture books for their first Live Stream Read Aloud Marathon on Friday, March 3, 2017.

The Read Aloud received over 3,000 views and was featured in Publisher’s Weekly column, In Brief.

Below are a few photographic highlights:

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Rocco Stanno and Katya Szewczuk

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Cynthia Weill and Orel Protopopescu

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Laurie Wallmark 

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Roxie Munro, Barbara McClintock and Elizabeth Upton

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Kat Yeh

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Me, Laurie Wallmark and Orel Protopopescu

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Roxie Munro and Carol Weston 

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Julie Gribble 

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Steve Light 

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Selene Castrovilla

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Me and Rosanne Kurstedt

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Kelly Light

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Susanna Reich

Katya Szewczuk and Laurie Wallmark 

That’s one scary witch! 

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Erica Rand Silverman and David Weinstone 

Orel Protopopescu, Cynthia Weill and Susanna Reich 

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Rosanne Kurstedt 

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Laura Sassi 

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The Reading Ninjas 

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Ender, a super adorable Reading Ninja, reading Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep.

 (This made my day!) 

A GINORMOUS THANK YOU to the amazing Julie Gribble, Erica Rand Silverman, Katya Szewczuk, Rocco Staino, and to everyone at KidLit TV who made this extraordinary celebration of reading so very special. Happy Reading!

 

 

 

THANK YOU WARWICK CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL!

 

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If you happened to be in Warwick, New York yesterday, you would have noticed there was magic in the air. It was a day to celebrate children’s literature and oh, what a magical day it was!

Here are a few photographic highlights:

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Me and Beth Ferry

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Hazel Mitchell 

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Sujean Rim and her adorable son

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Diana Murray and Mylisa Larsen

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Me and Iza Trapani

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Me, Jessica Olien, Lauren Magaziner, Laurie Wallmark and Diana Murray

Three incredible volunteers 

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THANK YOU WARWICK CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL! A very big THANK YOU to Lisa Laico, Judy Pedersen, Christina Ryan-Linder, the incredible volunteers, Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe, and the Albert Wisner Public Library.

Hildie Bitterpickles, Wilcox & Griswold, the peacocks,** and I cannot wait for next year’s festival.

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**No Peacocks! illustrated by Chris Ewald (Sky Pony Press) flies onto bookshelves fall 2017.

THREE CHEERS FOR THE COLLINGSWOOD BOOK FESTIVAL!

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Overcast skies couldn’t dampen the excitement at The Collingswood Book Festival. It was AWESOME!

Here are some photographic highlights:

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Kat Lindsey

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Colleen Rowan Kosinski

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Traci Dunham

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Nancy Viau

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Artie Bennett

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E.B. Lewis

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Laurie Wallmark and Timothy Young 

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Allison Gutknecht

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My wonderful tablemates!

Colleen Rowan Kosinski, Jodi Moore, me and Kat Lindsey 

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Sara O’Brien and The Community Rocks Kids! 

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A very big THANK YOU to the incredible Sidra Hobbs-Fernie and her amazing crew of dedicated volunteers, as well as to Barnes & Noble, for making the day extra special.

Hildie Bitterpickles, Wilcox, Griswold and I have already packed our bags for next year’s festival. We can’t wait!

The 2016 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference—The Best Conference Ever!

 

Every year the NJ SCBWI Annual Conference gets better and better. This year did not disappoint.

Here are some photographic highlights: 

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Opening Keynote Speaker, David Wiesner

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My amazing agent, Liza Fleissig, and my fellow Liza Royce Agency peeps! 

Yvonne Ventresca, Cathy Breisacher, Laurie Wallmark, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Erica George, Leslie Santamaria, me, and Liza Fleissig 

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Diana Murray and me

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Johanna Bilbo Staton, Yvonne Ventresca, and Cathy Breisacher 

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Katey Howes

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Lauri Meyers

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Darlene Beck-Jacobson and Carole Lindstrom

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Annie Silvestro and Kim Pfennigwerth

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Me and Cristina Ergunay (Mawrters in the house! Anassa kata!) 

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Beth Ferry 

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Julie Matysik and Yvonne Ventresca

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Jacki Morris

Liza Fleissig, Keisha Senter, Kathy Temean, Carole Lindstrom, Leslie Santamaria, me, Karl Jones, Colleen Rowan Kosinski, Marlaina Cockcroft, and Linda Patterson Kujawski

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Laura Sassi and Diana Murray 

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Leeza Hernandez

Me and Katya Szewczuk

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Tara Lazar 

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Lori Degman 

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Laurie Wallmark accepting the Crystal Kyte Award.

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Julie Gribble 

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Tish Rabe

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Jonathan Rockefeller 

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Guy Olivieri and Charlotte Bennardo 

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Closing Keynote Speaker, Suzy Ismail

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Me and Suzy Ismail 

A very big THANK YOU to everyone who made this year’s conference so special. I’m already packing my bags for next year’s conference. I can’t wait!

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2016 ALA Midwinter Conference & Exhibits

 

I spent an incredible weekend at ALA’s Midwinter Conference and Exhibits in Boston. Where else in the world can you find this many people who eat, breathe and sleep books? In a nutshell, it was AWESOME!

I had a wonderful time meeting and catching up with so many dedicated librarians, teachers, editors, writers, and illustrators. One highlight for me was meeting Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota. She included The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake on her “best children’s books to give this year” list and in her discussion on MPR. Here’s the link.

It was also a thrill to see so many of my friend’s books on display and to listen to everyone’s predictions on who might be getting some pretty stickers for their books. (HINT FOR UPCOMING BIRTHDAY PRESENT: Wilcox, Griswold, Hildie, and I LOVE stickers! 🙂 )

Here are a few photographic highlights:

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Creston Books

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Me and Laurie Wallmark at the Creston table 

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Mary Skiver, me, and Laura Simeon (Bryn Mawr Classmates, ’89 Anassa Kata!) 

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Laurie Wallmark and Andrea Beaty

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Andrea Beaty’s latest book

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Carolyn Yoder and Laurie Wallmark 

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Lisa Yoskowitz

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City Shapes by Diana Murray and illustrated Bryan Collier (In bookstores June 21, 2016)

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Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Coren Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Dan Santat (In bookstores May 24, 2016)

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Normal Norman by Tara Lazar and illustrated by S. Britt a/k/a Stephan Britt (In bookstores March 1, 2016) 

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Just hanging with Norman

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Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel 

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Cori McCarthy signing You Were Here

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Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

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Laurie Wallmark and her new friend, Oscar

Congratulations to all the ALA Youth Medal Award winners! It’s been an incredible year for children’s literature. And it’s so exciting to be a small part of it. I’m looking forward to another amazing year of kid-lit. Happy reading, writing, and illustrating!

Starting the Year with a Bang! ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Boston

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Happy New Year! Can you believe ALA is THIS week? And Creston Books authors will be in the house!

Where: Booth 2130

When: Saturday, January 9, 2016

Robin Newman   10:00 am – 11:00 am

Laurie Wallmark 11:00 am – 12:00 pm 

Please come by to say hello to Wilcox, Griswold, and Hildie Bitterpickles. Have your mug shot taken with a silly hat and mustache, take home some super cool swag, and expect lots of fun. Hope to see you there!

Guest Post by Laurie Wallmark: Writing About Strong Women

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I am thrilled to have Laurie Wallmark as my guest blogger today. Laurie and I met many moons ago at one of the NJ SCBWI conferences. In the interest of full disclosure, we are both represented by same incredible agent, Liza Fleissig, and we also have the wonderful connection of being fellow Creston Book authors.

Laurie’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books), releases on October 13, 2015, in conjunction with the celebration of Ada Lovelace Day. She was the world’s first computer programmer.

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Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is one of the most beautiful and inspiring books that I have read in a very long time. The illustrations will take your breath away. This is a book that will be cherished for generations to come.

Now, without further ado, here’s Laurie:

People often ask me why I choose to write biographies of strong women like Ada Byron Lovelace. Here are three events from my life that contributed to my interest in doing so.

  • In grade school, I played the snare drum in the school orchestra. When it was time to graduate to junior high, I wasn’t allowed to continue with this instrument in school. I was told it wasn’t ladylike to play drums. Instead, I had to switch to playing bass fiddle, because, as we all know, that’s a much more feminine instrument—not! Of course, when the orchestra needed an additional percussionist, they didn’t seem to mind I was a girl.
  • In seventh grade, boys and girls had no choice in the classes they took for electives. Boys took wood shop, auto mechanics, metal working, and mechanical drawing. Girls took sewing, cooking, and art. In eighth grade, since I was interested in architecture, I signed up for intermediate mechanical drawing. The administration wouldn’t let me, since I hadn’t taken mechanical drawing in seventh grade. Luckily for me, I had parents who fought for their children, even their daughters. Because of them, I was able to take mechanical and then, in ninth grade, architectural drawing. Of course, I was the only girl in either of these classes.
  • When I was about to enter high school, my mother asked the principal about the availability of higher-level math classes. He wanted to know if she had a son or daughter. When my mother answered a daughter, he told her the courses didn’t matter because a girl would never advance that far. By the way, he was wrong

Even though I went to school years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, many girls still experiences these types of prejudices in their schooling. This is one of the reasons that fewer than 15% of computer scientists are women. I want girls (and boys!) to read my books and realize they can follow their dreams, no matter where they lead.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, October 2015) is a picture-book biography of the world’s first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago, long before the invention of the modern electronic computer. At a time when girls and women had few options outside the home, Ada followed her dreams and studied mathematics. This book, by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu, tells the story of a remarkable woman and her work. Kirkus Reviews describes the book as a “splendidly inspiring introduction to an unjustly overlooked woman.” [starred review]

Join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. All stops are listed at: http://lauriewallmark.com/blogtour.php.

2015 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference—THE BEST CONFERENCE EVER!

Every year NJ SCBWI’s annual conference gets better and better, and this year was no exception. Here are some photographic highlights:

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Opening Keynote Speaker Denise Fleming

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Annie Silvestro, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Kim Pfennigwerth

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Lori Degman and Liza Fleissig

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Me, Laurie Wallmark, Jody Staton, Darlene Beck-Jacobson

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Artwork by Patricia Keeler 

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Susanna Leonard Hil and Lori Degman

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Ame Dyckman and Adam Lehrhaupt

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Me and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

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Meet the Newest Missing Food Investigators on the hunt for Miss Rabbit’s missing carrot cake.

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Detective Newman

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Detective Allegra

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Detective Cockcroft

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Detective Zampetti

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Detective Degman

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Detective Silvestro

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Detective Hernandez and Detective Bardhan-Quallen

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Mafalda Cardim, me, Ellen Grogan

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Closing Keynote Speaker John Cusick

Many thanks to everyone at NJ SCBWI who made this weekend so very special. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference.