More Prep for #KidlitSummerSchool!

We are just a few days away from the opening bell of Kidlit Summer School 2015! Are you ready? Are you excited? We hope so!

There are some more things that would probably make sense for you to familiarize yourself with while you are waiting for our doors to open.

The Importance of Email

The vast majority of the information we will provide during Kidlit Summer School is freely available to everyone, registered or not. The blog posts can be found at and everyone with an internet connection will be able to read them. However, certain perks are for registered members only. To be eligible for the members-only perks (like access to the Exercise Book or the ability to join webinars), you need to make sure you’ve registered THIS YEAR and you need to make sure you get the emails we send out.

Need to Register? Click Here

If you are having trouble getting emails from Kidlit Summer School, you can find some troubleshooting tips at this page.


rotem jenne webinar screenshotSome of our favorite things to offer during Kidlit Summer School are the webinars we host with different members of the kidlit community. If you pre-registered for Summer School this year, you’ve already gotten to experience a great webinar with editors Rotem Moscovich of Disney-Hyperion and Jenne Abramowitz of Scholastic. We have many more wonderful webinars planned for the next few weeks.

This year, we will be handing the webinars a little differently than we did our first year of running Kidlit Summer School. We knew at the end of the 2014 term that we were absolutely committed to keeping the blog event free and open to everyone. However, organizing a massive endeavor like this takes a lot of time and, unfortunately, a good deal of funds. While we are still happily donating our time to the effort, we realized that we could not continue to run Kidlit Summer School using personal funds. Last year a lot of you asked what you could do to help. We have come up with a way you can make a small contribution, and get something great from it. Here is where the changes to our webinars come in: there will be a small registration fee ($5) to view some of the webinars we will host this year – but don’t worry, there will still be a good number of free ones. This registration fee will allow us to cover our costs and provide honorariums for the editors and agents who are giving their time to Kidlit Summer School.

Here are the free webinars that we have planned so far for this year:

Meet the Board: Q&A with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Kami Kinard, Leeza Hernandez, Dawn Young, and Marcie Colleen. The five of us combined represent decades of experience with children’s publishing and wide array of expertise in several genres of writing, getting published, finding agents, working with agents – you name it, and one of us has probably done it!

Author Roundtable: This Q&A webinar will feature some of our faculty bloggers and will be another opportunity for you to get answers to your burning questions.

From the Librarian’s Desk with Matthew Winner and Betsy Bird: Educators extraordinaire Matthew and Betsy will talk about children’s literature from their point of view as teachers and librarians. There will be time for questions from the audience.

And the webinars that will be offered for a $5 registration fee that are planned so far are:

Pitch Critiques with Agents Sean McCarthy and Marie Lamba. Registered viewers will have a chance to submit pitches which will be read during the webinar. Sean and Marie will provide feedback! All who register will be allowed to submit pitches and we will work through as many as time permits!

Ask the Pros with Editor Orli Zuravicky and Art Director Patti Ann Harris. Orli and Patti Ann work together at Scholastic, so not only will they be able to answer questions about publishing, they will give you a sneak peek into the inner workings of a publishing house. Everyone who registers will be able to ask a question and we will answer as many as time permits.

We will announce the dates for these webinars as we get closer to them, so stay tuned.

If you want to learn more about how the webinars will work, please visit this page.


The Perks of Pre-Registration 2015

The first day of Kidlit Summer School 2015 is rapidly approaching – in fact, July 20 is less than a month away! If you haven’t registered yet, we think you should. Why? Because only registered members of Kidlit Summer School are:

  • eligible to win any giveaways or books, critiques, or other swag that we’ll be handing out during the month
  • eligible to participate in special Summer School events like webinars (pssst! Scroll down for info on a super-special webinar!)
  • invited to join our private Kidlit Summer School Facebook community where you can connect to other children’s book creators and lovers of kidlit

If you haven’t registered yet, please click here to do so! (By the way, even if you registered last year, you need to re-register for 2015.)

We will accepting regular registrations until July 20, but as you might already know, the deadline for pre-registration is July 6. Why should you pre-register? Well, in addition to the regular benefits of registration, pre-registered members are able to get more goodies. Here’s one of them:

All pre-registered members of Kidlit Summer School 2015 will be able to watch a special Q&A Webinar with Editors Jenne Abramowitz and Rotem Moscovich!

JA conference photo 3Jenne Abramowitz is a Senior Editor at Scholastic, where she mainly acquires chapter books and middle grade fiction. Some of Jenne’s current projects include the Starring Jules series by Beth Ain, The Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry, The Doll Graveyard by Lois Ruby, Peter Hannan’s Petlandia, and Into the Killing Seas by Michael P. Spradlin. Jenne looks for commercial voices and high-concept plots. She loves mysteries, modern fantasy, humor, adventures, ghost stories, quirky towns and quirky families, secret societies, hidden identities, and anything with a really juicy secret.


Rotem_Headshot_Shelfie2In her role as Senior Editor at Disney-Hyperion, Rotem Moscovich feels lucky to work with so many talented picture book and middle grade novel creators, including Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin, Brett Helquist, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Greg Pizzoli, Kate Hannigan, John Hendrix, and Heidi Schulz. Rotem loves picturebooks with clever characters and inspired/ing art, and connects with middle grade novels that have transporting writing with creative use of language, and characters with inherent motivation and earned agency. She cares about every facet of bookmaking: from type to case cover art, and everything in between. Rotem has a master’s degree from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Find her on twitter: @Spanish_Broom or visit

Come on! Pre-Register Now!

Meet the Board

2015 Kidlit Summer School Registration is open!

If you haven’t signed up yet, click here to get yourself signed up! 

Kidlit Summer School 2015: The Plot Thickens will run from July 20, 2015 to August 14, 2015. Last year was a very successful kick-off, but it was a lot of work — too much for two people to continue by themselves! So we are very happy to announce we have a whole team working on Summer School this year. This “Board of Education” is going to make this year even better than last year!

The Board of Education:


Co-Founder of Kidlit Summer School

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
 is an award-winning children’s book author whose books include Duck Duck Moose (a CBC Children’s Choice Award Finalist), Tyrannosaurus Wrecks (a Junior Library Guild Selection), Orangutangled, and Chicks Run Wild. She in the founder of Kidlit Writing School and frequently speaks about the craft of writing at schools and conferences all around the world. You can learn more about her and her books on her website or at her blog where she blogs with Kami.

Head Shots from Carpe Diem 008

Co-Founder of Kidlit Summer School

Kami Kinard is the author of The Boy Problem (Scholastic, 2014) and The Boy Project (Scholastic, 2012). Her poetry, stories, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals for children and adults. A former public educator, Kami remains dedicated to teaching and often leads writing workshops at conferences and in schools. You can visit her at or at where she blogs with Sudipta.

BOOKS RULE photo (1)Marcie Colleen is a former classroom teacher turned picture book author. Her forthcoming picture books include The Adventure of the Penguinaut (Scholastic) and Love, Triangle (Balzer+Bray / HarperCollins). She is a frequent presenter at conferences for SCBWI, as well as a faculty member of Kidlit Writing School. Visit her on the web at

DawnDawn Young has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. After leaving the corporate world to raise her children, Dawn’s creative spirit called her to a career in writing. Dawn also assists Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen with her KidLit Picture Book A-Z courses, and tutors math. You can visit Dawn’s blog at

leeza 2015Leeza Hernandez is a picture book illustrator-author who spends her creative time noodling around with story ideas and printmaking in her studio. She is Regional Advisor for New Jersey SCBWI and her latest illustrated book and third in the Homework series Eat Your U.S. History Homework (Charlesbridge) releases in October. Visit her on the web at

Come back soon for more announcements on the 2015 Faculty!

Writing and Teaching

Hi Everyone! We know we have not been around as much as usual these days, and we miss posting like we did during Summer School. But we are actually still in the process of recovering from our summers, so please bear with us a little bit longer!

In case you missed it, Summer School 2014 was a smashing success. Twenty-four authors and over 700 students, all in the first year! It was more successful than we anticipated, and was even covered in Publisher’s Weekly.

Read the Publisher’s Weekly article about Kidlit Summer School HERE

Read the Publisher’s Weekly article about Kidlit Summer School HERE

We loved the experience, especially since writing and teaching are two of our favorite things. Sudipta talks about this in a guest post over on Tara Lazar’s blog: How Teaching Makes You Better at DOING. (She’s doing a giveaway too until the 16th. Check it out!) And Kami teaches a little about writing this week on the Writer’s Digest blog. (Another giveaway too!) Now we’re embracing teaching writing on a new level with Kidlit Writing School. If you are interested in writing a novel or a picture book, check out these courses. There is a free webinar on Monday, open to anyone, whether or not you take the courses! And we have sign-up specials running until September 20. Classes start October 6. These include critiques from Sudipta and Kami as well as a chance to win a critique from agent Rachel Orr. You can read all of the details on our home page. Kidlit Writing School Offers online courses in all genres and aspects of children’s literature and our instructors are all published writers who can guide you through both the craft of writing for children and the business of children’s publishing.

Here is a little more about the classes:

Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books With Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen: The ability to craft a strong picture book plot is one of the factors that separates unpublished writers from those who consistently sign publishing contracts to see their work in print. This course will teach you the essentials of creating compelling plots, starting with Arcs, Beginnings, and Climaxes — then literally taking you through the alphabet. Each topic will be explored in depth, both in the lessons and in the discussion forums and webinars. The writing exercises that are a part of of the course are designed to help you apply the lessons to your own writing seamlessly and immediately. By the end of the course, you will never look at plotting the same way again!

Crafting the Kidlit Novel ​One Bite at a Time: How Writing a Novel is Like Eating a T-Rex and Other Things That Bite Back With Children’s Authors Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck :The idea of writing an entire novel can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be when you learn how to move in stages. Children’s authors Kami Kinard and Rebecca Petruck break down the elements of solid novel writing, beginning with the hook and on through pitch, character development, plot structure, and practical tools for writing through to the end. Though the focus will be on middle grade and young adult writing, the tools are useful for anyone who wants to complete a publishable work.

Even though Summer School is over, we’ve still got things planned for this blog. Coming next week: Summer School Final exams!

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, You are Your Characters After All

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

I’ve never been a big fan of the Snow White story. Abusive parents, runaway girls finding refuge with seven single men all living together…let’s just say it hit all the wrong buttons for me, you know?

Except, there was one thing about that story that totally resonated with me – the idea of a magic mirror. Imagine, looking into a mirror and having not your image reflected as you are, but as you want to be. One look and you get declared the fairest of them all. (That’s my idea of a fairy tale!)

Using a magic mirror is essentially what I do when I create my characters.

So often, my main character is:

  • Me, but funnier
  • Me, but cooler
  • Me, but more interesting
  • Me, but less disorganized
  • Me, but more capable

You get the idea, don’t you?

My characters talk like me. They think like me. They have the same concerns that I do. They stress about the same things and get excited about the same things.

When I look in the mirror, I see my characters. But because it’s a magic mirror, they’re magnified to be funnier, cooler, more interesting – whatever filter the mirror is adding that day.

Let me share some examples from my work.

Caltech Graduation

Caltech Graduation

Through most of my life, I’ve been pretty successful (I’m not bragging, as you’ll see in a moment…). I did well in school without trying. I got into all the colleges, and later all the graduate programs, that I wanted to without too much effort. Even when I had my first child, it took about 3 minutes and 6 pushes and the next morning I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes. I was the type of person who expected that she would be successful, and therefore I was the type of person who actually was successful.

But then, I decided that I wanted to write books for children, even though I’d never written fiction in my life. I’ll be very honest, initially, I was absolutely certain that I would succeed, that this venture would go as swimmingly as everything else always had.

Of course, publishing is not that easy.

For the first time, my hard work was not met with success, but with rejection. For the first time, people ddn’t look at me and expect me to succeed – they thought I was crazy for trying to do what I wanted to do.



Princess Bea from PIRATE PRINCESS is the kind of girl that has big dreams that involve the high seas, swashbuckling, and treasure hunts. She’s going to be pirate – even though she’s a princess who has never been on a ship in her life. She’s absolutely sure she will succeed, until her dreams – and her lunch – come crashing down in front of everyone.

In your mind’s eye, can you see the reflection that faced me when I looked into my magic mirror?

There were so many moments in my early publishing career that I wanted to give up. But like Princess Bea, I learned that even when faced with a bleak future, believing in yourself can make your dreams come true. When I wrote Bea’s character, I gave her the resolve and perseverance I strove to have myself. She is me, but pluckier, gutsier, braver. But she definitely is me.


Obviously, not every single character is based on me. Every once in a while, I base a character on someone I know. Often, I’ll prop my children in front of that magic mirror and see what gets reflected. Sometimes, it’s my friends. These people I love become better, stronger, more when I turn them into my characters.

Here’s another example from my own work.

IMG_5526I have two tween/teen daughters, and they have a lot of tween/teen grand plans. Unfortunately, they have a younger brother who is far less tween/teen and far more chaos and destruction. I’ve watched two daughters trying to be patient with their younger brother – before ultimately growing so frustrated that they demand that we return him and get a toaster instead. When I plopped this trio in front of the magic mirror, the girls became more orderly, more responsible, more type A. My son, on the other hand, became clumsier, flakier, and more, well, Moose-like.



Taken together, my kids became the characters in DUCK DUCK MOOSE, a book about two ducks who have a hard time dealing with a moose who somehow seems to ruin everything. And yet, just like my children have done, the ducks and the moose form and untraditional yet unbreakable unit. (The magic mirror magnified those qualities as well – I’m not sure the real ducks are as forgiving as the fictional ducks, nor that the real moose is as innocent as the moose in the book!)

By the way, sometimes the person I place in front of the mirror is someone I don’t like. In one of those cases, the reflection is of that person – but she’s dumber, or weaker, or more disgusting. Because the mirror magnifies personal qualities in both directions.

More Magic

Remember how I said that what I loved about Snow White was the magic mirror that showed you as the person wanted to be? Your readers want that, too. Your readers want your book to be a magic mirror.

The best stories feature a main character who is a reflection of the reader. When the reader looks in the magic mirror that is the book, he sees himself.

That may sound like a contradiction – after all, how can your main character be you AND all of your readers? But I promise you it is not. Because when we construct our characters, even though they are reflections of real people, the magnification process gives them a universal quality.



Here’s what I mean by that. Not all of you have lain awake at night wanting a midnight snack while at the same time fearing that a Hampire might eat you. But we all know the feeling of being afraid of the unknown and making rash decisions before gathering all the facts. Not all of you are talking chickens in pajamas wanting to stay up past your bedtimes. But we all have wanted to break the rules at some point – and have felt true solidarity with anyone who would break the rules along with us. And not all of you have had to kiss a lot of rodents or pigs to get to what you truly wanted out of life. But…well, maybe that example can stand as is.

So when you are looking at your character in the magic mirror, make sure you look past the surface appearance and try to see who he or she is deep, down inside. Don’t focus on the little details and instead probe into his or her very soul. Turn the mirror into an X-ray machine, into an electron microscope. Look at the all the parts – and then look again at the whole picture.

Can you see your character now?

SAMSUNG CSCSudipta Bardhan-Quallen is the co-founder of Kidlit Summer School and an award-winning author whose books include DUCK DUCK MOOSE, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, ORANGUTANGLED, and over thirty more books. Her books have been named to the Junior Library Guild, the California Reader’s Collection, the Alabama Children’s Choice Book Award Program, the Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year lists and the Amelia Bloomer list. Find out more about her by visiting her WEBSITE or her blogs Nerdy Chicks Rule and Nerdy Chicks Write.  Visit her Author page on Facebook HERE. Remember to follow her on Twitter  @SudiptaBQ.

Sudipta is giving away a picture book manuscript critique! To be eligible to win, just comment on this post before the end of #KidlitSummerSchool.

And check out the Exercise Book for Sudipta’s tips on Gazing into your Own Character Magic Mirror!





Our First Summer School Webinar!


badge50Exciting News!

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 9:00 PM EST, we will be hosting our first Summer School Webinar!

What is a webinar? If you’ve never tuned into one, it’s basically a web-broadcast seminar. Each of the webinars we host during Summer School will have a different topic, based on what we’re talking about on the blog and who our panelist might be (and we’re hoping to have some great guests for you!).

The topic for the first webinar is Your Burning Questions. It’s an opportunity to ask Kami and Sudipta questions that you might be struggling with as you begin your Summer School journey.

Here’s what you should do to participate in the webinar.

1. Register for the Webinar here. You have to register or else you won’t get the attendee link to be able to listen in. All you need to register is your name and email address.

2. Pose a question. Here in the comment section under this blog post, ask your burning question. We are taking questions until 2 PM EST on Wednesday. Obviously, there won’t be time to get to everyone’s question in an hour, but we are going to do our best to answer as many as we can. It is very important that you post your webinar question here on the blog and not in the Facebook group.

3. Log in at 9 PM EST (6 PM PST) on Wednesday, July 23. Remember, you will get registration confirmation email from Webinars On Air with a link that you can click to view the webinar.

We hope we’ll see you all there!

But what if you can’t attend? No worries! The webinar will be recorded and you’ll be able to review the video later.

One More Thing….

We are new to Webinars on Air, and while we’ve done some tests, we’re asking that you bear with us as we navigate through the technological jungle. Keep your fingers crossed for us!



Meet the Art Director: Zachariah Ohora


If you love our banner and badge (and who doesn’t???), you need to meet Zachariah Ohora. Zach is an illustrator and author of a number of children’s books. His debut STOP SNORING, BERNARD! was awarded the Society of Illustrators Founder’s Award and was chosen as the PA One Book for 2012. His book NO FITS NILSON! was awarded a Kirkus star and was the Huffington Post Book of the Year for 2013. He lives and works in the tiny village of Narberth, PA with his wife, two sons, and two cats.

(By the way, Zach is also the illustrator of Sudipta’s TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! and fellow Summer School Faculty Member Ame Dyckman’s WOLFIE THE BUNNY and HORRIBLE BEAR. He’s so very talented!)


Want Some Summer School Swag?

badge50We’ve teamed up with PiBoIdMo Founder Tara Lazar to feature Summer School Swag at the PiBoIdMo CafePress shop. Not only can you show your Summer School pride, all proceeds will benefit Reading is Fundamental. The shop will go live very soon, so please check back often!


Meet the Faculty: Hillary Homzie and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Hillary Retouch2Hillary Homzie is the author of the tween novels, Things Are Gonna Get Ugly, The Hot List, Karma Cooper Unplugged (forthcoming), and the chapter book series, Alien Clones From Outer Space. Hillary teaches in the graduate M.F.A. program in children’s writing at Hollins University as well as for the Children’s Book Academy. Visit her at

guysmileyEDITOlugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is often asked about her name; she is the daughter of a Nigerian father and a Jamaican mother, and married to a man of Croatian descent. She’s the author of 8th GRADE SUPERZERO (Scholastic, 2010) and contributed to OPEN MIC: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013), BREAK THESE RULES: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself (Chicago Review Press, 2013), and IMAGINE IT BETTER: Visions of What School Might Be (Heinemann, 2014), along with other works. She has also worked as a literacy educator, youth group leader, educational consultant, publicist, and freelance writer, and is a member of PEN, SCBWI, and on the Advisory Board of Epic Change. Olugbemisola lives with her family in New York, where she loves to cook, bake, sew, knit, and make a mess with just about any craft form. Please visit her Web site at

Find more of our great Summer School guest bloggers on our Faculty page. And you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time! Click here to find the registration form.

The Perks of Pre-registration

badgeWe’ve had Pre-registration for Kidlit Summer School open for a while now, but we’re getting ready to shut that down. Sunday, July 6, will be your last day to PRE-REGISTER. Now, don’t fret if you can’t get around to it before the 6th, or if you are finding this page after July 6. We are going to keep regular registration open until July 18. But if you can, here are some perks of pre-registration:

  1. One of the pre-registered students is going to be eligible for a 30 minute BRAINSTORMING session with Sudipta and Kami together. In this session, the Nerdy Chicks will talk you through your idea — at whatever level of finished it is — and help you push it to the next level.
  2. One of the pre-regisitered students is going to be eligible to win a stack of books to keep you inspired and to help you study how other authors are building character.
  3. ALL OF THE PRE-REGISTERED STUDENTS will have access to a special webinar ONLY FOR THEM.

Pre-registration has officially ended. Don’t worry, you can still participate and be eligible for other giveaways and prizes! Click HERE for more details.

Meet the Faculty: Alison Ashley Formento and Aimee Friedman

Adding to our featured faculty, meet Alison Ashley Formento and Aimee Friedman.

formento_aAlison Ashley Formento is author of the award-winning picture book series This Tree Counts!, This Tree, 1, 2, 3, These Bees Count!, These Seas Count!,and These Rocks Count! Her young adult novel Twigs was named a Hottest Teen Reads. Alison has written for several national publications including The New York Times, Writer, and Parenting. She loves to visit schools to share her writing-research journey.

0047Aimee Friedman is an executive editor at Scholastic, where she is fortunate enough to edit such titles as the New York Times bestselling series Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski, and, of course, the acclaimed The Boy Project and The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard. Aimee is also a New York Times bestselling author of YA novels, including Sea Change. She writes for middle-grade readers under the pen name Ruth Ames. Aimee lives, writes, works, and searches for the perfect iced latte in New York City.


Find more of our great Summer School teachers at our Faculty page. And you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time! Click here to find the registration form.