I have always been a lover of children's books as well as an activist for social justice. I spent seven years in the children's publishing industry, working at Children's Book Press, Orchard Books and Lee & Low Books. After that, I received my MA in Children's Literature from Roehampton University in England. I also got my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at VCFA in Vermont.
I am now based in Berkeley, California where I primarily offer manuscript critiquing, coaching and run writing workshops. I'm a member of a broader Bay Area community of indie children's book publishers, and a volunteer organizer of the annual Social Justice Holiday Book Fair.
My first four years were at Children's Book Press in San Francisco (1994-98), a nonprofit publisher of multicultural and bilingual picture books. Some of the books I worked on included i see the rhythm, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, In My Family, winner of the Américas Award, and From the Bellybutton of the Moon, winner of the Pura Belpré Award.
Then I moved to New York City and became an Assistant Editor at Orchard Books, where I made my first editorial acquisition: Sammy and the Dinosaurs, a Children's Book of the Month Club selection. I then moved to Lee & Low Books as an editor (1999-2001) where I acquired and edited several books, including DeShawn Days, a Choice from the Cooperative Children's Book Center, Love to Langston, an NCTE Notable book, and The Pot that Juan Built, an ALA Notable book.
In 2002 I received my MA in Children's Literature from Roehampton University in London. From 2009 until 2013 I was a lecturer in children's literature at Roehampton , where I taught Writing for Young People, and also wrote a new Distance Learning module on the subject.
Then in 2016 I received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. That opened the door for me to start to write my own books.
In 2020 I founded the Manzanita Workshop and Mentoring Program, which evolved into a two-year creative community. In 2022 we shifted to become the Manzanita Writers Collective.
My newest teaching venture is the Manzanita Children's Book Community, which will include workshops. You can learn more here.
After receiving my MFA I found the confidence to write as well as edit. So far I have published three children's books.
My first book, Sled Dog Dachshund, is a light-hearted picture book about a dachshund who is sure he can win a sled race. I then co-wrote Fred Korematsu Speaks Up with Stan Yogi and Biddy Mason Speaks Up with Arisa White. These are the first two books in the Fighting for Justice series. Stan and I offer school visits and love talking to kids about how they can also speak up for justice.
I have published several articles in the field of children's literature, including:
"A Fine Mess of Dirt and Time to Do Better! –Thoughts on Engaging with Whiteness and White Supremacy in Publishing," Medium, February 25, 2021.
“What’s the Story: Issues Around Diversity and Children’s Publishing in the UK,” E-rea: Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone (Electronic Journal for the Study
of the English Speaking World), Nov. 1, 2013, peer reviewed e-journal published
by LERMA, part of Aix-Marseille University: http://erea.revues.org/3537
The best way to stay updated about upcoming events and services is to join my mailing list and follow me on my Facebook page. You can also find a full list of books I have edited and more about my background on my LinkedIn page. And if you'd like to see me in person, you can watch this video from a panel on diversity in children's books from April 2015, or this older video interview taken when I directed the Brighton Children's Book Festival.
I'm one of the volunteer organizers of the Social Justice Children's Book Holiday Fair. And am passionate about working locally with grassroots community-based children's book creators. That's why I launched the Manzanita Children's Book Community in 2023. Reach out to learn more! You can also watch this video of a keynote I gave to the Santa Clara County Office of Education Belonging Symposium.