Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 Pocono Mountain VIRTUAL Retreat Faculty Information

Check out interviews with the Pocono Mountain Virtual Retreat faculty at

Erin Entrada Kelly

Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, the 2017 APALA Children’s Literature Award for The Land of Forgotten Girls, and the 2016 Golden Kite Honor Award for Blackbird Fly, among other honors. Her sixth novel, We Dream of Space, will be released in May 2020. All of her books are Junior Library Guild Selections. She is a New York Times bestseller whose work has been translated in more than 30 languages.


Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper is the Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator of more than 60 books for children. Floyd started his career in illustration at Hallmark, after a successful career in the industrial side of art, he made the leap into picture books with Eloise Greenfield’s Grandpa’s Face. Since then Floyd has worked with bestselling authors including: Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, and Virginia Fleming. Floyd has illustrated and authored his own books, Jump!about the life of Michael Jordan; and the ALA notable book, Coming Home, about the life of Langston Hughes.

Eric Smith is an author and literary agent living in Philadelphia. As an agent with P.S. Literary, he’s worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling titles, and represents an array of categories, from literary fiction to cookbooks, though his heart is in Young Adult novels. In his author life, his latest novel, Don’t Read the Comments, was published by Inkyard Press, and his books have been translated into ten languages. You can catch him writing (and podcasting!) about books with Book Riot and Paste Magazine, and can learn more about him and his list at


Kathleen Merz is the Acquisitions & Managing Editor at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. She has worked on a number of award-winning titles, including books that have won the Caldecott Honor, the Batchelder Award for translation, the Sibert Medal, and other honors. She studied English and linguistics, and especially enjoys working on translated books and nonfiction picture books. As an editor, she is always looking for stories that tackle unexpected subjects and have a strong, unique voice. Kathleen lives in Michigan, and when she’s not at work editing she can usually be found outdoors biking or kayaking.


Wendi Gu is a literary agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She is lucky to work with fiction and nonfiction children’s books across the spectrum, from board books all the way up to young adult. She enjoys lyricism at the line level, sophisticated rhythm, as well as whimsical, absurdist humor. She does not shy away from heavy, darker subjects related to mental health, trauma, and displacement, with a special focus on family stories, and nonfiction books that unearth unexpected corners of history and science. For middle grade and young adult novels, she enjoys voice-driven stories with thoughtful, contemplative, often-flawed characters. She is looking for authors who value intersectionality. Wendi’s clients range from New York Times bestsellers, Pushcart Prize recipients, to various reader’s choice and humor award winners. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and spent many of her summers with her grandparents in China. With academics as parents, she has always had a nerdy interest in the humanities. You can find her online at @wendilulugu.


Erica De Chavez is a Filipino-American illustrator and author, and also a full time designer of picture books, middle grade books, graphic novels, and board books for HarperCollins Publishers. She is the designer of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel PopularMMOS Presents A Hole New World and has the pleasure of working with talented artists and writers on many different books for children. She made her illustrator debut with the indie published The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship. Erica enjoys a good cup of tea, playing with her jack russell terrier, Maxwell, and lives with her boyfriend in Brooklyn, NY. You can visit her online at

Alex Borbolla joined Simon & Schuster in April 2015 as managing editorial assistant but was drawn more to story editing than copyediting, so she moved down the hall to Atheneum in May 2016. As assistant to Caitlyn Dlouhy, Alex has been lucky enough to work with multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors, and is the editor of her own talented authors including Margaret Finnegan, Jennifer Moffett, Laura Taylor Namey, Alexis Castellanos, Kira Bigwood, and Paola Peretti. She earned a B.A. in English and Communications from Rollins College, and holds a M.S. in Publishing from NYU. Follow her on Twitter @Alex_Borbolla.


Eastern PA Member Presenters

Caroline Nastro is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and theater director. Her first picture book, The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep, with illustrations by Vanya Nastanlieva (with whom she collaborated), was published by North South Books.  The Spanish edition, El osito que no se podía dormir, was a 2019 Bank St Best Children’s Picture Book of the Year in Spanish. Her second picture, Outside Amelia’s Window, is being published by in Spring 2022 by Two Lions. She is collaborating with the illustrator Anca Sandu on this project. She has received grants and awards from The French-American Fund for the Performing Arts and The Florence Gould Foundation. She studied theater and literature at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne, and received a master’s degree in theater from Stanford University.

Rose Cappelli is a retired reading specialist and literacy consultant. She is a fellow of the PA Writing and Literature Project where she facilitated several courses for teachers including Writing and Children’s Literature and Author Studies. She is the co-author of Mentor Texts (2007 and 2017), Nonfiction Mentor Texts (2009), and Poetry Mentor Texts (2012), all published by Stenhouse. Rose has presented at many state and national conferences. She is currently an aspiring picture book author.

Eric Bell is the author of ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD and its sequel, ALAN COLE DOESN’T DANCE. Eric has experience teaching about writing children’s books and presenting in front of crowds. Additionally, he appeared on a panel on censorship at ALA Midwinter, and he has mentored in Pitch Wars for two years running. ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD was included on the Rainbow List for GLBTQ Books for Children and Teens. Eric is represented by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic.



Erik Ammon is a forty-nine year old father, husband, teacher, writer, and an All-American Coffee Drinker. Erik has been actively writing picture book manuscripts for about six years or so, and actively trying to get represented and published over the past five. He’s been rejected by many in the business- editors, agents, and publishing houses alike. He’s been writing poetry on and off since the late 1980’s. He’s had a few poems published so long ago, he doesn’t even remember where they were published.  In terms of social media, Erik had three different running Ambassadorships (Clif Bar, Swiftwick compression socks, and Nathan Performance Gear) because of his social media following. He was able to grow a huge blog following, as well as thousands followers on Twitter and Instagram.


Virginia Law Manning: After studying children’s book illustration and writing at Parsons School of Design, Virginia had a career in children’s publishing, working in the sales department at Penguin, Candlewick Press and HarperCollins. As a field sales representative and national accounts manager, she developed relationships with book buyers at independent and chain bookstores. In 2013, she joined SCBWI and has continued to grow her network of children’s book friends. As the Critique Group Coordinator, Illustrator Coordinator and now as the EPA SCBWI Field Trip Coordinator, she’s planned meet & greets, studio tours, field trips, and workshops for members. When she’s not writing picture books, she works as the library coordinator and an assistant teacher at Crossing Cooperative Nursery School and as an art educator in elementary schools for Art Goes to School-Delaware Valley.