Penguin Random House Spring Book & Author Festival 2024

On April 25th, join Penguin Random House, Library Journal, and School Library Journal for our Spring 2024 virtual book and author festival, a free day-long event celebrating reading, authors, and librarians everywhere! Enjoy a day packed with author panels and interviews, book buzzes, virtual shelf browsing, and adding to your TBR pile.

You’ll hear from many of your favorite authors, whose work runs the gamut from Picture Books to Young Adult titles to the best new Fiction and Nonfiction for adults. There is something of interest for every reader. Attendees will also have the opportunity to check out the virtual exhibit hall, access eGalleys, and enter to win prizes and giveaways.


EVENT HOURS: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM ET 


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All live sessions will be on Zoom. Make sure to log in to your work or personal Zoom account before the day starts to avoid having to log in for each session.

The Virtual Environment is optimized for 1024 X 768 screen resolution. Joining the environment with a cell phone is not recommended. Please make sure your computer and browser are up to date. Chrome tends to work best. The event platform does not support IE11 + Windows 7 or older versions.

CE certificates are available in the event environment for all keynotes and panels, whether you view them live or on-demand. Certificates are not provided for sponsored content.

If you are unable to join us on the live day, know that all sessions will be available for on-demand viewing within 24 hours, and the entire event will be accessible for three months from the event date. 

By registering for this event or webcast, you are agreeing to Library Journal Privacy Policy and Code of Conduct Policy and agreeing that Library Journal may share your registration information with current and future sponsors of this event.

If you have any questions, contact the Event Manager.


10:00 – 10:25 AM ET | The Exhibit Hall Opens / Visit the Booths



10:25 – 10:55 AM ET | Opening Keynote

Newbery Medalist Matt de la Peña, The Perfect Place (Penguin Young Readers) shares his latest lyrical and touching picture book offering.

Moderator: John Scott, Library Media Specialist, Powhatan Elementary School, Baltimore County Public Schools (MD)




11:00 – 11:50 AM ET | Summer Selections

Perfect titles to pick up if you’re looking to get away.


Porochista Khakpour, Tehrangeles (Pantheon)

Claire Lombardo, Same As It Ever Was (DDay Gen Adult)

Riss M. Neilson, A Love Like the Sun (Berkley)

Clare Pooley, How to Age Disgracefully (Pamela Dorman Books)

Beatriz Williams, Husbands & Lovers (Ballantine Books)
Moderator: Portia Kapraun, MLIS, Solutions Specialist at LibraryIQ


11:00 – 11:50 AM ET | Essential Asian American Pacific Islander Voices in Young Adult Literature

Writers discuss the importance of Asian American Pacific Islander Voices in young and young adult readers’ literature and the relevance of these works.


Lori M. Lee, Rick Riordan Presents: Pahua and the Dragon's Secret A Pahua Moua Novel, Book 2 (Disney)
Kelly Murashige, The Lost Souls of Benzaiten (SOHO)

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Simone (Astra Books for Young Readers)

Kashmira Sheth, I’m from Here Too (Peachtree)

Moderator: Allison Tran, Library & Cultural Services Supervisor, City of Mission Viejo (CA)             






11:55 AM – 12:45 PM ET | Faces of Mental Health  
Explore middle grade titles whose protagonists face difficult and life-changing situations.


Gennifer Choldenko, The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman (Random House Children's Books)

Rob Cameron, Daydreamer (Random House Children's Books)

Pan Cooke, Puzzled (Penguin Young Readers)

Alison McGhee, Telephone of the Tree (Penguin Young Readers)

Moderator: Ashley Leffel, Librarian, Frisco (TX) 



11:55 AM – 12:45 PM ET | Your Next Group Read

Titles to stir up ideas and discussions in your Book Club.


Gina María Balibrera, The Volcano Daughters (Pantheon)

Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Long Island Compromise (Random House)

Abi Daré, And So I Roar (Dutton)

Phyllis R. Dixon, A Taste for More (Kensington)

Coco Mellors, Blue Sisters (Ballantine Books)

Moderators: LJ Editors Liz French, Jill Cox-Cordova, Sarah Hashimoto, & Melissa DeWild






12:50 – 1:40 PM ET | Literary Reads

Titles that leave a lasting impact long after the final chapter.


Rumaan Alam, Entitlement (Riverhead)

Michael Deagler, Early Sobrieties (Astra)

Garth Risk Hallberg, The Second Coming (Knopf)

Susan Rieger, Like Mother, Like Mother (The Dial Press)

Danzy Senna, Colored Television (Riverhead)
Moderator: Sara Duff, Acquisitions & Collection Assessment Librarian, University of Central Florida



12:50 – 1:40 PM ET | Graphic Novels: Changing the World One Pixel at a Time
See what’s new in this ever-popular genre, perfect for young adult readers.  


Nicole Maines, Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story (DC)
Ngozi Ukazu, Barda (DC)

Moderator: Jadzia AxelrodGalaxy: The Prettiest Star (DC)

1:45 – 2:15 PM ET | Talking with Deborah Harkness

Witches, vampires, ghosts, magical books, and more. Hear bestselling author Deborah Harkness talk about the fifth book in the “All Souls” series, The Black Bird Oracle (Ballantine Books).

Moderator: Kate Merlene, Adult Services Librarian Supervisor, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Orange Branch (OH)





2:20 – 3:10 PM ET | Magic, Myth, and More

High fantasy, magical worlds, and reimaginings make up these fantasy titles.


Mateo Askaripour, This Great Hemisphere (Dutton)

Paolo Bacigalupi, Navola (Knopf)

Olivia Rose Darling, Fear the Flames (Delacorte)

Ava Reid, Lady Macbeth (Del Rey)

K. X. Song, The Night Ends with Fire (Ace)

Moderator: Marlene Harris, Independent Reviewer, Reading Reality, LLC               


2:20 – 3:10 PM ET | Teen Book Tasting
Find a wide range of diversity in these titles, which feature historical fiction, fantasy, and realistic fiction.  


Kim Johnson, The Color of a Lie (Random House Children's Books)

Anna Sortino, On the Bright Side (Penguin Young Readers)

Maya Van Wagenen, Chronically Dolores (Penguin Young Readers)

LaDarrion Williams, Blood at the Root (Random House Children's Books)

Moderator: Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, Adult and Teen Services Manager, Morley Library (OH)             






3:15 – 4:05 PM ET | Personal Stories

Authors share challenges and life-changing experiences in these memoirs.


Shilletha “Dragonsky” Curtis, Pack Light (Disney)

Jasmin Graham, Sharks Don’t Sink (Pantheon)

Cory Richards, The Color of Everything (Random House)

Denise Young, When We Are Seen (Crown)                                                                         

Moderator: Ashley Rayner, Librarian at NORC, University of Chicago (IL)                


3:15 – 4:05 PM ET | What Lies Beneath

Things are not as they seem in these suspenseful mysteries and thrillers that will leave readers guessing.


Sarah Easter Collins, Things Don’t Break on Their Own (Crown)

Rob Hart, Assassins Anonymous (Putnam)

Robert Justice, A Dream in the Dark (Crooked Lane Books)

Lilliam Rivera, Tiny Threads (Del Rey)

Chris Whitaker, All the Colors of the Dark (Crown)

Moderator: John Charles, Bookseller, Poisoned Pen Bookstore                   



4:10 – 4:40 PM ET | Closing Keynote

The collaborative trio discusses the genesis of their lovely picture book about community, food, and family.


Antwan Eady, Jerome Pumphrey & Jarrett Pumphrey, The Last Stand (Random House Children’s Books)

Moderator: Maegen Rose, Director of Library Services & Upper School Librarian, Brooklyn Friends School (NY)




Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of the award–winning picture books Patchwork, Milo Imagines the World, Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, as well as a number of critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. You can visit Matt at, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mattdelapena.



Antwan Eady is the author of the award-winning picture book Nigel and the Moon, illustrated by Gracey Zhang. Down the dirt roads of South Carolina’s Low Country is where Antwan’s understanding of—and appreciation for—family, community, and land unfolded. Now he shares those stories with the world. When he isn’t writing, he’s visiting schools, libraries, and colleges throughout the country. A graduate of Clemson University, Antwan lives in Savannah, Georgia.



Deborah Harkness is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, The Book of Life, Time’s Convert, and The World of All Souls. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. She lives in Los Angeles.



Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey are a sibling author-illustrator duo from Houston, Texas. Together they work on books for kids like It's a Sign!, Somewhere in the Bayou, The Old Boat, and their author-illustrator debut The Old Truck, which received seven starred reviews, was named Best Book of the Year by Publisher's Weekly, and an Ezra Jack Keats New Author Honor. Jarrett currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, two sons, and his two dogs, Whiskey and Ford. Jerome currently resides in Clearwater, Florida with his wife, daughter, and son.




Rumaan Alam is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Leave the World Behind, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, as well as the novels Rich and Pretty and That Kind of Mother. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.



New York Times bestselling author Mateo Askaripour wants people to feel seen. His first novel, Black Buck, takes on racism in corporate America with humor and wit. Askaripour was chosen as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “10 rising stars to make waves,” and Black Buck was a Read with Jenna Today show book club pick. Most recently, he was named as a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” prize. This Great Hemisphere is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @AskMateo.



Paolo Bacigalupi is the author of The Water Knife and The Windup Girl, as well as the YA novel Ship Breaker, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has won a Hugo and a Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and he is a three-time winner of the Locus Award. He lives in Colorado.



Gina María Balibrera earned an MFA in Prose from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers' Program. She’s been awarded grants from Aspen Words, Tin House, the Rackham Institute, and the Periplus Collective, as well as a Tyson Award, the Aura Estrada Prize, and the Under the Volcano Sandra Cisneros Fellowship. Her work has appeared in the Boston Review, Latino Book Review, Pleiades, The Wandering Song: An Anthology of the Central American Diaspora, and elsewhere. She lives in Ann Arbor, MI, with her family.



Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and the New York Times bestselling author of Fleishman Is in Trouble, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages. She is also the creator and executive producer of its Emmy-nominated limited series adaptation for FX. Long Island Compromise is her second novel.



Gennifer Choldenko is a New York Times bestselling and Newbery Honor Award-winning author. She's also the youngest of four siblings and was nicknamed "snot-nose" as a child. So perhaps it's not surprising that her books often feature quirky and tender depictions of brothers and sisters. Her most loved titles include: Al Capone Does My Shirts and three other "Tales from Alcatraz", Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, Orphan Eleven, One-Third Nerd, and Chasing Secrets.



Sarah Easter Collins is a writer and artist. A mother to a wonderful son, she has worked extensively in the field of education, teaching art in the UK, Botswana, Thai-land, and Malawi. Sarah now lives on Exmoor with her husband and dogs, where she loves running and wild swimming. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course.



Pan Cooke is an Irish artist and “cartoonivist” residing in Dublin, Ireland. He frequently posts cartoons about social issues on Instagram, where he has a large following, and he has created comics for Amnesty International and Campaign Zero. This memoir is his first book.



Shilletha “Dragonsky” Curtis was born in Newark, New Jersey and spent much of her time growing up on the Jersey Shore. Helping people has always been her passion, but she eventually found that she had a profound love for animals and eventually the outdoors. She trained as a Veterinary Technician in 2016 in Austin, Texas and practiced for two years. She lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020. Like many, with a new outlook on life, Shilletha decided to pursue hiking, beginning with the Appalachian Trail. 



Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an MSc in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University. Abi completed an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck University of London, achieving a distinction. Abi lives in Essex, UK, with her husband and two daughters, who inspired her to write her debut novel.



Olivia Rose Darling split her time growing up between New York and Manchester, Vermont. She developed a passion for writing from a very young age, always scribbling poems onto napkins and short stories into her school notebooks. She graduated from Pace University and attained a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. The Lord of the Rings was Darling’s favorite movie series during her childhood and helped form her fantasy obsession. Being an author and living a life filled with words and magic has always been her dream.



Michael Deagler’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper’s, McSweeneys’ Quarterly Concern, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City.



Phyllis R. Dixon is the acclaimed author of Intermission, Forty Acres, and Down Home Blues, which was shortlisted for the Lariat Adult Fiction Reading List by the Texas Library Association. She also is a contributor to the New Tri-State Defender book review column and to Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she is a former independent bookstore owner, previously worked for the U.S. Treasury Department, and currently serves on several nonprofit boards. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee.



Jasmin Graham is a marine biologist in the field of elasmobranch ecology and evolution, currently specializing in smalltooth sawfish and hammerhead sharks. She is the co-founder of Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), an organization providing support for women of color in the field of shark biology and ecology, in order to foster greater diversity in marine science. She is a recipient of the WWF Conservation Leadership Award, the Safina Launchpad Center Fellowship, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.



Garth Risk Hallberg’s first novel, City on Fire, was a New York Times and international best seller and was selected as one of the best books of 2015 by The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Vogue. It was the basis for the Apple TV+ series of the same name. He is also the author of the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family. In 2017, Granta named him one of the Best of Young American Novelists. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.



Rob Hart is the author of The Paradox HotelThe Warehouse, and the Ash McKenna crime series, and the co-author of Scott Free with James Patterson. He’s worked as a book publisher, a reporter, a political communications director, and a commissioner for the city of New York. Hart lives on Staten Island.  For more information, visit:



Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area. She is the critically acclaimed author of two novels, a memoir, and a collection of essays. She lives in New York City.



Kim Johnson held leadership positions in social justice organizations as a teen and in college and is now an author and educator. Kim's bestselling novel, This Is My America, won numerous accolades, including the Pacific Northwest Book Award and Malka Penn Human Rights Award for Children's Literature. Her second novel, Invisible Son, is another thriller ripped from the headlines. Both novels were selected as NPR Best Books. The Color of a Lie is her first historical thriller.



Robert Justice is a Denver native. His first novel, They Can't Take Your Name, was named a runner-up for the 2020 Sisters in Crime Eleanor Taylor Bland Award. He believes that together we can right wrongful convictions.



Lori M. Lee (she/her) is the author of Pahua and the Dragon’s Secret, the sequel to Pahua and the Soul Stealer. She specializes in science fiction and fantasy and has two YA series to her name: Gates of Thread and Stone and Shamanborn. Lori was born in a village in the mountains of Laos, which her family was forced to escape when she was just an infant. They relocated to a refugee camp in Thailand refugee for a few years and moved permanently to the United States when she was three. Now she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and excitable shih-tzu.



Claire Lombardo is the author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, which has been optioned for television by Reese Witherspoon. She lives in Iowa City, where she has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and Grinnell College and works part-time as a bookseller at Prairie Lights Books.



Nicole Maines is an actress, activist, and writer paving the way for LGBTQ+ youth on and off the screen. Maines’s breakout role came on The CW’s Supergirl, where she starred as Nia Nal, a.k.a. Dreamer, making her TV’s first transgender superhero. She wrote Dreamer’s comic book debut in DC’s 2021 Pride anthology and has since gone on to pen numerous other comics for DC, including Superman: Son of Kal-El #13 with Tom Taylor, Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton #1, Harley Quinn, and the YA graphic novel Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story.



Alison McGhee writes books for all ages. Her most popular books include the bestselling adult novel Shadow Baby, which was a Today Show Book Club pick and Pulitzer Prize nominee; Geisel Award winner Bink and Gollie (cowritten with Kate DiCamillo); and the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book Someday. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages and has won many fellowships and awards, and she has taught creative writing at Metropolitan State University, Vermont College, and Hamline University’s MFA program.



Coco Mellors grew up in London and New York, where she received her MFA in fiction from New York University. Her debut novel, Cleopatra and Frankenstein, was a Sunday Times bestseller, has been translated into more than fifteen languages, and is currently being adapted for television. She lives with her husband in New York.



Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Kelly Murashige is a writer, reader, and dreamer. She primarily writes contemporary fiction with fantastical twists rooted in Japanese mythology and culture. Though she is a total introvert, she hopes to connect with readers around the world. The Lost Souls of Benzaiten is her debut novel.



Riss M. Neilson is a magna cum laude graduate of Rhode Island College, where she won the English department's Jean Garrigue Award, which was judged by novelist Nick White. Her debut young adult novel, Deep in Providence, was a 2022 finalist for the New England Book Awards, and her latest YA novel I’m Not Supposed to be in the Dark published in 2023. She is from Providence and lives for the city’s art and culture scene. When she’s not writing, she’s watching anime or playing video games with her two children. A Love Like the Sun is her adult debut.



Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of The Sympathizer, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial. His first picture book was Chicken of the Sea, co-written with his son, Ellison Nguyen, and illustrated by Thi Bui and her son, Hien Bui-Stafford.



Clare Pooley graduated from Cambridge University, and then spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time writer. Her debut novel, The Authenticity Project, was a New York Times bestseller, and has been translated into twenty-nine languages. Pooley lives in Fulham, London, with her husband, three children, and two border terriers. Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting was her second novel, and How to Age Disgracefully is her third novel.



Ava Reid is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the gothic fantasies A Study in Drowning, Juniper & Thorn, and Lady Macbeth. She lives in California.



Susan Rieger is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She has worked as a residential college dean at Yale and an associate provost at Columbia. She has taught law to undergraduates at both schools and written frequently about the law for newspapers and magazines and is the author of The Divorce Papers and The Heirs. She lives in New York City with her husband.



Cory Richards is an internationally renowned photographer, filmmaker, and author of the memoir The Color of Everything. He is the first and only American to climb one of the world’s 8000m peaks in winter. His documentation of the climb and aftermath of the experience was made into the award-winning documentary COLD and appeared on the cover of the 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic. He has photographed twelve feature assignments for the magazine. He has an active speaking career, in which he speaks about conservation, mental health, leadership, and vulnerability.



Lilliam Rivera is a MacDowell Fellow and an award-winning author of eight works of fiction: four young adult novels, three middle grade books, and a graphic novel for DC Comics. Her books have been awarded a Pura Belpré honor and featured on NPR and in The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and multiple “best of” lists. Her novel Never Look Back is slated for a movie adaptation. A Bronx, New York, native, Lilliam Rivera currently lives in Los Angeles.



Cameron Roberson, who writes under the pen name Rob Cameron, is a teacher, linguist, and writer. He has poetry, stories, and essays, in Star*Line, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Foreign Policy Magazine,, New Modality, Solarpunk Magazine, Clockwork Phoenix Five, and others. Daydreamer is his debut middle grade novel. Rob is also lead organizer for the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers and executive producer of



Danzy Senna is the author of four previous works of fiction, including the bestselling Caucasia and, most recently, New People, as well as a memoir. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, she teaches writing at the University of Southern California.



Kashmira Sheth was born in India with Guajarati as her mother tongue and began learning English in fifth grade. She had lived in Bhavnagar and Mumbai before moving to the United States when she was seventeen to attend Iowa State University, where she received a BS in microbiology. She is the author of several picture books, chapter books, and middle grade and young adult novels. Taking inspiration from her own life and experiences, much of Kashmira's work centers on Indian culture and features Indian and Indian American characters.



K. X. Song is a diaspora writer with roots in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Raised between cultures and languages, she enjoys telling stories that explore the shifting nature of memory, translation, and history. She is the author of An Echo in the City and the forthcoming The Night Ends with Fire, her adult fantasy debut.



Anna Sortino is a young adult author who writes stories about disabled characters living their lives and falling in love. She’s Deaf and passionate about diverse representation in media. Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, Anna has since lived in different cities from coast to coast, spending her free time exploring nature with her dog or reading on the couch with her cat. Give Me a Sign is her debut novel.



Ngozi Ukazu is a DC Comics artist, New York Times-bestselling graphic novelist, and the creator of comics like Check, Please!, BUNT!, and the forthcoming graphic novel FLIP. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in Computing in the Arts, and since 2020 her cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker.



Maya Van Wagenen lives in Georgia with her partner and their many pets. Her second book and first novel, Chronically Dolores, is inspired by her experiences as a teenager with an incurable bladder condition. She is passionate about bringing visibility to youth with chronic illness and validating the questions, fears, and absurdities that accompany a lifelong diagnosis in childhood.



Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls, and the New York Times bestseller We Begin at the End. Chris lives in the UK.



Beatriz Williams is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of nineteen novels, including four in collaboration with Karen White and Lauren Willig. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in finance from Columbia University, Williams lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children.



LaDarrion Williams is a Los Angeles based-playwright, filmmaker, author, and screenwriter whose goal is to cultivate a new era of Black fantasy, providing space and agency for Black characters and stories in a new, fresh and fantastical way. He is currently a resident playwright/co-creator of The Black Creators Collective, where his play UMOJA made its West Coast premiere in January 2022 and produced North Hollywood’s first Black playwrights festival at the Waco Theater Center. Blood at the Root is his first novel.



After a two-decade career at Apple as the company’s first VP of inclusion and diversity and worldwide chief of human resources, Denise Young served for three years as executive-in-residence at Cornell Tech in NYC. Young has been named a “Most Powerful Woman” by Ebony and Black Enterprise, and one of the “100 Most Influential in Silicon Valley” by Business Insider. She currently advises organizations on culture, leadership, and inclusive environments. A practicing artist, Young is an advocate for artists, for living a creative life, and the unleashing of all that can happen when we see and are seen.





After working in public libraries for more than 30 years, John Charles retired and then went to work for the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, where he has spent the last seven years playing literary matchmaker between readers and the books they didn't know they needed. Charles is the co-author of four nonfiction works including The Reader's Advisory Guide to Mystery (ALA Editions). Charles has been reviewing fiction and nonfiction for several publications including Library Journal ever since fax machines were the hot, new thing in technology.



Sara Duff is the Acquisitions & Collection Assessment Librarian at the University of Central Florida where she coordinates all monograph & video acquisitions. She is the current vice chair of ALA RUSA CODES and has served on CODES book awards committees for the past 8 years, including chairing the Notable Books Council. She can often be found watching tennis, drinking too much coffee, or attempting to organize her bookshelves.



Marlene Harris, a 2024 recipient of RUSA CODES’ Louis Shores Award for excellence in book reviewing, is an independent book reviewer at Reading Reality, as well as an SF/F columnist and regular contributor to Library Journal and was named an LJ Reviewer of the Year in 2018. She has served on consecutive ALA Adult Book and Media Awards committees since 2014. Before turning to writing, Marlene held positions in public and academic libraries serving as manager of Technical Services in diverse places from Gainesville, FL to Chicago, IL to Anchorage, AK. 



Portia Kapraun, MLIS, Solutions Specialist at LibraryIQ



Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the Adult and Teen Services Manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians (ABC-CLIO). She reviews YA for School Library Journal and blogs for Teen Librarian Toolbox, and her passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. Lisa has served on both the Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s teams. She can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.



Ashley Leffel is the librarian in Frisco, TX.  Before becoming a librarian, she taught music for many years. She loves reading all types of books and fangirling for her favorite authors. When not reading, she enjoys Broadway musicals and can quote just about every episode of Bob’s Burgers.



Kate Merlene is the Adult Services librarian supervisor at Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Orange Branch, where she has been a longtime, passionate advocate for connecting people with their next great read. She has moderated fiction panels for Library Journal’s Day of Dialog and is member of CCPL’s author event team. She also writes Library Journals daily column Book Pulse, which provides current title, author, and media information for librarians who buy and recommend books.



Ashley Rayner is a research librarian at NORC at the University of Chicago. She has been an academic and public librarian as well, all within the Chicagoland area. Ashley loves reading any genre but she has a special love for speculative fiction, historical fiction, and thrillers. She started writing book reviews for Booklist in 2020 and they help her stay connected to fiction as a librarian at a social science research organization. When she's not reading or researching, Ashley can be found playing video games, cooking, planning her next karaoke debut song, tweeting at @ashley_rayner, or hanging out with her husband and two kids.



Maegen Rose is the Director of Library Program and Upper School Librarian at Brooklyn Friends School (NY). She received a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College, a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago, and a master’s degree in library science from Dominican University. Maegen is an active member of many local and national library organizations. She reviews books for School Library Journal and served on the 2019-2021 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury. Maegen is a member of Library Journal’s 2021 class of Movers & Shakers and currently chairs the 2023 Children’s Literature Legacy Committee.



A school librarian for almost 30 years, John Scott has taught in independent, international and public schools. Currently he is the Library Media Specialist at Powhatan Elementary School in Baltimore County Public Schools. John served on the 2010 Caldecott Committee and the 2016 Newbery Committee. He is also involved with the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and is hosting a Mock EJK program this year at his school.  John has served on the Best Picture Books (2020) and Best Nonfiction Picture Books (2021) for School Library Journal.


Allison Tran is a Library & Cultural Services Supervisor for the City of Mission Viejo in California. She's dedicated to fostering self-expression, curiosity, and empathy in the community through art and literature. Before earning her Masters of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2006, Allison taught English in Japan.


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