The new beginnings of any new year are always exciting, but this new year brings one new beginning that has me doing backflips (or would, if I were younger and spryer): the expansion of Kirkus’ editorial team to include Laura Simeon, our brand-new young-adult editor.

Laura comes to Kirkus with an impressive resume. The Library Learning Commons Director at Open Window School in Bellevue, Washington, she has been on the users’ side of Kirkus and our cohorts for years, so she has an intimate understanding of the needs of our readership. Her practice of librarianship does not stop with service to her students; her skills have been put to use as a freelance researcher and also as the recipient of a Swedish Institute grant. And she writes like a dream.

That the subject of her grant was on diversity in Swedish children’s literature is just one more thing that makes Laura a great fit for Kirkus. In addition to her role as school librarian, she has also served as her institution’s diversity coordinator, and diversity is baked into her many publications (“Why White Kids Need Diverse Books” in VOYA’s April 2017 issue), presentations (“Selecting Diverse Books for Your Classroom or Library”), and online writing, including as a guest blogger for Lee & Low. Kirkus has been enjoying her expertise as a reviewer, as one of the architects of our reviewer diversity training, and as one of the judges for the 2017 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature.

Diversity is also personal for her: with a Japanese-American mother and a Greek-American father whose anthropological fieldwork took the family all over the United States and the world while she was growing up, she has an acutely nuanced understanding of cultural crosscurrents. This understanding has only been enhanced by study abroad in Wales, Britain, Canada, and Croatia in addition to her research in Sweden.

See why I’m so excited? Welcome, Laura! We are so glad to have you here.

Vicky Smith is the children’s editor.