Each panel is composed of an author, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.
Sandra Cisneros’ awards include NEA fellowships in poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur, the PEN Center USA Literary Award, a National Medal of the Arts, and the Ford Foundation’s Art of Change Fellowship. The House on Mango Street has sold over six million copies and is required reading in elementary, high school, and universities across the country. Her latest books are A House of My Own: Stories from My Life and Puro Amor, a dual language edition illustrated by the author. Founder of awards and foundations that serve writers, Cisneros is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico and earns her living by her pen.
Angela Maria Spring is the owner of Duende District, a mobile bookstore by and for people of color—where all are welcome—with pop-ups throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Originally from Albuquerque, she has been a bookseller for 18 years in New Mexico, New York City, and Washington, D.C. She is on the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association and is a member of their Diversity Task Force, and is a poet and journalist.
Kirkus critic Jessica Jernigan has written about books and authors for Bitch, Women’s Review of Books, Electric Literature, and The Rumpus. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Her fiction has appeared in Conjunctions online, Nonbinary Review, and Rose Red Review. She is an editor as well as a writer, and she lives in Michigan.
Carina Chocano is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, Elle, Vogue, Rolling Stone, and many others. She has been a film and TV critic at the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, and Salon. Her book You Play the Girl is the winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and was a finalist for the PEN/Diamondstein-Spielvogel Award for Criticism. She lives in Los Angeles.
With 32 years in the book business, Sheryl Cotleur has what many readers would consider a dream job. She buys books for all eight of Copperfield's Books' stores in San Francisco's North Bay; along with the job, she reads incessantly while working with publishers, authors, and editors to discover the best new books. Over the past several years, her role has expanded beyond the bookstore to include serving as a jurist for a number of book awards: In 2014, she was named as a judge for the National Book Foundation’s annual Fiction awards, one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, and she served as a judge for the 2016 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.
Joseph Barbato is an author and journalist whose books include Writing for a Good Cause and several literary anthologies. He is a former columnist and contributing editor at Publishers Weekly, and has written about books and authors for the Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the Progressive, Smithsonian, the San Francisco Chronicle, America, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was born and raised in New York City and earned an M.A. in American studies at New York University, where he worked for many years as a writer and editor. He was co-editor of The Remington Review, a literary magazine, and served twice as president of Washington Independent Writers. A former editorial director at The Nature Conservancy, he has been a consultant to MIT, the Brookings Institution, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and other nonprofits. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Marie Lu is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy and the Young Elites trilogy. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video-game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.
Kimberly A. Patton is the Youth Services Supervisor at the main branch of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Emporia State as well as a Master of Business Management degree from Baker University. Kim is the 2010-2011 past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, and she is currently completing her second term on ALA Council. She has recently been appointed to the Children’s Book Council and the Intellectual Freedom Committee. Kim is a member of the Voice of Youth Advocates advisory editorial board and chaired the first-ever VOYA Perfect 10 Award Committee. She’s also a past chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Award Committee. Kim is on ALA’s 2019 Notable Children’s Book Committee.
Kirkus reviewer J. Alejandro Mazariegos began his professional journey at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in World Literature and Cultural Studies. He went on to receive a Master of Arts in Children's Literature and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children from Simmons College in Boston. He has worked as a peer review support assistant for the American Meteorological Society as well as a program coordinator for Promising Pals, a pen pal/literacy program in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He is an aspiring writer of Latinx experiences who enjoys walks with his dogs, Harry and Leia, along the California coast.
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