Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2021 Picture Book Webinar Series

Date(s) - 01/23/2021 - 01/30/2021
9:00 am - 11:30 am


Artwork by Ashley Spires


Picture Books can EMPOWER and ENLIGHTEN young readers. In this webinar series, we’ll learn how to strengthen our picture book projects with strong story structure, star-quality characters, and impactful messaging. Plus, a boost of inspiration to lift the creative spirit.


Tickets: $45 for SCBWI members ($75 non-members). This price includes all 4 webinars.

CRITIQUES for SCBWI members only are $50 while they last.

We’re sorry, tickets to individual webinars will not be offered.


The Program:


Saturday, January 23

9:00 AM (Pacific Time) FINDING YOUR WAY INTO A STORY with Author, Rob Sanders

People and real-life events can inspire writers, illustrators, and kids! In this webinar, Rob will discuss picture book format, structure, hooks, and more to help you get your story ideas onto the page.

10:30 AM (Pacific Time) CREATING A STRONG MAIN CHARACTER with Author, Kat Zhang

Editors and Agents often say they’re looking for character-driven picture books. Kat will deconstruct the key elements every strong character needs to lead a perfect picture book.

Saturday, January 30

9:00 AM (Pacific Time) WHITTLING DOWN YOUR WORDS with Author, Carole Lindstrom

In this session, Carole will share practical tips for getting the right words down while still maintaining the passion your reader feels while turning the pages.

10:30 AM (Pacific) DRAWING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES with Author/Illustrator, Ashley Spires

As we create, we can’t help but compare our work to the work of others. This can lead to self-doubt. In Ashley’s presentation, she’ll help you recognize the value of your own voice in order to strengthen your perseverance and push through tough times.

Recordings of all 4 webinars will be available to registered participants through Sunday, February 28. They will be deleted on March 1.


Our Presenters:


Rob Sanders
is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. He is known for his funny and fierce fiction and nonfiction picture books and is recognized as one of pioneers in the arena of LGBTQ+ literary nonfiction picture books.  Rob holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Religious Education. He worked for fifteen years in children’s religious educational publishing as a writer, editor, and product developer. Today, he teaches fourth graders about books and words and reading and writing at Mintz Elementary School in Brandon, Florida. Rob is also the co-regional advisor of SCBWI Florida.


Rob is offering critiques! He will critique fiction or nonfiction PB texts.





Kat Zhang has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. After a childhood spent living in books, she now builds stories for other people to visit. She started shooting for publication in middle school, and sold her Young Adult trilogy, “The Hybrid Chronicles” in her late teens. She has also published two Middle Grade novels, The Emperor’s Riddle and The Memory of Forgotten Things, as well as two picture books, Amy Wu & the Perfect Bao and Amy Wu & the Patchwork Dragon. The third in the series, Amy Wu & the Warm Welcome, will release in 2021.





Kat is offering critiques! She will critique fiction PB texts.




Carole Lindstrom has been a voracious reader and library geek ever since she was growing up in Nebraska. On weekends you could usually find her at the library lost in the book stacks or holed up in her bedroom with a good book. It wasn’t until she had her son, that she discovered her love of writing for children and began to work seriously on her writing. Carole is Anishinabe/Metis and is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. She was born and raised in Nebraska and currently makes her home in Maryland.



Carole is offering critiques! She will critique fiction and nonfiction PB texts.




Ashley Spires is the author and illustrator of many books including the best selling The Most Magnificent Thing and the Binky The Space Cat series. She is a drinker of tea, eater of candy and lover of cats. When she is not making books, she enjoys yoga and fostering orphan kittens for her local shelter. Ashley lives just outside Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, her dog and far too many felines.






The Critique Opportunities:


We’re sorry, the deadline for adding a critique to this event has passed.

A limited number of manuscript and dummy critiques are available for SCBWI members at $50 a piece. Add a critique when you register. Submission instructions will be sent by email on December 15 2020.

Important Critique Dates:

Register on or before December 30, 2020 to add a critique to your ticket.

  Participants will send in their materials during our submission window December 15 – December 31, 2020. Detailed submission instructions will be sent by email beginning December 15.

 Completed SCBWI Gold Form critiques will be returned on or before February 1, 2021.

In addition to presenter critiques, the following authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals will offer critiques as part of this webinar series. Review all bios and books to find the best fit for your critique.


Karla Arenas Valenti writes picture books (she is the creator of the “My Super Science Heroes” series) and middle grade novels, taking readers on journeys seeped in magical realism and philosophical questions. Her storytelling is heavily influenced by her Mexican heritage and layered with ideas and concepts she’s picked up in her many travels around the world. She currently resides in the Chicagoland area with her husband and three kids, two cats, and hundreds of books. Karla will critique FICTION PB manuscripts.








Lindsay Ward is the author and illustrator of over a dozen picture books for kids. She is also the founder of Critter Lit, a free critique service for up-and-coming authors and illustrators. Lindsay lives in Peninsula, Ohio with her family. Visit her online at or follow her on twitter @lindsaymward. Lindsay will critique FICTION PB Manuscripts and Dummies.








Annette Bay Pimentel writes nonfiction books for kids about the people and ideas that have shaped our world. Annette’s picture book biographies All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything (Sourcebooks: 2020) and Girl Running (Penguin: 2018) were both Junior Library Guild Selections, and Girl Running was a Golden Kite Honor book. Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service (Charlesbridge: 2016) won the National Council of Social Studies’ Carter G. Woodson Award. Her books have appeared on many states’ young readers’ award lists. She lives in Moscow, Idaho. Annette will critique NONFICTION PB Manuscripts.










Molly Cusick is an Editor at Sourcebooks in New York City, where she acquires projects in the young adult, middle grade, and picture book categories. Authors she has worked with include New York Times bestselling picture book author Pat Zietlow Miller, Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestseller Julie Berry (WISHES AND WELLINGTONS) and NYT bestselling author Julie Murphy (DUMPLIN’ was adapted for Netflix). Molly looks for projects that balance humor and heart along with a strong, commercial hook. Molly will critique FICTION PB Manuscripts.




Christy Ewers is the owner of The CAT Agency, where she represents illustrators and author/illustrators in the children’s market, after taking over for her mother, Chris Tugeau, who founded the agency in 1994. The CAT Agency is a boutique agency that believes in the hands-on approach in representing a diverse group of talent from all over the world. Christy works closely with the entire “family” of artists, spearheading promotion and deals for CAT Agency illustrators, as well as working closely with the authors in the group to help craft their stories and hone their writing for young readers. For more information, visit Christy will critique PB Dummies and Portfolio Illustrations.


Important Email Communication Notes


Add to your email contacts to ensure critique submission instructions, webinar links, and completed critiques make it to your inbox.


Check SPAM and Promotion folders. If our emails aren’t hiding there, let us know ASAP.


We’ll email you on…

December 15 with critique submission instructions

January 22 with webinar links

January 23 with webinar recordings

January 29 with webinar links

January 30 with webinar recordings

February 1 with SCBWI Gold Form Critique


Thanks for joining us! We’re looking forward to another inspiring and informative series this winter.


All registrations are final.