Meet the Speakers
Keynote 1: james yang
James Yang's work has been featured in multiple trade publications such as 3x3 Magazine, Graphis, Communication Arts, The Art Directors Club of New York, and Print. James earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Communication Arts and Design. He has gone on to win over 250 awards for his work. He has lectured and taught at various institutions such as Parsons, SCAD, and SVA. He was also an executive board member for ICON. James created his subway wallpaper which can be found on the trains at Metropolitan Transit System. The New York Times selected his book, Bus! Stop!, as an outstanding picture book. His second book, Stop! Bot!, was awarded the 2020 Geisel award for most distinguished American book for beginning readers. His latest book, A Boy Named Isamu, is the 2022 APALA book for Asian-American Literature. James won best show from 3x3 Magazine. He was born in Oklahoma but now resides in Brooklyn and works with various clients and books.
Keynote 2: alan gratz
Alan Gratz is the bestselling author of seventeen novels and a member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His novel, Refugee, was featured on the New York Times bestseller list for more than three years. Refugee also received fourteen state awards and was a Global Read Aloud Book in 2018. Alan's novel, Ground Zero, was not only a #1 New York Times bestseller, it was also an USA Today, ABA Indie, and Publishers Weekly bestseller. Allies was #2 New York Times bestseller and Grenade was #3. Some of his other books include Projekt 1065, Prisoner B-3087, Code of Honor, and Ban This Book which was featured on The View by Whoopi Goldberg. Alan has traveled to 39 states and half a dozen countries to talk about his work. He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee where he grew up and attended the University of Tennessee. It was there that he earned a College Scholar's degree with a specialization in creative writing. Later, Alan earned his Master's degree in English education. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina.
KEYNOTE 3: sophie blackall
Sophie Blackall grew up in Australia, but now spends her time in Brooklyn, New York, and the Catskill Mountains. The Catskill Mountains is where the children's book community retreat, Milkwood Farm, is located which she is helping to build. Sophie has illustrated over 50 books , two of those books earned a Caldecott Medal - Finding Winnie (2016) and Hello Lighthouse (2019) which she also wrote. She has been awarded four times for the New York Times Best Illustrated Picture Book Award. Her work was also featured in the New York Times bestselling Ivy and Bean book series. Sophie also worked on global health and literacy initiatives with UNICEF and Save the Children, UK.
KEYNOTE 4: Laura vaccaro seeger
Laura Vaccaro Seeger grew up on Long Island. She fell in love with drawing at the age of two. This love of drawing led her to the School of Fine Art and Design at the State University of New York at Purchase in Westchester, New York where she earned her BFA degree. She then moved to Manhattan to start her career as an artist, animator, and designer. Her work has been featured in various museums and galleries such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Mazza Museum of Picture Book Art, the Society of Illustrations, the New York Nassau County Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Laura always knew she wanted to be a children's book author. In fifth grade she started making and creating her own little library of books. She continued creating and one day decided to try to publish one of her books. She now has 20 books published, currently working on another one and does not plan to stop there. Her most popular book series, Dog and Bear, is based on her pup, Copper. She is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator. She has also won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book and the New York Times Best Illustrated Book award. She was awarded both the Caldecott Honor Award and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award twice. Laura now resides in both New York City and Long Island with her husband and two sons.