Past Participant Biographies




When the time came for David A. Adler and his wife Renee to start a family, David said, “You carry the baby for the first nine months, and after that, I’ll take over.” David was a stay-at-home dad in the late 1970s, years before this was an accepted practice, and had lots of strange experiences. But that’s when his writing took off, and he wrote for five hours a day. It was during that time that he wrote Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds. Since Cam, David has had more than 250 published books, including more than fifty Cam Jansen mysteries, the entire Picture Book biography series and his latest series, the Mo Jackson sports books. The first in the series, Don’t Throw It to Mo!, was awarded the 2016 ALA Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Award. He has also written many Jewish holiday stories, Holocaust books, historical fiction, math, science and economics books. He worked for more than ten years as the editor of books for young readers at JPS, the Jewish Publication Society, under the supervision of Dr. Chaim Potok.



Elana K. Arnold writes books for and about children and teens. Her most recent YA novel, What Girls Are Made Of, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her middle-grade novel, A Boy Called Bat, is a Junior Library Guild selection. Some of her books have been included on School Library Journal’s Best Books list, Kirkus’s Best Teen Books list, the New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles Public Libraries’ Best Books of the Year list, the Bank Street Best Book list, and the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and have been selected for inclusion in the Amelia Bloomer Project. Her YA novel, Infandous, won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and the Westchester Fiction Prize. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing/fiction from the University of California, Davis, and currently lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her family and a menagerie of animals.



Helaine Becker is the best-selling author of mor e than 80 books for children and young adults, including Gottika, a retelling of the golem legend; Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13; Monster Science; You Can Read; and the giggle-inducing Ode to Underwear. She’s also a multi-time winner of the Silver Birch Award and a two-time winner of the Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children. Helaine also writes for children’s television and is in high demand as a performer at schools and festivals across North America. Helaine volunteers for several literacy organizations and charities including First Book, ABC Literacy, CODE, and Librarians Without Borders. She is also a certified pyrotechnician, so expect fireworks at any time.



Kimberly Brubaker Bradley lives in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, outside the small town of Bristol, Tennessee. She’s the author of 17 published books, most recently The War I Finally Won, sequel to The War That Saved My Life, which was a Newbery Honor book and, for one brief glorious week, #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. She loves to travel, loves to come home, and loves understanding different cultures. Like her character Ada, she knows that horses help, and understands that you can know things all you want, but it takes a while before you start to believe them.



Gail Carson Levine’s best-known book is Ella Enchanted, which won a Newbery Honor and was made into a major motion picture. Most of her 23 books for children are middle-grade fantasy novels, but Dave at Night is a historical novel that moves between the Hebrew Home for Boys and the Harlem Renaissance. And she has two picture books, Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie; a humorous poetry collection, Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It; and two how-to’s for kids about writing, Writing Magic and Writer to Writer. For more than ten years, Gail has taught free summer writing workshops for children in her hometown, Brewster, New York, where she lives with her husband, David, and their Airedale, Reggie, in an eighteenth-century farmhouse.



Barry Deutsch attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Portland State University. He is best known for his Hereville series of graphic novels about “yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” His work has won the 2010 Sydney Taylor Award, the 2014 Oregon Book Award, the Charles Schulz Award, and has been nominated for Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz, and Nebula Awards. He lives in Portland, Oregon, in a bright blue house with pink trim, and sees musicals as often as he can.



New York Times best-selling author Stacia Deutsch has written more than 200 children’s books. She started her career with the award-winning chapter book series, Blast to the Past. Now, her resume includes Nancy Drew and Boxcar Children mysteries in addition to junior movie tie-in novels for summer blockbuster films like Ghostbusters and the Hotel Transylvania series. New books include The Mysterious Makers of Shaker Street and Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code. And yes, Stacia is also a reform rabbi, so if you need someone to officiate at your wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, she’s got you covered.



Marla Frazee was awarded a Caldecott Honor for All the World and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Book for her wordless book The Farmer and the Clown. She is the author-illustrator of The Boss Baby, now a DreamWorks animated feature film, and the book’s sequel The Bossier Baby, as well as many others. She is also the illustrator of The Seven Silly Eaters, the New York Times best-selling Clementine series, and the 2017 picture book It Takes A Village by Hillary Clinton. Marla has three grown sons and works in a small backyard cabin under an avocado tree in Pasadena. In the mornings she hikes in the hills above Pasadena with her dog, Toaster. In the evenings she practices the guitar – she just started taking lessons a few months ago – while Toaster sleeps and her cat Mulberry glares at her for disturbing the peace. Marla can’t wait to see the Dead Sea.



Stuart Gibbs is the author of f our middle-grade mystery/adventure series: Spy School, FunJungle, Moon Base Alpha, and The Last Musketeer. Before being a middle-grade writer, he wrote screenplays and developed TV shows, and before all that, he was the US exper t on the capybara, the world’s largest rodent. (That was an accident. He did his college research project on it without realizing no one else had studied it bef ore.) Stuart is married with two kids (ages 12 & 9) and lives in Los Angeles. He is starting a new MG series this year, and had already planned to set most of the first book in Israel when he learned about this trip — so Stuart is very excited to be joining e veryone else on this amazing adventure.



Lisa Greenwald is the author of the Pink & Green series and the newly released 11 Before 12 and TBH This is So Awkward. She lives in New York City with her husband and two young daughters. Lisa loves sunglasses, reading, the beach, and sushi. The last time she traveled to Israel was in 1996 with a group from URJ Eisner Camp.




Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh is the author of Can You Hear a Coo, Coo? and the upcoming titles A Hoopoe Says “Oop!”, Listen! Israel’s All Around (recipient of PJ Library’s Author Incentive Award), and The Biggest of All. Jamie spent nearly a decade on staff at Woman’s World magazine, writing uplifting tearjerkers. One of her favorites was about a giant pet pig who stopped a thief. She went on to become editor-in-chief of Vital Juice, a daily wellness email and website, during which time she spent an afternoon training with a female ninja. She served as managing editor of the nutrition-themed website and email Clean Plates, which led to such wild enthusiasm for fermentation that she considered life as a professional pickler. She was also editor of personality Carley Knobloch’s website about digital technology and style. Thanks to Carley, Jamie now knows the differences between flash drives, solid-state drives...and cord tacos. Jamie’s current feature-writing “home” is National Geographic KIDS. Thanks to Nat Geo, Jamie is aware of tardigrades, and suspicious of their planetary origin. As a lyricist, Jamie writes for ad campaigns and films. She is a member of SCBWI and a graduate of Wellesley College.



Alice B. McGinty is the author of over 40 fiction and nonfiction books for children. Her most recent picture book, Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons, was a 2015 Sydney Taylor Notable Book. She enjoys writing picture book biographies, including Gandhi: A March to the Sea (honor book, 2014 South Asia Book Award) and Darwin (2010 Orbis Pictus Honor Book, Booklist’s 2009 Top Ten Biographies for Youth), and picture books, including Eliza’s Kindergarten Pet, Eliza’s Kindergarten Surprise, Thank You, World, as well as nonfiction books on subjects ranging from breakfast to tarantulas. Alice looks forward to the release of two upcoming picture book biographies, and two funny picture books, including Bathe the Cat. In addition to enjoying her role as co-regional adviser of Illinois SCBWI, Alice is a frequent presenter at schools, a manuscript coach, a freelance educational writer, and in the summer, she runs a writing camp for teens. Her hobbies include dancing, hiking, running, and playing the guitar. She also loves to visit new countries, and this is her first trip to Israel!



Richard Michelson’s many books for children, teens, and adults have been listed among the Ten Best of the Year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and The New Yorker; and among the Best Dozen of the Decade by Amazon. He has five PJ Library titles and two Sydney Taylor Gold Medals (and two Silver Medals) from the Association of Jewish Libraries, and he is the recipient of a National Jewish Book Award (and twice finalist) from the Jewish Book Council. Richard received a 2016 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for his latest poetry collection More Money than God. Poems from that book were excerpted in Tikkun, Moment, Tablet, and Jewish Currents magazines. Richard is the owner of R. Michelson Galleries, which represents many of the country’s premier illustrators. He recently served two terms as Poet Laureate in Northampton, Massachusetts.



Goldy Moldavsky was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Brooklyn, where she still lives. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling Kill the Boy Band and No Good Deed. She has never been to Israel, but she did study Hebrew all throughout elementary school and high school. Even so, she is pretty sure she has forgotten most of it, which might be better because no one in Israel would understand her Americanized version of their language.




Lesléa Newman has published 70 books for readers of all ages including the short story collection, A Letter to Harvey Milk (recently adapted as a musical with a March 2018 off-Broadway debut); the poetry collection, I Carry My Mother (Massachusetts Center for the Book “Must Read” title); the teen novel-in-verse, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (American Library Association Stonewall Honor); the middle-grade novel, Hachiko Waits (Dog Writers Association of America Maxwell Medallion); and the children’s books, A Sweet Passover and Here Is The World: A Year of Jewish Holidays (both Sydney Taylor Notables); Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed (Massachusetts Book Award and Sydney Taylor Award), and Heather Has Two Mommies (Golden Crown Literary Society Lee Lynch Classic Award). Other honors include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, a Nerdy Book Club Award, and the Hachamat Lev Award, given by Keshet Foundation for “enduring commitment to justice and full inclusion for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the Jewish community and beyond.” From 2008 – 2010, she served as the Poet Laureate in Northampton, Massachusetts. Currently, she is a faculty member of Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. But what made her mother most proud? The fact that her daughter was a two-part, themed clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle!



Lin Oliver is a prolific children’s book author, television and film writer. With Henry Winkler, she writes the New York Times best-selling book series, Hank Zipzer: World’s Best Underachiever, which has sold over 4 million copies. Their chapter book series, Here’s Hank, is also a New York Times Best Seller. Her two collections of poetry, both illustrated by Tomie de Paola, are the highly praised Little Poems for Tiny Ears, and Steppin’ Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times. Her newest work is a chapter book series, The Fantastic Frame, five illustrated adventures set in the world’s great paintings. Lin is the co-founder and executive director of SCBWI, a nonprofit organization of over 24,000 authors, illustrators and publishing professionals. She is a recipient of the prestigious Christopher Award and the Eric Carle Mentor Award. On a personal note, Lin is a Los Angeles native. She is married to Alan Baker, who is associate dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. They have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and two infinitely adorable granddaughters. She is an avid mosaicist, soup maker, and tuna sandwich eater.



Erica S. Perl is the author of middle-grade novels, including All Three Stooges (which just came out in January!), When Life Gives You O.J. (Sydney Taylor Notable, Amazon Best Books of the Month), Aces Wild (NPR Best Books of the Year), and The Capybara Conspiracy, as well as picture books, including Chicken Butt, Goatilocks, and Ferocious Fluffity. Erica is also a crowd-pleasing presenter who honed her skills working as a trial lawyer in New York City (and, more recently, working for First Book), studying theater, and driving an ice cream truck. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.



Susanna Reich has driven big trucks, designed flowers in honor of the Emperor of Japan, and done graduate work in ancient Hawaiian hula, but none of these was as much fun as writing for kids. As a nonfiction author, she combines a love of research and a passion for well-crafted stories, with a particular focus on biographies of artists, musicians, dancers, and other creative people. In fiction, middle-grade has been Susanna’s sweet spot. As Immediate Past Chair of PEN America’s Children’s & YA Committee, she works to support free expression, literary fellowship and diversity in publishing. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband, children’s book author Gary Golio.



Mara Rockliff is the author of Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France (winner of the Cook Prize and an Orbis Pictus Honor), as well as many other books for children. Her most recent titles include Born to Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong’s Life in Jazz and Around America to Win the Vote. She loves to travel, and author appearances have taken her as far as Kinshasa, Congo and Doha, Qatar. She is fluent(ish) in Esperanto.




Alan Silberberg is an author, cartoonist and screenwriter. He is not a potato pancake though he just completed his first picture book, Meet the Latkes, which will be published by Viking in fall 2018. Alan’s novel Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze won the SCBWI Sid Fleischman Humor Award. The book was partially written and illustrated while he was the James Thurber Children’s Author in Residence living in the attic of Thurber’s boyhood home. In a former life, Alan has written and created TV shows for Nickelodeon, Disney, and a bunch of other companies not named until the checks clear. Alan likes iced coffee and chocolate chip cookies and was once a clown who sold ice cream. He also likes speaking in the third person. Fun fact: Alan wrote for the TV cartoon “DOUG” and is responsible for the song, “Killer Tofu”. Alan lives in Montreal with his wife and dog, Zeus. Among current projects are a revision of his next novel and the work turning MILO into an animated TV series.