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2019 Mentors



Padma Venkatraman, Author

American author, Padma Venkatraman, worked as chief scientist on oceanographic ships, explored rainforests, directed a school, and lived in 5 countries. Her 3 novels, A Time To Dance, Island’s End, and Climbing the Stairs, were released to multiple starred reviews (12), received numerous honors (e.g. ALA notable, Kirkus, Booklist, NYPL, IBBY, CSML, CCBC, NCSS, and state best book lists), and won several awards. Currently a fellow of the Hansewissenschafts kolleg in Delemnhorst, Germany, Venkatraman was born in India and lives in Rhode Island.


Her 4th novel, THE BRIDGE HOME is scheduled for 2019 release by Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin). She enjoys giving keynote addresses and commencement speeches, participating on panels, conducting workshops, mentoring, and visiting schools and universities, and author festivals. She has served as chief guest at a literary festival in Trinidad and appeared on national and international TV and radio, and in a documentary. Visit her at:




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Stephanie Pitts, Editor, G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Stephanie acquires a healthy mix of picture books, novels, and nonfiction for young readers. Some notable authors she is currently working with include YA authors Stacey Lee and Sherri L. Smith; middle grade authors Eliot Sappingfield and Jeff Seymour; picture book authors Liz Garton Scanlon, Pat Zietlow Miller, and Mara Rockliff; and illustrators Brett Helquist and Brian Biggs. Twitter @stephpittsbooks.



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Elizabeth Bennett, Agent, Transatlantic Agency

She has spent her career in the children’s publishing industry with positions in product development and editorial at such companies as Scholastic, Readers Digest and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Prior to joining the Transatlantic Agency, Elizabeth was an Executive Editor at HMH where she focused on brand-forward publishing around classic properties like Curious George, Little Blue Truck and The Little Prince as well as novelties, board books and picture books. During her tenure she established an IP program launching several middle grade series including Next Best Junior Chef, Survivor Diaries, Junior Ninja Champion, and the graphic novel Click.

As an agent, Elizabeth represents a balanced list of talented picture book, graphic novel, middle grade and YA authors and illustrators. She is interested in fiction and non-fiction submissions especially those with series potential and is partial to books with humor; books that approach contemporary issues in a fresh, new way; books that are inspired by current trends; books that make even a reluctant reader want to curl up in a nook and read.

Contrary to evidence suggesting otherwise, her favorite book is not Pride and Prejudice.

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Megan Abbate, Assistant Editor, Roaring Brook Press

Megan Abbate is an Assistant Editor at Roaring Brook Press, where she acquires across all categories for children. She is most drawn to classic, timeless voices in stories grounded by fresh contemporary hooks, as well as books that build empathy. As a former teacher, she is always interested in books that can connect to school curriculum in interesting ways and books that could make for great classroom read-alouds. All the books she's edited are great, but she especially thinks you should read How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom.  Originally from Pittsburgh, she is a huge sports fan and also a theater lover.

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Jenna Pocius, Red Fox Literary
Jenna has a background in children’s editorial and is also a children’s book author (Robyn Hood series, ABDO 2019). During her time as an editor she acquired everything from board books to YA novels, and many of her books have gone on to receive starred reviews and awards, including The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits by Douglas Florian and Small by Gina Perry. As an agent she’s had numerous exciting sales since joining Red Fox in July 2017, including the forthcoming picture books The Eternal Soldier by Allison Crotzer Kimmel and illustrated by Rotem Teplow (little bee books, Summer 2019); This is a Sea Cow by Cassandra Federman (Albert Whitman, Fall 2019); The Longest Letsgoboy by Derick Wilder and illustrated by Catia Chien (Chronicle, Spring 2021); and more.

Jenna is looking for character-driven novels with strong voice and world-building, picture books with STEM connections, and stories across age groups that highlight diversity and female empowerment. She is also a sucker for animal stories, especially dogs.

Jenna lives in New England with her husband and their precious rescue pup.

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