Kid Lit

Kid Lit 411 Birthday Bash!


Kid Lit 411 is hosting three days of giveaways to celebrate their one year anniversary!

What is Kid Lit 411?

Welcome to Kidlit411, your one stop information shop for children’s writers and illustrators. Our goal is to organize relevant information about writing and illustrating for children in one handy spot, right here. Our site includes:

  • Topical Pages – links to articles and resources organized by topics.
  • Author & Illustrator Spotlights – each week, we feature an author and an illustrator (or an author-illustrator), who share their experience with you.
  • The Weekly 411 – each week, we compile the new links that were added during the week in an update post. You can receive this by email by subscribing to email updates (in the left hand sidebar).

So spend some time with us! Browse, click, connect and welcome to the world of kid lit writers and illustrators! If you’re serious about committing to kid lit, we highly recommend that you join the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI).

About Us

KIDLIT411 founder, Elaine Kiely Kearns is currently chasing the dream as a published author. Armed with a master’s degree in Education and working from her home office, she spends her time perusing the internet for golden nuggets of information about children’s writing and creating her own picture book and middle grade stories.
Sylvia Liu is the other half of KIDLIT411, keeping the site running, adding links, and overseeing the illustrations and Illustrator Spotlight. She is a writer and illustrator. She is the winner of the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award and her winning manuscript, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, will be published as a picture book.  KIDLIT411 links are also contributed by their critique group buddies, Alayne Kay ChristianRenee LaTulippeYvonne MesTeresa Robeson and VICTORIA RICHARDSON WARNECK.

You Can Contribute!

We welcome links and news for the site. Thanks to Sarah Maynard for helping keep our Writing Challenges and Contests & Awards topics up to date.

We also welcome illustrations for the front page. Please send JPGs of your work and your website to

Connect with Us!

Sign up for email updates, and we will send you a weekly post with all the new links added over the past week (The Weekly 411). Join our Facebook group for information and camaraderie. Join our Facebook manuscript swap group to find critique partners.

Show Your Support!

Put the following badge on your websites and link back to us:

(Banner & logo © 2014 Sylvia Liu)

Kidlit411 web badge

Kid Lit 411 is giving away amazing prizes! Signed copies of fabulous children’s books! Manuscript critiques! Phone consultations with literary agents! Spots in incredible kid lit writing classes! And MORE!

And now for the giveaways . . .

All giveaways end at noon, on January 15, 2015.

Day 1: All About Picture Books 

  • THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, signed by author Drew Daywalt
    Win an autographed copy of the New York Times Bestselling (78 weeks and counting) picture book.

the day the crayons quit

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter


*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  • WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? signed by author-illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi (May 2015 publication)
    What is happening to Spencer’s books each night? Find out in Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s first book that she both authors and illustrates, to be published in May 2015.


*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  • OWL MOON signed by Jane Yolen

    Win a signed copy of the Caldecott winning book, OWL MOON. A classic from the distinguished author, Jane Yolen.


*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  • STREGA NONA signed by Tomie DePaola

    Win a signed copy of the Caldecott winning book, STREGA NONA from the distinguished author-illustrator, Tomie DePaola.


*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  • The Penguin Posse Picture Book Critique Pack (7 critiques!)

 The team behind Kidlit411 is part of a picture book critique group composed of agented, contracted, and published children’s authors. If you win this prize, ALL SEVEN OF US will critique ONE of your picture book manuscripts (under 800 words) just as we would each other’s. Having seven critiques of the same story will give you invaluable feedback on what works and what doesn’t in your story. Members of the team include: 

  • Alayne Kay Christian – author of award-winning independently published picture book, BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA (Blue Whale Press) and founder of Sub Six, a writer’s support group for submissions. Her paid critique service is on hiatus now, so this is a great chance to get a critique from her.
  • Elaine Kiely Kearns – elementary school teacher, children’s author, and founder of KidLit411.
  • Renee LaTulippe – kidlit poet with a published collection of poetry and poems in a number of anthologies; co-author of nine award-winning early readers; founder of The Lyrical Language Lab, which teaches kidlit writers to punch up their prose, and children’s poetry blogger at No Water River.
  • Sylvia Liu – children’s author and illustrator who won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award. Her manuscript, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, will be published as a picture book. The other half of the Kidlit411 team.
  • Yvonne Mes – children’s author and illustrator whose short stories have been published in The School Magazine (Australia) and anthologies. Her picture books, MEET SIDNEY NOLAN (Random House Australia) and OLIVER’S GRUMBLES (Dragon Tales Publishing) are scheduled for publication in late 2015.
  • Teresa Robeson – children’s and adult author who has been published in Babybug, Ladybug, the SCBWI Bulletin, and other magazines; contributor to several science fiction anthologies; represented by Ella Kennen of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
  • Victoria Warneck – children’s writer who has held editorial positions at McGraw-Hill, The MIT Press, Addison-Wesley, and Pearson Education.

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

Day 2: All About Craft

  • The Craft of Writing Picture Books: Two 20 minute Critiques from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and a Discount Code for all FB members for her PB writing course, PICTURE BOOK A TO ZS: CHARACTER BUILDING IN PICTURE BOOKS
    Picture book author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen was featured in our Author Spotlight in September 2014. She is the founder of Kidlit Writing School and an award-winning author whose books include DUCK DUCK MOOSE, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, ORANGUTANGLED, and over thirty more books. Her website is WWW.SUDIPTA.COM and she blogs  at WWW.NERDYCHICKSRULE.COM.
    She is giving away TWO twenty minute critiques by phone for a PB manuscript or the first ten pages of an MG manuscript.
    In addition, all Kidlit411 Facebook members will get a 10% discount for her newest course, PICTURE BOOK A TO ZS: CHARACTER BUILDING IN PICTURE BOOKS, which starts on Jan. 26. Be sure to join our Facebook group to access that code, good only until January 31st, so don’t delay!

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  •  The Craft of Writing Picture Books part 2: Susanna Hill’s Online Course MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC

    Susanna Leonard Hill is the award-winning author of nearly a dozen picture books, including PUNXUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (a Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), NO SWORD FIGHTING IN THE HOUSE (a Junior Library Guild selection), CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT SHEEP (a Children’s Book of the Month), and NOT YET ROSE (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award winner).Susanna has generously donated her fabulous online course, Making Picture Book Magic for a May (or later) spot (the class is currently full until May). This award winning author also has a very informative and popular blog at Be sure to be on the lookout for her seasonal contests where you can win fantastic prizes! And you can read a fabulous review of her class by KidLit411 editor Sylvia Liu.

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  • The Craft of Writing Middle Grade: Discount Code for KidLit411 Facebook members for Emma Walton Hamilton’s JUST WRITE FOR MIDDLE GRADE COURSE

    Children’s author Emma Walton Hamilton’s courses on writing picture books, middle grade, and YA, are among the best online writing courses available.

    Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children’s book author, editor, and arts educator. With her mother, actress/author Julie Andrews, Emma has co-authored over twenty children’s books, including THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS SERIES. Kidlit411 featured her in the Author Spotlight in September 2014.

    Kidlit411 editor Sylvia Liu took her 14-week course, Just Write for Middle Grade course and reviewed it on her blog: “. . . I basically took an in depth college-level course on novel writing. The amount of information that was packed into their course was staggering. The weekly lessons and assignments covered the gamut of writing chapter books and middle grade books (and any novel, really) from page 1 to The End and after.”

    Discount code: For our Facebook members, Emma is offering a 10% discount to her Just Write for Middle Grade course. To access the code, please join our Facebook group. This code is good until January 31, 2015.

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  • The Craft of Revision: Line Notes and 30 Minute Phone Call with Editor Elizabeth Laws on a PB manuscript or 20 pages of an MG/YA manuscript

    A self-described children’s and young adult literature fanatic, Elizabeth Law has worked in the publishing field her whole life, first as an Editor at Viking Children’s Books and Puffin Books, then later as Associate Publisher at Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers and as Publisher at Egmont USA.

    Currently working as a consultant to authors and editors, Elizabeth has edited 15 New York Times bestselling titles and many American Library Association Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults Adults. Among the many authors she has edited and published are Adam Rapp, Allen Zadoff, Dan Gutman, Holly Black, Tony diTerlizzi, Andrew Clements, Malorie Blackman, Hilary Knight, G. Brian Karas, Micol Ostow, Ilsa J. Bick and Michael Grant.

    The members of the Kidlit411 team personally recommend Elizabeth’s top notched consultation services and featured her in an Editor Spotlight in September 2014. Be sure to check out the interview for her excellent submission advice. Her website is, and her blog contains invaluable advice.

    Elizabeth is donating her time and expertise. She will review a PB manuscript or 20 pages of an MG/YA manuscript, provide line notes, and meet with you by phone for 30 minutes to go over your manuscript and answer any questions you may have about the 
    business, including questions about agents, submissions, and more.

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

  •  The Craft of Illustration: Will Terry & Jake Parker’s ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN’S BOOKS ($300 value)Author-illustrator Will Terry is known in the kidlit community for his vibrant illustrations and the education he provides on his blog, YouTube videos, and online classes (Folio Academy and The School of Visual Storytelling, or SVS). He was featured in our Author-Illustrator Spotlight in April 2014.
    © Will Terry

    Together with Jake Parker, illustrator, animation designer and comic artist, the SVS is launching a comprehensive illustration course, Illustrating Children’s Books, beginning on January 6 and running through March.

    This professional level online class has two parts. Part 1 (Creating the Artwork) will cover the development of content. It does not focus on mediums, but will teach the decision making process (creating characters, designing the illustration, POV, developing mood, unity of background, thumbnails, roughs, etc.). Part 2 (Business and Marketing) covers the business side of illustration, from submitting to marketing to making dummies to negotiating contracts. A 200 page PDF accompanies this course along with a 20 page assignment workbook.

    Will and Jake have generously donated this course, a $300 value. This is not the live course (which is sold out), but the recorded online version, which will be made available after each live class.

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

 Day 3: Agent Spotlight: Lori Kilkelly of Rodeen Literary (Plus Giveaway)

Agent Lori Kilkelly

As the final day of Kidlit 411’s Birthday Bash, we are pleased to feature Lori Kilkelly, agent at Rodeen Literary Management, an agency representing children’s writers and illustrators, in the Agent Spotlight. 

If you have a completed PB or MG, be sure to enter into her giveaway to bypass the slush pile and query her!

Welcome, Lori!

When did you decide to become an agent?

I wish I could sum this up in a short and sweet kind of way but sadly, I’m going to bore the heck out of all your readers right off the bat.

In ’08 I was a Chicago sales rep covering a seven-state territory and I traveled a LOT. The kind of travel where you fly to a place and then drive to 5 cities while there, organizing 10-15 appointments along the way. I adored my clients but I was exhausted of this tedious travel (one flight cancellation and your whole schedule needed to be rebooked!)

I’ve always been a crazy obsessed fan-girl kind of reader so as I began researching other job opportunities, I also began contemplating other careers. In my research I stumbled across information about the Denver Publishing Institute (DPI), founded in the ’70s at University of Denver by publishing legend Elizabeth Geiser. I applied and was accepted. Unlike most attendees I wasn’t 23 and I wasn’t planning to move to NY and be an editor.

The role of agent seemed to perfectly fulfill my love for my clients, my obsession with reading and my background in marketing. As luck would have it, Paul Rodeen was also a Chicago DPI alum and took me under his wing. I’m now in my fifth year with RLM.

Many writers are on a quest to find an agent. If you could have the perfect client, what characteristics would that client have?

I love that all of my clients are very different – even if I could, I wouldn’t have them all be the same. In addition to being unique people, because I take on my clients at a very measured pace, they are each in a different place in their career. I strive to provide each client with attention personalized to their specific needs.

The one characteristic that I’d say all of my clients have is a willingness and desire to continue honing their craft driven by the belief that growing and learning continues throughout a career, whether writing, illustrating or both.

What do you look for when considering a potential client? Does online presence help? Hinder?

I’m interested in representing someone’s career, not in selling a single manuscript. So, after the submission ms intrigues me, I’ll ask to see more work.

I believe online presence is essential in today’s marketplace. All of my clients have an online presence and I prefer a website as well, though writers have to be a bit more creative in concept until they have a book published.

Of course most people realize that in the somewhat anonymous world of social media, it can be easy to over-share. Funny story – one of our long-married clients had his FB status listed as “open-relationship” so I approached him gently and said, look, that’s cool, it’s your life, but maybe, you know, since this is children’s lit, we just leave that blank or else lock down your FB account so it’s not so public. Turns out he had no idea this was selected and received many an enthusiastic congratulations when he corrected the setting to “Married”!

What do you look for in evaluating picture books? What is your taste? What are your favorite PBs?

First and foremost, a story that will interest a child, not a story that an adult wants to tell to a child.

I love humor but I also love heartwarming.

Generally rhyming isn’t for me.

I love when a story that’s been told a million times in a million different ways surprises me.

Too many favorites so I’ll just pick one classic from my youth – CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS by Judi and Ronald Barrett. If you haven’t read it; it’s not the movie.

What genres do you represent, and do you prefer to see one over another?

While Paul represents almost exclusively picture book and graphic novel author/illustrators and illustrators, generally taking on established authors and illustrators, I’m on the lookout for author/illustrators as well as MG and YA authors.

What are some of your personal dos and don’ts for those writers trying to get an agent?

DO: Your research – read submission guidelines for each agency to which you submit – look on FB pages and agency websites.

DON’T: Assume every agency’s guidelines are the same.

DO: Find an agent’s name to put at the top of your email but indicate if you’re willing to have other agents within in the agency review your sub.

DON’T: Submit without knowing what type of work the agency represents (I can’t tell you how many adult submissions we receive!)

DO: Have a friend/spouse/child proof your email and turn on spellcheck! And DO remember to update the agency name if you’ve included it in the body of the email.

DON’T: (This one might upset a few people, but hear me out.) Tell me in your query that your child inspired you to write this ms. I realize Judith Viorst’s son inspired her to write ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY. And it’s awesome (I read it 1 million times, according to my mother and pbs were a LOT longer back then!) And lots of people are inspired to write wonderful books because of their children.

However, you have limited space in a query, and I personally don’t feel that having a child uniquely qualifies a person to write a great ms; so leave it out! Tell me about your qualifications in terms of field(s) of study, occupation, how long you’ve been writing, whether you participate in SCBWI, awards, other books published, etc.

I’m looking first and foremost for someone who has made writing a priority and has usually cranked out lots of crummy mss along with some fairly awesome stuff over a number years of hard work. Later, when we know each other, we’ll happily chat about how your child(ren) inspired you to become a writer.

What are the best and worst parts of being an agent?


  • Only being able to fit a certain amount of reading into each day and wishing I had more time to read and review submissions.
  • Seeing my clients cope with the waiting (oh the patience necessary in this field!) and the “rejection”; although there’s also a satisfaction to knowing a client is growing and accepting that it’s not personal when a project just isn’t right for a particular editor. And of course, having the context of rejection makes a project being acquired that much sweeter – that’s a “BEST.”
  • When an editor who really wants to acquire your client’s ms loses in auction; calling that person to tell them they didn’t get it. Not a fan.


Absolutely everything else:

  • My amazingly awesome clients.
  • Brilliant editors who help make the work the best it can be.
  • The children’s publishing community, which I’ve found to be fantastically tight-knit. There’s so much collaboration and promotion of their colleagues’ work on a daily basis.
  • Seeing a book in print for the first time, when it began as a spark of an idea in your client’s mind.

Can you explain how your author/agent relationship works?

My overarching approach is that my client and I are partners in their publishing career. I believe my role as an agent is to be what my client needs me to be, for them. I tend toward being very hands on, but I represent some clients who have been doing this on their own for years and don’t need me to walk them through each step.

All of my clients run story ideas by me of course, and Paul and I each review every client ms that comes in the door, then we discuss our thoughts and provide feedback.

Beyond that we strive to make all of our clients feel that they are part of the RLM team. Being a writer/illustrator can be lonely – not everyone has a multi-person art studio to go to each day – so, I encourage my clients to “friend” each other on FB, to reach out to their colleagues and ask about watercolors and paper, to join writing groups. And, of course, it’s always nice to get the group together over a glass of wine.

What’s your best piece of advice for writers?

(Just one?!) Write as frequently as possible – every day if you can – and don’t wait for ideal conditions and don’t expect every word to be revolutionary – some days are all about the delete key.

Join a writer’s group with brutally honest, (but constructively so) members.

And read everything you can get your hands on in the genre/age range you want to publish.

Thanks much for your interest and happy creating! 

Thank you so much for the interview, Lori!

Find out more about Rodeen Literary Management by following their Facebook page, Twitter feed (@RodeenLiterary) or website, (where submission guidelines are found).

Giveaway: If you have a completed PB or MG manuscript, you may enter this giveaway. If you win, you will be invited to submit your completed PB or the first 10 pages of your MG manuscript with a pitch summary.

*Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

Good luck!


4 thoughts on “Kid Lit 411 Birthday Bash!

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