KidLit TV Hosts ‘Page to Stage & Screen’ Panel at Kid Lit Conference

This June, attendees of New Jersey’s Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (NJ-SCBWI’s) annual conference are in for a treat – and we’re taking KidLit TV viewers along for the ride! KidLit TV’s founder, Julie Gribble, will moderate a panel of three children’s media experts. These experts will discuss their experiences taking children’s manuscripts beyond the confines of the bookstore to stage, screen, and other cutting-edge media channels.

Tish Rabe, Jonathan Rockefeller, and Marisa Corvisiero take the stage at the Crowne Plaza’s Conference Center in Plainsboro on Saturday, June 4th. Facilitated by Julie Gribble, these kidlit rock stars of film, television, stage, and more will offer their expertise to a room packed with writers, illustrators, and others who share a passion for children’s literature.

Early indicators suggest that this workshop may be standing room only, if you can get in at all. Slots for the meal time meet-and-greet events, a traditional conference favorite, are coveted by attendees seeking an opportunity to personally connect with conference faculty. Gribble’s table is long sold out.

Enthusiasm for the workshop is partially driven, and rightfully so, by name power. Prime-time Emmy-nominated Gribble, facilitator of the panel, is also a published children’s writer. One of her recent projects in children’s media, the British live action family film, Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg, starred Bonnie Wright. Wright is best known stateside for her role as Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films. Fans of this website, know Gribble best as the leader and founder of KidLit TV.

The trio of panelists Gribble will be facilitating are no less impressive. Do DisneySesame Street, and Blue’s Clues ring a bell? How about CliffordI Spy!, and PBS Kids’ daily The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That series? Emmy award-winning Tish Rabe, the first member of the KidLit TV panel, was involved in all of them, and that’s just the tip of her jaw-dropping résumé. With more than 160 published children’s books to her credit, “kidlit rock star” may be too mild a descriptor for this powerhouse.

From Rabe’s Sesame Street, we move to fellow puppetry enthusiast and children’s literacy philanthropist Jonathan Rockefeller, the second member of the panel. The film, theatre, animation, puppetry, and television production company Jonathan founded has earned international success and myriad industry honors and awards. SCBWI members will be all ears to glean some inside information on one of Rockefeller’s most recent projects: a production of the inimitable Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show. The show is currently touring Australia and New Zealand after a debut sellout season at the Sydney Festival.

The third and final member rounding out the panel is a woman with whom Rabe is very familiar. Marisa Corvisiero, NYC-based attorney and founder of namesake Corvisiero Literary Agency (CLA) is Rabe’s literary agent and inside track to connecting with industry players. She is the person who orchestrates vital, behind-the-scenes deal making magic and ensures that it all goes off without a hitch. Corvisiero’s unique perspective on the nitty gritty details of moving a children’s book from page to stage, screen, and beyond are the perfect complement Rabe’s and Rockefeller’s perspective as creatives.

Though the bulk of the audience for the panel discussion will likely be established or emerging children’s literature creatives, some conference goers will represent other groups. Educators, librarians, and parents share a similar passion. Many attendees will fall into multiple categories, not unlike the viewership of KidLit TV. But what they all have in common is a desire to hear a bit of the “inside baseball” the makes the children’s literature world sizzle.

It is the allure of “inside baseball” that gives educators, librarians, and parents that extra boost of credibility when they are guiding and encouraging children’s and teens’ media consumption decisions. When it comes to motivating children, suggestions from a source they deem credible goes a very long way. At times, this credibility X-factor can be frustratingly elusive. Attending kid lit writing conferences can provide that X-factor.

Jane Heitman Healy is thoroughly convinced that credibility counts when guiding children’s media selections. Jane would know. She is an SCBWI member, published author, former school librarian, current Digital Resources Coordinator for the South Dakota State Library, and a proud grandmother.

Per Healy, “Librarians love, love, love hearing authors speak! They can take what they’ve learned back to their schools and impress the heck out of their students! Librarians also love hearing authors speak to learn more about the ‘behind the book’ info and to learn more about new books [and] authors.Also, when a librarian recommends a book to a patron, the librarian can say with some certainty, ‘I think you’ll like this because I heard the author speak, and he/she said…’”

Newbery medalist and former teacher Cynthia Lord agrees. Though the bulk of her kidlit writing conference experiences took place following her success as an author, she recalls fondly the few she was able to attend as a teacher, as well. Of those she experienced as an educator, she notes, “it was very exciting to meet the people who were behind the books I loved. It was eye-opening to see that they were just regular people in a lot of ways.”

Picture book author, PiBoIdMo founder, and mother of 3rd and 7th grade daughters Tara Lazar offers a similar perspective. On starting her publication journey while pregnant with her youngest, the always engaging and perpetually funny Lazar quips, “I pushed a stroller along the path to publication.” Lazar, whose upcoming picture book Way Past Bedtime will be released this autumn, particularly appreciates the collegial aspect of SCBWI conferences.

“The image of a writer might be someone sitting alone in a room–but that is just one side of us. We meet with colleagues at conferences and learn from each other, discuss important literacy concerns and spread the book love.”

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