Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Faculty Information – From Soup to Book: Behind the Scenes of Watercress

Jennifer Browne wanted to make books ever since the fourth grade, when she saw a picture book at the annual school book fair that she loved for the art and the type design. Her teacher told her mother not to buy it for her, as it was far beneath her reading level. Her mother let her have the book. Years later, after getting a degree in design, her first publishing job was as a designer at Four Winds Press, which was then the hardcover division of Scholastic. After moving to London, she worked at The Bodley Head, then became the art director at Orchard Books UK. From there she moved to ABC Books, again as the art director. Nine years after moving to London, she moved back to the U.S., wrote and illustrated a few books, then started freelancing at Orchard Books with Neal Porter. Together they moved to DK Ink, then Roaring Brook Press, and finally Holiday House. Jennifer and Neal have now been working together for over twenty-five years. She likes to finish all of his sentences, which he only finds mildly annoying. 


Jason Chin is a celebrated author and illustrator of children’s books. His book Grand Canyon was awarded a Caldecott Honor, a Sibert Honor, and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award. He is the author and illustrator of Your Place in the Universe, which Kirkus called “A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge”, as well as other acclaimed nonfiction titles–Coral Reefs, Redwoods, Gravity, and Island: A Story of the Galapagos— which have received numerous starred reviews and other accolades. He is also the illustrator of Stephanie Parsley Ledyard’s debut title Pie Is for Sharing and Miranda Paul’s Water is Water and Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born, the latter, a Boston Horn Globe Honor Book. He lives in Vermont with his wife and children.


Erin Murphy was born and raised in Arizona, and founded EMLA in Flagstaff in 1999. She cut her teeth in regional publishing at Northland Publishing/Rising Moon Books for Young Readers, a beloved decades-old Flagstaff company that was bought out in 2007, where she was editor-in-chief. As founder of EMLA she has focused not just on publishing books, but on building careers—and creating a sense of community, as well. In 2016, she relocated the agency headquarters to southern Maine.

Erin represents writers and writer-illustrators of picture books, novels for middle-graders and young adults, and strong nonfiction. Her favorite reads feel timeless, have strong voices, and express unique creative visions. Because of her full client list, she rarely signs new writers or illustrators, but she is particularly interested in adding cultural diversity to her client list. In addition to reading, her interests include traveling, knitting, walking, kayaking, watching movies, and figuring out How People Work.


Neal Porter has been in and around children’s book publishing for over 40 years, working at houses such as Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Walker Books UK, and Roaring Brook Press, which he helped to found in 2000. He is currently Vice President and Publisher of Neal Porter Books at Holiday House.




Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando. She was inspired to write Watercress by her experience growing up in rural Ohio as a child of Chinese immigrants. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.