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Overcoming Adversity: Creating Resilient Characters in Children’s Literature #KidLitCon2019 Panel

Creating Resilient Characters in Children’s Literature #KidLitCon2019 Panel

Overcoming Adversity: Creating Resilient Characters in Children’s Literature

What sorts of books can help young people discover the strength to conquer their fears despite the myriad of obstacles and challenges they face every day? This panel of authors has written books that don’t flinch from the serious issues of today:  racial injustice, poverty, violence, broken families, death and serious illness, foster care, bullying, learning and physical and emotional disabilities, and fitting in – but they do it with characters who shine!  Just as diamonds are formed under pressure, these characters summon grit and determination to face adversity, and discover their own unique potential to fly.  Join us as we talk about writing novels on tough topics – and doing it with empathy and grace.

Kimberly Newton Fusco


Kimberly Newton Fusco is the author of four novels, TENDING TO GRACE, which received the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award, THE WONDER OF CHARLIE ANNE, a Parent’s Choice Silver Medalist, BEHOLDING BEE, and CHASING AUGUSTUS, a finalist for the Julia Ward Howe Award from the Boston Authors Club. Ms. Fusco was a national-award-winning education writer before becoming a novelist and is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

Leslie Connor


She will do Speed Critiquers for manuscripts.

Leslie Connor has always been a “dedicated daydreamer” with a headful of stories that needed an appropriate medium where they could be told. (It took her a while to figure that out.) She holds a BFA in visual art from the University of Connecticut and is happily surprised to be writing today. Leslie is the genre-hopping author of several award-winning books for children including a picture book, Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel, two teen novels, Dead on Town Line, and The Things You Kiss Goodbye, and the middle grade novels, CrunchWaiting for Normal, winner of the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, and most recently, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle. She lives with her husband and rescue dogs in a little house in the Connecticut woods. She is also a National Book Award finalist.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt


New York Times bestselling author, Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s novel, FISH IN A TREE is an ALA Schneider Family Book Award winner, an ALA Notable Book, a Global Read Aloud, a SLJ Best Book, a Nerdy Book, and a SCBWI Crystal Kite winner. Soon it’ll be a stage show in NYC. Her first novel, ONE FOR THE MURPHYS is an ABA New Voices Pick, a Nerdy Book, and a Scholastic Book Clubs Editors’ Choice. Combined, Lynda’s books have appeared on 56 state award lists and are published in 28 languages. Her next novel, SHOUTING AT THE RAIN, a middle grade set on Cape Cod, will be released May 7, 2019.

Fish in a tree with Schneider


Padma Venkatraman


Padma Venkatraman was chief scientist on oceanographic vessels and spent time under the sea and in five countries before becoming an American author. Her novels,  A TIME TO DANCE, CLIMBING THE STAIRS and ISLAND’S END, were all released to multiple starred reviews and won several honors and awards. Her latest novel, THE BRIDGE HOME, is available for pre-order and will hit the shelves in February 2019. Visit her at or on twitter @padmatv.

the bridge home Padma Venkatraman

Rebecca Caprara


She will do Speed Critiques for manuscripts.

Rebecca Caprara graduated from Cornell University and practiced architecture for several years, before shifting her focus from bricks to books. An avid globetrotter, she has traveled to over 50 countries, and has lived in Italy, Singapore, and Canada. She is now growing roots in Massachusetts with her family.  THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD (Carolrhoda Books, 2018) is her debut middle grade novel. Her next two books for young people are scheduled for publication in 2020 and 2021.

Moderator: Laurie Smith Murphy


Laurie Smith Murphy is a long-time member of SCBWI and co-founder of the Whispering Pines Writers’ Retreat in West Greenwich. She is a former teacher and currently working on a middle grade novel. She adapted Kimberly Newton Fusco’s book, TENDING TO GRACE, into a play and co-directed it for Swamp Meadow Community Theatre. Motif Magazine nominated the play in the New Works category.

Laurie Smith Murphy

Join us March 22-23 for KidLitCon 2019!

Creating Resilient Characters in Children’s Literature #KidLitCon2019 Panel