Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illustrator’s Conference Faculty Bios

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Jim Hoover

Jim Hoover is an Art Director at Viking Children’s Books. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design in Illustration, Jim has been in publishing now for twenty years. He speaks regularly at SCBWI and has designed and art directed hundreds of books including: PICTURE BOOKS: (Tea Party Rules with K. G. Campbell, Shy with Deborah Freedman, Ella with Marcos Chin, Bus! Stop! with James Yang) NOVELS: (Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch books, Max Brallier’s New York Times best-selling series The Last Kids On Earth, which is now a cartoon on Netflix) NONFICTION: (National Book Award Finalist Elizabeth Partridge’s, Marching For Freedom, Printz Award-winning John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth and the up-coming Boots On the Ground, and the children’s book adaptation of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Jim lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Read more about Jim in this Interview




Vanessa Brantley Newton

Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at an early age.
Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.
Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work and hopes to inspire young
readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art.
The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.

Learn more about Vanessa and see her work at


Brooke Smart

Brooke Smart is an illustrator working in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her work focuses around brave women in history and today, but also around motherhood, family relationships, and the bonds we make as friends. She loves adding a little humor into her compositions and works hard to make each piece of her compositions meaningful and beautiful. She has two daughters and one son, a cat named Sunshine, and she recently married a handsome, talented, bearded architect named Jeremy. Brooke graduated with a BFA from BYU in the illustration department and has since gone back to BYU to teach occasionally as adjunct faculty. Some of her clients include Random House Kids, Viking, Penguin Workshop, Little Brown UK, Little Tiger UK, The New York Times, Bravery Magazine, and Better Days 2020. Brooke is currently working on her first picture books and board books: 6 in total, all coming out between 2020 and 2022.

Learn more about Brooke and see her work at





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