Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Writing Fun and Feelings in Chapter Books

Date(s) - 01/10/2023
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Little kids can have some very big feelings, and chapter books can help them explore and understand those feelings—from anxiety and fear to anger and embarrassment, and beyond. But elementary-aged readers are also often looking for a fun escape when they pick up a book. Can big fun and big feelings coexist in chapter books? Of course!

After briefly breaking down what makes a chapter book a chapter book, author Kathryn Holmes and editor Erica Finkel (Abrams Books) will talk about how they worked to craft the Class Critters series to tackle complex situations and feelings without skimping on the fun and adventure. They’ll also share examples of other chapter books that successfully navigate those waters.


Kathryn Holmes is the author of the Class Critters chapter book series, which includes Tally Tuttle Turns Into a Turtle, David Dixon’s Day as a Dachshund, and Madison Morris is NOT a Mouse!. Her next book, and her middle-grade debut, is The Thirteenth Circle, co-written with MarcyKate Connolly and releasing in winter 2024. Kathryn also wrote the young adult novels The Distance Between Lost and Found and How It Feels to Fly. She grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, daughter, and piles upon piles of books. A graduate of The New School’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Kathryn works as a freelance dance journalist, among other writing gigs.

Erica Finkel (she/her) is an Executive Editor. Before starting at Abrams in 2010, she was, among other things, an English teacher in France, a theater-camp counselor, and an ice-cream scooper. Erica focuses primarily on chapter books and middle-grade novels and is honored to work with many bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, including Andrea Beaty, David Roberts, Mac Barnett, Tom Angleberger, and Ellen Potter. Some books she’s edited that are particularly dear to her include Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher, Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald, The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz, Once Upon an Eid edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder, and a picture-book biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (her hero) by Jonah Winter. When she gets the chance to read a non-Abrams book, she particularly enjoys the work of Gary D. Schmidt, Maggie Stiefvater, Julie Murphy, and Rainbow Rowell. Her favorite genres are contemporary realistic, fantasy, and magical realism, and she is not the best fit for thrillers or nonfiction.

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