Join us for our April panel on children’s literature!

Four award-winning authors discuss children’s literature, new books, and writing for young readers—from picture books to middle-grade to young adult.

WHAT: What’s new in children’s literature

WHO: Zetta Elliott, James Klise, Natasha Tarpley, and Keir Graff

WHEN: Tuesday, April 11, 2023; cocktails 6-7 p.m. and program 7-8 p.m.

WHERE: The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested

Bookish Chicago will be on-site selling books. Authors are available to sign.


Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist poet, playwright, and author of forty books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and A Place Inside of Me and the bestselling middle-grade fantasy series Dragons in a Bag. Her essays have appeared in Blavity, The Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly. Her own imprint, Rosetta Press, generates culturally relevant stories that center youth who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and/or rendered invisible in traditional children’s literature. She lives in Chicago.

James Klise’s new YA novel, I’ll Take Everything You Have (Algonquin), is a queer coming-of-age crime story set in 1934 Chicago. In a starred review, Kirkus promises “passionate, cinematic scenes” and “a thrillingly queer adventure.” Publishers Weekly calls the book “an arresting narrative… and a mesmerizing snapshot of 1930s Chicago.” James’s previous novels for teens include the Edgar Award-winning The Art of Secrets and the ALA Stonewall Honor-winning Love Drugged. He lives with his husband in Chicago, where for the past two decades, he has overseen a very busy high school library.

As an acclaimed and bestselling children’s book author, who has been writing for over 20 years, Natasha Tarpley is the author of the classic picture book, I Love My Hair!, an ode to Black childhood and natural beauty, as well as Keyana Loves Her Family, which is book one of a new picture book series featuring Keyana McGee, a little girl with BIG ideas. Other titles include the award-winning picture book, The Me I Choose To Be; the social justice-themed middle grade mystery, The Harlem Charade; and a forthcoming supernatural middle-grade series, Finders & Seekers. Natasha is also the writer and co-creator of the award-winning children’s narrative podcast, Opal Watson: Private Eye (, and is currently developing new children’s podcast and television projects with major media outlets.

IN CONVERSATION WITH KEIR GRAFF: Keir is the author of funny and fantastical middle-grade adventure novels including The Tiny Mansion, The Phantom Tower (a Chicago Tribune Best Children’s Book), The Matchstick Castle (an official Illinois Reads selection), and the forthcoming Minerva Keen’s Detective Club with James Patterson. He also writes books for grown-ups—some of them under fake names! A longtime resident of Chicago, he lives near the shore of Lake Michigan with his wife Marya, sons Felix and Cosmo, and cats Toothless and Totoro.