A Black woman, smiling, with a turquoise Islamic headscarf


Autumn Allen is a writer, an editor, an educator, and a reviewer of books for young people. She is a senior editor at Barefoot Books, a small, independent publisher of children’s books in Massachusetts, where she acquires and develops picture books.

Autumn was the 2020-21 Writer in Residence selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library, where she worked on her young adult novel, All You Have to Do, which also won a Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Her debut picture book, Step On Board, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, will be published by Knopf in 2025.

Autumn teaches literature and leads book clubs and writing workshops for youth outside of traditional school settings. She writes book reviews for various publications and works as a consultant for publishers, libraries, and parent groups. Autumn’s work on writing, children’s books, and parenting has appeared on the We Need Diverse Books blog, Embrace Race, and the Calling Caldecott blog. Autumn holds master’s degrees in education, children’s literature, and writing for children, and has read hundreds of children’s books, with and without her children in her lap.

SESSION: Pacing, Pattern, and Plot: Polishing Your Picture Book Manuscript

How do you elevate a mediocre picture book text to the level of a truly satisfying one? In picture books, text and images combine to offer readers a journey that is structured around a limited page count. We don’t often think of picture book texts as having a plot in the traditional sense, but there are certain elements a text can’t do without. Attention to page turns, patterns, and pacing are among the keys to making a successful picture book that editors will want to work with and children will fall in love with. In this session, participants will learn ways of revisiting their picture book texts with an eye for structural issues and narration strategies that will make their stories more appealing and satisfying to young audiences, their caregivers, and the publishers who make books for them. For writers of other genres, fluency with picture book structure could add something to your work that few others in the same genre have.

CO-PRESENTER: Nivair Gabriel