- What brought you to this career path?
I’ve always been a reader, but it wasn’t until college that I got the idea of publishing into my head. Unfortunately, that was during the dot-com bust, so it took a while before I actually got a job in publishing.
- Can you please tell us a little about your background and experience in the literary world?
I started as a college textbook sales rep, but I quickly left that in the rear-view mirror and made my way to Boston to study children’s literature. I’ve worked in bookstores for about 11 years, full-time and part-time, and I love that world. I’ve been at Candlewick for 9 years, starting as an editorial assistant and now as an editor.
- What are you looking for in a manuscript?
Something that is un-put-downable. What does this mean? I want to connect with it emotionally, mentally, and even physically. I.e. I don’t want to let go of it. Characters and stories that I haven’t seen before. I love world building. And I love authenticity in sharing experiences that differ from my own.
- What are some upcoming books you’ve edited that you are really excited about?
I have a picture book that takes place in the U.S. about a Haitian tradition that is celebrated on New Year’s Day called Freedom Soup by Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara.
- What advice do you have for new children’s book writers?
Read like crazy the kinds of books that you want to write. Chances are your story has been done before, so you’ll want to know how you can bring something new to a crowded field.
- What are your favorite books—the ones you want to read over and over again?
I have to answer this with non-Candlewick books out of fairness. I read a couple times a year Ender’s Game. In the past 20 years, I’ve probably read the book about 50 times. I re-read every couple of years Frindle, Maniac Magee, and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (OK, that last one was published by Candlewick, but it’s from before my time).
- Are you actively seeking submissions?
Yes, but very selectively.
- If you could be ANY book character, who would you be, and why?
I’m pretty happy with my real life.
- Can you share a funny childhood memory (or dream, or secret fear) with us? (Or any quirky fun fact about yourself–feel free to be creative here. :))
Fun fact: During my summers when I was very young, I lived on a hippie commune in Northern California.
Jennifer Cole Judd