Peg366's Blog

Allyn Johnston, Marla Freeze Presentation at Iowa Spring SCBWI Conference.

Posted on: May 1, 2010

Allyn Johnston, VP and Publisher(former Harcourt Editor),  at Simon & Schuster’s new Imprint Beach Lane Books says that Beach Lane Books is all about picture books. She’s worked with authors such as Mem Fox and Lois Elhert. Her primary focus is on lyrical, emotionally engaging,  highly visual picture books for young children. She says each time she sits down the submission pile she is hopeful that the next great picture book will be in the pile. She wants to publish softer picture books that speak to her heart. Allyn shared that she considers the picture book as a form of fine art.

Allyn talked about her initial contact with the book that she thinks has  something special. The second step for her is putting on the shelf for a while to see if it still attracts her the next time she picks it up. If it does still appeal, she might share it with Andrea Welch, the other editor in the office. They then talk about the book and its prospects. If they both like it, they talk about what the next step is.

By this time, Allyn has some idea of the illustrator(s) she wants to approach to illustrate the book. Even longtime publishers don’t always get the illustrator that they want due to “scheduling conflicts” according to Allyn.

Together Allyn and Marla showed the illustration changes that took place as the process continued. They talked pacing and how they each had their own vision of what was to take place. For me as a writer, gave me a real insight to how perfect text and illustration make a great picture book.

Talented Marla Freeze  (in green) and me at the Iowa Spring SCBWI conference after her joint presentation with the wonderful Allyn Johnston, VP/Publisher of Beach Lane Book. Marla’s illustrator credits include:  All the World with author Liz Garton Scalon and  Santa Claus-The World’s Number One Toy Expert.

Marla Freeze sharing her vision about illustrating was fascinating to me. My heart’s desire has always been to be an illustrator for one of my own books but alas I am not that talented.

Personally, I can see why Allyn and Marla work well together. They push each other to be the very best they can be.


2 Responses to "Allyn Johnston, Marla Freeze Presentation at Iowa Spring SCBWI Conference."

Could you please tell me if Allyn Johnston accepts unsolicited, non-agented children’s picture book manuscripts? I can find no contact of any kind on the net of in the various Market books.

Hi Steve,
Marla and Allyn came to the Iowa SCBWI conference last spring. I don’t think Beach Lane takes unsolicited manuscripts, but, I’ve heard that you can query any house, with a letter telling them about your work and asking if you could send it to them. Hope this helps! ~S
p.s. I see you write lyrics. Would love to get one of my songs published!

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I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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July 2009

May 2010
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My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.


C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult


Bonnie Adamson *

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Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

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Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

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Eric Carle

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Kathleen Duey *

Dotti Enderle

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Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

Kelley Milner Hall

Amy Heist

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Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

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Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

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