About Our Staff

quill-pen-paperCurrent Bulletin Reviewers

Kate Quealy-Gainer, Editor (KQG)
Kate received her master’s degree in Information Science from the University of Illinois with a specialization in Youth Services. After reviewing for the Bulletin while completing her degree, she joined the staff as Assistant Editor in the summer of 2009 and then assumed the role of Editor in August of 2021. She teaches multiple classes on children’s and young adult literature for the iSchool and probably talks too much about kid lit in everyday conversation, perhaps to the chagrin of family and friends. She is a relatively decent herder of cats and children—but only after she’s had her coffee.

Quinita Balderson, Reviewer (QB)
Quinita earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a master’s in Library and Information Science with a specialization in Youth Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This faithful Illini currently holds a Library Specialist position at Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery in the Main Library and has reviewed for the Bulletin since 2017. Whether she’s working, writing with colleagues, or serving the C-U community with fellow members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., there’s a good chance you’ll find Quinita in a library. She attributes some of her most creative moments as a writer/illustrator to her sons, whose high-energy and witty commentary inspire laughter and spark storytelling opportunities. Dedication to diversity and a fondness of dark humor, horror, and mystery in kids’ lit make her a special addition to the Bulletin staff.

Natalie Berglind, Reviewer (NB)
Natalie graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017, where she majored in English with a German minor. She volunteered at the CCB during her undergrad and has been reviewing for the Bulletin since 2018. Natalie is passionate about libraries and children’s literature and has a special interest in seeking out all kinds of queer fiction.

Meg Cornell, Reviewer (MC)
Meg Cornell (he/she) received an MA in Medieval Studies from Western Michigan University and an MA in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently finishing his PhD in English/Medieval Literature at UIUC. Meg is invested in global premodern storytelling for diverse youth audiences, especially transhistorical queer and trans narratives. He is completing a dissertation on queerness, intersectionality, and climate crisis in contemporary Old Norse youth medievalisms and has an upcoming publication on the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. A lover of all things creatively combining genre, identity, and image, Meg has a special fondness for graphic novels and comics, illustrated middle-grade texts, chapter books, and picture books. He has a fluffy bichon who thinks he owns the place, even though that little guy doesn’t even pay any rent.

Kara Forde, Reviewer (KF)
Kara earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, with an interest in child development and education. After working for several years at one of the most enchanting children’s bookstores in the world, she entered the MS/LIS degree program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2021, joining the Bulletin soon after. Currently, she works at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education library as a graduate assistant specializing in the library’s large collection of children’s and young adult literature. Winter is her favorite season, and she will take any opportunity to go ice skating or downhill skiing, or simply curl up with a new book by the fireplace.

Fiona Hartley-Kroeger, Reviewer (FHK)
Fiona received her MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons University and PhD in English from the University of Illinois. She is currently pursuing an MSLIS at the iSchool at UIUC. Her dissertation focused on female heroism in young adult adaptations, and her articles have appeared in Lion & the Unicorn and Children’s Literature in Education. 

Jessie Mae Maimone, Reviewer (JMM)
Jessie is currently a PhD candidate in UIUC’s Information Science program where her research focuses on the experiences of Black youth in public libraries and the ways we teach future librarians to work with all youth. She also holds an MSLIS from UIUC, an MS in Publishing from Pace University, and a BA in English from James Madison University. Jessie is also a sensitivity reader for Writing Diversely. When she’s not reading books for reviews, she also enjoys baking, knitting, and cuddling with her cat Lainey, all of which she can do while listening to audiobooks. She started reviewing for the Bulletin in 2023.

Alaine Martaus, Reviewer (AM/ACM)
Alaine is a recent graduate of the PhD program at UIUC’s School of Information Sciences, where her research focused on the intersection of literacy engagement, youth digital culture, and fan studies. She has an MLS from Florida State University and an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University, where she specialized in the study of young adult fantasy and science fiction. She spent most of her professional librarian career working as a high school librarian and has taught courses in young adult literature and youth librarianship. She spends a lot of her downtime reading, including mysteries, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and realism, but she still won’t read anything where the dog dies.

Adam McConville, Copy Editor (AMM)
Adam (he/him) received his master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2020. He worked as the Bulletin’s editorial assistant from 2018 to 2020 and rejoined the staff as copy editor and reviewer in 2021. He holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and French from Ohio University and has worked in public libraries in both children’s and adult services. Currently, he is an adult services librarian for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. When he’s not reading picture books or nonfiction, he unwinds by running, baking, or playing video games.

Danica Ronquillo, Reviewer (DR)
Danica (she/her) received a BA in English (Creative Writing) from San Francisco State University and a MLIS from San Jose State University, and she joined the Bulletin in 2021. She shares her passion for diverse youth literature, graphic novels, and manga with book lovers all over the globe by blogging on her Instagram book account @danicashelflove. She is a proud member of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), volunteers as a Storygraph Librarian, and loves dabbling with acrylic paint and oil pastels. She recently received an ALSC Certificate of Completion in Reading the Art in Picture Books.

Cassidy Russell, Reviewer (CBR)
Cassidy (she/her) has a BFA in studio art from the University of Notre Dame, an MFA in printmaking from Savannah College of Art and Design, and an MSLIS from UIUC. In addition to maintaining an active studio practice, she teaches improv comedy (in Chicago at the Annoyance Theatre and in Alaska at Sitka Fine Arts Camp) and travels, writes, and performs as a member of the Second City National Touring Company. If she’s not chatting about books, art, or comedy, she’s either drinking tea, listening to banjo music, or swimming in whatever body of water is nearby. Cassidy believes strongly, both in and out of children’s literature, in the importance of silliness.

April Spisak, Reviewer (AS)
April has been reviewing for the BCCB since 2005. She is Head of Youth Services at the Albany Public Library in Oregon. One of her primary life skills is the ability to distill 500+ pages into reviews that are less than 300 words. Sadly, that ability is not as wildly useful and lucrative as one might imagine.

Amanda Toledo, Reviewer (ART)
Amanda (she/her/ella) received her BAs in English and Rhetoric at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2014.  Raised on a steady stream of books and croquetas, she has worked in youth services in public libraries for five years and is passionate about diverse representation in books and library collections. She is currently working towards her MLIS at San Jose State University.

Aaren Tucker, Reviewer (AT)
After receiving her BA in Linguistics from California State University, Northridge, Aaren Tucker taught English to elementary and middle school students in South Korea from 2015-2017. She earned her master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2019 and is currently serving as the Young Adult/Adult Services Librarian at Moorpark City Library in California. She has reviewed for the School Library Journal and joined the BCCB in 2021. She loves all types of genre fiction, but particularly enjoys romance, and is a dedicated player of games with a small but growing board game collection and a fondness for role-playing games. She wants to hug every cat.

Annika Wilcox, Editorial Assistant
Annika (she/her) is a current MSLIS student at the University of Illinois. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies and Psychology at Portland State University. With her background in early childhood education and love of children’s literature, Annika is excited to be working at the Bulletin this year.

Former staff and reviewers

NOTE: Information is accurate to the time during which reviewers were active at the Bulletin.

Elizabeth Bush, Reviewer (EB)
Betty received a BA degree from Roosevelt University, an MA degree from Governors State University, and an MLS degree from Rosary College (now Dominican University.) She was a librarian within Archdiocese of Chicago for 2 decades.  After reviewing for Booklist she came to the Bulletin, where she has been a reviewer for nearly thirty years. She taught as an adjunct lecturer in the Youth Services program at the iSchool of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has served on the Boston Globe-Horn Book, Robert F. Sibert, Gryphon, and Scott O’Dell Awards Committees.

Alexandra Byerly, Reviewer (AB)
Alexandra earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and French from Knox College. In May of 2022, she received her MSLIS from the University of Illinois’ iSchool. She is passionate about early literacy, early readers, and beginning comics. In her downtime, she enjoys drawing, painting, and jogging at such a slow pace that parents with strollers pass her.

Kiri Palm, Reviewer (KP)
Kiri is pursuing their MSLIS degree at the iSchool at UIUC. They hold BAs in Theatre and German Studies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and are a published playwright. Upon completion of their degree, Kiri hopes to work as a children’s public librarian and assist kids in underserved areas and LGBTQ+ youth in particular.

Sarah Sahn, Reviewer (SS)
Sarah received her PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016, and began reviewing for the Bulletin in 2017 while working on her MSLIS at the iSchool at Illinois. She had her brush with YA fantasy author fame when she had the privilege of interviewing one of her all-time favorite authors, Tamora Pierce, for an entry in the Dictionary of Literary Biography’s Young Adult Authors series. She’s currently a research and instruction librarian at the University of Alabama, where she works with assorted interdisciplinary and honors programs, and often laments the reality that being a librarian does not, in fact, mean you get to read books all day.

Deborah Stevenson, Former Editor (DS)
Deborah Stevenson was with the Bulletin from 1989 to 2021 and held the position of Editor from 2001 to 2021. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Chicago, where she wrote her dissertation on children’s literature and contemporary culture. She has taught children’s literature at Indiana University Northwest and in the continuing education program at the University of Chicago, and she now teaches as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois. Her articles have appeared in the Horn Book Magazine, The Lion and the Unicorn, and the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, and she is a senior editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. She is also the co-author, with Betsy Hearne, of Choosing Books for Children: A Commonsense Guide.

Miriam Larson, Reviewer (ML)
Miriam is the executive director of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. She is a former elementary school librarian and an iSchool alum. In her free time she enjoys playing music, hiking, and volunteering in her community.