The 2021 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards Advisory Board and Juries are comprised of diverse, experienced and informed professionals whose knowledge and experience span the publishing, library, and education industries. Each title submitted for this year’s awards was reviewed by this group of expert graphic literature jurors who selected the best in graphic literature using a clearly defined and transparent process.
Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand
Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand is a Sicangu Lakota and Cherokee artist that hails from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for community and social justice has led her to speak on matters of equality and cultural representation in pop culture. She has spoken on such matters at colleges, schools, conventions, and art festivals. She studied Media Arts and Animation for four years at the Art Institute of Colorado and is an entrepreneur with big dreams. Kristina has started two businesses: Bad Hand Illustrations, in which she works freelance in illustration and as a graphic designer specializing in branding, product and logo design; and áyA Studios LLC, a publishing and media company that focuses on the empowerment and enrichment of independent artists. She has 10 years of experience in after school and summer programs — most notably for her work with Pop Culture Classroom in their comic-based literacy curriculum and as a Community Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education; providing social-emotional, cultural and academic support through arts to American Indian students K-12. Currently she spends her time as a Teaching Artist with Think 360 Arts, works part time as a Substance Abuse Liaison with Jeffco Indian Education, and collaborates with many different arts and community organizations in the Denver Metro area.
Jim McClain is a writer, game designer, graphic novel creator, and a retired middle school teacher. His math superhero graphic novel, Solution Squad, was a finalist in the inaugural Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards. He has spoken on the use of comics to teach mathematics from coast to coast.
JJ Babb, Chair
JJ Babb has developed, implemented, and presented nationally an integrated Social EmotionalLearning and literature curriculum for high-risk students at one of the nation’s largest schooldistricts.This curriculum relies on graphic novels to drive reluctant readers’ interest. JJ isearning her EdD in Educational Equity at the University of Colorado-Denver
Joe Pascullo is a young adult librarian at the Grand Central branch of the New York Public Library, as well as the host of the podcast Manga Monthly. This is his second year assisting Pop Culture Classroom in bringing you the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.
Tracy Edmunds, M.A. Ed. (CHAIR)
Jessica Ruskin received her BA, summa cum laude, from Cornell University. She went on to get her Master’s degree in Museum Education from the George Washington University and has been putting it to good use as the Education Director at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center where she’s worked since June 2005. Previously, Jessica worked at the Smithsonian Institution, Kidspace Children’s Museum, and the Exploratorium, among other places. Jessica has also spent time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity through the AmeriCorps national service program and, more recently, with her children’s schools, coordinating their annual fundraisers, teaching art and technology to kids, and designing the yearbook. Jessica lives in Santa Rosa, California with her two children, two dogs, two cats, and one leopard gecko.
Hadiya I. Evans is a reference librarian at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library of the Denver Public Library, with a MA and MLIS in Library Information. Her professional trajectory hasn’t been a sprint, but a marathon with pit stops that have enriched her career due to the inspiration and guidance of unofficial mentorship. Having built a reputation in the community as a trusted representative of the library, she spends her time nurturing collaborative partnerships and creating relevant and community focused programming. She is the incoming President of the Colorado Black Library Association, an affiliate of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Tia Kimball PHD is a TESOL lecturer at the University of North Florida and enjoys reading graphic novels in her free time. Discovering new graphic novel titles for the English language learners that she works with at a local elementary school is a hobby of hers. She serves as Faculty-in-Residence at Kings Trail Elementary where she provides TESOL focused Professional Development, works one-on-one with teachers as requested, and conducts research focusing on ELL education. Her research agenda focuses on providing experiential learning opportunities for teacher candidates in order to maximize their field experiences working with ELLs. Additionally, Dr. Kimball’s research focuses how looping enhances ELLs’ learning potential over time. She continues to do research regarding the influence of AMTVS on ELLs’ language development. She has presented her work at international TESOL, SSTESOL, SETESOL, and NAPDS. Her hobbies include going to the beach, watching meteor showers, spending time with her friends and family, traveling, and working with ELLs. The EGL awards is her favorite time of the year!
Jameka B. Lewis is a native of Guthrie, OK. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Langston University and obtained a Master of Library Science degree from Texas Women’s University in 2012. Currently, she is the Senior Librarian at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. She enjoys educating lifelong learners and has recently began offering courses related to equity, diversity and inclusion in libraries. She serves as a regular guest speaker at community events and is a regular talkback guest for the Denver Center of the Performing Arts. She has served as an EGL juror for the past 3 years.
In her spare time, Jameka enjoys researching materials and artifacts pertaining to African and African American history. She is an admirer and forever student in the area of Black History and research. Notably, Jameka is the mother to Corrina and puppy mother to her ShiChi Max. She is the Founder of Give a Child a Library, an organization that provides free books to K-12 children around the country.
John Shableski is a public library and educational industry veteran who has worked in library & educational wholesale, book distribution and publishing. He created library grant programs, industry awards, comics conventions, as well as hundreds of hours of professional development programs for national and international trade shows, conferences and conventions. He has served as an advisor for Book Expo American and EveryLibrary.org, helped launch the Will Eisner ALA Graphic Novel Pictures. He has been a jury member for Eisner Awards and the 2020 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Price. His ultimate objective is to help struggling students discover their joy of learning.
Dr. Stergios Botzakis
Dr. Stergios Botzakis (Chair) is professor in Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His areas of expertise are content area literacy, middle school education, working with struggling adolescent readers, and new literacies. His research interests include middle and secondary education, adolescent literacies, popular culture, graphic novels, and media literacy. He has been published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Reading Research Quarterly, Review of Research in Education, English Journal, Language Arts, The ALAN Review, and Teacher Education Quarterly among other venues. He blogs regularly – View Blog.
Jason D. DeHart
Jason D. DeHart is an assistant professor of reading education at Appalachian State University. DeHart’s research interests include multimodal literacy, including film and graphic novels, and literacy instruction with adolescents. His work has recently appeared in SIGNAL Journal, English Journal, and The Social Studies
Karina Quilantan-Garza, or Mrs. Q. as her students like to call her, is an award-winning librarian, international & keynote presenter, and digital certification enthusiast. Karina maintains a blog, www.cuethelibrarian.com, with her current reads, favorite tech, presentations, and more. When she isn’t saving the world one book at a time she can be found reading comic books and graphic novels or playing Animal Crossing on her comfy couch. Follow Karina Q. on social media @cuethelibrarian.
Teaching English Language Arts for 20 years at Clinton Central School in central New York, Sarah Gaetano works to increase literacy while making connections with the community. Reading graphic novels did not come naturally to Sarah; she followed the interests of her four children to the graphic novel section in the library and she was hooked. So she brought them to the classroom and immediately saw increased student literacy. Recognizing the value, Sarah worked to introduce graphic novels to the school, in all subject areas.
By creating a day to celebrate graphic novels, authors, and student work with the school and volunteer community members, Sarah succeeded in gaining acceptance for graphic novels in the curriculum. The event gave students creative freedom to ultimately publish their work to share with their community. Empowered by involvement, Sarah continues to incorporate graphic novels into her work.
Elizabeth Palmer is a Young Adult Specialist from the small town of Pinedale, WY, where they wrangle teens, graphic novels, and the occasional preschooler at the Sublette County Library. As of now, they are leveling up in cross-country skiing, hoop embroidery, and last minute cosplay. Ask them about Dragon Age.
John Meier is a tenured Librarian and the Head of STEM, Engagement and Outreach at the Penn State University. He helped found the Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year and served on the inaugural jury. He served on the initial years of EBSCO’s SEE-IT graphic novel award jury. John is a contributing editor to the Graphic Novel Core Collections reference book. He has conducted research and written about comics in academic libraries. John has taught a first-year seminar in Japanese pop culture and is currently teaching course related instruction for game studies courses.
Cait Zaksheske, Assistant Chair
Cait Zaksheske Chair) has been the librarian at Yuma High School in Yuma, Arizona since 2014. Priorto moving to the high school library environment, she was a librarian at Mercyhurst University ofPennsylvania. Cait began her adventure into the wonderful world of graphic novels when shewon the Will Eisner Foundation’s Graphic Novel Growth Grant for the Yuma High Library in2015. Thanks to the initial support of the Eisner Foundation grant, she has since expanded herlibrary’s graphic novel collection to be the largest in her school district. This expansive graphicnovel collection has allowed Cait to engage reluctant readers and SEI/ESL students as well asstudents who may have never considered picking up a graphic novel. Cait’s students devourcomics; she enjoys utilizing comics to inspire a love of reading and to help boost her students’confidence in their own literacy skills. Cait is also the winner of the 2017 Dollar General LiteracyGrant and the 2020 Education Foundation of Yuma County Mini-Grant. Additionally, Cait hasparticipated in multiple panels regarding the benefits of graphic novels to help spread the goodword of comics! In previous years she has served on the EGL YA Jury as assistant chair and juror.
Matthew Galloway a librarian at Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colorado. Part of my job involves choosing which adult fiction materials to purchase for the library system, which includes graphic literature. Prior to joining the library field, I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and a bit of a rover.
Candy Markle has countable years of bookstore and library experience, as well as a background in social justice. As an educator with Pop Culture Classroom, she has taught literacy through graphic novels to all ages, including teens and adults in detention. She was featured in the 2017 book, This Is What a Librarian Looks Like, published by Black Dog & Leventhal.
Kaitlyn Roach Bio Coming Soon..
Claudia McGivney is an academic librarian. She has taught courses on graphic literature, the hero’s journey, and sci-fi/fantasy. An advocate for the use of comics in education she has spoken on the use of anime and graphic literature at ALA, NYCC and SDCC. She holds a MSLIS, MA, and is completing a PhD in Literacy with a focus on graphic literature.
Michael Gianfrancesco, Chair
Michael Gianfrancesco (Chair) has been a high school English teacher in RI for 17 years. He is also an adjunct professor of English and graphic novel educational curriculum consultant who advocates for the use of comics in education. He has curated programming at Harvard, Brown, Fordham, Lesley University, Rhode Island College, San Diego ComicCon, New York ComicCon, C2E2, Emerald City ComicCon, Denver Pop Culture Con, ALA, NEATE, NCTE, and other institutions and events. He was also one of the directors of the very successful New England Comic Arts in the Classroom conference which was held in Providence, RI in 2011.
He is a founding member of the LitX teacher cohort, the Program Director for Rhode Island Comic Con, and a comic creator whose first foray as a comic writer was to work on the script for the CISA-commissioned graphic novel Real Fake. He also has, what he hinks may well be the largest graphic novel classroom library on the planet, although that has never been *officially* confirmed.
These days he helps curate virtual programming for teachers who want to use sequential art in their classrooms.
David S. Serchay
Erin Heidi Lopez Schubert
Heidi Lopez Schubert is a born and raised Chicagoan. A fan of comics since being introduced by her mother to the Archies and Italian Donald Duck comics from local grocery stores around the age of 4, she continues to enjoy a wide variety of graphic literature. Heidi shares her love of graphic literature with her students and is a special education teacher for middle grades at a Chicago Public School.
Kimberly Brosan Kimberly Brosan is the secondary schools’ Teacher Librarian in Williamsport (PA) Area School District. She developed the district’s first graphic collection at Curtin Middle School in 2007 with a district mini-grant to introduce the medium to students and work with the art teacher to help students create their own drawings. She continued to develop collections at the High School when she moved to that building in 2010 and expanded the collection at the Middle School when that building became part of her responsibilities in 2018. She also sponsored the High School Manga and Anime Club until her job was split between two buildings.
Kimberly was a member of the working group which developed and planned the inaugural Wildcat ComiCon at Pennsylvania College of Technology in 2012 and served as a panelist in a session on Graphic Literature in Libraries.
Kimberly was quick to recognize the draw and benefits of graphic literature in the library and quickly pulled the collection from the regular shelves to feature it close to the front of the library where it could be accessed (and reshelved!) easily and quickly. Long a proponent of give them what they want, her collection Is a combination of student requests and recommended reading lists from a variety of sources. Initially hesitant to read graphic literature, Kim was drawn into the medium by My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf. Now, she’s willing to read a variety of graphic fiction and non-fiction—but she’s still not a fan of scifi or fantasy whether in traditional or graphic form.