seed that was to grow into the One-on-One Plus Conferences was sown in February,
1969, when author Vivian Grey presented a proposal to Dr. Charles Patrick,
Assistant to the President of Rutgers University. Aware that there was a real
need for a conference where professional authors and illustrators of children's
books could come together to share insights and experiences, Ms. Grey sought
Rutgers sponsorship of just such an annual event.
Dr. Patrick submitted Ms.
Grey's proposal to President Mason Gross, who enthusiastically endorsed it.
He obtained a charter for a children's literature council from the Rutgers
University President's Council and supported the project through a series
of actions that made possible the first conference held in December, 1970,
under the co-sponsorship of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and the
Graduate School of Library Science (GSLS). From its inception it has been
the only conference of children's authors and illustrators to be officially
recognized by a university through a presidential charter.
In addition to Ms. Grey,
the 1970 conference committee consisted of authors Mary Elting and Franklin
Folsom, Dr. Mildred Johnson (GSLS), and Dr. Milton Schwebel, Dean of the GSE.
In 1971, the committee was chaired by Dr. Schwebel with Dr. Johnson as vice-chair,
and expanded to include Frank Caplan, Mary Elizabeth Contois, Harry Devlin,
Mary V. Gaver, Morris Goldberger, Ellin Greene, Dr. Robert P. Parker, Ethel
Richard, Keith Robertson, Morton Schindel, Dorothy Shuttlesworth, William
Sloane, Robert Verrone, Lynd Ward, and Mary McNeer Ward-all distinguished
authors, editors, academics, or librarians.
In the 1980s what had originally
been an Advisory Council, sponsored by the Rutgers Graduate School of Education
and the Graduate School of Library Science, evolved into the Rutgers University
Council on Children's Literature. Its primary function was to initiate, plan,
obtain grant money for, and conduct conferences under the authority of its
At the time it also established
a research resource for scholars: a repository for manuscripts and illustrations
donated by New Jersey authors and illustrators of children's books. Currently
the collection is housed in the Special Collections and University Archives
of Rutgers. During this period the Graduate School of Education and the Graduate
School of Library Science, which would later become the School of Communication,
Information, and Library Studies, (today known as the School of Communication and Information) sponsored the annual conference. Noted children's
literature specialist, Dr. Kay E. Vandergrift, Associate Dean and Director
of SCILS, became an advocate as well as a liaison and council member.
One-on-One: While it retained
the original goal of meeting the needs of published professionals, the Council
expanded the conference agenda in 1984. Recognizing the special needs of the
developing professional and the professional in transition, the Council pioneered
its unique one-on-one format. Each conferee was now paired with either a highly
experienced author, illustrator, editor, or agent for private mentoring on
the conferee's work-in-progress or whatever subject the conferee wished to
explore. This unique format has gained the conference national renown. Many
conferees have gone on to publishing success and some have returned as mentors.
Five on Five: The following
year One-on-One became One-on-One Plus by adding a session in which five mentor/mentee
pairs came together for wide-ranging discussion. Topics cover everything from
the nuts and bolts of breaking into print to the role of technology in today's
Council Members: The Council's
membership comprises noted authors and illustrators of books for young
readers, plus equally distinguished editors and agents. When a member
resigns, the council members nominate and elect a replacement. There is always
at least one member of the Rutgers faculty or administration on the Council.
Dr. Milton Schwebel, from the outset, has been the Council's friend and advocate.
We were also fortunate to have Dr. Kay Vandergrift as both council member
and Rutgers liaison for several years. Council members have always served as volunteers without
compensation, and often have themselves underwritten some of the conference
Former council members
have included Gail Aaron, Caroline Abbey, Tracey Adams,
Stacey Barney, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Rob Blake, Courtney Bongiolatti, Pat Brisson, Denise Brunkus, Virginia Buckley, Joan
Carris, Dennis Cate, Barbara Cohen, Floyd Cooper, Margery Cuyler, Kathy Dawson,
Harry Devlin, Wendy Devlin, Lisa Rowe Fraustino, Patricia Lee Gauch, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Martha Hewson, Lenny
Hort, Michael Joseph, Cynthia Kane, Sally Keehn, Beverly Komoda, Elizabeth Law, Dianne Ochiltree, Stephanie Owens Lurie,
Janet Taylor Lisle, Kevin Lewis, Dorothy Markinko, Joyce McDonald, Samantha McFerrin, Walter Dean Myers, Dianne Ochiltree, Gail Parris, Penny Pollock, Linda Pratt, Deborah Kogan Ray, Karen Rostoker-Gruber, Keith Robertson, Sarah Sevier, Carol Snyder, Judith
St. George, Nicole St. John, Kay Vandergrift, Edie Weinberg,Tina Wexler, Refna Wilkin, Rita Williams-Garcia, Kay Winters,
Thomas F. Yezerski and Emellia Zamani.
Conference Finances: While Rutgers
University has always been the conference site, the Council
and its conferences are self-supporting, relying on conference registration
fees and grants sought and applied for by the Council. The first conference and three others were funded by
Frank and Therese Caplan through their National Early Childhood Research Council,
Inc. Others who have provided funding over the years include Adele DeLeeuw,
Keith Robertson, the New Jersey Committee for the Humanities, Florence M.
Nash (mother of former council member, Barbara Cohen), the Geraldine R. Dodge
Foundation, and the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission.
Conference Mentors are
proposed by council members, editors, and other mentors, and invited by a
committee of the Council. All are authors and illustrators of considerable
stature and publishing experience, editors from major publishing houses, or
literary agents from major agencies. They donate their time to share their
personal experience, wisdom, and professional expertise.
Conference Mentees: Council
members review each application carefully and thoughtfully, and select those
applicants who demonstrate promise. Among the mentees are those who indicate
a professional attitude and a dedication to honing one's craft, who have a
body of work (published or unpublished) that demonstrates ability and progress,
an open mind, a willingness to accept and use constructive criticism, a knowledge
of children's books, and an understanding that creating children's literature
is an art, a craft, a business, and hard work
Into the Twenty-First Century:
The children's book field is constantly evolving to reflect changes in the
publishing industry, social attitudes, technology, educational philosophies,
and global and economic forces. Although the topics and council membership
may change over the years, the goal remains the same: To inspire all who attend,
so that at the end of the day each participant leaves with fresh energy, enthusiasm,
and a dedication to creating good books for our young readers.
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