Nonfiction Nitty Gritty

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Nonfiction picture books are hot, hot, HOT right now! It's time to think beyond the biography (although those are covered here too). This three-course bundle is for those who are ready to roll up their sleeves and dig into the details of writing both narrative and expository nonfiction picture books.

The NONFICTION NITTY GRITTY Bundle Includes the Following Courses:


Backmatter in nonfiction picture books used to be considered a nice "extra." Now it's considered essential if you want your manuscript to be marketable. Gone are the days of boring backmatter! In this course, author Heidi E.Y. Stemple discusses why backmatter matters, including how authors can use it effectively to enhance their manuscripts. She covers:

  • What is backmatter?
  • Why backmatter?
  • Should your book have backmatter?
  • Should your backmatter be frontmatter? Or marginalia?
  • Examples picture books that do backmatter well.


If you are writing nonfiction picture books of any kind, this webinar is a must! Get a peek behind an editor's desk to find out:

  • What Charlesbridge (and Alyssa, in particular) look for in nonfiction
  • Stellar examples of nonfiction books to use as mentor texts
  • How to make your submission stand out
  • Trends in nonfiction—and what to avoid
  • Surprising acquisition stories!

RIGOROUS RESEARCH: The First Step to a Nonfiction Picture Book

Everyone knows research is essential to writing nonfiction, but how do you conduct that research? Which is more important to publishers - the research or the story? Author Michelle Cusolito and Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss break it down in this course, where they share:

  • Michelle's approach to researching her debut picture book FLYING DEEP
  • Concrete suggestions for your own research
  • What happens after getting a nonfiction book deal
  • How to fact-check the writing and illustrations in a NF book
  • How each book follows its own process

All three courses contain video presentations on the topic, Q & A, transcripts, and audio-only versions.

Your Instructor

Heidi Stemple, Alyssa Pusey, Karen Boss, Michelle
Heidi Stemple, Alyssa Pusey, Karen Boss, Michelle

Heidi E. Y. Stemple Bio

Heidi E.Y. Stemple didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than twenty-five books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children. Heidi lives and writes on a big old farm in Massachusetts that she shares with one very small cat who lives inside, and a dozen deer, a family of bears, three coyotes, two bobcats, a gray fox, tons of birds, and some very fat groundhogs who live outside.

Alyssa Mito Pusey Bio

Alyssa Mito Pusey is a senior editor at Charlesbridge, specializing in nonfiction. She firmly believes that there is nothing as astonishing as real life! Almost any topic, from black holes to mummies, can hook her—as long as it's approached with innovation.

Alyssa began her editorial career in the school division at Charlesbridge in 1997, working on reading, writing, math, and science curriculum materials. This experience proved invaluable when she made the leap to trade in 2004. Alyssa now edits fiction and nonfiction picture books and middle-grade books with an eye for both literary merit and classroom appeal.

Some of Alyssa's favorite books that she's edited include POPPY'S BEST PAPER by Susan Eaddy, GOLDY LUCK AND THE THREE PANDAS by Natasha Yim, OLD MANHATTAN HAS SOME FARMS by Susan Lendroth, THE INVENTOR'S SECRET by Suzanne Slade, BILL THE BOY WONDER by Marc Tyler Nobleman, CANDY BOMBER by Michael O. Tunnell, AT HOME IN HER TOMB by Christine Liu Perkins, THE WHITE HOUSE IS BURNING by Jane Sutcliffe, and A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano.

Karen Boss Bio

Karen Boss is an associate editor at Charlesbridge where she works on fiction and nonfiction picture books and middle-grade novels. She holds a MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and regularly acts as a mentor for their Writing for Children MFA program. Karen also has an MA in higher education administration and worked at colleges and in the nonprofit sector for the first 15 years of her career. She still works part-time in development at Hyde Square Task Force, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth in Jamaica Plain. Some authors she’s currently working with are David L. Harrison, Jane Yolen, Nancy Bo Flood, Rich Michelson, and debut author Tami Charles. Her favorite children’s book is The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White, and she thinks that Holes by Louis Sachar is quite possibly the best thing ever written.

Michelle Cusolito Bio

Michelle Cusolito spent her childhood mucking about in the fields, forests, and swamps around the farm where she grew up in southeastern Massachusetts. As an exchange student in high school, she temporarily traded rural living for city life in Cebu, Philippines. These early experiences set her on her current course exploring nature and culture like the locals. She also spent 10 years as a grade 4 teacher. Now, when she's not mucking around in the world, Michelle is usually in her office or local coffee shop weaving these experiences into stories for children.

Michelle was the recipient of the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for her picture book, Flying Deep, which was published by Charlesbridge in 2018. The story invites young readers to imagine themselves as a pilot of deep-sea submersible Alvin, exploring two miles deep where alien-looking life forms thrive. Michelle has two additional nonfiction books under contract.

Courses Included with Purchase

Backmatter Matters
Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Standout STEAM & Narrative Nonfiction
An Editor's Perspective
Alyssa Mito Pusey
Rigorous Research
The First Step Toward a Nonfiction Picture Book
Karen Boss and Michelle Cusolito

Original Price: $201

"(Heidi) shares valuable insights and now I'm busy creating the best backmatter I can, in my fiction PB. Thank you, Heidi!"

- Harshita Jerath, Author

"Thank you for all of this information!! Wonderful to hear from (Alyssa)."

- Melanie Conrad, Author

"Just finished watching Michelle Cusolito and Karen Boss's webinar about Non-Fiction picture book research. Now I feel really equipped to make my story... something special! Ready for the next level!!"

- Angela Capel, Author/Illustrator

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

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