Aladdin’s team has extensive expertise in every category, from picture books through young adult.

Jon Anderson

President and Publisher, Children’s Publishing Division

Mara Anastas

Vice President, Publisher

Mara was named Publisher of Simon Pulse and Aladdin Books in 2014.  She is responsible for the overall editorial content, growth, and development of these imprints as well as marshalling new content for Jeter Children’s Publishing and Beyond Words. Mara has been with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing since 2003 where she started as VP Sales and Subrights then moved on to Deputy Publisher for trade and licensing imprints.  Mara played a major role in the successes of New York Times and USA TODAY bestsellers such as Rachel Renée Russell, Jenna Evans Welch, Brandon Mull, and Shannon Messenger.

More recently Mara has published bestselling authors such as Kiersten White, Sandhya Menon, and Ainsley Earhardt. Other authors Mara has published and worked with include Printz Honor Winner Deb Caletti, Edgar Award Winner James Ponti, Morris Award finalist Akemi Dawn Bowman, and media personalities such as Maddie Ziegler, The Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw, and Inside Edition’s Megan Alexander.

Kristin Gilson

Editorial Director

Kristin joined the Aladdin team in Fall 2019 after many years as Editorial Director at Puffin Books, and spent the early part of her career in the children’s divisions of Random House and HarperCollins. During her time at Puffin, she edited a broad range of titles including movie novelizations written by Lynne Reid Banks and Peter Lerangis, multiple books by National Book Award finalist Kathleen Duey, several titles by Schneider Award-winning author Jonathan Friesen, the Young Readers’ adaptation of Al Gore’s Our Choice, and a variety of series including Hank the Cowdog, Sweep, Vet Volunteers, and more. She also published numerous new editions of beloved classics and contemporary favorites, many containing new or never-before-seen material, and has had the good fortune to work with authors such as Gayle Forman, Al Gore, Jacqueline Woodson, Nancy Werlin, S. E. Hinton, and Laurie Halse Anderson.

A lifelong book enthusiast, Kristin firmly believes in the power of a good story, and still has her very first library card. She’s excited to start building her list at Aladdin.

What’s on Kristin’s Wish List?
On the fiction side: realistic fiction with a focus on building representation for the Asian/South Asian, Latinx, LGBTQ, and physically challenged communities. I’m particularly drawn to quirky characters who are looking to figure out (or create) their place in the world. I like stories with honesty and heart; books that can make readers laugh, cry, think, and feel. I love a strong, smart, nerdy girl protagonist, strong sibling stories, and snarky humor, and am also looking for books that will help keep middle-grade boys devoted to reading. On the non-fiction side: I’m looking for stories of overcoming adversity, books about young people who are making a difference, celebrations of unsung heroes, and humorous approaches to unusual subjects.

Liesa Abrams

Associate Editorial Director

Liesa joined Simon & Schuster in 2006, editing for both the Aladdin and Pulse imprints. On the Aladdin list, Liesa launched Rachel Renée Russell’s #1 bestselling Dork Diaries series and edits New York Times bestselling series from Brandon Mull, Lisa McMann, James Riley, and Shannon Messenger. Additional authors she has worked with at Aladdin include Kevin Sands on the award-winning Blackthorn Key series, Jodi Lynn Anderson, James Dashner, and Alan Silberberg. Liesa started in children’s publishing in 1997 at the company now known as Alloy Entertainment, editing classic series like Sweet Valley High. She left Alloy in 2003 to become a founding editor of Penguin’s Razorbill imprint. Liesa’s middle grade tastes focus on fantasy, action/adventure, and bittersweet heartbreak. Follow Liesa on Twitter @BatgirlEditor to hear all you need to know about Batman, comics, and gluten-free treats.

What’s on Liesa’s Wish List?
Truly original fantasy worlds and action/adventure stories grounded by accessible characters with universally relatable wants and needs (think: how Star Wars is driven by father/son angst and The Lord of the Rings is all about people finding their places in their families, saving their home, etc.); humor with a dark edge (think the TV show Community, not Will Ferrell); magic realism; middle grade novels exploring heavier themes of trauma, grief, loss, and unusual family dynamics.

Karen Nagel

Executive Editor

Karen joined the Aladdin team in 2011. She has been fortunate to work on children's books of every sort and genre, but has a preference for picture and early middle grade and chapter books (fiction and nonfiction), the stories that are the first to capture the youngest imaginations. Her list runs the gamut from chapter book series including Candy Fairies and Sparkle Spa to Sue Macy’s biography of Sally Ride; from Heather and Ethan Long’s MAX & MILO picture books to illustrated chapter books Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard and Buck’s Tooth by Diane Kredensor.

What’s on Karen’s Wish List?
Fresh and funny stories and characters (picture book to chapter book, through younger middle grade) that will appeal to and engage beginning and reluctant readers; nonfiction stories in inventive formats that can be as fascinating on the page as they are in real life.

Alyson Heller

Senior Editor

Alyson joined the Aladdin team in 2008 after a two-year stint in the Simon & Schuster Associates Program. She acquires picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and the occasional YA, but her heart is in contemporary middle grade. Aly is actively looking for non-fiction projects as well for our list. On both the non-fiction and fictional side, she has a particular affinity for strong female characters who kick butt and take names, stories that represent the under-represented and stories that take on tough stuff in the middle grade space.  Some recent and upcoming books she’s edited range from nonfiction projects, (Life in Motion YR Edition by Misty Copeland, The Distance Between Us YR Edition by Reyna Grande, Born Just Right by Jordan and Jen Lee Reeves), picture books (Way Past Bedtime by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Rich Wake) to series (Goddess Girls and Thunder Girls by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams), to contemporary MG reads (Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee, Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen). Tweet her @EditorAlysonH.

What’s on Aly’s Wish List?
Diverse voices and stories that reflect our society today (through ethnic/racial identity, socio-economic, or physical diversity); stories that explore complicated family bonds, retellings of movies, ballets, or classics for a middle grade audience with a contemporary spin; a MG or YA that explores a story with an adoptee as the main character (but the story itself is not about finding one’s birth parent(s)). I would love to find more diverse voices in particular for our chapter book list. For picture books, I love humorous, high concept manuscripts with limited text—and a little dark humor never hurts!

Tricia Lin

Assistant Editor

Tricia joined Aladdin in 2016 following internships with Sterling Lord Literistic, Simon & Schuster Education & Library, and Delacorte Press. At Aladdin, she has had the privilege of working with wonderful authors such as Kate Hannigan, Barbara Dee, and Kevin Sands. When she isn’t reading, you can find her writing, watching movies, or trying to talk people into playing board games with her. Tricia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from New York University. Follow her on Twitter at @TriciaELin.

What’s on Tricia’s Wish List?
In picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels, Tricia is looking for: character-driven narratives; true, diverse, and uniquely captivating voices; atmospheric speculative fiction, spanning magical realism to high science fiction and fantasy; contemporary realistic stories that are unassuming yet heartfelt; complex characters and relationships; differing perspectives; darker undertones; dry, irreverent humor.

Anna Parsons

Editorial Assistant

Anna joined the Aladdin team in June 2018 after interning at The Overlook Press, Open Road Integrated Media, Holloway Literary Agency, and Tor. She received an MS in Publishing from New York University and has bachelor’s degrees in history and Spanish from Auburn University. When she isn’t reading, you can find her playing piano, watching shows on Netflix or Broadway, hosting game nights, or dreaming of traveling the world.

What’s on Anna’s Wish List?
Middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction, light horror, adventure, and mysteries, featuring immersive worlds, quick pacing, diverse characters, and compelling voices; narrative and historical nonfiction; humorous and holiday-themed picture books.