About Our Experts

A book given as a gift should be special. It should stand out. It should be worth keeping. Finding those books is not easy. That's why our literary experts are here to help you with their vast knowledge and experience.

Our advisory board of librarians, educators, authors, and industry experts carefully select the most beloved books and gather them into unique collections. From historical fiction to bedtime stories for babies, you can be sure that every book we choose is among the best books in its category. Our selections include award winners, old favorites, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.


Cressida Hanson is the Children's Book Buyer & Manager for Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, California. Cressida enjoys working directly with young readers to match them with books that reflect their interests. She holds a Master's in Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Formerly Cressida served as a librarian at a community college, as well as on-board a cruise ship. She is a book-a-day reader; if busy, book-every-other-day.

Alicia Bell is a Children's Librarian for the Belvedere-Tiburon Public Library and is on the California Young Reader Medal Committee. She is a book consultant for the Developmental Studies Center, a non-profit organization that creates research based curricula and professional development services for schools and after school programs. Alicia is a member of the American Library Association and the California Library Association. She holds a Master's in Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Kristen Knick Breck is a children's book specialist. Formerly a children's book editor for Chronicle Books, Kristen is currently writing and getting an advanced degree in children's literature. She works with parents, teachers, and schools in selecting books for families, individual kids, and book fairs. In addition, she has worked in the fields of character development and youth service learning, and is a volunteer nature guide for school-aged children.

Marianne M. Halpin, Ed.D. views multicultural children's literature as both a mirror in which children can see themselves reflected and a window through which they can see and understand friends. She holds a doctorate in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco and is Program Chair of Reading the World: A Conference Celebrating Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. Marianne is the former Head Librarian of The San Francisco Day School a kindergarten through eighth grade co-educational independent day school. She now lives on her farm in Connecticut.

Mary Ellen Hannibal is a long-time editor and writer who has worked for magazines, newspapers, non-profits, and corporations. She is a juror for the California Book Awards, and moderates author interviews at the Commonwealth Club and the San Francisco JCC. She is the author of Leaves & Pods (Abrams, 2006) and Good Parenting Through Your Divorce (Marlowe & Company, 2003 and 2007).

Helen Huber is the Librarian at Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco and is an expert on finding great books for boys. Helen has taught both in public and private schools as a self-contained and Gifted and Talented elementary classroom teacher. She has also been a reading tutor and reading consultant and has served as Curriculum Coordinator for a school district in New Hampshire. Helen loves to read, cook and soak in hot springs, not necessarily in that order.

Diana Ketcham holds a PhD. in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. She served as the Book Editor of the Oakland Tribune and was a founder of the Bay Area Book Reviewer's Association. Her book reviews have appeared in the New Republic, The Nation, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. She is currently Senior Editor at the Arion Press.

Beth Lisick has published poems, essays, a short fiction collection, and also wrote a weekly nightlife column for SF Gate for eight years. Her stage and screen collaborations with writer/performer Tara Jepsen have yielded some uncomfortable moments, the most recent being a short film called Diving for Pearls which continues to play the international film festival circuit. She also co-organizes the Porchlight Storytelling Series, a monthly show for amateur storytellers in San Francisco. Her most recent book, Everybody Into the Pool, was a New York Times extended list bestseller and made Entertainment Weekly's list of Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2005.

Timmie Poh has been a librarian at the Tracy Memorial Library in New London, New Hampshire, for over 24 years. Timmie ran the Children's Department for over 20 years, and now enjoys working in adult services. Tracy Library has been named by the American Library Association several times for being "one of the top ten public libraries of its size" in the country! Timmie has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has taught first grade and kindergarten.

Mildred Vasan has worked in the publishing industry for over 27 years as an editor and literary agent. Mildred is currently an acquisitions editor for two publishers of academic books. She is also a writer and lecturer on US culture and multicultural issues. Mildred holds an MA in international affairs from New York University and a BA in political science from Oberlin College.