About Us

Our children’s illustration critique group has been convening since 2006.

We met in children’s book illustrator Sergio Ruzzier‘s continuing ed class at SVA. There were about ten of us in that class, with ideas for picture books about squirrels, hats, and grumpy old men. But a couple of months just weren’t enough. On the last day, we circulated a signup sheet, and our crit group was born.

Over the years, we’ve haunted the Donnell Library (RIP) children’s room, each other’s apartments, and lately the cafe S’nice in Park Slope. All that time, we never really had a name. But “team post-Sergio” and sometimes “post-surgery” snuck into our planners and emails. Sergio never knew…until now.

We’d like to thank our stubbled Italian fairy godfather for bringing us together. But we didn’t want to burden him with a blog named Post-Sergio, which is why we decided to christen ourselves Pen & Oink.

Ruthie Lafond

Ruthie studied creative writing in college and abroad in Urbino, Italy, which led her to Milan to teach English and paint for several years. Her first job after moving back to New York was at an independent children’s bookstore. There, the staff of fellow creatives and garden of books filled her with inspiration. She is now living in Brooklyn wishing she had a pet and talking to everyone else’s on the street. You can see more of her work at ruthielafond.com.

Robin Rosenthal

Robin is an illustrator and creative director who specializes in creating products for children and their parents. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their daughter. You can see more of her work at robinrosenthal.com.

Liz Starin

Liz is an illustrator and writer, and is a former children’s book reviewer for Junior Library Guild. After many years in Manhattan and one in Germany, she set up shop in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, where she shares a studio with Tilly the mullet dog. You can see her work at lizstarin.com.



  1. This blog is looking dynamite ! I’m so excited about this incredible collaboration of artists. Three amazing and diverse talents in one place. Also three of the biggest children’s book lovers I know! This is a big treat!


  2. “Post-Sergio” makes me feel dead. I’m not saying I am not dead, only that I still have a faint feeling I am not dead yet.


  3. Ha! I think it’s more about the sense of loss we all felt when the course was over! Although, I must admit, I almost always called it “post-surgery”–which makes even less sense.


  4. I’d like to blog about your blog. That sounds weird, but what I mean is that I have a blog about books (and another one about children’s books) and I’d like to mention you and link back. Do you have a banner image or badge or anything like that I could use in a blog post? Also, is it okay if I blog about you? I love your site (SO MUCH!) and I’d like to tell my readers they should all come visit it (don’t worry–I don’t have nearly enough readers to crash you site, not by a long shot).
    Mary (Cozy Little Book Journal and The Bookish Elf)


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