Meet Our Speakers
Vera Ahiyya (née Corbett) was born in Germany and raised in El Paso, TX with her wonderful mother and amazing grandparents. Originally a pre-med student, Vera realized her calling as an educator at Austin College in Sherman, TX, where she majored in History and Psychology and earned her MA in Education. Vera has taught Kindergarten and first grade for the last 16 years in Austin, Boston, and Brooklyn. Vera’s online presence is dedicated to influencing other educators by spreading her vast knowledge and love of diverse children’s books. Vera’s unwavering commitment to social justice and diversity is also the focal point of her professional development presentations for other educators. Vera lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Lonnell and her dog, Mozi.
Kevan is an illustrator/writer living in the Seattle area. He has been drawing since he was knee-high to a crayon. He has designed and illustrated many things including award-winning children's books. His biggest claim to fame is creating Clippy the paperclip helper in Microsoft Office which still annoys millions of people every day.
Varsha Bajaj is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle grade novel, Thirst which was a Bluebonnet master list selection for 2023-2024 and a Global Read Aloud pick for 2022-2023. Her other middle grade novels include Count Me In, and Abby
Spencer goes to Bollywood, which was shortlisted for the Cybils Award and included in the Spirit of Texas Reading program. Varsha is also the author of Its Showtime Kavi, a young middle grade novel, which tells the story of the American Girl of the year 2023.
She also wrote the picture books The Home Builders (a Dolly Parton Imagination library selection) This is Our Baby, Born Today (a Bank Street Best Book) and How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight. She grew up in Mumbai, India, and when she came to the United States to obtain her master’s degree, her adjustment to the country was aided by her awareness of the culture through books. She lives in Houston, Texas.
Her upcoming titles include a middle grade novel and picture books.
Rebecca Balcárcel loves popcorn, her kitty, and teaching her students at Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English. She is the author of SHINE ON, LUZ VÉLIZ! and THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY, which was named a Pura Belpré Honor Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and the Best Middle Grade Book by Texas Institute of Letters. Her next book, a collection of short stories by multi-racial/multi-cultural authors, comes out in 2023. Rebecca is both a co-editor and a contributor. Find Rebecca on YouTube where she analyzes literature and chats about writing as the SixMinuteScholar.
Chris Barton is the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, included on 21 state lists. His newest books include Glitter Everywhere! Where It Came From, Where It's Found & Where It's Going (2023) and Moving Forward (an SLJ Best Book of 2022). Other recent titles include How to Make a Book (About My Dog) and Fire Truck vs. Dragon. Chris and wife Jennifer Ziegler, author of Worser, live in Austin and co-host the children’s literature video series “This One’s Dedicated to…”
St. Louis, MO
Stephanie Bearce is the award-winning author of 35 books for children. She loves digging through dirt for fossils, exploring haunted hotels and castles, and doing science experiments that explode. A former teacher with 25 years of experience in the classroom, Stephanie loves to visit schools, libraries, literature festivals, and homeschool co-ops.
Stephanie makes her home in the St. Louis area, but she grew up on a farm in Kansas, where she learned how to ride horses and hunt arrowheads. When she is not writing, researching, or testing new crafts and experiments, Stephanie loves to travel. She does her globe-trotting with her husband, Darrell, who is an actual rocket scientist.
Nell Cross Beckerman
Culver City, CA
Nell Cross Beckerman is the author of CAVES, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Title, Kirkus Best Books of 2022, NYPL Best Books of 2022, Bank Street of Education Best Books of 2022, and earned starred reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher's Weekly. Her book, WHEN THE SKY GLOWS was a Junior Library Guild Selection and is a Florida Children's Book Award Finalist for 2024. All her books are inspired by place, whether it is discovering sea creatures at low tide in DOWN UNDER THE PIER, marveling at the Northern Lights in Iceland, or gliding by boat on an eel-filled lake in a cave illuminated by glowworms, she brings a spirit of adventure to all her educational titles. As a former TV/Web producer at Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel, VH1 and MSNBC, she is especially adept at connecting with kids over Zoom and creating entertaining video content.
San Antonio, TX
Stephen Briseño is the author of picture books and young adult novels. His debut picture book, The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border received a Pura Belpre Honor. A middle school English
teacher, Stephen enjoys life, writes, reads, and drinks a ton of coffee with his wife and daughter in San Antonio, TX.
Meghan P. Browne
Meghan P. Browne is the author of ’23-’24 Bluebonnet Master List title, Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards (illus. Carlynn Whitt), and Dorothy the Brave, the picture book biography of WWII Aviator Dorothy Lucas (illus. Brooke Smart). Her forthcoming picture book with illustrator E.B. Goodale, The Bees of Notre Dame, is due out Fall 2023. She currently lives in far south Austin with her family and their goats, chickens, honeybees, barn kitty, and blue heeler.
Inland Empire of Southern CA
Tamika Burgess (Ta-mee-Ka Bur-jess) is a storyteller with over a decade of novel and personal essay writing experience. Born to parents who migrated from Panamá, Tamika has always taken a particular interest in writing themes that explore her Black Latina identity. Because of her passion for spreading the knowledge of Black Panamanian culture, Tamika has been featured on various websites, podcasts, and panels. Tamika resides in sunny Southern California, where she is writing her next novel.
Jessica Burkhart is the author of the best-selling 20-book middle grade series, Canterwood Crest, with over 1 million copies in print in multiple languages. Her other works include the Unicorn Magic chapter book series and the stand-alone YA novel, Wild Hearts. She made her editorial debut with Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles—a YA anthology about mental health. Jess’s new series, Saddlehill Academy, is a Canterwood Crest spinoff for middle school readers coming in summer 2023. She lives in Illinois and loves doing writing workshops and school visits when she’s not catching Pokémon or playing Animal Crossing.
Heather Murphy Capps
Heather grew up in a small Minnesota town where the motto is: “Cows, Colleges, and Contentment.” She spent 15 years as a television news reporter (with a brief side trip into politics) before turning to her favorite kind of writing: middle grade fiction. She writes books with history, social justice, science, magic, and a touch of mystery. She’s a mixed-race author committed to diversity in publishing and an administrator/contributor to the blog From the Mixed-Up Files … of Middle-Grade Authors where she created and curates the monthly “We Need Diverse MG” series. Her debut middle grade novel is INDIGO AND IDA. (Carolrhoda Books/ Lerner April 2023) She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, two kids, and two cats.
Hudson Valley, NY
Nancy Castaldo has written award-winning books about our planet for over 20 years from New York’s Hudson Valley. Her love of reading and writing outdoors began in her childhood, when she wasn’t searching for frogs, turtles, and salamanders, and climbing trees. Her curiosity led her to study science. As an environmental educator, Nancy combined all of those interests. She still enjoys spending her time exploring in the wild as she did while researching over two dozen books and many articles.
Nancy writes to inform, inspire, and empower her readers about the world around them. She is represented by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary.
Ty Chapman is the author of SARAH RISING; LOOKING FOR HAPPY; STOKES (Co-written with John Coy, Lerner 2024); TARTARUS (Button Poetry 2024); and multiple forthcoming picture books. A previous version of Ty’s debut poetry collection was long-listed for Button Poetry's Chapbook contest, and Frontier Magazine's 2021 New Voices contest.
Ty's accomplishments also include being named a Loft Literary Center Mirrors & Windows fellow, Mentor Series fellow, and attending Vermont College of Fine Arts in pursuit of his Master's Degree in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults.
J. Anderson Coats
J. Anderson Coats has received two Junior Library Guild selections, two Washington State Book Awards, and earned starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, the Horn Book Review, and Shelf Awareness. Her newest books are A Season Most Unfair, a middle grade historical set in medieval England about a girl with something to prove; and The Night Ride, a middle grade action-adventure about horses in danger and kids who want to save them – if they can. She is also the author of Spindle and Dagger, The Green Children of Woolpit, R is for Rebel, The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming, and The Wicked and the Just. A YA novel, The Loss of the Burying Ground, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press in 2024.
Kate Cosgrove is the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of A Day With No Words.
Cosgrove’s other notable picture books include And the Bullfrogs Sing: A Life Cycle, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and a Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award Honors book. The Dirt Book, Poems About Animals that Live Beneath Our Feet, which juried into The Original Art 41st Annual Exhibition in NYC.
She’s usually hiding in her probably-haunted art studio, with pencil-smudged fingers and a smelly dog named Stanley.
Adrianna Cuevas is the author of the Pura Belpre honor book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, Cuba in My Pocket, The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto, Mari and the Curse of El Cocodrilo, and Monster High: A Fright to Remember. She is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides outside of Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, wrangling multiple pets including an axolotl, and practicing fencing with her son, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
Rebecca Donnelly was born in England and has lived in California, Florida, and New Mexico. She has an MA in Humanities and a Master’s in Library and Information Science. These days she lives and writes in northern New York. Her debut middle-grade novel, HOW TO STAGE A CATASTROPHE, the story of a children’s theater in the Florida panhandle, was published by Capstone Young Readers in April 2017.
Kat Fajardo (they/she) is an award-winning author-illustrator of playful and colorful graphic novels about self-acceptance and Latine culture. They're the creator of Miss Quinces, which was the first Scholastic Graphix title to be simultaneously published in English and Spanish (as Srta. Quinces). It's was also a National Indie Bestseller, received a Pura Belpre Honor for illustration, starred reviews, and was selected as a summer reading pick by publications such as Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, and many more. It was also added to the The Spirit of Texas (SPOT) Reading Program by the Texas Library Association.
When they aren’t making comics, you might find Kat collecting small junk for scrapbooking, rollerskating, listening to spooky podcasts, or chasing after their sock-stealing pups, Mac and Roni. Kat lives in Austin, Texas. Visit them online at katfajardo.com.
Beth Fehlbaum is the author of YA novels Find the Moon, Big Fat Disaster, and The Patience Trilogy (Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience, and Truth in Patience). Big Fat Disaster was named to the Spirit of Texas-High School list, and Hope in Patience was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
An experienced English teacher, Beth presents programs on writing instruction at schools, festivals, and conferences. She loves helping teens recognize themselves as authors. Every time she visits school librarians, she wishes she had finished her MLS degree. She has an M.Ed. in Reading and a B.A. in English.
Beth lives about an hour SE of Dallas with her husband, daughter, three dogs, and three cats. They live in a house her family built in a forest just outside Mabank, Texas. She loves writing, watching true crime shows, gardening, listening to podcasts, and playing cards with her family.
St. Louis, MO
Award-winning, middle grade and young adult author Jody Feldman had early thoughts of working as a treasure hunter, a codebreaker, a movie director, and an inventor. Through a series of happenstances, however, she enrolled in the Mizzou School of Journalism and discovered she could write. Her MG novels—The Seventh Level and The Gollywhopper Games series (HarperCollins/Greenwillow)—have appeared on 26 state reading lists and have won, among other honors, the Georgia Children’s Book Award and the Grand Canyon Readers Award. School Library Journal calls her debut YA novel, No Way Home (Sourcebooks, 2022), an “excellent choice for any young adult collection… also appropriate for mature middle school readers.” And says that, “Fans of mystery/thrillers with puzzles…will devour this book.”
When she’s not obsessing over the next plot twist, you may find her watching sports, solving puzzles, on the road (just 9 more U.S. states to go), or baking the best secret-recipe oatmeal cookies you’ll ever eat. Jody lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
With her debut middle-grade novel, Starfish, Lisa Fipps won 13 awards, including the 2022 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award, and the novel in verse was selected for 45 state award/book lists. Her second novel in verse, And Then, BOOM!, comes out in May 2024. She's done virtual and in-person author visits with thousands of children in America, Canada, and China, in addition to being a guest speaker and panelist at festivals and conferences. Starfish has been translated into Turkish, Korean, Spanish, and complex Chinese, and will soon be coming out in four other languages. Lisa is also an award-winning former journalist, and an award-winning former library marketing director. She currently lives in Indiana and has lived in Texas.
Lalena Fisher’s debut as an author-illustrator, Friends Beyond Measure, has been named a Best Picture Book of 2023 by Kirkus Reviews and the Chicago Public Library; and one of the Best Science Books For Kids by NPR’s Science Friday. Lalena draws and writes in her backyard studio in Austin, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from UT-Austin and an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute in New York. She also spent a year studying Spanish at la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mexico. Lalena has created designs for the kids’ animated TV shows Blue’s Clues and The Wonder Pets, as well as information graphics for The Houston Chronicle and The New York Times.
These experiences come together in Friends Beyond Measure: A Story Told With Infographics (HarperKIDS), which melds social-emotional learning with STEM. In the story, Ana draws colorful charts and maps to help work through her feelings. In addition to its four starred reviews, Friends was declared “a double-whammy for classroom use” by the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. After hours, Lalena rocks out with her daughter as guitar-and-drums duo The Mothermold while her husband and the dog hold their ears.
Debbi Michiko Florence
A third-generation Japanese American, Debbi Michiko Florence is the acclaimed author of more than 20 books for children and tweens. Her books have received starred reviews, JLG Selections, and inclusion on lists such as Amazon Best Books and the Chicago Public Library Best of the Best. She loves to write stories about friendship and family. Her middle grade novels include Sweet and Sour and Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai. She is also the author of the award-winning Jasmine Toguchi chapter book series. She has more books on the way! A native Californian, Debbi now lives in Connecticut.
Author Photo Credit: Monique Sourhino
Heather Fox & Jonathan Stutzman
Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox are an award winning, best-selling author and illustrator of stories for children. Together they’ve created books that include the Llama Destroys the World trilogy (Macmillan), Don’t Feed the Coos! (Macmillan), the Fitz and Cleo series (Macmillan), Butts are Everywhere (Penguin) and several other books for young readers. Jonathan is also the author of the Tiny T. rex series (Chronicle), Bear is a Bear (HarperCollins), and many more! Their books have been translated in over a dozen languages around the world and have appeared on the Indie Next List and Indie Bestseller list. They have also received several state book awards as well as the NAIBA Book of the Year (2019) and a Junior Library Guild award (2020). They are married and live in Lititz, Pennsylvania with their French bulldog, Hugo.
Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children's book author, music lover, magic seeker and avid reader. Sophia enjoys writing fiction with humor and heart. When writing nonfiction, she pulls on her love of science and history. Since 2017, Sophia has helped oversee the Henry L. Gholz SEEDS National Field Trip Endowment for The Ecological Society of America, funding ecological field experiences for students from diverse backgrounds. Previously, Sophia worked as an advertising copywriter and made a career working with visual artists in New York City. Sophia is the author of The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng, a NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book and Florida State Book Award gold medalist. Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter!, This is Your World: The Story of Bob Ross, Bug on the Rug , A History of Toilet Paper (And Other Potty Tools) and more. When she’s not writing from her home base in Florida, you can find Sophia reading, visiting schools or exploring the great outdoors with her family.
Chrystal D. Giles
Chrystal D. Giles is a champion for diversity and representation in children’s literature. Chrystal often says she’s a lover of both words and numbers, she spent fifteen years as an accountant before transitioning to writing full-time. Chrystal made her debut with Take Back the Block, which received multiple starred reviews, was a Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and NPR Best Book, and won the IRA Social Justice Literature Award. Her latest middle-grade novel, Not An Easy Win, received four starred reviews and has been named an ALSC Notable Children's Book. Chrystal lives outside Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and son.
Las Vegas, NV
Carter Higgins is the author of many books for young readers, including Everything You Need for a Treehouse, an NPR Best Book of the Year, This is Not a Valentine, a Kids' Indie Next List selection, and the chapter book series, Audrey L & Audrey W: Best Friends-ish. Her first book as both author and illustrator, Circle Under Berry, was named a Best Book of 2021 by Publisher’s Weekly, Smithsonian Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.
Carter is a creative storyteller who designs playful experiences around visual literacy and believes the wit of kids' language is the best poetry of all. She is an Emmy-winning visual effects and motion graphics artist and spent a decade as an elementary school librarian. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @carterhiggins. She lives in Las Vegas.
Kari Anne Holt is the award-winning author of many middle grade verse novels, including The
Kids Under the Stairs series, Redwood & Ponytail, Knockout, House Arrest, and Rhyme Schemer.
She is also the author of This is Not a Drill, From You to Me, and several other books for young
readers, including I Wonder, a picture book illustrated by Kenard Pak. Kari Anne is a founding
member of Typewriter Rodeo and teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for
Children and Young Adults MFA program. She lives in Austin, TX with her wife, kids, and Bea
and Arthur (her ornery dogs).
Steamboat Springs, CO
Polly Holyoke is the award-winning author of the middle grade sci/fi Neptune Trilogy (Disney/Hyperion) and the new children’s fantasy series, Skyriders (Viking Children’s Books). Combining elements of the Pegasus myth with the American Pony Express, Skyriders is the story of brave young couriers on their flying horses fighting terrible three-headed chimerae. Polly lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and enjoys skiing, hiking, and camping in the mountains. Because The Neptune Project was placed on several state lists, and because Polly is a former seventh grade teacher, she has visited over 350 schools and loves getting students excited about writing. She believes kids need to read, write, unplug from their gadgets and spend more time… daydreaming!
Kansas City, MO
Ann Ingalls passes the day exaggerating (writing fiction) or telling the truth (writing nonfiction).
She has written over sixty books for young readers. PENCIL: A STORY WITH A POINT! made the Banks Street Best Books list of 2020. J IS FOR JAZZ won the 2015 Annual American Graphic Design Award and the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation’s “A Book Just for Me!” LITTLE PIANO GIRL also won the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation’s “A Book Just for Me!” She has received a handful of awards from the Highlights Foundation for poetry and short stories.
When given the choice between educating children or entertaining them with her writing, Ann chooses to do both. Before she was a children’s writer, Ann taught elementary and special education in public and private schools. Ann lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Winston and two lucky black cats.
Terry Catasús Jennings
Terry Catasús Jennings is the award-winning Cuban-American writer of The Little House of Hope (Neal Porter, Holiday House), the Definitely Dominguita chapter book series (Aladdin, Simon and Schuster), and Pauli Murray, The Life of a Pioneering Feminist and Civil Rights Activist. Terry loves visiting schools and making connections with students who have immigration in their histories. Her goal in life is to lead us to embrace our common humanity, as well as sing the praises of Cuban food. Terry is represented by Natalie Lakosil of Looking Glass Literary and Media.
Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Parker Inheritance, which won both Coretta Scott King Author Honor and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor awards; The Great Greene Heist, an ALA Notable Children’s book and Kirkus Reviews Best Book; and the graphic novel Twins, illustrated by Shannon Wright, an NPR Best Book.
Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is honored to now be a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.
Danielle Joseph is the author of the newly released middle-grade novel, PJ Library Selection, SYDNEY A. FRANKEL’S SUMMER MIX-UP and the 2021 CBC Notable Social Studies picture book; I WANT TO RIDE THE TAP TAP. She also has written three young adult novels SHRINKING VIOLET, INDIGO BLUES and PURE RED. SHRINKING VIOLET was adapted into the 2012 Disney Channel movie, RADIO REBEL. Danielle has a BFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Marketing Communications and Advertising, both from Emerson College. She's a former middle school creative writing teacher and has been teaching writing workshops for over fifteen years. Danielle was born in Cape Town, South Africa and currently lives in Maryland. Her picture book biography, RUTH FIRST NEVER BACKS DOWN debuts November 7, 2023 from Lerner.
Boston, MA & St. Louis, MO
George is the Lebanese-American author of the Shad Hadid children’s fantasy series as well as the upcoming graphic novel, Tarik’s Bazaar Adventure, and more with HarperCollins. Currently, he splits his time between the Midwest and New England, scouring the country for delicious food while messing with new yoga poses.
San Diego, CA
Jessica Kim writes about Asian American girls finding their way in the world. Before she was an author, Jessica studied education at UC Berkeley and spent ten years teaching third, fourth, and fifth grades in public schools. Like Yumi, Jessica lives with her family in Southern California and can’t get enough Hot Cheetos, stand-up comedy, and Korean barbecue.
Jo Knowles is the author of several young adult novels including Jumping Off Swings, Living With Jackie Chan, and Read Between The Lines. She’s also written numerous tween and middle grade novels, including See You At Harry’s, Where The Heart Is and Meant To Be. Her first picture book, Ear Worm! came out this year. Jo's awards include a Vermont Book Award Finalist, New York Times Editor's Choice and Notable, American Library Association Notable, the PEN New England Children's Book Discovery Award, Bank Street College's Best Books for Children, and YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults. Jo's books have also appeared on numerous state award lists. She has a master's degree in children's literature and teaches writing at the Mountainview MFA program through Southern New Hampshire University.
Jessica is the author of several picture books including: Before We Stood Tall: From Small Seed to Mighty Tree, which was named an NCTE Notable Book in Poetry (Kids Can Press). First Notes of Spring (Bloomsbury), Hiders Seekers, Finders Keepers (Kids Can Press) and more on the way. Her passion for nature, free play, and learning inspires all her stories. Jessica lives with her family in the Central Valley of California where she teaches second grade language arts online.
San Carlos, CA
Jane Kuo is a Chinese and Taiwanese American writer who grew up in Los Angeles. Jane graduated with a degree in English Literature from UC Berkeley, where she once borrowed a pencil from Maxine Hong Kingston. Jane lives in California with her husband and two kids. Her novels, In the Beautiful Country and Land of Broken Promises, are inspired by the events of her childhood.
Kari Lavelle is the author of WE MOVE THE WORLD, the BUTT OR FACE? series, and AN ODE TO GRAPEFRUIT: HOW JAMES EARL JONES FOUND HIS VOICE (Knopf 2024). She has always had a love for words: as a kid reading books, as a speech pathologist helping children communicate, and now as a writer creating stories. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, their two children, and doggo, Dobby. Learn more about Kari and her books at karilavelle.com.
A snippet of a family story transformed Kirby Larson from history-phobe to history fanatic; her debut historical novel, Hattie Big Sky, earned a Newbery Honor. She’s pursued her passion for historical fiction with titles such as Hattie Ever After, Duke, Dash, Liberty, and Code Word Courage and combined her love for both history and mystery in Audacity Jones to the Rescue, and Audacity Jones Steals the Show. Ironically, the next two books for this history lover are contemporary fiction, including the second title in the Shermy and Shake series, Shermy and Shake: The Not-So-Nice Neighbor and Gut Reaction, which is co-written with her daughter Quinn Wyatt.
She lives in Kenmore Washington with her husband Neil and very naughty dog Raleigh.
Lindsey Leavitt is the author of over fifteen books for children, tweens, and teens, many of which have appeared on lists like YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Amazon's Best Books of the Year, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, and Kid's Indies Next List. She enjoys teaching and speaking for all ages on any topic. Like she could talk about that time she ran on a gym treadmill next to the actor Nicholas Cage, but he was faster so now she runs outside. Haha okay, she doesn’t run so much as stroll. Most of those strolls are between her office and her kitchen. Lindsey has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in the Utah mountains with her large blended family.
Her titles include: Middle Grade: NORTH OF SUPERNOVA, WILLIS WILBUR WOWS THE WORLD, WILLIS WILBUR MEETS HIS MATCH, THE PAGES BETWEEN US series PRINCESS FOR HIRE series (recently optioned to Netflix!). Chapter-book series COMMANDER IN CHEESE. Young Adult: SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, GOING VINTAGE, THE CHAPEL WARS.
Author-illustrator Jarrett Lerner is the award-winning creator of the EngiNerds series of Middle Grade novels, the Geeger the Robot series of early chapter books, the activity books Give This Book a Title and Give This Book a Cover, and The Hunger Heroes series of graphic novel chapter books. Jarrett is also the creator of the forthcoming illustrated novel in verse A Work in Progress, the forthcoming set of Nat the Cat early readers, and more. All of Jarrett’s books are published by Simon & Schuster. In addition to writing, drawing, and visiting schools and libraries across the country, Jarrett co-founded and co-organizes the #KidsNeedBooks and #KidsNeedMentors projects. He is also the founder and operator of Jarrett Lerner’s Creator Club. He lives with his wife and daughters in Massachusetts.
A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive, now a children’s author—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the award-winning author of DUSK EXPLORERS (an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner, Bank Street Best Book of 2021 with Outstanding Merit, and Amazon Editors’ Pick), SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A LIBRARY, NOVA THE STAR EATER, and THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS. Her next picture book, GUS THE BUS (illus. by Geeta Ladi), is slated for summer 2025 with Sleeping Bear Press. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two kiddos, two fur-beasts, and a guinea pig.
Sarah Darer Littman
Sarah Darer Littman is the critically-acclaimed author of young adult novels, Some Kind of Hate (Sydney Taylor Honor Book) Deepfake, Anything But Okay, In Case You Missed It, Backlash, (Winner of the Iowa Teen Book Award and the Grand Canyon Reader Award) Want to Go Private?; Life, After and Purge; and middle grade novels, Taming of the Shoe, Fairest of Them All, Charmed, I’m Sure, and Confessions of a Closet Catholic, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Sarah teaches in the MFA program at Western CT State University and with the Yale Writers’ Workshop. She loves to speak to young people about reading, writing, mental health, and using their voices for good.
Rebekah Lowell is an award-winning author/illustrator and surface pattern designer with a passion for the natural world. As a survivor of domestic abuse, she’s found comfort in creativity and time outside. Her debut novel in verse, THE ROAD TO AFTER published by Nancy Paulsen Books in May 2022, offers a story of healing from trauma, and was a Junior Library Guild selection and recipient of the Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award, as well as a 2023 NCTE Notable Novel in Verse. Her debut picture book CATCHING FLIGHT published by Doubleday Books for Young readers in March 2023, provides hope on the wings of birds. Her artwork has been featured on the Maine Duck Stamp five times and has been included in various shows around the country. When not in her studio, you can find her outside—birding, gardening, nature journaling, rescuing birds for Avian Haven, and raising butterflies – often with her daughters, who she homeschools. Rebekah has a BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Children’s Literature and Illustration from Hollins University. She lives with her family in her hometown of Biddeford, Maine. Rebekah is represented by Paige Terlip at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Katherine Marsh is an award-winning author of novels for middle-grade readers including The Lost Year, 2023 National Book Award finalist; Nowhere Boy, winner of the Middle East Book Award; and The Night Tourist, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.
Katherine's books have been Junior Library Guild selections, New York Times Notables, ALA Notables, Bank Street Best Books, and on numerous state lists. Her books have also been published in over sixteen languages.
A former journalist and managing editor of The New Republic, Katherine lives in Washington, DC with her husband, two children and an astonishing array of pets. Her seventh book, Medusa: The Myth of Monsters will be out February 20, 2024.
Guadalupe García McCall
San Antonio, TX
Born and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas, Guadalupe García McCall is the award-winning author of many young adult novels and children’s poetry. Guadalupe received the Prestigious Pura Belpre Award, a Westchester Young Adult Fiction Award, the Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award, and was a finalist for the William C. Morris Award and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, among many other accolades. She is an advocate for literacy, diverse books, and Own Voices. In her travels, she is always looking for a good taco place and she never met a chocolate mole sauce she didn’t love! She loves to garden, cook, read, write, go for walks and take pictures of nature.
As a children’s writer and play therapist, Robyn believes that books help us navigate life experiences. Stories connect us, by allowing us to feel seen and heard. Whether she’s writing fiction or nonfiction, she hopes her stories excite and inspire her readers, while fostering an understanding of self and others. Robyn’s picture books include: Dolly! The Story of Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream, illustrated by Ellen Surrey, There's Always Room for One More, illustrated by Ishaa Lobo, A Mind of Her Own: The Story of Agatha Christie, illustrated by Liz Wong, and Wide Open Spaces-slated for summer 2025 with Blue Dot Kids Press. Robyn lives in Austin, TX with her husband, two children, a Labrador retriever, and a friendly cat they found camping.
Port Monmouth, NJ
Nicole Melleby, a born-and-bread Jersey native, is the author of highly praised middle-grade books, including the Lambda Literary finalist Hurricane Season and ALA Notable Children's book How to Become a Planet. Her most recent novel, The Science of Being Angry, received multiple starred reviews and was named a School Library Journal best book of 2022. Her debut picture book, Sunny and Oswaldo, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection. She currently teaches at the Fairleigh Dickinson MFA Creative Writing program, and lives with her wife and their cats, whose needs for attention oddly aligns with Nicole’s writing schedule. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @NeekoMelleby.
Yamile Saied Méndez
Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American Pura Belpré gold medal winning author. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s also a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Writing for Children’s and Young Adult program. She writes picture books, middle grade, young adult and adult romance fiction. Yamile is a founding member of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx MG and YA authors. She’s represented by Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Literary
Northern VA & Phoenix, AZ
Laura Murray was a teacher before becoming an author. She is an enthusiastic and seasoned presenter with over ten years of experience visiting schools. Her humor-filled, rhyming picture book, THE GINGERBREAD MAN LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL, is the first of a five-book, award-winning series, along with THE GB MAN LOOSE ON THE FIRE TRUCK, THE GB MAN LOOSE AT CHRISTMAS, THE GB MAN LOOSE AT THE ZOO, and THE GB MAN & THE LEPRECHAUN LOOSE AT SCHOOL. Her books have been chosen for JLG, won the VA and IL Reader’s Choice Award, been nominated for ten other state awards, and are PW, B&N, and Amazon bestsellers. Laura was also honored to present at the Library of Congress with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She has four new Early Reader Graphic Novels coming soon – THE GINGERBREAD MAN: CLASS PET ON THE LOOSE (1/2024), BUTTONS ON THE LOOSE (1/2024), PAPER AIRPLANES ON THE LOOSE (fall 2024), and NEW FRIEND ON THE LOOSE (2025.) She loves exploring, reading, cake decorating, scuba diving, and connecting with students about reading & writing! Visit her at www.LauraMurrayBooks.com.
New York, NY
Raised in New York and Paris, Robin Newman is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, bears, and peacocks. Author of the award-winning Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, as well as several picture books, she's a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project's Writers Council, Bank Street Writers Lab, PEN America (CYAB), and Read Alliance’s Advisory Council. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and spoiled English Cocker Spaniel.
Jamie Michalak is the author of many children’s books. Her titles include the starred reviewed NIKI NAKAYAMA, co-written with Debbi Michiko Florence and illustrated by Yuko Kato-Jones (MacKids, 2021); DAKOTA CRUMB: TINY TREASURE HUNTER, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Candlewick Press, 2021); JOE AND SPARKY early readers series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz (Candlewick Press); FRANK AND BEAN early reader series, illustrated by Bob Kolar (Candlewick Press, 2019); and COME ON IN: THERE’S A PARTY IN THIS BOOK, illustrated by Sabine Timm (Hippo Park, 2022). Jamie is also the author of many movie and TV show adaptations.
When not writing, she can often be found singing off-key, drinking too much coffee, or hanging out with her two sons. Jamie was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and now resides with her family in Barrington, Rhode Island. Author photo credit: Brad Smith
Syndicated cartoonist, award winning animator, MAD magazine contributor, published author illustrator, and his Rich’s proudest accomplishment, the father of two amazing middle grade girls.
Rich always considered himself an idea guy and a one-man band that can write, conceptualize, and bring stories to life. A freelance creative director, a cartoonist or a man that likes to work in his pajamas. All seem to fit.
Oak Park, IL
Janet Nolan loves the collaborative art of the picture book – how a writer’s words and an illustrator’s art come together to create something magical. As an award-winning author, her picture books range from fiction to nonfiction to historical fiction. She searches for stories that haven’t been told and fresh perspectives on events that bind us all together.
Janet lives in Oak Park, Illinois. She has a B.A. from The Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Janet is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
Janet is represented by Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency.
Chad Otis is an author and illustrator of picture books for children. He loves to talk with groups of kids about what it means to be an author, illustrator and former kiddo! At their core, his books speak to how the most sensitive of us fit into the world around us, and what’s possible when we IMAGINE and TRY!. He’s created books that include NEAT NICK’S BIG MESS (Rocky Pond Books, 2024), The Bright Side (Rocky Pond), which has received several starred reviews, and was chosen for the 2023 National Book Festival of the Library of Congress. He is also the author and illustrator of A Little Ferry Tale (Atheneum), which is an Amazon Editor’s Pick, and Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition for Summer 2023, Oliver The Curious Owl (Little, Brown), and an upcoming title (Rocky Pond Books, 2025). He is also the illustrator of several books. He lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains in Idaho with his wife and their ridiculously adorable Cockapoo, Riley.
Las Vegas, NV
Daria's first job was at nine years old in the children's section of her hometown library in Paso Robles, California. She worked a little, but she mostly read picture books. Daria loved basketball, drawing, and painting. Her dad gave her art lessons in their garage on Rose Lane, and Daria's mom rescued her first self-portrait from the kitchen trash can, and had it professionally framed the next day. Today, it hangs in her parents' living room as a reminder that our life's purpose almost always introduces itself to us as a child. Daria earned a BA in English from UC Santa Barbara, where she found herself shelving books in the library once again and reading the writings of many notable authors. After earning a Masters in Education and 10 years of teaching, Daria became a full-time author and illustrator.
Ashley Hope Pérez
Ashley Hope Pérez is the author of three novels: Out of Darkness (2015), The Knife and the Butterfly (2012), and What Can’t Wait (2011). Out of Darkness was described by The New York Times Book Review as a “layered tale of color lines, love and struggle in an East Texas oil town,” and was selected as a best book of the year by both Kirkus and School Library Journal. It received a 2016 Printz Honor for Literary Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the 2016 Tomás Rivera Book Award, and the 2016 Américas Award. What Can’t Wait and The Knife and the Butterfly appear on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and Popular Paperbacks lists. Ashley is also a former high school English teacher, holds a doctorate in comparative literature, and is an assistant professor of world literatures at The Ohio State University. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her two sons. Read more about her response to book banning here: https://linktr.ee/ashleyhopeperez
Lisa Moore Ramée
Lisa Moore Ramée was born and raised in Los Angeles and now lives in Northern California, with her husband, two kids, obnoxious cat, and more yard than she can control. She holds a BA in Speech Communications and a MA in English Literature. She worked for several years in publishing at Disney, and while there, co-penned The Little Mermaid, Jr. Graphic Novel. Her bestselling debut mg novel, A Good Kind of Trouble, is a Walter Dean Myers Honor book and received critical acclaim, garnering three starred reviews (PW, Kirkus and SLJ). It appeared on numerous “best of” lists for 2019. Something to Say received three starred reviews (Kirkus, SLJ and BookPage), was an Indie Next Pick and a Kirkus best of 2020 book. Her newest book, MapMaker, is a mg fantasy. Kirkus calls it "an exciting and imaginative read."
Adam Perry is the author of Ghosts Come Rising, which was selected as a 2023 CBC Favorite, as well as The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children’s Books and The Magicians of Elephant County.
The son of an elementary school librarian, Adam discovered a love of stories at an early age. He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife, children, an assortment of pets, and a growing collection of children’s books.
Erica S. Perl
Erica is the author of more than forty popular and critically acclaimed books for children. She’s also collaborated on books with Dolly Parton and R.J. Palacio. Erica’s books have received accolades and awards, including the National Jewish Book Award, and three Sydney Taylor Medals (one silver, two bronze). They've landed on the New York Times Best Sellers list, as well as multiple State Book Awards and “Best Books” lists. Erica teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program and does writing workshops and presentations at schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals. Her author visits are educational, engaging, and empowering. This may be because she has a theater background, a law degree, and an ice cream truck driver's license.
His kids’ books include the Jett Ryder (2021) adventure-history series, as well as several educational books for Fountas & Pinnell.
Sean has an MFA in Writing for Kids from Vermont College and a law degree from Stanford. He teaches poetry workshops for kids & adults, and legal writing at the University of Texas Law School.
As a founding member of Typewriter Rodeo, Sean has written over 20,000 poems all across the country.
G. M. Savage
Harrisburg & East Stroudsburg, PA
G.M. Savage is inspired by nature, and his writing is no different. He enjoyed classics like Where the Red Fern Grows and Hatchet growing up, which propelled him to write adventure stories.In 2022, G.M. released his debut novel, Jack Mathias and the Boonetown Bandits. His debut was a #1 New Release and Best Seller in several categories on Amazon.
G.M. Savage was an elementary school teacher for five years before transitioning to writing. In his spare time, he enjoys fly fishing, hiking, and mountain biking in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Lone Tree, CO
Dow Phumiruk is an award-winning author/illustrator of children's picture books. She is one of the illustrators of YES WE WILL by New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang. She has illustrated A LIFE OF SERVICE, by two-time Newbery Honor winner Christina Soontornvat, and ONE GIRL, by NYT bestselling author Andrea Beaty. HUGSBY and MELA AND THE ELEPHANT, both written by Dow, are Colorado Book Award finalists. Dow is a retired pediatrician who teaches medical students part time. She was born in Bangkok, Thailand and now lives in Lone Tree, Colorado with her family and enjoys sewing and light hiking. She has been a member of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators since 2011 and is represented by East West Literary Agency.
Growing up, Merrill Rainey spent most of his Saturday afternoons drawing, watching monster movies, and going on imaginary adventures. Today, he is a
cowboy-boot-wearing, picture-book-creator and paper-toy-maker. Merrill’s work focuses on exploring creativity and imaginative play. His current titles
include Roar! I’m a Dinosaur (winner of the Good Housekeeping Best Kids' Board Book of 2022), Oink! I’m a Pig, and the Color, Cut, Create series. His
newest illustrated title Giants Are Very Brave People, written by Florence Parry Heide, is a reimagined classic picture book about a little giant that
learns to be brave with the help of a new friend. Merrill also works for many children’s magazines like Highlights, Ranger Rick, and Humpty Dumpty. You
can see more of his work at littlerainey.com or follow him on instagram
Kacy Ritter is the author of the middle grade novel, THE GREAT TEXAS DRAGON RACE. She's a fantasy geek who has lived all across the Lone Star State. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas, and currently resides in Houston with her husband, their daughter, and (apparently) too many animals.
The Bay Area of CA
Nadia Salomon is a #PitMad Success Story and the debut author of GOODNIGHT GANESHA, which is a Bank Street Best Book and ALSC DIA Selection. Nadia is also the author of two forthcoming books, including her non-fiction, picture book biography, MYRLIE: A VOICE OF HOPE, the recipient of the 2019 SCBWI WOOP Honor Award for work of outstanding progress and a yet to be announced picture book due out in 2024. She writes on themes of South Asian and Caribbean culture, STEM, nonfiction, and humor. Nadia is an award-winning journalist and holds a journalism degree from Emerson College. When not participating in her own goodnight rituals or spinning silly yarns... you'll find her working closely with SCBWI, 12x12 Challenge, the Desi Kid Lit Community, and Storyteller Academy.
New York, NY
Monica Sherwood is an author of books for children. Her debut novel, The Ice House, was published in November 2021 with Little, Brown Young Readers.
She is a former elementary school teacher with a master’s degree in Childhood and Special Education from Hunter College, and currently works in edTech designing digital products for teachers and kids at Backpack Interactive.
Monica lives in Brooklyn where she spends her time writing, designing, and attempting to teach her dog new tricks.
Steamboat Springs, CO
Jessica Speer is the highly acclaimed author of books for kids and teens, including The Phone Book - Stay Safe, Be Smart and Make the World Better With The Powerful Device In Your Hand. She is also the author of the award-winning, BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships and Middle School - Safety Goggles Advised, both of which grew out of her work with kids. Blending science, stories, and fun activities, her writing unpacks tricky stuff that surfaces during childhood and adolescence. She has a Master's Degree in Social Sciences and a knack for writing and speaking about complex topics in ways that connect with kids. Jessica regularly contributes to media outlets on content related to kids, parenting, friendship, screens and social-emotional learning. For more information, visit www.JessicaSpeer.com
North Easton, MA
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was a Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives south of Boston with her family and teaches courses on writing and children’s literature. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of over thirty books for young readers, including the novels Clique Here and The Wonder of Wildflowers; the picture books Beast in Show and My Cousin's Mermaid; and the Once Upon a Fairy Tale chapter book series.
Natasha Tarpley is a bestselling children’s book author with over 20-years’ publishing experience. Her classic picture book, I Love My Hair!, an ode to Black childhood and natural beauty, is a staple on national school and library reading lists, and a favorite among readers around the world. Her latest picture book, The Me I Choose To Be, affirms the power of children to choose who and what they want to be. Natasha is also the writer and co-creator of the award-winning children’s narrative podcast, Opal Watson: Private Eye (Pinna.fm), and currently has new children’s podcast and television projects in development. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Essence Magazine among other publications.
St. Louis, MO
Jess Townes is the author of several picture books for young readers. A lifelong storyteller, Jess has worked in public education, non-profit development, birth and lactation services, as a freelance writer, an actress, and currently works as a bookseller at Main Street Books in St. Charles, Missouri, but her favorite part of any job is the connections she builds with other people. She believes that there is no better path to those connections than through our stories. Jess lives outside St. Louis with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and a fifty-pound lap dog.
Dr. Artika Tyner
St. Paul, MN
Dr. Artika Tyner is a passionate educator, award-winning author, sought after speaker, and advocate for justice. She is committed to empowering others to lead within their respective spheres of influence. Tyner provides leadership development and career coaching for young professionals. She has also developed leadership educational materials for K-12 students, college/graduate students, faith communities, and nonprofits.
For over eight years, Typewriter Rodeo has crafted spontaneous poems on vintage typewriters at events everywhere. From the Smithonsian to the Sun Valley Writers' Conference, for corporate workshops, fundraisers, celebrities, even a music show mash-up -- give them a topic, they give back a poem.
“I love this band of spontaneous writers — they always lift the mood.”
~Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People’s Poet Laureate
They also have a delightful book (Andrews McMeel 2018) and do weekly radio poems for Austin's NPR station.
Silver Spring, MD
Joan Waites Is an award winning author-illustrator of numerous titles illustrated for the children’s trade and educational markets. She is the author-illustrator of five picture and board books. A former adjunct faculty member of the Corcoran Museum School of Art and Design’s aspiring artists programs, Joan continues to teach art enrichment for children and adults. She served for many years as the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator, and is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington D.C., and The National Art Educators Association.
Elaine (E.B.) Vickers
Cedar City, UT
Elaine/E.B. Vickers is an award-winning author of picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels that aim to help readers of all ages find connection and belonging. She grew up in a small town in the Utah desert, where she spent her time reading, playing basketball, and exploring. Several years and one PhD later, she found her way back to her hometown, where she now spends her time writing, teaching chemistry, and exploring with her family.
Chelsea Lin Wallace
Los Angeles, CA
Chelsea Lin Wallace is a children’s author, poet, and former elementary school teacher with a master’s in education. She is the author of A HOME NAMED WALTER (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan) and ODE TO A BAD DAY (Chronicle) with several more books for kids releasing over the next few years. When she isn’t busy writing for kids she can be found cheering them on — coaching volleyball, directing musical theater, and encouraging her students through their ups and downs. She is represented by Jen Rofé at Andrea Brown Literary Agency and is a proud member of SCBWI and the 12×12 Challenge. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband, her daughter Charlee, and her dog, Lucky.
Stone Mountain, GA
Charles Waters is an author, actor, children's poet and educator. His latest book Mascot (co-written with Traci Sorell) has received multiple starred reviews. His other books (co-written with Irene Latham) include: African Town (winner of the 2023 Scott O'Dell Award For Historical Fiction), Dictionary For A Better World: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A - Z, Be A Bridge and the Charlotte Huck Honor book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship. His poems have appeared in many children's poetry anthologies including National Geographic's The Poetry of Us.
Ashley Wilda is the author of The Night Fox, a young adult magical realism novel about grief, mental health, and nature told in poetry and prose, and a picture book, Light and Breezy, Dull and Twisty, diving into understanding the mental health of family members. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and loves painting, making ceramics, playing music, rock climbing, and hiking with her husband, Ethan, and rescue pup, Phoenix.
Alex Willan is an award winning author/illustrator. His books include the Jasper & Ollie series (Penguin Random House) and The Worst series which includes Unicorns Are the Worst!, Dragons Are the Worst!, Yetis Are the Worst! And Elves Are the Worst! (Simon & Schuster). He lives in Chicago, IL with his dog, Harley.
Misty Wilson is the author of PLAY LIKE A GIRL, her debut middle-grade graphic memoir, which earned a starred review from Booklist and was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Misty is an elementary school teacher and a voracious reader who also loves binge-watching television shows. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, David Wilson, illustrator of PLAY LIKE A GIRL, and their two daughters.
Kaz Windness is an award-winning, genre-crossing author and illustrator of a dozen books, including "Swim, Jim!" (Simon & Schuster, June 2022), “Worm and Caterpillar are Friends” (Simon Spotlight, January 2023), and “Bitsy Bat, School Star” (Simon & Schuster, Summer 2023). Proudly neurodiverse, Kaz specializes in funny and heartfelt character-driven books that celebrate inclusivity, grit, and kindness. Kaz is a professor of illustration and curriculum author at her alma mater, the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD, 2013-present), and she loves teaching students how to tell stories with pictures.
Kaz loves squishy-faced dogs, waffles, thrifting, and all things Halloween-y. Her favorite art mediums are pen and ink, watercolor, gouache, acrylic, collage, and pencil, but mostly Photoshop. There's not much she won't turn into an art supply. Kaz lives in Colorado with her English teacher husband, two children, and a bunny-obsessed Boston Terrier named Remy.
As a child Timothy Young always wondered who made the toys he played with, who wrote and illustrated the books he read and who made the cartoons he watched. He grew up to be someone who has done creative work in all of those fields.
Tim is the author/illustrator of 15 books including I Hate Picture Books!, The Angry Little Puffin, Do Not Open The Box! and the unusually titled untitled. He has designed toys, worked in animation and done other creative jobs including working on the Penny cartoons for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, building Muppets and sculpting the very first Simpsons toys. He also created the pool toy The Chicken Fight Game.
Jennifer Ziegler is an author of over two dozen books for young adults and middle graders, including such titles as Worser (named one of the best books of 2022 by The New York TImes, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist), How Not to Be Popular (a Lone Star List selection and an International Literary Associations Young Adults' Choice Pick), and the Brewster Triplets middle grade series (Revenge of the Flower Girls, Revenge of the Angels, Revenge of the Happy Campers, and Revenge of the Teacher's Pets). She is also a former middle school ELA teacher and is currently on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program on Writing for Children and Young Adults. When not writing or teaching, she can be found reading, exploring, doing puzzles or word play, and trying to keep her Wordle streak going. Jennifer lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, author Chris Barton.