Meet Our Authors
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, 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. She also wrote the picture books The Home Builders (a Dolly Parton Imagination library selection) and This is Our Baby, born Today (a Bank Street Best Book). 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.
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, which has been included on 21 state reading lists. His new books in 2021 and 2022 include How to Make a Book (About My Dog), Moving Forward: From Space-Age Rides to Civil Rights Sit-Ins with Airman Alton Yates, and Glitter Everywhere: Where It Came From, Where It’s Found & Where It’s Going. Chris and his wife, YA/middle-grade novelist Jennifer Ziegler, live in Austin, Texas, and co-host the children’s literature video series “This One’s Dedicated to…”
Nell Cross Beckerman
Nell Cross Beckerman writes books for children, inspired by the magic of free play and exploration in nature. As the daughter of a biologist and a librarian, she loves combining STEM topics and language arts.
DOWN UNDER THE PIER, explores the fun ON TOP of a lively beach pier, then revealing the hidden world DOWN UNDER the pier, where the animals of the intertidal zone live. WHEN THE SKY GLOWS is about all the ways nature can make the sky glow—from sunrises and sunsets, to rainbows, solar eclipses, lava eruptions, and fireflies--explaining the science behind these magical sights. Kirkus calls it “A beautiful and informative title for a sense-of-wonder storytime.”
CAVES uses dramatic, poetic language to guide kids through different caves around the world while nonfiction text allows for deeper understanding.
She is a former documentary TV producer/director and produced shows and websites for Nickelodeon, MSNBC, MTV, VH1, New Line Cinema, and The Discovery Channel.
Stephen Briseño is the author of picture books and young adult novels. The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border is his debut picture book.
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 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.
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.
Ann Dávila Cardinal
Ann Dávila Cardinal is a writer and the Director of Recruitment for Vermont College of Fine Arts where she earned her MFA in Writing. She comes from a long line of Puerto Rican writers, including father and son poets Virgilio and José Antonio Dávila, and her cousin, award-winning fiction writer Tere Dávila. Her young adult novels include Five Midnights (winner of a 2020 International Latino Book Award and a finalist for a Bram Stoker), Category Five, and the upcoming Breakup From Hell. The Storyteller’s Death is her first novel for adults and was released on October 4, 2022. Ann lives in Vermont with her husband in a small, and slightly creepy, house.
Ty Chapman is the author of SARAH RISING (Beaming 2022) & LOOKING FOR HAPPY (Beaming 2023); as well as three forthcoming picture books through multiple publishers, and a forthcoming poetry collection. A previous version of the 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 awards, 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 The Night Ride, a middle grade action-adventure about a girl determined to protect horses in danger, and Spindle and Dagger, a historical YA set in medieval Wales that deals with power dynamics and complicated relationships. She is also the author of The Green Children of Woolpit, R is for Rebel, The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming, and The Wicked and the Just.
Kate Cosgrove is a delightfully weird artist with rainbow hair and pencil-smudged fingers. Her favorite things are drawing, reading and hanging out with tiny creatures like worms and toads.
Cosgrove is an award-winning children’s book / KidLit Illustrator. Her debut picture book, AND the Bullfrogs Sing: A Life Cycle, was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and a Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award Honors book.
Kate’s second picture book, The Dirt Book, Poems About Animals that Live Beneath Our Feet, was juried into The Original Art 41st Annual Exhibition in NYC by the Society of Illustrators. It was also a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year.
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 comic artist who loves making playful art about self-acceptance and Latine culture for young readers.
Kat is known for their self-published autobiographical zines like Gringa! and Bandida. Their debut MG graphic novel Miss Quinces will be published by Scholastic-Graphix on May 3rd, 2022 and is available for preorder now from your local bookshop or anywhere online!
Hailing from the lively and magical place of Loisaida, New York City, Kat holds a BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts.
When they're not slouching over a drafting table working on their next book, you can find Kat scrapbooking, listening to spooky podcasts or chasing after their sock-stealing pups, Mac and Roni and their partner, Pablo. Kat currently resides in Austin, Texas.
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.
Debbi Michiko Florence
Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of middle grade novels Keep It Together Keiko Carter, Just Be Cool Jenna Sakai, Sweet and Sour (2022), and her forthcoming This Is How I Roll (2023). She is also the author of three chapter books series including Jasmine Toguchi and co-authored a picture book biography, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites. A third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in California, Debbi now lives in Connecticut where she writes in her studio, The Word Nest.
Author Photo Credit: Monique Sourhino
Megan E. Freeman
Megan E. Freeman attended an elementary school where poets visited her classroom every week to teach poetry, and she has been a writer ever since. Her debut middle grade novel, ALONE, won the Colorado Book Award, is an NCTE Notable Novel in Verse, a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist, and was included on over a dozen Best Of and state reading lists. Megan is also a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and the author of the poetry chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone. An award-winning teacher with decades of classroom experience, Megan is nationally recognized for her work leading workshops and speaking to audiences across the country. Megan used to live in northeast Los Angeles, central Ohio, northern Norway, and on Caribbean cruise ships. Now she lives in northern Colorado.
Author Photo Credit: Laura Carson
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 an NPR Best Book. Her next middle-grade novel, Not An Easy Win, will be published in February 2023. Chrystal lives outside Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and son.
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 novels-in-verse 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, Gnome-a-geddon, 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. Kari Anne lives in Austin, TX with her wife, three kids, and their two dogs, Bea & Arthur.
Terry Catasús Jennings
Terry Catasús Jennings is a Cuban-American writer who immigrated to the United States after her father was jailed in Cuba by Fidel Castro’s government. She was twelve at the time and knew no English. The Little House of Hope/La casita de esperanza is a semi-autobiographical story in which immigrants give each other a helping hand in a new country. 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 Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
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 Fall 2023 from Lerner.
George Jreije is the Lebanese-American author of the Shad Hadid children's fantasy series with HarperCollins. He has also written short stories published in collaboration with UNICEF as well as forthcoming graphic novels from HarperCollins. When not writing, George enjoys trying tasty Arabic pastries, messing with new yoga poses, and mentoring other writers.
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.
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, (forthcoming Summer 2023) are inspired by the events of her childhood.
Kari is the author of the picture book, WE MOVE THE WORLD (HarperCollins 2021), and a not-yet-announced picture book biography. 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, her two kids and their two dogs.
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 THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, NOVA THE STAR EATER, DUSK EXPLORERS (an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner, Bank Street Best Book of 2021 with Outstanding Merit, and Amazon Editors’ Pick), and SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A LIBRARY. 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 (Scholastic 11/1/22), 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. As well as writing novels, Sarah is an instructor in the Writing Department at Western Connecticut State University and teaches creative writing at the Yale Summer Writers’ Conference. She is also an award-winning opinion columnist. Sarah lives in Connecticut with her husband and two dogs in a house that never seems to have enough bookshelves.
Rebekah Lowell is an author/illustrator, and surface pattern designer with a passion for the natural world. As a survivor of domestic abuse, she’s found the natural world to be a peaceful healing ground. Her debut novel in verse, THE ROAD TO AFTER, published with Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House on May 10, 2022, and her debut picture book CATCHING FLIGHT, publishes with Doubleday Books for Young Readers in spring 2023. 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. Her artwork has been featured on the Maine Duck Stamp five times and she is also an art educator. She lives with her family in her hometown of Biddeford, Maine.
Guadalupe García McCall
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.
Katie Mazeika can’t imagine a better job than making books. She loves creating characters that make
an impression. Katie specializes in telling stories based on real people and events and likes to highlight
disabled voices in her work. Her author/illustrator debut, “Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid” will be published by Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books on September 13, 2022 and is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Katie is currently working on a picture book biography of the inventor Beulah Henry (known as Lady Edison) to be published by Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books in 2023. Katie's recent books as an illustrator include the first two books in the “Chicken Soup for the Baby’s Soul” series, EVERYONE SHARES (EXCEPT CAT) and EVERYONE SAYS PLEASE (EXCEPT CAT), both by Jaime Michalak . “Playdate! (with Bear Too?)”, the third book in the series illustrated by Katie, will be released on March 7, 2023. Katie also illustrated five books in Nomad Press’s Picture Book Science Series and four books in their Picture Book Biography Series.
When she’s not drawing Katie likes to spend her time gardening or reading other people’s books. Katie
currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
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 debut picture book, Dolly! The Story of Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream, released on June 7, 2022.
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
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 two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels.
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
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."
Erica S. Perl
Erica writes picture books, novels, chapter books, plays, articles, and more. Her books have received accolades and awards, including the National Jewish Book Award, and three Sydney Taylor Medals (one silver, two bronze). They've also landed on State Book Award lists, “Best Books” lists, and library lists.
She teaches and presents at schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals (and she's now scheduling in-person and virtual visits for 2022-23). 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.
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.
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.
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.
Jessica Speer is the award-winning author of BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships and Middle School – Safety Goggles Advised. Her interactive books for preteens and teens entertain readers while exploring social-emotional topics. Blending humor, a dash of science, stories, and insights, her writing unpacks the social stuff that peaks during adolescence. She has a master’s degree in social sciences and explores topics in ways that connect with kids. Jessica is regularly featured in and contributes to media outlets on topics related to kids, teens parenting, and friendship.
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.
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
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.
Elaine (E.B.) Vickers
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 husband and three kids.
Chelsea Lin Wallace
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.
Charles Waters is an author, actor, children's poet and educator. His books (co-written with Irene Latham) include: the award winning Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship, Dictionary For A Better World: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A - Z, African Town and Be A Bridge. His poems have appeared in many children's poetry anthologies including National Geographic's The Poetry of Us.
Alex Willan in an award winning author/illustrator. His books include the Jasper & Ollie series (Penguin Random House) and the Gilbert the goblin series which includes Unicorns Are the Worst! and Dragons Are the Worst! (Simon & Schuster). His upcoming titles include Yetis Are the Worst! and Got Your Nose (written by Alan Katz). He lives in Chicago, IL with his dog, Harley.
Misty Wilson, author of the middle grade graphic memoir Play Like a Girl, teaches by day and writes by night. She is a voracious reader, and she loves binge-watching television shows. She lives in 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 the author of several novels for young and young-at-heart readers, including Worser, Revenge of the Flower Girls, and How Not to Be Popular. She also serves as faculty co-chair of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. A native Texan of Mexican American heritage, Jennifer lives in Austin with her husband (and favorite author), Chris Barton, and their boss, a terrier mix named Ernie. When not teaching or creating books, Jennifer loves to visit schools, festivals, and conferences to lead workshops and presentations, urging readers and writers to recognize their own powers and use them for good.