Cece Bell lives in an old church in Virginia and works in a new-ish barn right next door. She grew up in Salem, Virginia and drank a lot of limeades at the Brooks-Byrd Pharmacy downtown. She met her husband, writer Tom Angleberger, at the College of William and Mary, where they were both art majors. Cece went on to get a graduate degree in illustration and design at Kent State University (amazing program!). She has worked as a freelance illustrator for all kinds of nutty projects, but is now a full-time author and illustrator. Cece enjoys moments of hilarity with Tom, along with three lady dogs and two youngsters.
Sophie Blackall is an Australian born, Brooklyn based illustrator of over 30 books for children, including the Ivy and Bean series, The Witches of Benevento, The Baby Tree, and the New York Times #1 best-selling Finding Winnie, which won the 2016 Caldecott Medal. In 2000, Blackall was seduced by New York, and moved to Brooklyn. Her editorial illustrations have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Architectural Digest, Town and Country, Vogue and Gourmet, and she has animated nine tv commercials for the UK.
She has illustrated over thirty books for children, including the Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning Ruby’s Wish, Meet Wild Boars, which won a Founder’s Award from the Society of Illustrators and a BCCB Blue Ribbon Award, Pecan Pie Baby, which won a Horn Book Honor in 2011, and the New York Times bestselling series, Ivy and Bean. Big Red Lollipop, which was a New York Times Top Ten Picture Book for 2010, was recently listed by the New York Public Library among the best 100 children’s books of the past 100 years.
Blackall’s first book for adults, Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found began as a blog – missedconnectionsny.blogspot.com – in early 2009 as a series of paintings based on real, anonymous messages posted online by lovelorn strangers.
Bryan Collier is the author and illustrator of Uptown, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. He is also the illustrator of Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport and Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, both of which are Caldecott Honor Books. He is the winner of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book IllustratorAwards for Trombone Shorty. The Chicago Sun-Times has called Collier’s art “breathtakingly beautiful.” Mr. Collier lives with his family in Harlem in New York City.
Anika Denise is a children’s book author and poet. When not writing tales of vroom and doom, she can be found zipping around her hometown of Barrington, Rhode Island in her Monster Minivan or reading not-so-scary stories to her kids. Her most recent picture books includeMonster Trucks (Harper 2016), illustrated by Nate Wragg; and Baking Day at Grandma’s (Philomel 2014), illustrated by her husband Christopher Denise. She has several more coming soon, including Starring Carmen (Abrams 2017), the first in a new picture book series illustrated by Lorena Alvarez; and The Best Part of Middle (Christy Ottaviano Books 2018), illustrated by Chris. Anika and Chris live in a little house near the sea, with their three daughters, overgrown vegetable gardens, pesky squirrels and a slew of imaginary friends.
Christopher Denise is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and visual development artist. His first book, a retelling of the Russian folktale The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, was pronounced “a stunning debut” by Publishers Weekly. Since then, Chris has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including Alison McGhee’s upcoming Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’ Following Grandfather, Phyllis Root’s Oliver Finds His Way, his wife Anika Denise’s Bella and Stella Come Home and some in Brian Jacques’ acclaimed Redwall series. His books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and have been recognized by Bank Street College of Education, Parents’ Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Christopher Denise lives in Rhode Island with his family.
Candace Fleming awarded herself the Newbery Medal in fifth grade after scraping the gold sticker off the class copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and pasting it onto her first novel—a ten-page, ten-chapter mystery called Who Done It? She’s been collecting awards (her own, not Elizabeth George Speare’s) ever since.
Today, Candace is the versatile and acclaimed author of more than twenty books for children and young adults, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize honoredThe Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of the Russian Empire; Boston Globe/Horn Book Award-winning biography, The Lincolns; the bestselling picture book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; and the beloved Boxes for Katje.
Natasha Friend grew up in the house without a television. She spent most of her childhood in the Hamilton Public Library, inhaling books. At the age of six she would sit on her father’s lap, dictating stories while he typed them up on his ancient Smith Corona typewriter. By thirteen, she was documenting every humiliating moment of junior high in a journal she would later burn. (Regret! Regret!)
Her first middle-grade novel, PERFECT, won the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, the Isinglass Teen Read Award, and the Golden Sower Award. LUSH was an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. BOUNCE was named one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for the Teen Age. FOR KEEPS was a Junior Library Guild Selection. Natasha’s most recent book, WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME, hit bookstores in March.
Natasha lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children. She still has every note she ever received in junior high, sitting in a box in her closet. She will never throw them out.
Mitch Krpata is the author of the Poptropica graphic novels The Lost Expedition and The Secret Society (coming April 2017), and the activity book Poptropica Island Creator Kit. His reviews and essays have appeared in Slate, the Boston Phoenix,Paste, and the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. Krpata lives in Massachusetts with his wife, two children, and a lazy dog.
Eric Rohmann won the Caldecott Medal for My Friend Rabbit, and a Caldecott Honor for Time Flies. He is also the author and illustrator of Clara and Asha, A Kitten Tale, and The Cinder-Eyed Cats, among other books for children. He has illustrated many other books, including Last Song, based on a poem by James Guthrie, and has created book jackets for a number of novels, including His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. Rohmann was born in Riverside, Illinois in 1957. He grew up in Downers Grove, a suburb of Chicago. As a boy, he played Little League baseball, read comic books, and collected rocks and minerals, insects, leaves, and animal skulls. Rohmann has his BS in Art and an MS in Studio Art from Illinois State University, and an MFA in Printmaking/Fine Bookmaking from Arizona State University. He also studied Anthropology and Biology. He taught printmaking, painting, and fine bookmaking at Belvoir Terrace in Massachusetts and introductory drawing, fine bookmaking, and printmaking at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He lives in a suburb of Chicago.
Sergio Ruzzier is an author and illustrator of picture books. Born in Milan, Italy, in 1966, he began his career as an illustrator and comic strip author in 1986. In 1995 he moved to the U.S.A., where he’s been creating pictures and stories published all around the world. He was a recipient of the 2011 Sendak Fellowship. His most recent picture books are This Is Not a Picture Book!, and Two Mice. You can learn more about him on his website, ruzzier.com. Sergio lives in Brooklyn, NY.
The author of 100 Best Books for Children, 500 Great Books for Teens, and Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, Anita Silvey has devoted 40 years to promoting books that will turn the young—and families—into readers. She has appeared frequently on NPR, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, and various radio programs to talk about our best books for young people. In a unique career in the children’s book field, Ms. Silvey has divided her time equally between publishing, evaluating children’s books, and writing. Her lifelong conviction that “only the very best of anything can be good enough for the young” forms the cornerstone of her work. Formerly publisher of children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Company and editor-in-chief of The Horn Book Magazine, she currently teaches modern book publishing, children’s book publishing, and children’s book author studies at several colleges.
Chris Van Allsburg won Caldecott Medals for his lavishly illustrated books Jumanji (1982) and The Polar Express (1986). Van Allsburg’s books are known for their mysterious stories and whimsically dreamy images. He is one of the most prolific and successful children’s illustrators.
His other books include Ben’s Dream (1982), The Mysteries of Harris Burdick(1985), The Wretched Stone(1991), and Zathura, a follow-up to Jumanji, 2001. Jumanji was made into a movie in 1995, starring Robin Williams. A holiday film based on the Polar Express was released in 2004, with Tom Hanks as the train’s conductor.
Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over 10 years and wrote nearly all her novels there. Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth-century Ethiopia. The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as THE LION HUNTER (2007) and THE EMPTY KINGDOM (2008). THE LION HUNTER was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008. Elizabeth also writes short stories.
Elizabeth's latest novel for teens is a departure in a totally new direction. CODE NAME VERITY is a World War II thriller in which two young girls, one a Resistance spy and the other a transport pilot, become unlikely best friends. A companion novel, ROSE UNDER FIRE, won the 2014 ALA Schneider Family Book Award for Teens.
Susannah Richards is an associate professor of education at Eastern Connecticut State University where she teaches courses in English Language Arts and Children's and Young Adult Literature. Her areas of expertise include the Schoolwide Enrichment Model - Reading and a focus on literacy and literature, through which she serves as a reviewer of books for youth and a consultant to publishers. She lives in a house of books, was a member of the 2013 John Newbery Award Committee and regularly reviews and presents on books and English Language Arts strategies for highly able readers and writers.