ANNIE SILVESTRO, author of Bunny's Book Club, Bunny's Book Club Goes to School, and Mice Skating, grew up on the Jersey Shore. After graduating from St. Paul’s School and Georgetown University, she moved to New York, where she worked in the editorial departments of Harper’s Bazaar, Talk, and Allure magazines. She later returned to New Jersey, where she currently lives, to start a family and to focus on her passion, writing for children. Visit Annie online at anniesilvestro.com.
Kerry Madden (www.kerrymadden.com) is the author of the Appalachian Maggie Valley Trilogy: Gentle's Holler, Louisiana's Song, and Jessie's Mountain (all Viking). Her other books include Offsides, a 1997 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, Writing Smarts, which helps kids craft their own stories and poetry, and Nothing Fancy About Kathryn & Charlie, about a Selma, Alabama friendship between a storyteller and a folk artist. Kerry is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Alabama Birmingham and also teaches at Antioch University in Los Angeles and at the Sewanee Young Writers Conference in Tennessee. The mother of three grown children, she divides her time between Birmingham and Los Angeles.
Emma Otheguy is the author of the picture books Martí's Song for Freedom, which received five starred reviews, and Pope Francis: Builder of Bridges. A native and current resident of New York City, Emma is a historian of Spain and colonial Latin America. This is her first middle-grade novel. Learn more about her online at emmaotheguy.com and @emmaotheguy.
Why did I write Clever Jack Takes the Cake? Mostly for fun, but also because I wanted to try my hand at writing a fairy tale. I do that a lot as a writer—challenge myself to try new things—and tackling a fairy tale was definitely a new thing. So how to begin?
I knew I wanted my story to have a classical feel, incorporating such wonderfully delicious fairy-tale elements as four-and-twenty blackbirds, enchanted forests, and hairy trolls. On the other hand, I wanted it to be totally original, a story like no other. I began writing, and within a few weeks had a tale. But let me tell you a curious truth about writers—they are the stories they write, the fictions they spin. And when I read back what I had written, I realized I had created a fairy tale about . . . me. Weird, but true! The story is filled with my favorite things—journeys and birthdays and cake. The princess, taking after my son Scott, is allergic to strawberries. And Jack? Just like me, he good-naturedly follows life’s road, gathering experiences he can spin into tales.
Spinning experiences into tales is what I did with The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, too. I visit lots of school, and there’s nothing I like better than talking with kids, watching them in the lunchroom or on the playground, reading their essays and stories, listening to them tell jokes. And all the while I’m doing these things, I’m thinking about how I can use them in a book. Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I was visiting a school in Tennessee when a fifth-grade boy came up to me and said, “Look what I can do.” He stuck out his tongue, crossed his eyes and wiggled his ears – first the left one, and then the right one. I was impressed—but I hadn’t seen anything yet! Within seconds, the rest of the fifth graders surround me. Everyone, it seemed, had some special body trick to show me—double-jointed fingers and toes, eyelids that folded, lips that could be pulled up over noses, knuckles that cracked to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” It was absurd and wonderful, and I knew I had to write about it. The result? Chapter five titled, “Hyper . . . Um . . . Hypermob . . . Um . . . Weird Body Tricks.”
Zetta is a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. She was born and raised in Canada, but has lived in the US for over 20 years. Zetta earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003. She has taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, Bard High School Early College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. She currently lives in Lancaster, PA.
Andrea J Loney received the 2014 Lee & Low New Voices Award for her picture book biography TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DERZEE!, a Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 selection with a starred Publishers Weekly review and an NAACP Image Award Nomination, published in July 2017. Her picture book BUNNYBEAR, published Albert Whitman in January of 2017, was chosen for the 2018 ALA Rainbow List, and DOUBLE BASS BLUES will be published by Random House Knopf in 2019. Andrea is a proud member of The Brown Bookshelf, SCBWI, and Picture The Books 2017, as well as a board member of the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California. She volunteers for the We Need Diverse Books campaign, and as a story time reader, a second grade coordinator, and a curriculum development specialist at Reading to Kids. A graduate of New York University with both a BFA and an MFA in Dramatic Writing, she’s currently a computer science professor at a local community college. Andrea lives in Los Angeles with her towering stacks of children’s books, her devoted family, and their incredibly spoiled pets.
Katherine Locke lives and writes in Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, time travel, and magic. When she’s not writing, she’s probably tweeting. She not-so-secretly believes most stories are fairy tales in disguise. Her Young Adult debut, The Girl with the Red Balloon, won a 2018 Sydney Taylor Honor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and a 2018 Carolyn W. Field Honor Award from the Pennsylvania Library Association.
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of the 8th Grade Superzero, which was named an ILA Notable Book for a Global Society and an NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She also writes nonfiction, including Above and Beyond: NASA's Journey to Tomorrow and Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins. She is the coauthor of the middle-grade novel Two Naomis, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection, and its sequel, Naomis Too. She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She has contributed to numerous anthologies for children, teens, and educators; holds an MA in education; and writes frequently on literacy-related topics for Brightly. Visit her online at olugbemisolabooks.com.
Lisa Rogers studied English Literature at The College of William and Mary in Virginia, earned a Master’s in English Literature from Boston College, and a Master’s of Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University. She eventually became an elementary school library teacher and children’s book author. Now, she writes from the shores of a pond outside of Boston, Massachusetts (and sometimes from on the pond itself, where she kayaks almost every day in summer) where she lives with her husband, daughter, rabbit, too many fish, and Walker Foxhound, Tucker.
Nic Stone is an Atlanta native and a Spelman College graduate. After working extensively in teen mentoring and living in Israel for several years, she returned to the United States to write full-time. Nic's debut novel for young adults, Dear Martin, was a New York Times bestseller and William C. Morris Award finalist. She is also the author of the teen titles Odd One Out, a novel about discovering oneself and who it is okay to love, which was an NPR Best Book of the Year and a Rainbow Book List Top Ten selection, and Jackpot, a love-ish story that takes a searing look at economic inequality.
Clean Getaway, Nic's first middle-grade novel, deals with coming to grips with the pain of the past and facing the humanity of our heroes. She lives in Atlanta with her adorable little family. Find her online at nicstone.info or @nicstone.
CAMRYN GARRETT grew up in New York and began her writing career at thirteen, when she was selected as a TIME for Kids reporter, interviewing celebrities like Warren Buffett and Kristen Bell. Since then, her writing has appeared on MTV and in the Huffington Post and Rookie magazine, and she was recently selected as one of Teen Vogue's "21 Under 21: Girls Who Are Changing the World." When she's not writing, she studies film at NYU, and she's a proud advocate for diverse stories and storytellers in any medium. Full Disclosure is her first novel.
Laura Shovan's debut middle-grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, was a NCTE 2017 Notable Verse Novel and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year, and won a Cybils Award for poetry, as well a Nerdy Book Club award. Her son's experiences as a member of a travel wrestling team were the inspiration for Takedown. Laura and her family live in Maryland, where she is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council. Visit her online at laurashovan.com, or follow her on on Facebook (facebook.com/laura.shovan.poet/) and on Twitter at @LauraShovan.
Russell Ginns is a writer and game designer who specializes in puzzles, songs, and smart fun. He has worked on projects for a wide variety of organizations, corporations, and publications, including Sesame Workshop, Girl Scouts of America, Nintendo, and Scientific American. Russell lives and writes in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans, Samantha Spinner and the Spectacular Specs, and Samantha Spinner and the Boy in the Ball. To learn more about him, visit samanthaspinner.com and follow @rginns on Twitter.
Scott Reintgen is a former public school teacher and still spends summers teaching middle schoolers dark fiction and fantasy at Duke Young Writers' Camp. The birth of his son has convinced him that magic is actually real. He lives in North Carolina, surviving mostly on cookie dough and the love of his wife, Katie. Scott is the author of the Nyxia Triad and Ashlords for young adults, and Saving Fable is his middle-grade debut. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @Scott_Thought.
Jeff Zentner is the author of The Serpent King, a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the William C. Morris Award, and recipient of many other accolades; and Goodbye Days, named an ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults title. Jeff was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and an Indies Introduce pick. Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee is his ode to best friends who make things together. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit him at jeffzentnerbooks.com.
ERIN SODERBERG lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, three adventure-loving kids, and a mischievous goldendoodle named Wally. Before becoming an author, she was a children's book editor and a cookie inventor, and she also worked for Nickelodeon. She has written many books for young readers, including the other books in the Puppy Pirates series and the Quirks series. Visit her at erinsoderberg.com.
Mae Respicio's debut novel is The House That Lou Built, which received the Asian/Pacific American Library Association Honor Award in Children's Literature and was an NPR Best Book of the Year. Mae lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons. Like the main character in this book, she grew up hearing Filipino folktales and history from her family--though it wasn't until much later that she learned to start asking questions. Find out more about her work at maerespicio.com and follow her on Twitter (@maerespicio) and Instagram (@maerespiciobooks).
Erica S. Perl is the author of books for young readers. Her most recent middle grade novel, All Three Stooges, won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Children’s Literature and received a 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor (Silver Medal). In addition to novels, Erica writes picture books (including Chicken Butt! and Goatilocks and the Three Bears), early chapter books (the Arnold and Louise series), early readers (the Truth or Lie series) and plays (The Capybara Conspiracy: A Novel in Three Acts). She has been awarded fellowships by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), the Yiddish Book Center (TENT program), the PJ Library (Author Israel trip), and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Erica divides her time between writing and doing school visits. In 2018, she did a residency at the American International School in Lusaka, Zambia. She also supports literary organizations--including First Book, An Open Book Foundation, PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in School Program, and Turning the Page--in her hometown of Washington, DC and beyond. Erica’s family includes her husband, kids, and four pets (three well-behaved, one not so much). Her favorite foods are popcorn and stale red licorice. Her website is ericaperl.com and her social media presence is @ericaperl.