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  Authors and Illustrators from the 2016 Festival
Nancy Armo





Nancy graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in graphic design. A former art director for several technology firms, she now works full time writing and illustrating children’s books. She lives on Long Island, NY where there are lots of moles happily tunneling and creating mischief in her backyard.

Artie Bennett




Artie Bennett is an executive copy editor by day and he writes a little on the side (but not the backside!). He was hailed as “the Dr. Seuss of your caboose” for The Butt Book, his first “mature” work. His “number two” book, fittingly, was Poopendous! His third was Peter Panda Melts Down!, an adorable departure from butts and poop. But Artie got back on track with Belches, Burps, and Farts—Oh My!. He lives deep in the bowels of Brooklyn, New York, where he spends his time moving his car to satisfy the rigorous demands of alternate-side-of-the-street parking and shaking his fist at his neighbors. The Show Me Librarian says: “Bennett’s use of rhyme is excellent; his stanzas flow and exude joviality in a manner that few writers since Dr. Seuss have truly mastered. Simply put, these books are a joy.”

Wendy BooydeGraaff

wendybooydegraaff.com Wendy BooydeGraaff grew up making mud pies on a fruit farm in Ontario, Canada. She now lives in Michigan with her family, where she whips up all kinds of salads and all kinds of pies. Salad Pie is her first book. Visit her at www.WendyBooydeGraaff.com.

Sherryn Craig


Sherryn Craig is a debut children’s author. Midnight Madness at the Zoo (Arbordale Publishing, 2016) is her first picture book. A family love for basketball combined with a trip to a local zoo provided the inspiration for this rhyming story. Sherryn is an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Mid-Atlantic chapter.

Sherryn has spent the last 17 years working in public health, first at the American Cancer Society then at the Fairfax County, Virginia Health Department. She currently serves as the county’s Health Planner. Sherryn lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.


Melanie Conklin



Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and life-long lover of books and those who create them. She
lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs, who are thankfully
booklovers, too. Melanie spent a decade as a product designer and approaches her writing with
the same three-dimensional thinking and fastidious attention to detail. Melanie is a founding
member of Kidliterati.com and member of the Sweet Sixteens Debut Authors. Counting Thyme is
her debut middle grade novel, coming from G.P. Putnam’s Sons on April 12, 2016.

Debbie Dadey





Debbie Dadey grew up in Henderson, Kentucky, but now makes her home in Sevierville, Tennessee. A former teacher and librarian, she is the author and co-author of 162 children's books. Her first book, co-authored with Marcia Thornton Jones, was Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots. Twist and Shout is the newest in Debbie’s Mermaid Tales multi-cultural series from Simon and Schuster. Each Mermaid Tales book has an enchanting story, as well an amazing non-fiction component where readers can learn about ocean creatures and plants. To learn more about Debbie, please visit www.debbiedadey.com; like her at www.Facebook.com/debbiedadey; and follow her on www.twitter.com/debbiedadey.

Elisabeth Dahl





Elisabeth Dahl is the author and illustrator of Genie Wishes (Abrams Books, 2013), a middle-grade novel. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches writing for Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth. In addition to writing for children, Elisabeth writes for adults. Her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in various outlets, including The Rumpus, Johns Hopkins Magazine, NPR.org, and Post Road (forthcoming).

Ruth Fitts

australiatozimbabwe.com Before writing Australia to Zimbabwe, Ruth was the Director of International Classroom, a geography education program with the mission to “bring the world into Washington, DC Public Schools.” Ruth grew up in Alabama and has traveled to 35 countries as a tourist. She wrote Australia to Zimbabwe to share her love of learning about other cultures with kids across the US. Ruth lives in Washington DC, working in the children’s room of a DC Public Library, giving storytimes and pouring over children’s nonfiction.

Alison Ashley Formento




Alison Ashley Formento is the author of multi-award-winning nature picture books This Tree Counts!,This Tree, 1, 2, 3, These Bees Count!, These Seas Count!, and These Rocks Count!. Her young adult novel Twigs (Merit Press/F+W Media) was featured in Publisher's Weekly as a notable new release for teen readers and named one of NJ's Hottest New Teen Reads. Alison has written for several national publications including The New York Times, The Writer, and Parenting. She regularly visits schools and libraries and donates a portion of her book sales to AmericanForests.org.

Laura Gehl


Laura Gehl is the author of ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR, a Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title, International Literacy Association Honor Book, and Booklist Books for Youth Editors Choice; HARE AND TORTOISE RACE ACROSS ISRAEL and AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNED UP (both PJ library selections); and the PEEP AND EGG series (hatching spring 2016 from FSG/Macmillan). A former science and reading teacher, she also writes about science for children and adults. Laura lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.lauragehl.com.

Erin Hagar

www.erinhagar.com Erin Hagar writes fiction and nonfiction for children and teens. After several years working in curriculum and instruction for colleges and universities, she earned her M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and now lives in Baltimore with her husband, two children, and a few too many pets.

Lee Harper


Lee Harper is a picture book author/illustrator from Doylestown, Pa. Lee’s most recent creation is Turkey Trick or Treat, his third collaboration with Wendi Silvano. Books Lee both wrote and illustrated are Snow! Snow! Snow!, Coyote, and The Emperor’s Cool Clothes. Other books illustrated by Lee Harper are Turkey Claus, Turkey Trouble, (both by Wendi Silvano) Woolbur (by Leslie Helakoski), and Looking for The Easy Life (by Walter Dean Myers). In addition to writing and illustrating picture books, Lee conducts interactive presentations at schools all across the US and beyond. To learn more about Lee and his work, please visit LeeHarperart.com.

Jacqueline Jules



twitter: @jacquelinejules
Jacqueline Jules is the author of 30 books for young readers including the award-winning Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, Never Say a Mean Word Again, Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation, Feathers for Peacock, and Duck for Turkey Day. Visit her online at www.jacquelinejules.com

Jennifer Wolf Kam




twitter: @jenniferwolfkam
Jennifer Wolf Kam began writing stories as soon as she could hold a crayon. Today she holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. DEVIN RHODES IS DEAD is her first novel and winner of the National Association of Elementary School Principals Children’s Book of the Year Award. Jennifer is a four-time finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. She lives in New York with her husband, two sons, a kitty named KitKat, and a love of chocolate.

Katy Kelly

www.katykellyauthor.com Katy Kelly is the author of two award-winning Random House series for middle readers, "Lucy Rose" and "Melonhead." Both are set on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where, not coincidently, Kelly grew up. Her goal, she says, "is to make readers laugh their heads off.” She has succeeded. Melonhead “is laugh out loud funny, rivaling Stink and Fudge in its trouble-maker quotient,” says School Library Journal. “The book (Melonhead) has an excellent shot at winning over reluctant readers,” says Publisher's Weekly. “In the spirit of Junie B. Jones, Amber Brown and mother of them all, Ramona, comes Lucy Rose,” says Booklist.

Tara Lazar




Street magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been. Instead, she writes quirky, humorous picture books featuring magical places that everyone will want to visit. 

Her debut THE MONSTORE released in June 2013, with I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK and LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD following in Fall 2015. NORMAL NORMAN made his entrance in March 2016.

Tara lives in NJ with her husband, two daughters and 2,749 stuffed animals. (Including one very large NORMAL NORMAN.)


Debbie Levy




twitter: @debbielevybooks

Debbie Levy, award-winning author of Dozer’s Run: A True Story of a Dog and His Race, We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song, and The Year of Goodbyes, has written more than 20 books of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Her next book, to be published in September, is I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. A former lawyer and newspaper editor, Debbie enjoys kayaking, fishing, and boating in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Kathy MacMillan



twitter: @kathys_quill

Kathy MacMillan is a writer, American Sign Language interpreter, consultant, librarian, signing storyteller, and avowed Hufflepuff. Her debut young adult novel, Sword and Verse, explores questions of power and prejudice in an epic fantasy setting, and has been called “fascinating and unique” by National Book Award finalist Franny Billingsley. She lives near Baltimore, MD with her husband, son, and a cat named Pancake. Find her online at www.kathymacmillan.com or on Twitter at @kathys_quill.

Lee Gjertsen Malone



twitter: @Lee_G_Malone

Lee Gjertsen Malone is a Massachusetts transplant via Long Island, Brooklyn, and Ithaca, New York. As a journalist she’s written about everything from wedding planning to the banking crisis to how to build your own homemade camera satellite. Her interests include amateur cheese making, traveling, associating with animals, shushing people in movie theaters, kickboxing, and blinking very rapidly for no reason. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, daughter, and a rotating cast of pets.

Stacy McAnulty

www.stacymcanulty.com Stacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’s also qualified to be a paleontologist (not really), a Green Bay Packer coach (why not), and a writer for The Daily Show (totally!). She’s the author of Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach and the chapter book series, The Dino Files. Her other picture book titles include 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath (July 2016), Beautiful (September 2016), and Dear Santasaurus. She lives in Kernersville, North Carolina with her 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 1 husband.

Robin Newman




twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Robin Newman was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She lives in New York, among many noisy neighbors.


Jennifer O'Connell



Eye of the Whale book trailer:
Jennifer O’Connell is the author/illustrator of the award-winning picture book, The Eye of the Whale, which tells the true story of a whale entanglement rescue that involved an extraordinary demonstration of interspecies communication. To research the book, Jennifer rode the rescue boat, Superfish, to the area where the events occurred, and interviewed the main diver and crew members from the rescue. This experience fueled her inspiration when creating the book. Jennifer is also the author/illustrator of the NY Times bestseller Ten Timid Ghosts and other picture books. From Bethesda, Maryland, Jennifer speaks frequently about her books and the bookmaking process.

Laura Rankin

laurarankin.blogspot.com Laura Rankin has been a children's book author and illustrator since she was five. However, her professional career in the field began only 27 years ago. She feels unbelievably lucky to be able to create stories and characters for young readers. Kids are absolutely the... Best. Audience. In. The. Universe!
Laura's first book as an author/illustrator was The Handmade Alphabet, inspired by her older stepson who is deaf. Among her other books are: Fluffy and Baron, Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie, A Balloon for Isabel, and coming this November 2016, her latest story, My Turn!

Dianne K. Salerni



Dianne K. Salerni is the author of the popular children's Eighth Day fantasy series about a secret day of the week, described by Kirkus as “an exciting blend of Arthurian legend and organized crime.” She has also published two YA historical novels: The Caged Graves, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and We Hear the Dead, inspiration for a short film, The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Dianne is a former elementary school teacher who retired from teaching to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2,000-year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Laura Shovan



twitter: @LauraShovan
Laura Shovan is former editor for the literary journal Little Patuxent Review. Her chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, won the inaugural Harriss Poetry Prize. Laura edited the Maryland Writers’ Association anthology Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems and co-edited Voices Fly: An Anthology of Exercises and Poems from the Maryland State Arts Council Artists-in-Residence Program, for which she teaches. Laura is a Rita Dove Poetry Award finalist and won a Gettysburg Review Conference for Writers scholarship. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, her novel-in-verse for children, debuts in April 2016 (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House).

Mia Siegert




facebook: authormiasiegert
Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and her BA from Montclair State University where she won Honorable Mention in the 2009 English Department Awards for fiction. Her debut JERKBAIT has garnered the attention of many professional athletes and organizations. Siegert has been published in Clapboard House, Word Riot, The Limn Literary & Arts Journal, as well as a few other small presses.

Susan Stockdale

www.susanstockdale.com Susan Stockdale is the author and illustrator of many picture books including Spectacular Spots,
Stripes of All Types, and Fabulous Fishes. Her books celebrate nature with exuberance and
charm, and have won awards from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice, and the
National Science Teachers Association. A former textile designer, Stockdale uses pattern in
both her text and illustrations to energize her books, and her expressive prose and artwork elicit
praise. The Washington Post exclaimed, “If the paintings are the feast, Stockdale's words are
the dessert.” She lives in Chevy Chase, MD. Learn more at www.susanstockdale.com.

Corinne Smith

corinnehosfeldsmith.com Corinne H. Smith is a writer and a poet who worked as a librarian for more than 30 years. Her book for middle-schoolers, Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, With 21 Activities, was released in
January 2016. She is also the author of Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau's Last Journey, the first book to follow his 1861 trip from Massachusetts to Minnesota. She currently divides her time between Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and central Massachusetts. She serves as an interpreter and blog writer for Thoreau Farm: The Birthplace of Henry David Thoreau in Concord, Mass.

Jean Taft

jeantaft.com Jean Taft is a New England writer who loves weather! She grew up in Vermont and now lives near the ocean in Rhode Island with her family and one very happy dog. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Her first picture book, WORM WEATHER, was recently published by Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin Young Readers on October 20, 2015.

Carole Boston Weatherford

cbweatherford.com Carole Boston Weatherford is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of 40-plus books, mostly for young people. Her books have won two NAACP Image Awards and multiple awards from the American Library Association. Her most popular titles include Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins; and Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America. She is an English professor at Fayetteville State University.

Jeffery Boston Weatherford

  Jeffery Boston Weatherford is a multitalented artist, designer and rapper. The son of a poet and a preacher, Jeff was born in High Point, North Carolina in 1989 with hands so large that his grandmother predicted that he would one day do important work. That turned out to be art. He earned a B.A. in Art and Design from Winston-Salem State University, where he was a Chancellor’s Scholar. He is completing a Master of Fine Art at Howard University in Washington, D.C. His work has shown at galleries in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Timothy Young





Timothy Young has had a long career doing all kinds of interesting and fun stuff. He's been an animator, puppet maker, toy designer, sculptor, art director and graphic designer. His career highlights include being Head Model-Maker for the Penny cartoons on Pee-Wee's Playhouse, designing and building Muppets for Jim Henson Productions and sculpting the very first Simpsons toys.
Tim is the author/illustrator of 6 picture books including The Angry Little Puffin and the highly acclaimed I Hate Picture Books!. His latest is Do Not Open The Box!, He lives with his family in Easton and has been pleased to be a part of organizing the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival.


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