Jackie Azúa Kramer earned her MA in Counseling in Education. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages. She has received starred reviews in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Winner of Japan’s Kembuchi Bronze Picture Book Award. Twice the recipient of Bank Street College Best Children’s Book; Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best Books”; Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Best Books”. A Junior Library Guild Selection and Parent’s Magazine Book Pick. Jackie strives to write books that meet children where they are and reflect what children see in the mirror and out of their windows. https://www.jackieazuakramer.com/
Awards Junior Library Guild, Gold Standard Selection. 2 time Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year. SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. Silver Medal-Parent’s Choice Award. Japan’s 31st Bronze Kembuchi Picture Book Award.
3 Fun Facts
1. I speak Spanish fluently
2. I’ve travelled to four continents
3. Worked as an actor.
JR (he/him) and Vanessa (she/her) Ford are nationally-respected advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and specifically transgender youth. Their advocacy has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, NPR’s All Things Considered and Good Morning America. They are members of the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council and authors of the award-winning book, Calvin (Penguin, 2021). Vanessa is also the co-author of the upcoming book “Educate, Affirm, Include and Interrupt: Creating Spaces Where Transgender Students Thrive ( Jossey-Bass 2024). They live with their two children, one of whom is trans, in the Boston Massachusetts area. www.jrandvanessaford.com
2022 Lambda Literary “Lammy” Award for Best Children’s /Middle Grade Book
3 Fun Facts
1. Vanessa loves public speaking
2. JR is a podcast connoisseur
3. JR and Vanessa met in 2005 and it was “love at first sight”.
Lauren Sullivan is an artist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. Though she produces video content full time, her creative pursuits span nearly every medium, from pastry to pencil to Procreate. She is the illustrator of Bears Don’t Share, an immersive and action-packed story written by Rick Bobrick. In her free time, Lauren loves making fresh pasta, hiking in the greenest parts of Southern California she can find, and visiting her hometown of Tacoma, Washington. www.laurensullivanartworks.com
3 Fun Facts
1. I’m learning to play the banjo.
2. You may have seen my hands in cooking videos before. They have over 2 billion views on Facebook!
3. I love the Pacific Northwest (especially the weather).
Gwen Agna has been an educator for over 45 years, most recently the principal of the Jackson St. Elementary School in Northampton, MA. She was trained in early childhood education and strove to promote the principles of child and human development in elementary school classrooms. She did her undergraduate work at Nottingham University College of Education, Nottingham, UK. and has a master’s in education from Antioch New England Graduate School She recently received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Smith College in Northampton, MA. She was awarded a Fulbright Memorial Teacher scholarship to study in Japan. She was born in Myanmar and lived in Haiti as a child. She has travelled extensively in Asia and Europe. She taught preschool and kindergarten in schools in Ohio, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. She served as the Northampton Public Schools’ Early Childhood and Civil Rights Coordinator in the late 80’s and 90’s. In this position, she worked to incorporate social justice, anti-bias, and anti-racism in all aspects of classroom practice.
She continued this work as the leader of the Jackson St. School. Recently retired, she is, as an elder, exploring all ways to share her knowledge and experience as well as to keep learning from humans of all ages. She is dedicated to making the world a safe and happy one for all children. She lives in Northampton with her husband, Tom Marantz, has two children, and two grandchildren.
3 Fun Facts
1. I own a 1960 Morris Minor Traveller which is being converted to electric.
2. I have a teapot collection – 127 of them.
3. I’m known as “Nama” to my two granddaughters, ages 2 and 10.
Isabel Roxas is a storyteller and graphic artist. Her debut graphic novel, The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens features three questing kids, a lonely giant squid, dramatic synchronized swimming routines, nefarious rats in bowler hats, mayhem and pigeons.
She has also illustrated several books for young readers, including Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli and Holding On by Sophie N. Lee.
Isabel was born in Manila, Philippines, was raised on luscious mangoes, old wives’ tales, and monsoon moons. She now resides in New York City with her husband and several adopted plants. https://studioroxas.com/
Awards/Honors 2022 Society of Illustrators Original Art show (Holding On)
2022 American Library Association Notable Book (Our Skin)
2022 NCTE Notable Books in Poetry (My Thoughts are Clouds)
2021 Society of Illustrators Original Art show (Team Pom)
2021 CLPE Core reading list (Team Pom)
3 Fun Facts
1. I always trip myself while walking.
2. I can’t resist a crane claw machine. Even though I am absolutely terrible at playing it and have NEVER won a toy, I am forever hopeful.
3. I enjoy collecting facts about pigeons. Did you know? It is a misconception that they dirty animals. They actually like to groom themselves and bathe often, especially during the summer months.
M.O. Yuksel is the award-winning author of IN MY MOSQUE (illus. Hatem Aly), and ONE WISH: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University, (illus. Mariam Quraishi), both published by HarperCollins. Her forthcoming books include RAMADAN KAREEM, and SAMI’S SPECIAL GIFT: An Eid Al-Adha Story. Yuksel loves writing about diverse cultures and little-known historical figures. When not writing, she’s usually on the soccer field cheering for her kids, or traveling to exotic places, and immersing herself in the local culture. Visit her online at www.moyuksel.com.
– American Library Association Notable Book
– School Library Journal Best Book
– Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection
– CCBC 2022 Best Choice
– Notable Books for a Global Society
– Anna Dewdney Honor Book
– English Association Nonfiction Picture Book Award
– Texas Library Association Texas Topaz Nonfiction Gem Award
– Virginia Readers’ Choice Award
– Starred Reviews from School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly
– Featured in USA Today, PBS.org, Kirkus, Horn Book, BookPage, BookRiot, and Chicago Parents Magazine
3 Fun Facts
1. I lived on three continents and crossed two multiple times in one day! (Hint-hint: Istanbul, the city that spans two continents).
2. I speak three languages – English, Turkish, Uzbek, and understand several – Spanish, Azeri, Kazak, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Uyghur.
3. If I had my way, I’d eat dessert first at every meal (but don’t tell my kids!).
Valerie Bolling has been an educator for almost 30 years, and her debut picture book, LET’S DANCE!, was published in March 2020 and won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award in 2021 and was a CT Book Award finalist.Valerie had two books published in 2022 (TOGETHER WE RIDE and RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!) and has five slated for 2023, including her Scholastic Acorn early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS. https://valeriebolling.com
Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.
3 Fun Facts
1. I grew up in an extended family. I was the only child in a house of seven adults, living with my mother, grandmother, three great-aunts, and great-grandparents.
2. I have traveled to five of seven continents. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to visit Australia and Antarctica.
3. I am never without a book. I have always loved to read. I read in the car, while waiting in lines, and on exercise equipment.
Kheris Rogers is an author and CEO of the widely known apparel brand and social movement “Flexin’ In My Complexion.” Born in 2006 in Los Angeles, California, Rogers started Flexin’ In My Complexion after years of bullying in school because of her dark skin complexion. At just 10 years old, she became the world’s youngest designer to ever showcase at New York Fashion Week. Her clothing line has been worn by celebrities such as Whoopi Goldburg, Lupita N’yongo, Lena Waithe, and Alicia Keys. flexininmycomplexion.com
Teen Vogue 21 Under 21, InStyle Magazine’s Badass 50 list, and honored by the Princess Diana Organization
3 Fun Facts
1. Kheris is a Leo, youngest designer to ever showcase at New York Fashion Week and is a teen entrepreneur
Christian Trimmer is the author of the picture books Teddy’s Favorite Toy, What Are You?, and The Good Hair Day, among others. When he’s not writing books, he’s editing them. He previously has worked at Disney Hyperion, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan and currently oversees MTV Books. He lives with his husband in Hillsdale, New York. Learn more at christiantrimmer.com.
3 Fun Facts
1. Christian is mixed handed, favoring his left hand for things like writing and eating and his right hand (and foot) for sports.
2. Christian is biracial. His father, a white man from Ohio, met his mother, a Vietnamese woman, as a soldier during the Vietnam War.
3. Christian’s middle name is “Ian,” named after Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.
When Jean Reidy was a kid, she was a reader, a writer, a poet and a dreamer. She’s happy to still be that kid at heart. Her bestselling and award-winning picture books have earned their spots as favorites among readers and listeners of all ages and from all over the world. Truman, also illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins, was a Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor winner, a Colorado Book Award winner and was recognized on “Best of” lists by School Library Journal, the New York Times, NPR and Amazon. Visit Jean at https://jeanreidy.com/.
3 Fun Facts
1. I’ve never had a pet spider, but I have resided with an assortment of not-so-well-behaved turtles, parakeets, lizards, goldfish, hamsters and even one feisty, fire-bellied toad.
2. My favorite food is crunchy peanut butter … right off the spoon.
3. I’m a fan of football, train trips and tall, tall mountains.