John (JJ) Austrian, Author J.J. grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, graduated from Bard College and worked in Los Angeles before returning to the East Coast, where he met his wife at a Halloween party. She married him a few years later, in spite of his costume choice. After moving to Minnesota, so that they could be closer to family, J.J. earned his MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University. WORM LOVES WORM is his first picture book, due out in February 2016.
Kelly Barnhill is a former teacher, former bartender, former park ranger, former activist, former wildland firefighter and former janitor. Now she writes books in her house with her guinea pig named Gunter and her dog named Sirius Black. She writes books for kids and short stories for grownups, and enjoys it very much
Aimee Bissonette, Author Aimee is a lawyer, nature lover, and writer. In her legal practice, she works with numerous children’s book authors and illustrators. In addition to her books for children, Aimée has published a book for K-12 teachers and administrators on the legal issues associated with technology in the schools. She lives with her husband, family, and dog in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Cheryl Blackford, Author Cheryl Blackford is the author of Hungry Coyote, an award-winning children’s picture book, and Lizzie and The Lost Baby, a historical fiction novel for ages 8-12. She has also written three non-fiction children’s books. Cheryl has a Masters Degree in Scientific and Technical Communication and has written oodles of technical documentation but her first love is writing children’s books. She was born in England but now lives in a house in the woods in Minnesota where she is entertained by a wide assortment of wildlife, including coyotes.
Lisa Bullard, Author Lisa Bullard is the author of more than 85 books for children, including picture books, nonfiction titles, and the middle grade mystery Turn Left at the Cow. Her books have won several honors, including a Children’s Choice Award, two Teacher’s Choice Awards, and a Storytelling World Awards Honor. Lisa is also the author of Get Started in Writing for Children, a how-to guide for adult writers. She lives in Minneapolis and teaches writing through the Loft Literary Center and other venues. www.lisabullard.com
Nancy Carlson, Author & Illustrator Nancy is the author and illustrator of over 60 picture books including bestseller I LIKE ME! Nancy graduated from The Minneapolis College of Art and Design. When Nancy is not drawing pictures and writing stories you can find her hiking, biking or playing golf! Check out her websitewww.nancycarlson.com Nancy's Blog www.puttingonefootinfrontofthe other.com
Rick Chrustowski, Author & Illustrator "I have a new book coming out on May 9th. It's called My Little Fox and it is unlike anything I have ever done before. It's about the relationship between a little fox and his mother. She is getting him ready to go off on his own. Little Fox discovers the wonders of the world around him and celebrates the seasons. This is a story in rhyming text and vibrant illustrations about parent-child love and how wonderful - and wistful- it feels when a little one leaves the nest. I'm also doing art residencies and school visits throughout the year. I love helping kiddos write and illustrate their best work!"
Joy Dey, Author & Illustrator Joy is a career graphic designer and art director for Old Turtle and The Quiltmaker’s Gift, lives in Duluth, MN. She is the author of Agate: What good is a moose?, winner of the Independent Publisher’s Book Award (IPPY) for Best Children’s Book 2007 and the Midwest Bookseller’s Choice Award for Best Children’s Picture Book 2008, among several others. Joy has just released a Just Another Monday with Anna Skarie.
Cori Doerrfeld, Illustrator Cori Doerrfeld grew up hoping to become an animator, but could not be happier with her current job of writing and illustrating picture books. She has several published books with both local and national publishers including two with actress Brooke Shields, four self-authored titles, (Penny Loves Pink, Little Bunny Foo Foo The Real Story, Matilda in the Middle, and Maggie and Wendel: Imagine Everything), and the comic book series Cici: A Fairy’s Tale. Cori has presented at several Young Artist /Young Author conferences and can never get over the amazing, ingenious art the kids come up with. She is represented by Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency, and lives in Minneapolis, MN with her comic artist husband, Tyler Page, and their own two animated characters, daughter Charli, and son Leo.
Jonathan Freisen, Author Jonathan Friesen is an award-winning author, international speaker, and storyteller. His personal experience with Tourette’s and epilepsy inspired him to write the highly acclaimed novel Jerk, California (Penguin, 2008), winner of the American Library Association’s 2009 Schneider Award—“Best Book for Teens.” His recent title, Both of Me (Blink/HarperCollins) is earning rave reviews for a stunning portrayal of relational hope amidst chaos.
Catherine Friend, Author Catherine writes and farms in southeastern Minnesota. She writes children's books and adult nonfiction, and has been awarded the Loft/McKnight Fellowship in Children's Literature and a MN Book Award in General Nonfiction. Her popular picture book, My Head is Full of Colors, is once again back in print.
David Geister, Illustrator Minneapolis artist David Geister has created the illustrations for nearly 20 picture books, including B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet; T is for Twin Cities: A Minneapolis/St. Paul Alphabet; Alan and his Perfectly Pointy, Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky and The Invisible You. Dave is a frequent presenter at schools, libraries and historic sites. He finds a great deal of pleasure in sharing his paintings, techniques and love of art, history and old monster movies with people of all ages.
Shannon Gibney, Author Shannon has been busy at work on a number of projects! She just completed a first draft of her YA novel DREAM COUNTRY (Dutton, 2018), which chronicles the experiences of Liberian and Liberian Americans criss-crossing the Atlantic, in hope and exile. She also just finished her first attempt at a picture book, SAM AND THE INCREDIBLE AFRICAN AND AMERICAN FOOD FIGHT, which tells the adventures of a six year-old boy negotiating two very different food traditions in his house.
Bruce Giebink, Author Known by many as “Bruce the Bug Guy” and founder and owner of “The Bug Zone, LLC” Bruce has ENTO-tained young audiences on a wide range of insect-related topics. Although most of his articles on insects have appeared in various scientific and popular publications, recently (2013) he teamed up with Bill Johnson to write a beautifully illustrated children’s book on insects, entitled “MN Bug Hunt..”
Michael Hall, Author & Illustrator Michael Hall is an award-winning designer whose work has been widely recognized for its simple and engaging approach. He studied biochemistry and psychology at the University of Michigan and worked in biomedical research for several years before becoming a designer.He is the creator of the New York Times-bestselling My Heart Is Like a Zoo and the acclaimed Perfect Square, Cat Tale, It’s an Orange Aardvark!, Red: A Crayon's Story, and Frankencrayon. His next picture book, Wonderfall, a celebration of autumn, will go on sale in August of 2016. 2016 MN book award finalist for Red: A Crayon's Story
Lynne Jonell, Author Lynne Jonell is the author of seven picture books, four chapter books, and five novels for children, published by Henry Holt, Random House, and Penguin, and has illustrated two of her books as well. Her first novel, Emmy & the Incredible Shrinking Rat, won the Minnesota Book Award, and her third novel,The Secret of Zoom, was bought by President Obama for his daughters. Her books have received starred reviews in Horn Book, Kirkus,, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Sesame Street Parents, and have been published in nine languages. She teaches writing at the Loft Literary Center, is married and has two sons, and lives in Plymouth, Minnesota; her newest novel, an adventure/fantasy for ages 8-14, is The Sign of the Cat.
David LaRochelle, Author David LaRochelle was fortunate enough to have two new picture books published in 2016, Monster & Son illustrated by Joey Chou, and This is NOT a Cat! illustrated by fellow Minnesotan Mike Wohnoutka. His author visits took him to schools all across Minnesota and as far away as Moscow and St. Petersburg. He also carved plenty of pumpkins in October. His fingers are crossed that there will be a Books and Breakfast in 2018!
Mélina Mangal, Author Mélina Mangal is the author of four biographies and several short stories for young people. She also works as an elementary school library teacher. She enjoys being in nature and traveling with her family, using ideas and images from her voyages, her own childhood, and her students’ lives to shape her stories.
Megan is excited to launch her second book, ELLA AND PENGUIN: A PERFECT MATCH in January 2017 and is looking forward to her third picture book, THE SANDCASTLE THAT LOLA BUILT, publishing Spring 2018 with Knopf Books for Young Readers. Meanwhile, she’s excited to be making more school visits and sharing her stories and her enthusiasm for reading and writing with elementary students!
Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, Author Tran is Minnesota's first Vietnamese librarian and has been an active storyteller for over 20 years. Before coming to America, she spent 10 months in a Malaysian refugee camp. She moved from California to Minnesota in 1984, where she found life's most precious treasures: education and a safe environment. She and her husband Thinh Nguyen are the proud parents of four children who grew up in a bilingual home. Her first book, Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories (Tuttle), won the Creative Child Magazine 2015 Book of the Year Award and Moonbeam Children's Book Awards 2015 Gold Medal* For more info about the book, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_ueakQzbVg
Margi Preus, Author Margi is the author of several novels for young readers, including the Newbery Honor winning Heart of a Samurai and its companion The Bamboo Sword, as well as West of the Moon, Enchantment Lake, and Shadow on the Mountain. Her books have been ALA/ALSC Notables, received multiple awards, landed on many “best of” lists, been featured on NPR, and have been translated into several languages. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. www.margipreus.com
Anna Skarie, Illustrator Anna Skarie is a designer and artist with degrees in both 3D modeling and art and a minor in astrophysics. She has a diverse skill set and has worked on everything from designing corporate websites to creating 3D models for computer games. Anna loves working with children. Anna has just released a Just Another Monday with Joy Dey.
Erin Soderberg Downing, Author Erin Soderberg Downing has written more than twenty-five books for kids, tweens, and young adults, including The Quirks series, Best Friends (Until Someone Better Comes Along), For Soccer-Crazy Girls Only, and the Puppy Pirates chapter book series. Before becoming an author, Erin was a children’s book editor, a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, three hilarious kids, and a mischievous goldendoodle named Wally (the star of Puppy Pirates!). More information can be found at: www.erindowning.com and www.erinsoderberg.com.
Catherine Urdahl, Author Catherine Urdahl is the author of the picture books Polka-dot Fixes Kindergarten and Emma's Question. She also visits schools and libraries to work with children on their own writing. Catherine is a graduate of the Loft master track program in children's literature and St. Olaf College. She is married and has two daughters and a pet rabbit. You can learn more atwww.catherineurdahl.com.
Stephanie Watson, Author Stephanie Watson is the author of the picture books The Wee Hours (illustrated by Mary GrandPré), Behold! A Baby (illus. by Joy Ang), and Best Friends in the Universe (illus. by LeUyen Pham, coming 2017). Her middle-grade novels, Elvis & Olive and Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives, were both Junior Library Guild selections. In addition to writing books, Stephanie also teaches writing workshops and draws comics. Learn more at www.stephanie-watson.com and stephaniewatsoncomics.tumblr.com. 2016 MN book award finalist for Behold! A Baby.
Maryann Weidt, Author Librarian by day, author by night, Maryann Weidt has published a dozen or so biographies for kids and two picture books. The first picture book, Daddy Played Music for the Cows won a Minnesota Book Award. The new picture book, Mama Loved to Worry will debut onApril 1--no fooling. Watch for news of the official launch at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis on April 9th.
Jacqueline West, Author Jacqueline West is the author of the NYT-bestselling middle grade series THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE and the forthcoming YA novel DREAMERS OFTEN LIE (Dial/Penguin, April 2016). Her first book, THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME ONE: THE SHADOWSwon the CYBILS award for fantasy/science fiction, was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, and has been published in eleven other countries to date. A former English teacher, occasional actress, and sometime musician, she lives with her family in Red Wing, Minnesota, surrounded by large piles of books and small piles of dog hair. Visit her at www.jacquelinewest.com.
Mike Wohnoutka, Author & Illustrator Mike Wohnoutka is the illustrator of more than 20 children's books. His books include MOO!, winner of the 2014 Minnesota Book Award, LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER and DAD’S FIRST DAY,which are his first two books as both author and illustrator. Even though Mike was a trouble maker when he was in grade school,and thus gets a little nervous around principals, he still loves visiting schools and talking students about creating books. 2016 MN book award finalist for Dad's First Day
Doug Wood, Author Douglas Wood has been called “Minnesota’s renaissance man”. Author, artist, musician, naturalist, wilderness guide, he is the creator of thirty-two books for children and adults, with over two and a half million copies in print. His first book, Old Turtle, was hailed as a “profound work” and an “instant classic”. Translated widely, it has received many honors. Other books are also award winners and N.Y. Times best-sellers, including Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth and his humorous Can’t Do series. Doug has performed and read his books at the White House, at New York’s famed Lincoln Center, and many other extraordinary venues across the country. Douglas Wood lives with his family in a log cabin in the pines by the Mississippi River..