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Meet the Festival’s Authors/Illustrators

MJ & Herm Auch

MJ & Herm Auch

Mary Jane and Herm Auch have written and co-illustrated a number of punny, poultry-inspired picture books. The most recent are Souperchicken and The Plot Chickens. Mary Jane Auch is also the award-winning author of One-Handed Catch, a Texas Bluebonnet choice; Wing Nut, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book; Ashes of Roses, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Guitar Boy, and her newest novel, One Plus One Equals Blue.

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Susan Williams Beckhorn

Susan Williams Beckhorn

Susan Williams Beckhorn is the award-winning author of six children’s books, two of which she illustrated. She grew up in a family where kids, animals, and the outdoors were cherished. Cozy hours listening to her parents read aloud led to a life-long passion for books. She read walking to school, under the covers, everywhere! She says, “I just figured I would write my own stories one day. There is nothing else I would rather do. No one should ever think writing for children is easy or trivial. Our children deserve the very best.” Susan lives and writes in Rexville, NY.

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Julie Berry

Julie Berry

Julie Berry grew up in Medina, New York and now lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband and four sons. She holds a BS from Rensselaer and an MFA from Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the author of the Carnegie Medal and Edgar Award nominated YA novel, All the Truth That’s In Me (Viking Books, 2013), as well as The AmaranthEnchantment (2009, Bloomsbury USA), Secondhand Charm (2010, Bloomsbury USA), and The Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series (2010-11 Penguin).

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Kathleen Blasi

Kathleen Blasi

Kathleen Blasi, Co-Director of the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, is the author of middle-grade books A Name of Honor and Are Organized Sports Better for Kids Than Pickup Games? (both with Mondo Publishing). She enjoys visiting schools and libraries, to share her love of reading and writing. Her favorite quote from a third-grade student, prompted by Kathleen’s revealing that her first book took four years from first draft to publication: “Wow! You’re a slow writer, just like me!”

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Suzanne Bloom

Suzanne Bloom

Suzanne Bloom has been been drawing, painting, procrastinating and making things all her life, mostly here in upstate New York. She grew up in Queens and went to Cooper Union before hightailing it to the land of snow tires and washboard roads. Her 16th book is a continuation of the small adventures of Goose and Bear and Little Fox. They have brought her to many new places and garnered a few awards, like the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, the PA One Book(twice), the Texas 2X2 (twice), the UKLA short list of best books (2013). But one of her favorite tributes comes from a 3rd grader in Texas who said, “M’am, you were born to draw.”

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Bluemle

Elizabeth Bluemle

Elizabeth Bluemle is an award-winning picture book author and co-owner of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont. She blogs for Publishers Weekly on children’s bookselling and has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her picture books, published by Candlewick Press, include My Father the Dog (winner of the Wanda Gag Read—Aloud Award), Dogs on the Bed, How Do You Wokka-Wokka? (winner of Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum’s Children’s Choice Award), and the upcoming Tap Tap Boom Boom, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. She loves the Rochester Festival!

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Judy Bradbury

Judy Bradbury

Judy Bradbury is a lifelong resident of Western New York. She has taught students from preschool through college and is Professional Development Chair for Niagara Frontier Reading Council. Judy created the Christopher Counts! picture book series (McGraw-Hill), featuring embedded math in each story. She also wrote the Children’s Book Cornerseries and The Read-Aloud Scaffold: Best Books to Enhance Content Area Curriculum (Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO). Forthcoming in February 2015 is Empowering Families: Practical Ways to Involve Parents in Boosting Literacy, (Routledge). Judy writes a monthly column on character education for LibrarySparks and conducts workshops nationally on topics of literacy. Learn more at www.judybradbury.com

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Laurie Calkhoven

Laurie Calkhoven

When she got her first library card and was set free among the picture books, Laurie Calkhoven decided she wanted to be a librarian. Later she realized that that were actual people who created those wonderful books on the shelves, and she decided to be one of them. Laurie writes for American Girl’s Innerstar University series as well as historical action/adventure novels for her own series, Boys of Wartime. Her most recent work of nonfiction is I Grew Up to be President. She lives in New York City and can frequently be found at the library.

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Frank Cammuso

Frank Cammuso

Frank Cammuso is the author/illustrator of the graphic novel series The Misadventures of Salem HydefromAmulet Books. He also created the graphic novel series Knights of the Lunch Table from Graphix/Scholastic. Frank drew the comic Otto’s Orange DayandOtto’s Backwards Day for Toon-Books. Frankis the former award-winning political cartoonist for The Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, New York. His cartoons have been reprinted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek. His fiction and satire have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and on National Public Radio. Frank teaches Sequential Illustration at Syracuse University.

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Peter Catalanotto

Peter Catalanotto

Peter Catalanotto has published 47 books for children, 17 of which he’s written, including Ivan the Terrier, Matthew A. B. C., Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-it-All, Emily’s Art, Monkey & Robot and More of Monkey & Robot. In 2008 he was commissioned by First Lady, Laura Bush, to illustrate the White House Holiday Booklet. He currently teaches the first children’s book writing course offered at Columbia University. Since 1990, he’s visited over 1500 elementary schools in 40 states showing students his creative process from inspiration to final book.

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We are pleased to welcome Bryan Collier to the festival. More info coming soon!

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Cynthia Cotten

Cynthia Cotten

Cynthia Cotten has been an author of fiction and poetry for children for more than thirty years. She attended Wells College and received an MFA in Writing or Children from Vermont College. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, The Authors Guild, and the Children’s Book Guild of Washington D.C.

A native of Lockport, she has found inspiration for much of her writing in the beauty and rich history of Western New York. She has recently moved back to Lockport after being away for most of her adult life.

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Cynthia DeFelice

Cynthia DeFelice

Cynthia DeFelice is the author of both picture books and novels for young readers. “Nothing makes me happier than learning that one of my books turned a child into a reader. I try hard to reach those kids who haven’t yet been turned on to the joy of reading. I love when a child who ‘hates to read’ suddenly recognizes himself in a story and the switch turns from ‘off’ to ‘on.’”

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Elizabeth Falk

Elizabeth Falk

Elizabeth Falk writes historical fiction for mid-grade readers all based in New York State. She is co-director of this year’s festival. She lives on Conesus Lake and finds the view out of her front window inspiring. She is currently writing and illustrating her first picture book. A life time reader, she enjoys finding a book that will take her on a magical journey without ever leaving her favorite chair. When she finally stops reading, she also loves to ride her bike and paddle her kayak.

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Marsha Hayles

Marsha Hayles

Marsha Hayles was born in the other Rochester–the one in Minnesota–home to the Mayo Clinic. Her own interest in medicine spurred her to write Breathing Room, a historical novel set in 1940 about girls suffering from tuberculosis. She also writes picture books and is currently working on a novel for young people set in the American Civil War. When she’s not writing, Marsha likes to drive West to visit family and friends AND to eat her favorite burger at Steak N Shake.

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James Howe

James Howe

James Howe is the award winning-author of over 90 for young readers, including the popular Bunnicula and Pinky and Rex series. He writes a wide range, from picture to young adult fiction. His novel, The Misfits, was the inspiration for national No Name-Calling Week (www.nonamecallingweek.org). Its three companion novels are Totally Joe, Addie on the Inside, and Also Known as Elvis. Recent picture books are Brontorina and Otter and Odder, illustrated by Caldecott medalist Chris Raschka. James grew up in Webster; he currently resides in Yonkers, with his husband, two cats, and a hound dog named Lily. Visit him at www. Jameshowe.com.

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Hubbell Howell

Will Hubbell

Will Hubbell is a full-time author who has written and illustrated three children’s picture books—Pumpkin Jack, Apples Here!, and Snow Day Dance. Under the pen name Morgan Howell, Will writes high fantasies for young adults that feature strong female characters facing serious moral choices. He has written two fantasy trilogies, Queen of the Orcs and The Shadowed Path. In his new fantasy novel, A Single Deed, a sixteen-year-old girl who is half orc and half human, struggles to find her place in the world.

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Michelle Knudsen

Michelle Knudsen

Michelle Knudsen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 books for children, including the picture books Library Lion, Argus, and Big Mean Mike, as well as fantasy novels The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian. Her newest book is her debut YA novel, Evil Librarian—just released September 2014! Next up (spring 2015) is the picture book MARILYN’S MONSTER, illustrated by the wonderful Matt Phelan. Formerly a full-time children’s book editor, Michelle continues to edit manuscripts on a freelance basis (see her website for more info: www.michelleknudsen.com). She lives in Brooklyn, New York. **Sponsored by Candlewick Press

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Kevin Kurtz

Kevin Kurtz

Kevin Kurtz has loved books and nature since he was a kid. He has worked at a marine biology lab, an aquarium, a science museum, and spent eight weeks at sea onboard a research ship during a scientific expedition. He is the author of the nonfiction picture books A Day in the Deep, A Day on the Mountain and A Day in the Salt Marsh, about the animals and the habitats they live in, and Uncovering Earth’s Secrets, a free eBook about a scientific research ship that studies the seafloor to learn about volcanoes, earthquakes, and more.

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London Ladd

London Ladd

London Ladd was born and raised in Syracuse, New York.  Though comic books impacted his early life, he didn’t start drawing until his teens.  After graduating Syracuse University with a BFA in Illustration he launched his career painting murals, illustrating magazine articles and album covers. His big break came when he was hired to illustrate March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, authored by Christine King Farris, the older sister of Martin Luther King Jr.  Since then London has illustrated Under the Freedom Tree, Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving and Frederick’s Journey: The Life Frederick Douglass.  London lives and creates in Syracuse.

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Jeff Mack

Jeff Mack

Jeff Mack, born in Syracuse, New York, has written and illustrated a long list of award-winning picture books and chapter books, including the Clueless McGee series, The Things I Can Do, Good News Bad News, Frog & Fly, and Ah Ha!, one of the NY Public Library’s Best Books of 2013. He has also illustrated many books for other authors, including James Howe’s Bunnicula and Friends series.

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Matthew McElligott

Matthew McElligott

Matt McElligott is the author and illustrator of thirteen books for children, including Even Aliens Need Snacks,Even Monsters Need Haircuts, and the Benjamin Franklinstein series. His books have been published in six languages on five continents and have sold over two hundred thousand copies around the world. Recent awards include the 2012-13 Oregon Patricia Gallagher Picture Book Award for The Lion’s Share and the 2012-13 South Dakota Prairie Bud Children’s Book Award for Even Monsters Need Haircuts. Matt lives on a small farm with his wife and son and over a dozen chickens.

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Rose O’Keefe

Rose O’Keefe

Rose O’Keefe grew up in the suburbs of New York City, except for four years near Paris, France. After graduating from SUNY Potsdam, Rose moved to Rochester and discovered the beauty of the Genesee River Valley and Finger Lakes region on camping outings with family and friends. Rose has become a local historian with a focus on Frederick Douglass’ family’s life in Rochester from 1847-1872. Her latest book, Special Delivery, is a story set in 1851, showing what it would have been like to grow up in the Douglass family.

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Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park is the author of many books for young readers, including the
2002 Newbery Medal winner A Single Shard. Her most recent book is Xander’s
Panda Party. Visit her website, www.lindasuepark.com and follow her on
Twitter @LindaSuePark.

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Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park, Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal. He is the author/illustrator of the award-winning graphic novels The Storm in the Barn, Around the World, and Bluffton. His latest books include his first picture book as both author and illustrator, Druthers (September 2014), and Miss Emily by Burleigh Mutén (March 2014). Matt lives in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

*Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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James Preller

James Preller

James Preller’s appearance is sponsored by MacMillan. He is the author of the Jigsaw Jones mystery series, the novels Six Innings, Bystander, and Before You Go, as well as the picture books Mighty Casey and A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade. He lives in Delmar, New York. *Sponsored by Macmillan Children’s Publishing

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Lisa Scott

Lisa Scott

Lisa Ann Scott is a former TV news anchor, who now enjoys making up stories instead of sticking to the facts. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and children where she works as a voice actor when not writing.

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Mark Shulman

Mark Shulman

Mark Shulman’s first published story was in the City East newspaper in 1978, when he was still at East High. Once he got hooked on the sight of his name in print, he embarked on a quest to get published EVERYWHERE: yearbooks, subway doors, petitions, magazine ads, radio scripts, TV commercials, rent checks, and finally, books. Mark’s written a dozen dozen books mainly for kids and immature adults. They’re fun. He usually is, too.

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Heidi Stemple

Heidi Stemple

Heidi Stemple didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published 20 books.

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We are pleased to welcome Chris Tebbetts to the festival. More info coming soon!

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Peggy Thomas

Peggy Thomas

Peggy Thomas has been researching and writing award-winning children’s nonfiction for more than 20 years. Her picture book, For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson earned NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book, Children’s Book of the Year by Skipping Stones, and recommendations from NCTE Orbis Pictus and John Burroughs Nature Books for Young Readers. A frequent speaker in schools and libraries, she has addressed NSTA, ASJA, SCBWI, and NYLA. She is also a member of iNK Think Tank, and co-author of Anatomy of Nonfiction, the only writing guide for children’s nonfiction.

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Matthew McElligott

Matthew McElligott

Larry Tuxbury is the author of Benjamin Franklinstein Lives!, Benjamin Franklinstein Meets the Fright Brothers, and Benjamin Franklin Meets Thomas Deadison. When not reanimating famous inventors, he enjoys a nice cup of tea, quiet walks along the Hudson, and smashing evil wherever it may lurk.

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Sally Valentine

Sally Valentine

Sally Valentine is a native Rochesterian. After teaching math for 25 years in the Rochester City School District, she is now off on a tangent of writing. Her love for kids, books, and Rochester led her to write a series of novels for intermediate grade kids, which are each set in a different Rochester landmark. When not writing, she can be found reading, solving puzzles of all kinds, or walking around beautiful western

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Vivian Vande Velde

Vivian Vande Velde

Vivian Vande Velde is the author of more than thirty books, ranging from picture books to novels for teens. Her books have won national recognition, including the Edgar Award, the Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize in Children’s Literature, and several state reading awards, voted on by students. Internationally, her books have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian. In 2012, Heir Apparent was chosen to be the Greater Rochester Teen Read Book. Her latest book, Frogged, is for middle grade students.

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Ellen Stoll Walsh

Ellen Stoll Walsh

Ellen Stoll Walsh has 17 books in English and 13 in other languages. Her first two books were in pen and ink, but since then she has been working in cut paper collage. Ellen is currently working on a story that is written around prepositions. She has often used paint spots and snow, but for her new book she is also using a lot of paper that she’s painted herself. Ellen’s new book has mice since people seem to be fond of them.

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Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen

Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards–two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among others. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the Kerlan Award and the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates.

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From the Festival Directors

Sibby and Kathy caught reading 1

Come celebrate the 19th Annual Rochester Children’s Book Festival, recipient of Writers & Books’ Big Pencil Award for 2011! Please join us on Saturday, November 7th, 2015, from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM in the Flynn Campus Center at Monroe Community College.

This will be a magical day packed with activities, presentations, and meeting those who write and illustrate books for children, tweens and teens. Busy Bookworm offers craft activities; author and illustrator presentations take place in both the Brighton Room and in Excellus Presentation Place; and your favorite authors and illustrators read stories in Genesee Valley Parent Magazine’s Read to Me Corner. In the Mall, chat with our more than 40 Festival participants!

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