Sophie Blackall is the winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal for Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear (written by Lindsay Mattick). Recipient of the 2003 Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for her first picturebook, Ruby’s Wish (by Shirin Yim Bridges), Blackall has since illustrated over 30 books for children, including the Ivy + Beanseries (by Annie Barrows), the Witches of Benevento series (by John Bemelmans Marciano), and The Mighty Lalouche (by Matthew Olshan). Blackall is also the author/illustrator of several books, including The Baby Tree and a book for adults, Missed Connections. This fall, she’ll publish A Voyage in the Clouds. A native of Australia, Blackall lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York, where she shares studio space with Brian Floca, Sergio Ruzzier, Edward Hemingway, and John Bemelmans Marciano.
Kevin Henkes began his career as a children’s book illustrator soon after graduating from high school with the publishing of All Alone (1981). Since then, he has published over 50 books, garnering numerous prestigious awards. His canon of “little mice books,” includes Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and Owen, which earned the 1994 Caldecott Honor. In 2005, Henkes won the Caldecott Medal for Kitten’s First Full Moon and in 2015 his picturebook Waiting earned both a Caldecott and Geisel Honor. While many think of Henkes as a picturebook author/illustrator, he has also published award-winning novels. Among his twelve novels are Olive’s Ocean (Newbery Honor 2004) and The Year of Billy Miller (Newbery Honor 2014). In 2007, he was selected to deliver the prestigious May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture, an honor given to “an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of children’s literature.” Henkes lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his family.
We welcome back speaker alum Pam Muñoz Ryan from our very first CLC in 2004. Ryan is the 2018 U.S. nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award, and the author of Echo, which received a 2016 Newbery Honor and the Kirkus Prize. She has written over forty books, including novels Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi Leon, Riding Freedom, Paint the Wind, and The Dreamer, notable picturebook biographies, When Marian Sang and Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, and the early reader series, Tony Baloney. Two-time recipient of the Pura Belpré Medal — The Dreamer (2011) and Esperanza Rising (2002) — Ryan is also the author recipient of the National Education Association’s Civil and Human Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for Multicultural Literature, the Américas Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, and the Orbis Pictus Award. Ms. Ryan was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, and currently lives near San Diego with her family.
Benjamín Alire Sáenz’s Printz Honor-winning novel, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was also the winner of the Stonewall Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award. Saenz’s recent YA novel, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, received a starred review by School Library Journal with this praise, “The themes of love, social responsibility, death, and redemption are expertly intertwined with well-developed characters and a compelling story line.” Sáenz also writes award-winning fiction, poetry and short stories for adults as well as picture books for children. He recently retired from the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso, in their bilingual MFA program.