2008 Conference

Christopher Paul Curtis

Born in Flint, Michigan, Christopher Paul Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint’s historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging car doors, and it left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large automobiles—particularly big Buicks.

Curtis’s writing—and his dedication to it—has been greatly influenced by his family members, particularly his wife, Kaysandra. With grandfathers like Earl “Lefty” Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and 1930s bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression,” it’s easy to see why Christopher Paul Curtis was destined to become an entertainer.

Curtis made an outstanding debut in children’s literature with The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, is the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award. Curtis’s newest novel, Elijah of Buxton, reflects his skill as a writer of historical fiction. Elijah of Buxton has been awarded a 2008 Newbery honor AND the Coretta Scott King award for writing

John Rocco

Born and mostly raised, John Rocco was only 11 years old when he landed his first job, working as a deckhand on a commercial shell-fishing boat. Since then he’s held many other jobs; caddy, paperboy, store clerk, cook, waiter, bartender, soccer coach, carpenter and house painter. Rocco first studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, and then furthered his skill at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Armed with these new skills, Rocco moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and found work as an art director on film and TV, and in theme parks and museums. Digital Domain, Disney, PDI and Dreamworks/SKG were some of the places where he hung his hat. In 2004, Rocco returned to NYC to pursue a career as a children’s book author/illustrator. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Aileen, their daughter Alaya Marzipan and their dog Jag. John was recently announced as the recipient of the Borders 2007 Original Voices Award for Picture Books.

Chris Crutcher

Who is Chris Crutcher? He’s an author, educator and family therapist known for his realistic fiction.

Born on July 17, 1946 in Dayton, Ohio to a WWII bomber pilot and a homemaker, Crutcher grew up in Cascade, Idaho (a tiny logging town north of Boise). He graduated from Eastern Washington State College (now EWU) with a BA in psychology and sociology.

Crutcher later earned his teaching credential and taught primary and secondary school in Washington State and California. Offered the chance to direct a “last chance” alternative school in Oakland, CA, he respectfully served at-risk K-12 students for almost a decade before returning to the Pacific Northwest to write his first book, RUNNING LOOSE for Greenwillow in the early 1980’s.

Eight other novels followed — StotanChinese HandcuffsThe Crazy Horse Electric GameThe Deep EndStaying Fat for Sarah ByrnesIronmanWhale Talk and The Sledding Hill. In addition, Crutcher has published a collection of short stories, Athletic Shorts, and his autobiography, King of the Mild Frontier. Other books and several motion picture projects are also in development.

Eric Rohmann

“Children are the best audience: they are curious, enthusiastic, impulsive, generous, and pleased by simple joys. They laugh easily at the ridiculous and are willing to believe the absurd. Children are not ironic, disillusioned, or indifferent, but hopeful, open-minded, and open-hearted, with a voracious hunger for pictures and stories.”—Eric Rohmann

Winner of the Caldecott Medal for My Friend Rabbit and a Caldecott Honor for Time Flies, Eric Rohmann’s picture books hold broad appeal. Known as a teacher and artist, Rohmann can now add television cartoons to his resume. October 6, 2007 premiered the first episode of “My Friend Rabbit” on NBC. Rohmann wrote and illustrated a number of books including The Cinder-Eyed CatClara and Asha, and A Kitten Tale (forthcoming, 2008). His artwork has been featured in various exhibitions and permanent collections throughout the country. Rohmann holds degrees in fine arts from Arizona State University and Illinois State University and currently lives in a suburb of Chicago.