2009 Conference

Brian Selznick

Hello there. My name is Brian Selznick and I’m the author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I was born in 1966 in New Jersey. I have a sister who is a teacher, a brother who is a brain surgeon, and five nephews and one niece. I studied at The Rhode Island School of Design and after I graduated from college I worked at Eeyore’s Books for Children in New York City. I learned all about children’s books from my boss Steve Geck who is now an editor of children’s books at Greenwillow. While I was at Eeyore’s I also painted the windows for holidays and book events.

My first book, The Houdini Box, which I both wrote and illustrated, was published in 1991 while I was still working at the bookstore. Since then, I have illustrated many books for children, including Frindle by Andrew Clements, The Doll People by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin, Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which received a 2001 Caldecott Honor.

I have also written a few other books myself, including The Boy of a Thousand Faces, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret is by far the longest and most involved book I’ve ever worked on.

I live in Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.

Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson began drawing at the age of three, and painting at age ten. “I have always been an artist,” Nelson explains. “It’s part of my DNA.” At age ten, his uncle Michael Morris, an artist and art instructor, apprenticed Nelson. “My uncle gave me my foundation in art,” says the artist. Under the encouragement and tutelage of both his uncle and high school art teacher, Nelson experimented with several different media and began painting in oils at sixteen. He would later submit his paintings to art competitions and win an art scholarship to study at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Upon graduating with honors, Nelson began his professional career as an artist, publishing his work and receiving commissions from publishers and production studios such as Dreamworks, where he served as a the lead conceptual artist for Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” Sports Illustrated, Coca-Cola, The United States Postal Service and Major League Baseball, among others.

In 1999, Nelson began to collaborate with several notable authors on a series of picture books. Presently, almost twenty illustrated books are in print, including Debbie Allen’s DANCING IN THE WINGS, Ntozake Shange’s Coretta Scott King Award-winning book, ELLINGTON WAS NOT A STREET, Deloris and Roslyn Jordan’s best-seller SALT IN HIS SHOES, Spike and Tonya Lee’s PLEASE, BABY, PLEASE, and Carol Boston Weatherford’s MOSES: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom,” for which Nelson won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, a Caldecott Honor and an NAACP Image Award.

Most recently, Nelson released his authorial debut, “WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball” (Jump at the Sun/Disney), a New York Times best-selling tribute to the Negro Baseball Leagues which Nelson crafted over a period of almost eight years.

Many of his paintings are found in the collections of notable institutions and museums, including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the U.S. House of Representatives; as well as in the collections of notable individuals, including Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Will and Jada Smith, Sharon Stone, Spike and Tonya Lee and Queen Latifah. His paintings have also decorated the sets of television sitcoms “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” as well as feature films “Friday,” “Set it Off” and “The Beauty Shop” starring Queen Latifah.

Nelson also exhibits his work in galleries and museums throughout the country as well as overseas. A selected list of exhibition venues includes the Akron Art Museum in Akron Ohio, The Museum of African American History in Detroit, The Smithsonian Anacostia Museum in Washington DC, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, The Bristol Museum in England, The Citizen’s Gallery of Yokohama, Japan and the Center for Culture of Tijuana, Mexico.

Although Nelson works in a variety of styles, he always retains a sense of identity and focus in his work. Nelson’s works are instantly recognizable by the emotion and strength of his varied subject matter. “My focus is to create images of people who demonstrate a sense of hope and nobility. I want to show the strength and integrity of the human being and the human spirit.” That is exactly the feeling one walks away with after viewing one of Nelson’s paintings—a feeling that runs all the way down to your DNA.

Sara Pennypacker

Sara Pennypacker is the author of the acclaimed Clementine series of books: ClementineThe Talented Clementine; and Clementine’s Letter. She has written several other books, including Stuart’s Cape and Stuart Goes to School, both illustrated by Martin Matje; and Dumbstruck. In 2009 she will see the publication of her first picture book, Sparrow Girl, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. It recounts the massacre of sparrows in China during the Mao regime through the eyes of a young girl. Sara Pennypacker was a painter before becoming a writer, and has two absolutely fabulous children who are grown now. Sara lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Joan Bauer

In her nine novels, Joan Bauer explores difficult issues with humor and hope. Her books have won numerous awards, among them the Newbery Honor Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, the Christopher Award, and the Golden Kite Award of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has twice participated in the State Department’s professional speaker’s program, going to both Kazakhstan and Croatia where she talked with students, writers, educators, and children at risk about her life, her novels, and the power of being an overcomer.

Joan has also been the recipient of the ASTAL Award for Outstanding Contributions to Literature for Young People, the Michigan Thumbs-up! Award for Children’s Literature, the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, the Pacific Northwest Library Association Award, the New Jersey Reading Association M. Jerry Weiss Award, the New England Booksellers Award, and the Boston Public Library’s “Literary Light” Award. Her novels have been chosen for many best book lists, among them, ALA Notable Books, ALA Best Books, ALA Quick Picks, American Bookseller Pick of the List, School Library Journal Best Books, Smithsonian Notable Children’s Books, VOYA’s Perfect 10s. Her novel Rules of the Roadwas chosen as one of the top young adult books of the last 25 years by the American Library Association.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, computer scientist Evan Bauer, and their intrepid wheaten terrier Max. Her daughter Jean is a PhD candidate in early american history.