Speakers for 2017 Conference

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity. Author of over thirty books for young and middle grade children, as well as young adults, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also received the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Anderson was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.” She is also the author of the distinguished American Revolution “Seeds of America” Trilogy; ChainsForge and the recently published conclusion, Ashes. Mother, grandmother and wife, Anderson recently moved to Pennsylvania, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HalseAnderson.

Christian Robinson

Christian Robinson won the 2014 Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator award for Rain and the awards have continued since then. These include the prestigious 2016 Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for the Newbery Medal winning picture book, Last Stop On Market Street. Other awards include the 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; an NAACP Image award nominee for Harlem’s Little Blackbird, and a Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book nominee for Gaston. Robinson’s most recent picture book, School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex is a New York Times Best seller as well as the recipient of 7 starred reviews. Antoinette, the companion to Gaston, is the story of a very special poodle who learns to follow her heart and be herself will be published in February 2017. Robinson lives in San Francisco, CA. You can visit him online at www.theartoffun.com or follow him on Instagram at @theartoffun.

Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan is the author/illustrator of The Storm in the Barn, a graphic novel that won the 2010 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. He is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall (2013), Always by Ann Stott (2008), Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park (2013), and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal. Phelan has been nominated for five Will Eisner Awards including Best Writer/Artist and Best Graphic Album forBluffton (2013). Snow White (2016) is Phelan’s retelling of the classic tale, set in New York City during the 1930’s. Check out the book trailer on his website—perfect for introducing the book to a group of kids looking for the next captivating graphic novel. His upcoming book is What Are You Waiting For? by Scott Menchin (Spring 2017). Matt Phelan lives in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Rita Williams-Garcia

Rita Williams-Garcia’s Newbery Honor-winning novel, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, a National Book Award Finalist, the recipient of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. The two sequels, P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama were both Coretta Scott King Author Award winners and ALA Notable Children’s Books. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter HereEvery Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book), Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Her next novel, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, is the story of an aspiring bluesman Clayton Byrd who won’t be stopped from playing his music (forthcoming, September 2017). Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, and has two adult daughters and a son-in-law.