Chris Crutcher

Author of eleven novels for young adults, Chris Crutcher was a teacher and a family therapist before beginning his writing career. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Crutcher spent most of his growing up years in Cascade, Idaho. His debut novel, Running Loose, features a successful high school senior whose life threw him for a few loops. This theme resonates in most of his writing. Most of his protagonists are male, teenage athletes, and his novels feature teens coping with serious problems, including abusive parents, racial and religious prejudice, mental and physical disability, and poverty. His signature blend of tragedy and comedy make him a favorite with teen readers. Crutcher has also written an autobiography, King of the Mild Frontier, and Athletic Shorts, an anthology of six YA short stories. One story from that collection, "A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune," was made into a film called Angus. Eight of his books have been selected as the American Library Association’s "Best Books for Young Adults." Widely recognized as an advocate for teens, Crutcher was awarded the Intellectual Freedom Award from the National Coalition Against Censorship in 2005 and the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime contribution to young adult literature. His latest novel, Period 8, will be out in early 2013. Chris Crutcher makes his home in Spokane, Washington.

Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson is a critically acclaimed artist and author/illustrator whose works have been exhibited in major national and international publications, institutions, art galleries, and museums. Nelson was born in Washington D.C., and began drawing around the age of three. At age eleven, he was apprenticed by his uncle, an artist and art teacher. Later he entered his paintings in art competitions and ultimately won an art scholarship to study at Pratt Institute. Nelson has received many awards for his children's books, including the Coretta Scott King Award for Heart and Soul, the Sibert Medal and Coretta Scott King Award for We Are the Ship, a Caldecott Honor for Henry’s Freedom Box, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Ellington Was Not a Street, and the NAACP Image Award for Just the Two of Us. He has created paintings for a host of distinguished clients including Sports Illustrated, The Coca-Cola Company, The United States Postal Service, Major League Baseball, and Dreamworks SKG where he worked as a visual development artist creating concept artwork for feature films, “Amistad”, and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”. Nelson’s cover artwork is featured on the album “MICHAEL”, by the late pop singer icon Michael Jackson, Jackson’s first posthumous album release. His recent book, I Have A Dream, illustrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s seminal speech, was published in the fall of 2012. Kadir Nelson lives in San Diego, California with his wife and two daughters. 

Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of over 12 books for young children. Raised on Long Island, New York, Seeger began drawing at two years old and never stopped. For as long as she remembers, she wanted to write picture books. She received her B.F.A. degree at the School of Fine Art and Design at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, New York, and then moved to Manhattan, where she worked as an animator, artist, and editor in the network television business. Prior to writing and illustrating for children, she created show openings and special segments for NBC and ABC and won an Emmy Award for an NBC Special opening animation. Her books have garnered numerous awards, including receipt of a 2008 Caldecott Honor for First the Egg, Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors in both 2009 and 2008 for One Boy and First the Egg, a 2007 New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, and the 2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book. Her most recent book, Green, was published in 2012 and Bully is forthcoming in the summer of 2013. Laura Vaccaro Seeger lives in Rockville Centre, Long Island, with her husband, Chris, their two sons, Drew and Dylan, and their dog, Copper, the star of her Dog and Bear series. She loves painting, surfing, tennis, playing the piano, and spending time with her family. She takes long walks at the beach every day and paints in her studio every night. 

Deborah Wiles

Deborah Wiles was born in Mobile, Alabama, to an air force pilot and a stenographer mother. Wiles' father was transferred to Hickam AFB, and the family moved to Hawaii when Wiles was five. She started kindergarten at Pearl Harbor Elementary School. As she grew up, she lived outside Washington D.C., South Carolina, and the Philippines where she graduated from high school. Her picture book, Freedom Summer, based on memories of summers growing up in Mississippi and the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act, won the Ezra Jack Keats new Writer Award and the Coretta Scott King/Steptoe award for her illustrator, Jerome Lagarrigue. Wiles’s three novels about growing up in the south, referred to as the Aurora County Trilogy, include Love, Ruby Lavender and Each Little Bird That Sings, a 2005 National Book Award Finalist and the E.B. White Award winner. The Aurora County All Stars completes the trilogy. Her newest project is called “The Sixties Trilogy: Three Novels of the 1960s for Young Readers.” The books are a first of their kind: documentary novels. They will contain scrapbooks of archival material as part of the narrative—photographs, song lyrics, advertisements, biographies, quotes, newspaper articles and more. Book one, Countdown, was published in 2010 to critical acclaim. A recipient of the PEN/Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, she holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont. Deborah Wiles lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, jazz pianist Jim Pearce, where she grows the world’s most beautiful zinnias.