Authors and Illustrators in Attendance
Meg Kearney – 2015-2016 Show Me Winning Author
Bio -Meg Kearney’s picture book Trouper (Scholastic, 2013) is illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Winner of the 2015 Kentucky Bluegrass Award and the Missouri Association of School Librarians’ Show Me Readers Award (Grades 1 – 3), Trouper has been selected as one of the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People of 2014; one of the most “Diverse and Impressive Picture Books of 2013” by the International Reading Association, and one of the 2013-14 season's best picture books by the Christian Science Monitor, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, and Bank Street College of Education. It is also a 2013 Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California Distinguished Book, and a Nominee for the 2014-2015 Alabama Camellia Children’s Choice Book Award (Grades 2-3).
Meg is author of three YA novels in verse told in the voice of adoptee Lizzie McLane, all of which have received rave reviews and come with teacher’s guides: The Secret of Me (Persea Books in 2005); The Girl in the Mirror (Persea Books, 2012); and When You Never Said Goodbye (Persea Books, February 2017). Jacqueline Woodson said of Meg’s most recent novel: “Meg’s writing takes you into the heart of the story and holds you there. I loved everyone I met on these pages and felt every moment of deep love and deep loss. When You Never Said Goodbye is a gift to the world, a book you’ll want to read slowly, savoring both the eloquent writing and the brave and beautiful story."
Meg’s most recent collection of poems for adults, Home By Now (Four Way Books 2009), was winner of the 2010 PEN New England LL Winship Award; it was also a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. Her poetry has been featured on Poetry Daily, Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” series, and Garrison Keillor’s “A Writer’s Almanac,” and has been published in such publications as Poetry, Agni, and The Kenyon Review. Meg is Founding Director of the Solstice Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. For eleven years prior to joining Pine Manor, she was Associate Director of the National Book Foundation (sponsor of the National Book Awards) in New York City. She also taught poetry at the New School University. A native New Yorker, Meg currently resides in New Hampshire with her husband and their three-legged black Lab, Trouper; their three-legged cat, Hopkins; and, oddly, their four-legged cat named Magpie.
E.B. Lewis – 2015-2016 Show Me Winning Illustrator
Bio - E.B. Lewis has illustrated over seventy books for children, including Nikki Grimes’ Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, the 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner; Alice Schertle’s Down the Road, an ALA Notable Book; Tolowa M. Mollel’s My Rows and Piles of Coins, an ALA Notable Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; Bat Boy and His Violin by Garvin Curtis a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side, a 2002 Notable Book for the Language Arts.
Earl Bradley Lewis was born on December 16, 1956, in Philadelphia, PA. Inspired by two artist uncles, as early as the third grade, Lewis displayed artistic promise. Beginning in the sixth grade, he attended the Saturday morning Temple University School of Art League and studied with Clarence Wood. Lewis attended the Temple University Tyler School of Art. There, he discovered his medium of preference was watercolor.
During his four years at Temple, Lewis majored in Graphic Design and Illustration and art education. After graduating, he taught art in public schools for twelve years. Presently, Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, continues to paint and illustrate and is a member of The Society of Illustrators in New York City.
In 1992, Elizabeth O’Grady read a story about Lewis and saw examples of his wonderful watercolors in Artist Magazine. Previously, at a Society of Illustrators Annual Children’s Art Show, an art director from Simon & Schuster had asked Elizabeth to contact her if Elizabeth found any talented Afro-American artists who might want to illustrate children’s books. Elizabeth handed the magazine article about Lewis to her partner, Jeff Dwyer. He telephoned and explained the business of children’s book illustration to a quiet Earl B. Lewis. Lewis asked Jeff the names of other African-American children’s book illustrators, and after Jeff gave him the names of the “usual suspects,” Lewis told Jeff that he’d get back in touch with him if he was interested in pursuing children’s book illustration. About a week later, Lewis called and said, “Hey, I can paint better than those guys!” Within a year, Lewis had delivered his illustrations for Fire On The Mountain (S&S), quit his teaching job and began a career as a full-time children’s book illustrator.
In 2003, the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota purchased a collection of original watercolors from Lewis’ first twenty-five children’s books. His work is owned by numerous private collectors and sold by art galleries throughout the United States.
Chris Grabenstein – 2015-2016 Mark Twain Winner
Bio - Chris Grabenstein is the author of the New York Times bestsellers THE ISLAND OF DR. LIBRIS and ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY as well as the co-author (with James Patterson) of the #1 Bestselling series I FUNNY, HOUSE OF ROBOTS, and TREASURE HUNTERS. Chris pronounces GRABENSTEIN! (It sounds like Frankenstein)
Winner of all sorts of awards, Chris writes fast-paced and fun page-turners for children and adults. He's also a playwright and screenwriter not to mention a former advertising executive and improvisational comedian. Sometimes he sleeps.
Chris started writing a long time ago. He and his four brothers used to put on skits and puppet shows in the basement of their home in Buffalo, New York. Their mom and dad were the only paying customers. Admission was a nickel.
When he was ten, Chris moved to Signal Mountain Tennessee and had some great teachers in Junior High School and at Chattanooga's Notre Dame High School who told him he would "make a living as a writer one day."
He studied communications and theater at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville then moved to New York City with six suitcases, a typewriter, and very little money. For five years, he performed with some of the city's top Improvisational Comedy troupes, making up scenes and songs on the spot in front of live audiences, just like they did on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
A young actor named Bruce Willis was also in Chris' comedy group, but nobody knows what happened to him. From time to time, the late Robin Williams would drop by to perform with Chris and his comedy gang. When not writing scripts for his friends to perform in the small Greenwich Village theatre (which was actually another basement) Chris also wrote for Jim Henson's Muppets.
In 1986, he and his college buddy Ronny Venable wrote a TV movie for CBS called The Christmas Gift. It starred John Denver and can still be seen almost every year during the holidays, usually on the Hallmark Channel.
Chris also spent close to twenty years writing radio and television commercials for Burger King, Seven Up, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dr Pepper, and many, many others. His first boss was a very talented advertising writer named James Patterson. Now they're writing books together.
Currently, Chris and his beautiful, beloved wife J.J. live in New York City with two cats (Parker & Phoebe Squeak) and a dog named Fred who starred in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Broadway. And, yes, Zipper the dog in The Haunted Mysteries is based on Fred!
Alan Gratz – 2015-2016 Truman Winner
Bio - Alan Gratz‘s first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the ALA’s 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His second novel, Something Rotten, was a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers, and was followed by a sequel, Something Wicked, in October 2008. His first middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine, was one of the ALA’s Top Ten Sports Books for Youth and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth, and his middle grade Holocaust novel Prisoner B-3087 was one of YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Readers and has won seven state awards. His latest novels are the YA thriller Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and The Monster War, the third book in his middle grade steampunk League of Seven trilogy.
Alan’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, online at Tor.com, and in the anthologies Half-Minute Horrors and Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction, which benefitted victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
As the first Artist in Residence at the American School in Japan in 2010, Alan spent six weeks teaching historical fiction-writing to middle school students in Tokyo, and he was the Thurber House Children’s Writer in Residence in 2011, living and writing in James Thurber’s attic for a month while working with young writers from all around the Columbus, Ohio area.
In addition to writing plays, magazine articles, and a few episodes of A&E’s City Confidential, Alan has taught catapult-building to middle-schoolers, written more than 6,000 radio commercials, sold other people’s books, lectured at a Czech university, and traveled the galaxy as a space ranger. (One of these, it should be pointed out, is not true.)
Alan was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World’s Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master’s degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in the high country of Western North Carolina, where he enjoys playing games, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, reading books.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes – 2015-2016 Gateway 2nd Place Winner
Bio - Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.
Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She was awarded a Fulbright to do post-graduate work at Cambridge, and then returned to the states, where she is hard at work on her PhD.