Your Author Series: Past Authors & Illustrators

Aden Polydoros grew up in Illinois and Arizona, and has a bachelor's degree in English from Northern Arizona University. When he isn't writing, he enjoys going to antique fairs and flea markets. He is the author of The City Beautiful, and YA gothic fantasy, Bone Weaver, released in Fall 2022 from Inkyard Press.

Book cover for The City Beautiful
The City Beautiful
Polydoros, Aden

After joining The Big Apple Circus, author Andrea Loney did something really crazy and went to Hollywood, where she worked for studios such as Disney. Her book, Double Bass Blues, received a Caldecott Honor. She resides in Southern California with her husband, her kitten Sophie Grace, and her betta fish Max Parfish and Betta Stark DireFish of the North.

Book cover for Double Bass Blues
Double Bass Blues
Loney, Andrea J.

Antoinette Portis is a New York Times best-selling author and a recipient of the 2010 Sendak Fellowship. Her picture book debut, Not a Box, is a Seuss Geisel Honor book. Her latest illustrated book, Hey, Water!, a 2020 Siebert Honor book, shows that water in all its forms is not only fun but also an important part of the world around us. In her spare time, Antoinette enjoys interacting with children in local classrooms and growing extremely large zucchinis.

Book cover for Hey, Water!
Hey, Water!
Portis, Antoinette

Brandy Colbert’s work has been recognized by the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews, Vulture, Buzzfeed, Seventeen Magazine, and numerous other organizations and publications. Her novel, Finding Yvonne, was named one of NYPL’s Best Teen Books of 2018 and was a Junior Library Guild selection. Originally hailing from Springfield, Missouri, Brandy resides in Los Angeles and is a faculty member at Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children.

Book cover for Finding Yvonne
Finding Yvonne
Colbert, Brandy

Candice Iloh is a first-generation Nigerian American who has performed her work around the country, most notably at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in New York City, the National Museum of African American Art in Washington, D.C., and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore. She recently completed a three-year residency at Bronx Academy of Letters and is a 2019 Kimbilio fiction fellow. Candice is also a Howard University alumna who is committed to youth education and mentorship.

Book cover for Every Body Looking
Every Body Looking
Iloh, Candice

Cecil Castellucci is the award-winning and New York Times Bestselling author of books and graphic novels for young adults. In a former life, she was known as Cecil Seaskull in the ‘90s indie band Nerdy Girl, and she has written three opera librettos. She is the former Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus, a two-time MacDowell Fellow, and was the founding YA Editor at the LA Review of Books.

Book cover for The Plain Janes
The Plain Janes
Castellucci, Cecil

Chad Sell’s first children’s graphic novel was The Cardboard Kingdom, which he illustrated and co-wrote with a team of ten collaborators. Doodleville is his first full-length solo project, and it is set in Chicago, where he lives with his husband and two cats.

Book cover for The Cardboard Kingdom
The Cardboard Kingdom
Sell, Chad

Christian Robinson is a Caldecott Honoree and has received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his work on a Newbery Award-winning book. His 2019 picture book, Just In Case You Want To Fly, celebrates new adventures and the love and support provided by loved ones. Christian has worked with the Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios. He studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts and is a native Angeleno.

Book cover for Just in Case You Want to Fly
Just in Case You Want to Fly
Fogliano, Julie

Dhonielle Clayton’s work has been nominated for the 2019 Lodestar Award, featured on the Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018 list, and has reached the New York Times bestseller list. She is the COO of We Need Diverse Books, an organization dedicated to making sure diverse stories reach all children. Adventurous by nature, Dhonielle has been to five out of seven continents and plans to attend culinary school.

Book cover for The Belles
The Belles
Clayton, Dhonielle

Drew Daywalt has won 65 awards for his writing, including the E.B. White Read Aloud Award, and has written for hit television series such as Timon & Pumba, Woody Woodpecker, and the Emmy-nominated series, The Wacky World of Tex Avery. His series following adventures of Monkey and Cake invites curiosity and imagination in young readers in books such as What is Inside THIS Box? Drew’s debut picture book, The Day The Crayons Quit, was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list for a year, and two other novels have also been ranked as New York Times bestsellers.

Book cover for What is Inside THIS Box?
What is Inside THIS Box?
Daywalt, Drew

Emma Steinkellner is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer. In addition to creating the bestselling and critically acclaimed middle-grade graphic novel The Okay Witch, Emma has illustrated projects with her sister, writer Kit Steinkellner, including the teen rom-com webcomic Aces, and the Eisner-nominated superhero coming-of-age story Quince.

Book cover for The Okay Witch
The Okay Witch
Steinkellner, Emma

Erica Silverman is the author of several books including Sholom's Treasure, which won the Sydney Taylor Award and was a runner-up for the National Jewish Book Award. Her books have received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, the California Young Reader Medal, ABA Pick of the List, and the first book in her early-reader series Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Book cover for Sholom's Treasure: How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer
Sholom's Treasure: How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer
Silverman, Erica

Erin Entrada Kelly is the winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal, which annually honors the best in children’s literature. Her award-winning book Hello, Universe, is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about an eclectic group of misfits whose lives weave together in unexpected ways. Two of her novels are currently being adapted for television and stage. Erin has also received the 2017 APALA Award as well as the 2016 Golden Kite Honor.

Book cover for Hello, Universe
Hello, Universe
Kelly, Erin Entrada,

Helena Ku Rhee is a writer of books for kids and the young at heart. Helena is currently based in Los Angeles (her hometown), but she has also lived in various parts of the U.S., Asia and Europe. She loves to travel far and wide across this beautiful planet. She draws story ideas from her travels as well as her childhood.

Book cover for Rosa's Song
Rosa's Song
Rhee, Helena Ku

Author/illustrator Javaka Steptoe won the 2017 Caldecott Award for his picture book Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. His debut work, In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers earned a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a nomination for Outstanding Children’s Literature Work at the NAACP Image Awards. His collages utilize everyday objects, such as lint, and his father is the late award-winning children’s author and illustrator John Steptoe.

Book cover for Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Steptoe, Javaka

Jessica Maison is a writer, but also a daughter, a partner, a friend, a mother of two fierce daughters, and a mom to her dog, Mars. Maison advocates for climate and environmental justice and works to build a community of storytellers, makers, and activists who support each other.

Joe Cepeda has illustrated for over thirty children’s books and creates images for various publications. His bilingual book, Vamonos! Let’s Go! is a fun, vocabulary-building adaptation of “The Wheels on the Bus.” Joe is a speaker at schools and conferences and is happy to discuss his experience and advocate for the arts. He is a proud Angeleno and the President of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles.

Book cover for ¡Vamonos! = Let's Go!
¡Vamonos! = Let's Go!
Colato Lainez, Rene,

Acclaimed actor John Cho is a former 7th-grade English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant kid in Texas and East L.A. He is also now a proud father of two beautiful children who love to read. Cho's debut middle-grade novel, Troublemaker, follows the events of the L.A. Riots through the eyes of 12-year-old Jordan as he navigates school and family. The book highlights the unique Korean American perspective. Photo credit: Benjo Arwas.

Book cover for Troublemaker
Cho, John

Kelly Starling-Lyons has been writing children’s books for over 15 years and has been spotlighted by Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations Survivors series for longtime active children’s creators. She is a wife, mother and former synthesizer player for her middle school jazz band.

Book cover for Sing a song : how Lift Every Voice and Sing inspired generations
Sing a song : how "Lift Every Voice and Sing" inspired generations
Lyons, Kelly Starling,

Lauren Castillo is a children’s author and illustrator whose work has appeared in many critically acclaimed picture books. Lauren’s own work received a Caldecott Honor in 2015 and was recognized as a Kirkus Prize finalist. She loves collecting and using wallpaper and old fabrics in her work when she can and currently draws up dreams in Harrisburg, PA.

Book cover for Nana in the City
Nana in the City
Castillo, Lauren

LeUyen Pham has illustrated more than fifty books in various formats, and her work has received honors such as the Bronze Medal from the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. Her book, Bear Came Along, is a Caldecott honoree. Prior to her time as an illustrator, LeUyen worked at Dreamworks Pictures as a layout artist.

Book cover for Bear Came Along
Bear Came Along
Morris, Richard T.

Lilliam Rivera has garnered multiple awards, including a Pushscart Prize, and is a Clarion alumnus. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Cosmo for Latinas, Los Angeles Review of Books, and many other notable publications. Her novel, Dealing in Dreams, has been named one of the “Best Post-Apocalyptic Books of 2019” by Book Riot, and has received praise from Nylon Magazine, Bustle, and Tidal. Lilliam has spoken across the country at numerous schools, and regularly hosts creative writing workshops.

Book cover for Dealing in Dreams
Dealing in Dreams
Rivera, Lilliam

Lori R. Synder is a Los Angeles native and a huge fan of the library. Synder has had many careers in her life including marine biologist, fourth-grade teacher, dancer, yoga teacher, business owner, book editor, and writer. She is also the founder of the Writers Happiness Movement, which offers free retreats, yoga, salons, micro-grants, and more to writers.

Book cover for The Circus at the End of the Sea
The Circus at the End of the Sea
Snyder, Lori R.

Artist, curator, multi-award-winning illustrator, mentor, and entrepreneur, Man One believes in the transformational power of art, its power to save lives, and make the world a better place.

Book cover for Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Martin, Jacqueline Briggs

Mary McCoy is a writer and a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles's notorious past. Mary is the author of Dead to Me, Camp So-and-So, the Printz Honor Book I, Claudia, and Indestructible Object.

Matthew Cordell has received the 2018 Caldecott Medal and a 2017 Horn Book honor for his work, among other accolades. His work has been recognized by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, the Huffington Post, and many other publications. A South Carolina native, Matthew currently resides with his family in the suburbs of Chicago.

Meg Medina is an award-winning and New York Times best-selling author who writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. She helped mastermind the viral Twitter hashtag, #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Her titles include Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award, and Merci Suárez Changes Gears, 2019 Newbery Medal. In her spare time, Meg supports community projects that support marginalized identities and literacy.

Book cover for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Medina, Meg

Molly Ostertag is an award-winning graphic novelist and a writer for the children’s animated series, Thundercats Roar, and The Owl House. Her sequel to the Witch Boy, titled The Hidden Witch, deals with questions of gender and bullying and has been highly rated by Kirkus Reviews. She is also the illustrator of the successful webcomic, Strong Female Protagonist, which is distributed by Top Shelf. She loves cats, cooking steak, and Dungeons & Dragons.

Book cover for The Hidden Witch
The Hidden Witch
Ostertag, Molly

New York Times best-selling author Robin Benway’s work has garnered literary honors such as the PEN America Literary Award and the Blue Ribbon Award, and her novels have been published in more than twenty countries. Her book, Far From the Tree, received the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is a recipient of the Seth Barkas Prize for Creative Writing, and currently resides in Los Angeles with her dog, Hudson.

Book cover for Far From the Tree
Far From the Tree
Benway, Robin.

Renée Watson’s work has received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Award as well as praise from Kirkus, NPR, and numerous other organizations. She is passionate about using the arts to help youth cope with trauma and has taught creative writing and theater at public schools and community centers throughout the country. She currently resides in New York, where she is working to preserve the legacy of Langston Hughes in Harlem.

Book cover for Some Places More Than Others
Some Places More Than Others
Watson, Renee

Sara Saedi used to be a television executive, but these days she writes novels for teens and TV for everyone. Her credits include the hit CW drama iZombie, but what she’s really excited about is her new memoir, Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card, which is currently in development for TV with ABC Studios and Hello Sunshine.

Book cover for Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card
Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card
Saedi, Sara

Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, TX who has been making comics since high school. She is an Ignatz Award winner and her graphic memoir, Spinning, won the 2018 Eisner Award. She enjoys listening to audiobooks and cuddling with her cat.

Book cover for Spinning
Walden, Tillie

Torrey Maldonado is the author of three hit books for middle schoolers that also are popular in the younger and high school grades. His recent book, What Lane?, is talked about in the Oprah magazine, The NY Times, and more have listed it as a must-read book to end racism and build better friends. He has taught for over twenty years in Brooklyn, New York where he was born and raised and you can meet him through on Twitter, and Instagram.

Book cover for What lane?
What Lane?
Maldonado, Torrey