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Lisa Yee: Queen of quirky humor

Lisa Yee’s debut novel, Millicent Min, Girl Genius, won the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award. With over 1.5 million books in print, her other novels for young people include Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, So Totally Emily Ebers, Absolutely Maybe and a series about a fourth grader, Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) and Bobby the Brave (Sometimes).
Lisa is also the author of American Girl’s Kanani books and Warp Speed, about a Star Trek geek who gets beat up every day at school. Lisa is a Thurber House Children’s Writer-in-Residence and her books have been named a NPR Best Summer Read, Sports Illustrated Kids Hot Summer Read and USA Today Critics’ Top Pick.
Visit Lisa at or check out her blog

Q: How did you get drawn into writing middle-grade/young adult books?
A: It wasn’t a conscious effort to write middle grade and young adult. With my first novel, Millicent Min, Girl Genius, I kept asking my editor, Arthur Levine, who my target audience was. (I came from TV and advertising.) He said to just write the story, so I did and it happened to be middle grade.

Q: As a kid, did you ever go through a stage where you weren’t much of a reader or writer?
A: Yes. When I was sleeping. Okay, I’ll admit that was bogus. No, there never was a time when I didn’t want to read or write.

Q: Humor seems to be a big part of your books. How would you describe your sense of humor, where did it come from and why do you think readers crave it?

A: My sense of humor is quirky. (See No. 2.) Not sure where it came from but I think readers are always up for a good laugh.

Q: Tell us something about your family, pets or Winnie the Pooh collection.strong>
A: My Labradoodle thinks that it’s her job to scatter the contents of the trash cans throughout the house.

Q: What’s the best way to convert not-so-keen readers into keen readers?
A: Let the reader pick their own book. They know what might interest them better than anyone.

War vet and adult writer Scott Ely turns his talent to a first (dark) novel for teens

Scott Ely received his MFA from the University of Arkansas and now teaches writing at Winthrop University in South Carolina. He has published five novels and four collections of short stories. The Elephant Mountains (Orca Books) is his first novel for young adult readers. He lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina, with his wife, the poet Susan Ludvigson, and several dogs. more »

Liam O’Donnell: Graphic novels and video games are part of literacy

Liam O’Donnell is the award-winning author of over 30 books and graphic novels for young readers, including the Max Finder Mystery and Graphic Guide Adventures. He has also written for the BBC.

When he isn’t writing, Liam is probably playing video games. If it’s the middle of the week, then he is definitely being a teacher-librarian in various elementary schools in Toronto, Canada.
Much to his surprise, Liam is also a research associate at the EDGE Lab at Ryerson University and a founding member of GamingEdus, a group of educators messing around with video games in the classroom. Last year, his students spent a lot of time blowing up stuff on the Multi-School Minecraft Server, which he created with his GamingEdu pals.
Before all that, though, Liam delivered hot food in restaurants, cold tea on movie sets, slimy fish in Dublin, bottled water in Vancouver and bad jokes in theme parks as a professional juggler. Liam’s website is; at Twitter he has the handle @liamodonnell. more »

Margaret Willey

Award-winning author Margaret Willey grew up in southwestern Michigan, the eldest daughter in a family of eleven children. She believes that her writing career began with reading stories and poems aloud to her younger brothers and sisters. “Many years later, I am basically still doing this—sharing stories and poems with children.” All her work comes from a personal place, either something that happened to her or something she witnessed at close range.

Previous books include Clever Beatrice, a folktale for which she received the Charlotte Zolotow Award, and Three Bears and Goldilocks. Her previous young adult novel, A Summer of Silk Moths, received an Honor Award from the Green Earth Book Awards. In 2010, Margaret received the Gwen Frostic Award from the Michigan Reading Association, an award for impacting literacy in her home state of Michigan, where she lives with her husband. more »

Philip Roy

Philip RoyPhilip Roy was born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He studiedmusic and history before choosing a career in writing. Philip’s awardsand nominations include first prize in the Atlantic Writing Competition, the Silver Medal for Foreword’s Best Book of the Year, runner-up for the New England Book Festival Award, and the Green Book Award (San Francisco). He has been short-listed for the Red Maple, Diamond Willow, Rocky Mountain, Langley Boy, Hackmatack, and Brimer awards. His novels have been selected several times for Best Books for Kids and Teens. Philip’s love for the ocean, enjoyment of traveling, and fascination for submarines has led to the creation of the Submarine Outlaw Series (SOS). On the rare occasions that Philip is not traveling and visiting schools, he divides his time between Antigonish and Halifax, where he continues to write novels and compose music. more »

Rebecca Kool

Rebecca KoolRebecca Kool is passionate about travel, language and culture. She celebrated her fiftieth birthday by leaving her job, selling her home, and moving to Japan where she would meet her husband-to-be, Takeshi Fujibe. Six years later with an opportunity for another adventure, they relocated to Lake Chapala in Mexico where Rebecca settled into writing full time, publishing three travel articles with a local magazine in addition to working on her first children’s book.

For her sixtieth birthday, Rebecca returned with Takeshi to Canada where she published her first book, Fly Catcher Boy, a bi-lingual (English/Japanese) story for children. This book has been re-worked and re-launched as an iBook, complete with manga-style illustrations and audio components which allow the reader to learn to use and pronounce over 80 Japanese words. She’s now working on her second dual-language book while planning a new adventure for her seventieth birthday. more »

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