Each Letter for Kids is a unique creation of the author, and is unlike any other. Letters can be black-and-white or color, one or eight pages, handwritten or typed, contain pictures, doodles, and drawings, or not. Every letter is signed by the author and then scanned and printed, and each includes an address at which the children can write back to the author (although we cannot guarantee that addresses from older letters are still correct). All letters are written specifically for the Letters For Kids program and aren’t available anywhere else. The Rumpus is allowing for individual sale of past letters in case there is a need or desire for a particular author or topic. To subscribe monthly or yearly and make sure not to miss out on the great future letters not yet sent, please visit www.therumpus.net/kids.
Please see below for a list of past authors who have participated in the program. Click to read a brief description of his or her letter. We will be updating this list every few months.
Alpine, Rachele (2015, 2017)
Baity, Cam and Zelkowicz, Benny
Campoy, F. Isabel
Carelli, Anne O’Brien
Castellucci, Cecil (2015, 2016, 2017)
Coats, J. Anderson
Del Rio, Tania
Ewan, Rebecca Fish
Gibson, Julia Mary
Glaser, Karina Yan
Gutman, Dan (2016, 2019)
Hill, Amanda Rawson
Hillhouse, Joanne C.
Johnson, Janet Sumner
Lennon, Maria T.
Miller, Pat Zietlow
Pla, Sally J.
Pérez, Celia C.
Salerni, Dianne K.
Schwarz, Shari L.
Snicket, Lemony (Daniel Hander)
Aron Nels Steinke
Shawn K. Stout
Swanson, Mathew and Behr, Robbi
Westrick, A. B.
Sarah Albee writes of her love of reading and writing as a child and of a few people she wrote to that wrote back, like Queen Elizabeth and Beverly Cleary. Includes pictures and drawings. Sarah is the author of many books including the Amazing Animals series, Dora the Explorer books, and Sesame Street books to name a few. She also writes under the names Sarah Wilson and Constance Allen.
William Alexander sends us a confession of something he did in the third grade involving a librarian he still hasn’t forgotten. William is a National Book Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction for kids. His novels and audiobooks include an Eleanor Cameron Award, an Earphones Award, a Junior Library Guild Selection, a finalist for the International Latino Book Award, two Minnesota Book Award finalists, and two CBC Best Children’s Book of the Year Awards. Will is a second generation Cuban-American immigrant to the US. He studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at Clarion. He teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.
Rachele Alpine first writes to us in 2015, sending a very colorfully illustrated letter about “accidental mischief.” She gives lots of funny examples of her own accidental mischief and can’t wait for you to write to her about yours! Then, in 2017, she writes to us about her love of baseball, books, and especially hockey! And the importance of being yourself because there’s only one YOU! Rachele is a lover of sushi, busting a move on the dance floor, and Michael Jackson. One of her first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. By day she’s a high school English teacher, and by night she writes with the companionship of the world’s cutest dog, Radley, a big cup of coffee, and a full bag of gummy peaches. Rachele lives with her husband in Cleveland, Ohio, but dreams of moving back to Boston, the city she fell in love with while attending graduate school there.
Lou Anders writes to us about his love of maps of imaginary places and how they make those places real. He’s included lots of color photos of maps! Lou is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and the forthcoming Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of Norse-themed fantasy adventure novels written for boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. Find Lou on Twitter at @LouAnders.
Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz explain how teamwork creates the magic behind their stop-motion animation and how they can make any object appear to be moving, including Legos in The Lego Movie. Includes a picture of them at work. Cam and Benny are the authors of the fantasy book series The Books of Ore.
Cindy Baldwin shares a really big secret and talks about where her last few story ideas came from. Cindy is a fiction writer, essayist, and poet. She grew up in North Carolina and still misses the sweet watermelons and warm accents on a daily basis. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of writing the kind of books readers can’t bear to be without. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries. Her debut novel, Where The Watermelons Grow, was named an Indies Introduce/Indie Next title for 2018, and received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist.
Matthew Baker shares three amazing, true stories about music, math, and buried treasure. He even shares a poem that is a big hint on where the buried treasure is hidden too! He’s got a lot of questions for you, so sharpen those pencils and get ready to write back. Matthew writes books and stories for children and adults. He was born and lives in Michigan. Recent interviews with him can be found here on The Rumpus, and at Chapter 16, One Story, Jumping The Candlestick, and Nashville Review.
Tracey Baptiste writes to us about growing up in Trinidad (the setting for some her own stories!) and shares hand-drawn doodles of vampires and zombies. Tracey is the author of several children’s books, most notably the acclaimed Jumbies Series (The Jumbies, 2015 and Rise of the Jumbies, 2017). Ms. Baptiste’s other children’s books include Angel’s Grace and The Totally Gross History of Ancient Egypt. She is also a contributor to the adult horror anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. Ms. Baptiste volunteers with We Need Diverse Books, The Brown Bookshelf, and I, Too Arts Collective. She also teaches in Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program. Find her on Twitter at @traceybaptiste, and on Instagram and Facebook at @TraceyBaptisteWrites.
Rebecca Behrens writes to us all about manatees! She also includes photographs and drawings of manatees! She loves them and after reading her letter, you’ll love them too. Rebecca lives and writes in New York City, where she also works as a textbook editor. She is the author of When Audrey Met Alice, which BookPage called “a terrific work of blended realistic and historical fiction.” Her next novel, Summer of Lost and Found, will be published in May 2016. Some of Rebecca’s favorite things are: the beach, history, running, doughnuts, and laughing.
Eric Bell sends a letter in which he makes up words and invites us to create a “cretpoj”—a project that may change the world. Eric graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. Once the other kids at recess began pretending to go on the adventures he came up with, he never stopped telling stories. His first novel, Alan Cole Is Not a Coward, is out now; a sequel, Alan Cole Doesn’t Dance, will come out in fall 2018.
Brooks Benjamin writes to us about the most embarrassing field trip EVER! Brooks Benjamin lives in Tennessee with his awesome wife and their incredibly spoiled mutt. When he’s not writing, he’s on the search for the perfect slice of pizza. My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights, his first book, is a love letter to all his favorite awkward dance moves. Visit him on Twitter and Instagram, and on his website.
Kamilla Benko writes to us about bears, sisters, and secrets. Kamilla spent most of her childhood climbing into wardrobes, trying to step through mirrors, and plotting to run away to an art museum. Now, she visits other worlds as a children’s book editor. Originally from Indiana, she currently lives in New York with her bookshelves, teapot, and hiking boots. You can find a link to her debut novel (about sisters, unicorns, and magic!) here. Don’t forget to check out her website and connect with her on Twitter!
Jenn Bishop writes to us all about her many pets—meet and see pictures of Brownie the rabbit, gerbils Ralphy and Flash, and cats Suki and Lilly. Jenn is a former youth services and teen librarian. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she studied English, and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She roots for the Red Sox from her new home city of Cincinnati. Her debut novel, The Distance to Home, is published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Dusti Bowling writes to us about tarantulas, rabbits, and snakes—and she even shares some fun drawings! Dusti grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. But it wasn’t until after starting down a couple of different career paths that Dusti realized her true passion was writing. She currently lives in New River, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, a dozen tarantulas, a gopher snake named Burrito, and a cockatiel named Cilantro.
Linda Bozzo writes about all the things she loves—especially singing and dancing, which she’s been doing since she was three years old! Linda is an award-winning author of more than sixty nonfiction books for children. Linda enjoys exploring new topics and consulting experts to help children discover real facts about the amazing world they live in. In between writing projects she enjoys sharing her presentations at schools and libraries. Linda is a long-time member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. For more information about Linda, you can visit her web site at www.lindabozzo.com.
Lisa Brown’s letter is written and illustrated in comic book form, and tells about all the activities of her day and asks what yours are. too. Lisa is an illustrator, writer, and cartoonist and her picture book, How To Be, was one of the Thirteen Best Picture Books For Family Literacy.
Skila Brown writes to us about birthdays, surprises, and birthday surprises! Skila is the author of verse novels Caminar and To Stay Alive, as well as the picture book Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, all with Candlewick Press. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee and now lives in Indiana where she writes books for readers of all ages.
Cylin Busby writes to us about her childhood farm and all her barn cats—wow, did she have a lot of cats! And they were the best mousers in the world! Cylin likes to say that she is from Maine, but really she has lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New York, and California, too. She has worked at Random House, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster as a children’s book editor. She was also Senior Editor at Teen Magazine. Cylin is a bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, numerous magazine articles, and short stories.
Gabrielle Byrne writes to us about ALL THE THINGS—and shares photos! Gabrielle Kirouac Byrne lives in the rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where she writes fantasy for kids of all ages. Gabby studied opera in Philadelphia, medieval studies in New York, literature in Scotland, and marine biology in the Pacific Northwest, but stories are the common thread that tie all her interests together. Her debut middle-grade novel, Rise of the Dragon Moon, will be released August 6, 2019 by Macmillan.
Kheryn Callender writes about her world travels and her special connection with the US Virgin Islands. Born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kheryn Callender is the author of Hurricane Child and This is Kind of an Epic Love Story.
F. Isabel Campoy writes about her amazing trip to Spain and shares photos of one of their holidays. F. Isabel Campoy is the author of numerous children’s books in the areas of poetry, theatre, stories, biographies, and art. As a researcher she has published extensively bringing to the curriculum an awareness of the richness of the Hispanic culture. She is an educator specialized in the area of literacy and home school interaction, topics on which she lecturers nationally. An internationally recognized scholar devoted to the study of language acquisition, a field in which she started publishing in l973 after obtaining her degree in English Philology from Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain; and post graduate work in Reading University in England, and UCLA in the United States. Her many accolades include ALA Notables, the San Francisco Library Award, the Reading the World Award from the University of San Francisco, the NABE Ramón Santiago Award, the International Latino Children’s Book Award, and nine Junior Library Guild selections. She is a member of the North American Academy of Spanish Language.
Sarah Cannon writes to us and tells us all about raising chickens and butterflies… in the middle of the city! Sarah has lived all over the US, but right now she calls Indiana home. She has a husband, three kids and a misguided dog. Sarah holds a BS in Education. She’s a nerdy knitting gardener who drinks a lot of coffee, and eats a lot of raspberries. She is probably human.
Anne O’Brien Carelli writes about her favorite meal, her dancing hall, and shares lots of cool pictures. Anne is the author of adult nonfiction and the picture book Amina’s New Friends. She has always been fascinated by the French Resistance, and studied history at Case Western Reserve University. For her PhD, Anne researched psychology of the gifted. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Anne lives in the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York. Skylark and Wallcreeper is her debut middle grade novel.
In her handwritten letter, Cecil Castellucci writes about the life in her garden—bees, hummingbirds, singing birds in the trees and all the beautiful flowers. Cecil is author of numerous young adult and childrens books including the Eisner-nominated Odd Duck and the California Book Award Gold Medal Winner Grandma’s Gloves. She also manages the LFK program. In her 2016 and 2017 letters, Cecil writes a handwritten letter asking what books you like to read and what authors you’d like to receive a letter from.
Claire Caterer writes about her very special friend Pete the Cardinal. Pete is not like other cardinals. He is special in a lot of ways. A very heartwarming letter with lovely hand drawings about the beauty of being different. Claire is the author of The Key & The Flame book series.
Nancy Cavanaugh takes us on a field trip to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia—and includes color photos of the swamp so you’ll feel like you’ve actually been there! Nancy J. Cavanaugh has a BS in education and an MA in curriculum and instruction with multiple published works. She was a teacher for more than fifteen years and currently works as a Library Media Specialist at an elementary school. Nancy lives in Tarpon Springs, FL with her husband and daughter.
Sheela Chari sends us a top-secret, colorful letter all about where she gets the ideas for her stories! Sheela is the author of the mystery novels, Finding Mighty, a Junior Library Guild Selection and Children’s Choice Award Finalist; and Vanished, an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book and Edgar finalist for best juvenile mystery. She is currently working on The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, based on the Peabody Award-winning mystery podcast by the same name created by Gen-Z Media. Sheela teaches fiction writing at Mercy College and lives with her family in New York. Visit her at www.sheelachari.com.
Jack Cheng writes to us about the city of Detroit and shares a story about the powers of… maps. Trust us—this is a special handwritten and illustrated letter you don’t want to miss! Jack is a Shanghai-born, Detroit-based author of critically acclaimed fiction for young readers. His debut children’s novel, See You in the Cosmos, is winner of the 2017 Golden Kite and Great Lakes, Great Reads awards for Best Middle Grade fiction. His next book, also for young readers, is set simultaneously in present-day metro Detroit and 1960s Communist China. He has visited schools across the country speaking with students about finding their path as a writer and artist, and volunteers with 826Michigan on in-class writing projects in Detroit public schools.
J. Anderson Coats writes to us about fireworks, and the two wonderful weeks one summer when she was a kid during which she and her older brother planned an awesome July 4th fireworks show. J. Anderson Coats is the author The Wicked and the Just, one of Kirkus’s Best Teen Books of 2012, a 2013 YALSA Best for Young Adults (BFYA) winner, and a School Library Journal Best Books of 2012 selection. It was also a 2012 Junior Library Guild selection and won the 2013 Washington State Book Award for Young Adults. Jillian’s short story, “Mother Carey’s Table,” appeared in A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls(Candlewick, 2016). Her second book, The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming, is a middle-grade novel set in Washington Territory in the 1860s which follows a girl moving west with her family as part of the second Mercer emigration expedition. R is for Rebel (formerly Ungovernable Girls), forthcoming from Atheneum in spring 2018, follows the daughter of known subversives as she’s sent away to be re-educated and must walk the line between rebellion and survival. Jillian lives in the Pacific northwest with her husband, teenage son, and a cat with thumbs.
Carolyn Cohagen writes about the many differences between her childhood and the childhoods of today’s children. Lots of doodles. Carolyn is the author of The Lost Children and runs the Carolyn’s Kids With Pens summer writing camps.
Edith Cohn explains about murder mysteries and what it takes to solve them and the tricks writers use to try to keep readers from guessing the real villain. Edith is the author of the book Spirit’s Key.
Melanie Conklin writes about how she had a hard time as a kid figuring out how to make friends and wants to ask you, “Do we all really want to be the same?” This is a wonderful letter about just being yourself! Melanie is a writer, reader, and lifelong lover of books and those who create them. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs, who are thankfully book-lovers, too. Melanie spent a decade as a product designer and approaches her writing with the same three-dimensional thinking and fastidious attention to detail. Counting Thyme is her debut middle grade novel, released from G.P. Putnam’s Sons in April 2016.
Abby Cooper writes to us about her dog Louis and the time he tried to eat her hair! Abby lives in Minnesota with her miniature poodle, Louis, and a whole bunch of books. A former teacher and school librarian, her favorite things in the world (besides writing) are getting and giving book recommendations and sharing her love of reading with others. In her spare time, she likes eating cupcakes, running along the Mississippi River, and watching a lot of bad reality TV.
Melanie Crowder writes about her “dogter” and moving to Colorado. Moving is a big adventure but sometimes it can feel like you’re leaving a part of yourself behind. But once in Colorado she meets the friendliest horse in the world and needs your help to give her the best name. Melanie is the author of several books including Parched, winner of the Parent’s Choice Awards silver medal, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Bank Street College Best Books Of The Year.
Sayantani DasGupta writes to us about superheroes, Bengali folktales passed down from her grandmother, and why it’s important to share your stories! Sayantani is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed, Bengali folktale and string theory-inspired Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond books, the first of which—The Serpent’s Secret—was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, a Booklist Best Middle Grade Novel of the 21st Century, and an EB White Read Aloud Honor Book. Sayantani is a pediatrician by training, but now teaches at Columbia University. When she’s not writing or reading, Sayantani spends time watching cooking shows with her trilingual children and protecting her black Labrador retriever Khushi from the many things that scare him, including plastic bags. She is a team member of We Need Diverse Books and recently gave a TEDx talk on radical imagination and why children’s literature can change the world.
Tania Del Rio writes to us about her childhood mission to convince her parents to get a dog. Did she succeed? Tania graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a BFA in animation. In 2003, her manga entry, “Lovesketch,” was selected to appear in TOKYOPOP’s Rising Stars of Manga Anthology, Volume 2. This led to working for Archie Comics as the writer and artist of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Additional work for Archie includes art and writing on Sonic the Hedgehog, Josie and the Pussycats, Cheryl Blossom, and stories featuring the rest of the Archie gang. She’s also done work for Marvel, and her popular webcomic www.mypoorlydrawnlife.com is now available as a 400-page book. Currently she’s working on a tutorial book on character design for Focal Press and a middle grade novel, Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, was published on November 24 through Quirk Books.
Julia DeVillers writes about two childhood surgeries, one the result of a very embarassing moment, and her time spent in the hospital. Julia is the author of How My Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller, which was adapted as a Disney Channel Original Movie.
Jill Diamond wants to know what you like to collect, and writes about all the things she collected as a kid, and even now as an adult, from stickers and rocks to cowboy boots and memories! Jill has loved children’s literature for as long as she can remember, thanks to her school-librarian mother and long, cold winters in Maine. Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural Mystery is her debut middle grade novel and the first book in the Lou Lou and Pea series. In addition to writing middle grade fiction, Jill practices law, dreams about her next travels, eats soft-serve ice cream, and wears cowboy boots. Jill now lives in San Francisco with her husband and their son.
Angela Dominguez shares an illustrated story about choosing a new dog. Angela was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and now resides on the east coast. She is the author and illustrator of several books for children and a two-time recipient of Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. Her debut middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something to Say, was a New York Public Library and a Chicago Public Library pick for Best Books for Kids in 2018, winner of SCBWI Sid Fleischman Award, and ALA Notable. Angela is currently working on the follow up entitled Stella Díaz Never Gives Up!. When Angela is not in her studio, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both. For more information, please visit her website.
Paul Durham writes a funny letter about all the good things (letters from you, birthday cards) and not so good things (bills) that arrive in a real mailbox. Lots of hand-drawn pictures. Paul is the author of The Luck Uglies, which was named an American Library Association’s Notable Book, a New York Public Library Title for Reading and Sharing, and won the Cybil Award for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction.
Sean Easley writes about traveling and shares cool drawings of the Eiffel Tower, an airplane, and even a dragon. Sean started writing in third grade because he was looking for adventure. He’s worked with kids and teens for well over a decade, listening to their stories, and somehow ended up with a Masters degree in education along the way. Now he’s a full-time writer living with his wife and son in Texas, where he stubbornly refuses to wear cowboy boots. Visit him at seaneasley.com and on Twitter and Instagram @AuthorEasley.
Margarita Engle writes about why you should give poetry a try—it’s like a new flavor of ice cream and if you try it, you just might like it! Margarita is the national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and the first Latino to receive that honor. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN USA award-winner. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, Golden Kite Award, Walter Dean Myers Honor, and Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, among others. Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award for Best Picture Book text. Her newest verse novel about the island is Forest World, and her newest picture books are All the Way to Havana, and Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote.
Rebecca Fish Ewan tries to write about math, but ends up drawing cartoons instead. Rebecca is a poet/cartoonist/writer & founder of Plankton Press, where small is big enough. Her hybrid-form work appears in Brevity, Punctuate, Under the Gum Tree, Mutha, and Hip Mama. She makes zines and teaches landscape architecture at ASU in The Design School. Her current work-in-progress includes a book on drawing for writers, and a collection of hybrid essays on water, place and the body. Her creative nonfiction books: A Land Between and a new cartoon/verse memoir, By the Forces of Gravity.
Darren Farrell writes a very funny letter from the other side of the planet where he lives in Seoul, South Korea. An awesomely illustrated letter showing some of the differences between South Korea and America but how both are great. Includes a recipe for bulgogi. Darren is the author of Thank You, Octopus, named one of NPR’s Book Concierge Great Reads of 2014 and Huffington Post’s Best Picture Books of 2014.
Stephanie Faris writes about her childhood pen pal and how much she misses having a pen pal. Will you be her pen pal? Stephanie knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on the small business blogs for Intuit and Go Payment and she is a featured columnist for SmallBizTechnology.com.
Shea Fontana writes to us about her childhood dread of the one-mile run and her more recent success of running a marathon! She thinks about the importance of not dwelling on disappointments, but rather, being proud of what you’ve achieved. Shea is a writer for film, television and graphic novels. Her credits include DC Super Hero Girls animated shorts, TV specials and movies, Doc McStuffins, The 7D, Whisker Haven Tales with the Palace Pets, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, Disney on Ice, and the feature film, Crowning Jules. She has also written for top comic titles including Justice League and Wonder Woman. Her DC Super Hero Girls graphic novels have been New York Times Best Sellers and her debut graphic novel, Finals Crisis, was honored with Diamond’s 2016 Gem Award for Best All-Ages Graphic Novel. She lives in sunny Los Angeles where she enjoys playing roller derby, hiking, hanging out with her dog, Moxie, and changing her hair color.
Erin Fry writes about all the wonders of nature seen while hiking the great outdoors. And because she gets lost a lot, her love of maps! Includes beautiful color photos of things seen on her hikes. Erin is the author of The Secrets of the Book and you can find curriculum guides for most of her books on her website.
Jason Fry writes to us about his weird hobby of making baseball cards for the Mets players that don’t have official baseball cards. Jason is a writer, editor, baseball fan, Star Wars dork, and digital consultant based (inevitably) in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of The Jupiter Pirates, a young adult space-fantasy series, and he has written more than thirty books and short stories set in the Star Wars galaxy. Besides fiction for adults and young readers, he writes essays and articles about technology, sports, online media, music, travel, history, and anything else that interests him. He also keeps an eye on the world of digital publishing, with a particular interest in sports and sportswriting.
Louise Galveston writes about all the things she wanted to be when she was growing up—it involves lots of animals! She includes lots of drawings of animals, too! Louise grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. The lone girl in her neighborhood, she always got to play Princess Leia, thus her mad lightsaber skills. Louise still lives in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she directs children’s theater and dabbles in watercolor. She is proud to say that some of her eleven children have inherited her horsey genes and all of them love Sea-Monkeys. (Her first obsession with tiny creatures.)
Kallie George sends a letter about hiking with her husband up Mt. Olympus in Greece! It’s the highest mountain in Greece and Kallie finds a surprise at the top! Plus, she includes photographs from the hike so you can explore, too! Kallie is an author, editor, and speaker living in Vancouver, BC, near the sea. When she’s not writing or editing, she teaches creative writing workshops. Kallie has a Masters of Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia. She loves picture books, fairy tales, beautiful art and music, and baking cookies. You can visit Kallie at her website. Books by Kallie George can be found here.
Maria Gianferrari’s handwritten letter is about things she sees outdoors in nature and includes color photos of nests, birds, a turtle, a fox, and lots of photos to help visualize the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Includes a recipe for butterscotch brownies. Maria is the author of nonfiction and fiction picture books, her work has appeared in various national children’s magazines, and she was the winner of PEN New England’s 2009 Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.
Julia Mary Gibson writes about the critters of nature you can see even when living in a big city, including a coyote walking down the sidewalk. A handwritten letter illustrated with a collage of wild animals. Julia is the author of Copper Magic.
Karina Yan Glaser writes to us about—and shares pictures of—her three pets: a cat, a bunny, and a dog! Originally from California, Karina came to New York City for college and has stuck around for nearly twenty years. She has had a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under resourced areas around the world. Now as a mother, one of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can’t go anywhere without a book. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, and an assortment of rescued animals. Karina is a contributing editor at Book Riot, the largest independent book media company in North America, where she writes the weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter as well as children’s book recommendation posts. Subscribe to the newsletter here, and check out her posts here.
Cynthia Grady writes of her love of rabbits, both the ones she had as pets as a child and the one she now lets run around her classroom. Cynthia is the author of the book of poems I Lay Down My Stitches, winner of numerous awards including the 2013 Bank Street College of Education, The Best Children’s Books of the Year, and the 2013 NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts.
Elise Gravel writes to us about one of her favorite things about her home city of Montreal—the alleyways! They are full of cats, and kids playing, and parents chatting! It’s like a garden party that lasts all summer! Elise is an author illustrator from Montreal, Quebec. After studying Graphic Design, Gravel pursued a career writing and illustrating children’s books, where her quirky and charming characters quickly won the hearts of children and adults worldwide. In 2012, Gravel received the Governor General’s Literary Award for her book The Great Antonio, about the famous Montreal strongman with a heart of gold. A prolific artist, she currently has over thirty children’s books to her name which have been translated into a dozen languages, including I Want a Monster! and The Disgusting Critters series. Elise Gravel still lives in Montreal with her spouse, two daughters, cats, and a few spiders.
John Green writes to us about how his love of drawing comics as a kid led to his working at Disney and continuing to create his own comics as an adult. He’s spends pretty much every waking moment on comics, and he LOVES it! John majored in Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan where he met Dave Roman. They soon formed Cryptic Press, the company they publish their comics Quicken Forbidden and Teen Boat through. Shortly after graduating he became the Comics Consultant at Disney Adventures Magazine. In addition to handling layout and production of the comics that appeared in Disney Adventures, he wrote, colored, and lettered a number of them. Other comic work includes layout and production of graphic novels for Scholastic and First Second Books. He’s also done a lot of work in the video game industry, from writing narratives for virtual worlds, designing multiplayer mini-games, to doing background art and animation. Teen Boat has since been collected into two volumes from Clarion Books, and his latest graphic novel is Hippopotamister—his first as both writer and artist—from First Second Books. You can see what John’s up to at Facebook or Twitter, or possibly even his old blog here.
Shari Green sends a handwritten, illustrated letter about her life on Vancouver Island––and magic! Shari is an award-winning author of middle grade verse novels. Her books have been nominated for multiple provincial/state readers’-choice programs and included on international “best of” lists. In her non-writing life, Shari works as a Licensed Practical Nurse. She’s in love with stories and the sea, and can often be found curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, or wandering the beaches near her home on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. Shari is married and has four grown children.
Writing as his character Charlie Joe Jackson, Tommy Greenwald humorously contemplates why reading and writing is good and helpful even if you don’t really like doing it. Tommy is the author of the Charlie Joe Jackson books, a series about the most reluctant reader ever born.
Mike Grosso writes to us about growing up in a musical family and how his thoughts would spin so fast that he had a hard time sitting still and learning in school. Mike is a musician and a fourth-grade teacher who always keeps a guitar in his classroom. His father gave him his first lesson, and his mom taught him how to keep a steady rhythm. Mike continues to write and record music at his home in Oak Park, Illinois, where he lives with his wife, son, and a drum set he plays much too loud. I Am Drums is his first novel.
Dan Gutman first writes to us in 2016 about where he lives, where he writes, what he likes to do for fun, and some other really neat stuff—including the one word guaranteed to make every kid laugh! Can you guess what it is? In 2019, shares fun facts about himself and offers photographic proof—you’ll have to decide for yourself if he’s telling the truth! Dan is the New York Times bestselling author of the Genius Files series. He is also the author of the Baseball Card Adventure series, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies around the world, and the My Weird School series, which has sold more than 10 million copies. Dan loves to write fiction for kids and visit schools! Thanks to his many fans who voted in their classrooms, Dan has received nineteen state book awards and ninety-two state book award nominations. He lives in New York City with his wife, Nina.
Pete Hautman writes an awesomely illustrated and very funny letter about one of his favorite activites—hunting wild mushrooms in the forests of Minnesota! Pete worked various jobs including sign painter, graphic artist, marketing executive, painter cap salesman, and pineapple slicer before, having no better options, he wrote the novel Drawing Dead. He is the author of many books including Godless which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2004. He lives with novelist and poet Mary Logue in Minnesota and Wisconsin with one small dog named Gaston. When he’s not writing or reading, he likes to cook, run, bike, inline skate, hunt wild mushrooms, look at art, and take naps.
Michael Hearst sends us an illustrated letter about his Brooklyn, NY writing studio. Michael is a writer, musician, and composer. His other books include Unusual Creatures and Extraordinary People. As a musician, Hearst has recorded and released more than a dozen albums, some with his band One Ring Zero, and others under his own name, such as Songs for Ice Cream Trucks, Songs for Fearful Flyers, and Songs for Unusual Creatures (which was turned into a PBS Digital Studios series). In addition, he has composed music for several films, including To Be Takei, Magic Camp, and Chicken People. Hearst lives in a Brooklyn. You can visit him on Facebook and Twitter.
Amanda Rawson Hill writes about different places she’s lived, and her recent trip to New York City. Amanda grew up in Southwest Wyoming with a library right out her back gate (which accounts a lot for how she turned out.) She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Brigham Young University and now resides in Central California with her husband, three kids, a bulldog, and a cat who is still mad about the acquisition of the dog. She writes children’s novels and picture books and is the author of The Three Rules of Everyday Magic.
Joanne C. Hillhouse writes to us all the way from her home in Antigua about one her most favorite things—mangoes! Joanne is from Ottos, Antigua. She is the author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, the children s picture book Fish Outta Water, the novel Oh Gad!, and the teen/young adult novel Musical Youth which placed second for the inaugural Burt Award for YA Caribbean literature. Her writing has appeared in several Caribbean and international journals and anthologies including Pepperpot: Best New Writing from the Caribbean, In the Black: New African Canadian Literature, and others. Joanne founded and runs the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize to nurture and showcase the literary arts in her home country. She is excited at the opportunity to publish her first faerie tale, a rare Caribbean faerie tale, and to do so with Little Bell Caribbean.
Veera Hiranandani writes to us about the role letters have played in her life, and she shares some cool doodles with our readers! Veera is the author of The Night Diary (Kokila), which received the 2019 Newbery Honor Award, the 2019 Walter Dean Myers Honor Award, and the 2018 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature. The Night Diary has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, is a New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick, and was chosen as a 2018 Best Children’s Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Amazon, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, among others. She is also the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl (Yearling), which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist, and the chapter book series, Phoebe G. Green (Grosset & Dunlap). She earned her MFA in fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College. A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she now teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and is working on her next novel.
Allyson Hoffman shares with us the people she’s grateful for, the things that make her happy, and the places that she loves, using words and very special drawings. She even includes some extra doodles at the end so that you can make your own illustrated letter about what you are grateful for! Allyson is a writer from West Michigan. Currently, she is pursuing an MFA at the University of South Florida. Her previous work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Third Point Press, and Midwestern Gothic.
Tracy Holczer writes a letter that is only allowed to be read by hooligans! That’s because she shares with you her first hooligan story from when she was thirteen. It involves lots of girls, lots of noise, a dark street, screaming, and police laughter. Tracy lives in Southern California with her husband, three daughters, and two rather fluffy dogs named Buster and Molly. She has a deep love for the mountains where she grew up so she writes them into her stories. A 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices pick and Indie Next pick, her debut middle grade novel, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was written in praise of both nature and family, and all that can be found if you’re willing to hunt for treasure. It was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in May, 2014 and is forthcoming by Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany 2015. Also forthcoming from Putnam and Carlsen is her second novel, The Natural History of Samantha Rossi in summer, 2016.
Matt Holm writes about the importance of teamwork in creating books with his sister Jenni. All steps of the book creation are shared in this handwritten letter with lots of illustrations. Matt illustrates the Babymouse and Squish series with his sister Jennifer.
Susan Hughes explains to us how of the many thoughts she has in a day, one may become a story. Susan is an award-winning writer of more than twenty-five children’s books, including picture books, chapter books, young adult novels, nonfiction for all ages, and even a nonfiction graphic novel. Her books have received multiple nominations for the Forest of Reading awards, the TD Children’s Literature Awards, and the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Literature. She’s been writing children’s books and working as a freelance editor for thirty years.
Anna Humphrey sends us a picture of her in disguise and wants to play the game “Two Truths and a Lie” with you so get your pencils and pens ready to write back! Anna is the author of Rhymes with Cupid, Mission (Un)Popular, Ruby Goldberg’s Bright Idea, and the Clara Humble series. She writes in the attic of a big old brick house that she shares with her husband, kids and cats in Kitchener, Ontario.
Bre Indigo shares a heartwarming letter about the adoption of her cat—with photos and drawings—plus mentions her space travels! Bre is an artist based in Orange County, California. Lover of astronomy, salmon sashimi, and open minds. She tells stories of gentle boys, tough girls and the great people in between—with a focus on tolerance and the many faces of love. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is Bre’s debut graphic novel.
Emily Jenkins writes about how healing storytelling or reading can be in hard times. Emily’s first picture book, Five Creatures, was awarded the Charlotte Zolotow Honor and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor.
Jim Jennewein handwrites a letter about how he learned to love reading in the 6th grade thanks to a very special teacher. Includes a very funny poem and lots of doodles. Jim has received writing credits on such films as The Flintstones, Richie Rich, Getting Even With Dad, Stay Tuned, and Major League II. He is also co-author of the RuneWarriors trilogy.
Pictures of the title pages from Patrick Jennings’s rough drafts. A great exercise is to view the original rough draft drawings and then visit a library to locate the final title page in the published books. Patrick is the author of many books incuding Hissy Fitz, and The Guinea Dog series.
Janet Sumner Johnson writes about candy, and a fabulous candy jar, and its tragic end. Janet’s husband (a.k.a. Jedi Master Daddy) and Janet (a.k.a. Princess Mommy) are raising three energetic Jedi: Master London, Jedi Brandt, and Padowan Khyah. She has mastered the use of her purple light-saber (inherited from Mace Windoo himself), the art of identifying the bad guys (they drink prune juice, not water), and the ability of crafting bases and ships from scraps (aka Legos). In her spare time, Janet writes children’s books, translates French to English, and keeps up with her blog. So yes, her laundry is probably waiting to be done.
Kristen Kittscher writes about all the strange and exciting magic around us every day! Kristen is a former middle school English teacher and author of tween mystery The Wig in the Window (Harper Children’s, 2013) which garnered a starred review from School Library Journal and was named to ten Best of the Year lists. The 2014 James Thurber House Children’s Writer-in-Residence and a graduate of Brown University, Kristen frequently presents at schools, libraries, and festivals. She lives with her husband in Pasadena, home of the Rose Parade—the inspiration for her most recent novel, The Tiara on the Terrace. Visit kristenkittscher.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Kara LaReau writes to us about the time she proudly handed in a report on Marian Anderson for Black History Month and got in trouble for using a good word. Kara was born and raised in Connecticut. After receiving her Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, she worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press, and via her own creative consulting firm, Bluebird Works. Kara has two new series: The Infamous Ratsos, chapter books illustrated by Matt Myers, and The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, a middle grade trilogy illustrated by Jen Hill. She is also the author of Ugly Fish, and Otto: The Boy Who Loved Cars, both illustrated by Scott Magoon; and No Slurping, No Burping!: A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband, son, and cat.
Jessica Lawson surprises readers with an unusual form of camping, shares her secret recipe for pizza sauce, and tells us all about her pet chickens. Jessica’s books for young readers have earned starred industry reviews and Junior Library Guild Selection designations, and have been included on state reading lists. Her most recent middle grade novel is Under the Bottle Bridge. You can find out more about Jessica at JessicaLawsonBooks.com.
Honest Lee hares a hilarious letter, written partly in code. Can you decipher the code and figure out Honest’s secret message?! Honest is a liar—you can’t trust a thing he writes. He insists that his stories are true. And they’re totally not! Then again, I could be Honest Lee, which would mean I’m lying and my stories are true. What’s the truth? I have no idea. Honestly. (But he is the author of the Texas Bluebonnet Nominated Unlucky Lottery Winners of Classroom 13, the first title in a series of absurd and hilarious books in the vain of Roald Dahl and Sideway Stories from Wayside School. Find his books here!
Maria T. Lennon writes how hard it is to be a kid, how mean kids can be but also about the importance of giving kids who try to change a second chance instead of labeling and ignoring them. Maria is the author of the series Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child.
Niki Lenz writes to us all about her camping adventures! Niki lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen is her first novel.
Cory Leonardo writes about her tree problem, and shares lots of cool nature photos! Cory grew up believing she’d replace Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune, but when that didn’t pan out, she decided she’d turn letters and phrases in a different way (but minus the glittery dresses, sadly). A born and bred upstate New Yorker, she currently lives in the Syracuse area with her husband, a collection of snow shovels, and her three plucky children. Her debut novel is The Simple Art of Flying (titled Call Me Alastair in the UK).
Cynthia Levinson writes about her wishes and dreams to live somewhere else, and how today she lives in two very different places. And, their names rhyme—can you guess where she lives? Cynthia Levinson holds degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and also attended the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. A former teacher and educational policy consultant and researcher, she is the author of the award-winning and critically acclaimed We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. She has also published articles in Appleseeds, Calliope, Cobblestone, Dig, Faces, and Odyssey. Although she specializes in writing nonfiction, her short fiction has also been accepted by acclaimed children’s magazines and readers, including Highlights for Children, Skipping Stones, and The Mailbox.
Henry Lien writes to us about things that scare him—and shares a secret! Henry is the author of the award-winning and critically acclaimed Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy series, which the New York Times described as “Hermione Granger meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets the Ice Capades meets Mean Girls.” Henry has worked as an attorney, fine art dealer, and college instructor. Born in Taiwan, Henry currently lives in Hollywood.
Nancy Loewen writes about all the things in nature both beautiful and odd that she sees while walking her dog. Lots of color photos. Nancy has written over a hundred books for kids. She’s received awards from the American Library Association, the Association of Educational Publishers, New York Public Library, Bank Street Children’s Book Committee, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
Constance Lombardo writes to us about cats, dogs, great books, and wizards. Constance began drawing when she was ten years old, inspired in part by the Illustrators Annuals her dad brought home from the advertising agency where he worked, and in part by the fact that her sister did a drawing and got lots of attention. She received her BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University and has had illustrations in a variety of magazines. She is the proud author/illustrator of the middle grade Mr. Puffball series (HarperCollins.) The books are: Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America, and Mr. Puffball: Escape from Castaway Island. Currently, she’s working on her first picture book, Everybody Says Meow (HarperCollins, 2019.) She is represented by Lori Nowicki of Painted Words. She lives in Asheville, NC where she’s sometimes seen swimming near waterfalls and avoiding snakes. Plus she likes cats.
Jenny Lundquist writes to us about her childhood when she was painfully shy and about one particular incident when she was bullied and how as an adult she used that experience to write a book to help others. Jenny grew up in California, wearing glasses and wishing they had magic powers. They didn’t, but they did help her earn a degree in intercultural studies at Biola University. Jenny has painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes one day to write a book at a café in Paris. Jenny and her husband live in northern California with their two sons and Rambo, the world’s whiniest cat.
Eric Luper describes the time he escaped hungry crocodiles, and all the adventure that ensued. Eric grew up in northern New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. He had a number of interesting jobs including: paperboy, worker at a rehabilitation center for birds of prey, worker in a factory that made those foil things that go around potted plants, and restoration worker on a medieval castle in southern France. Nowadays, in addition to being a children’s writer, he’s also a chiropractor, and is proud to have moved from starving artist to not-so-starving artist. He is the author of two Scholastic Book Series Key Hunters and The Chocolate Lab, and writes for the Amazing World of Gumball, The Regular Show and Teen Titans Go! on Cartoon Network. He has also written titles for Scooby-Doo, Star Trek, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Diane Magras sends us a handwritten letter about her love of castles, including colorful illustrations! Diane is author of the New York Times Editors’ Choice The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, as well as its companion novel, The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter. All things medieval fascinate Diane: castles, abbeys, swords, manuscripts, and the daily life of medieval people, especially those who weren’t royalty. Diane lives in Maine with her husband and son and thinks often of Scotland, where her books are set.
Leslie Margolis writes about how bullying is soul-crushing and how she survived it as a child. Includes a hidden objects game. Leslie is the author of numerous books for young readers, including the Annabelle Unleashed books as well as the Maggie Brooklyn mystery series.
Jennifer Maschari writes (and draws) about woods! And forts! And creeks, and critters, and popsicles! Jennifer is a former classroom teacher who writes books for young readers. Her first middle grade novel, The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price, comes out February 23, 2016. She has two more stand-alone books coming out in 2017 and 2018 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. Jennifer lives in Ohio with her husband and her two stinky (yet noble) English bulldogs, Oliver and Hank.
Meg Medina writes to us about some very unexpected visitors she once received—and shares pictures, too! Meg is a Newbery and Pura Belpré award-winning author of picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. She is the author of Merci Suárez Changes Gears, a New York Times bestseller which won the 2019 John Newbery Medal and the 2018 Charlotte Huck Honor Award. Her other books include: Burn Baby Burn, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. Her picture books include Mango, Abuela and Me, and Tía Isa Wants a Car.
Kate Messner writes about her favorite activity from Mrs. Fox’s 3rd grade classroom—the sentence box. Includes color photos of nature and hand-drawn doodles. Kate is an award-winning author whose books for kids have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections.
Pat Zietlow Miller writes to us about cool authors from Wisconsin and getting one hundred and twenty-six rejections before she sold her first book! Pat knew she wanted to be a writer ever since her seventh-grade English teacher read her paper about square-dancing skirts out loud in class and said: “This is the first time anything a student has written has given me chills.” (Thanks, Mrs. Mueller! You rock!) Pat started out as a newspaper reporter and wrote about everything from dartball and deer-hunting to diets and decoupage. Then, she joined an insurance company and edited its newsletter and magazine. Now, she writes insurance information by day and children’s books by night. Pat has seven pictures books available now: Sophie’s Squash, Be Kind, Sophie’s Squash Goes to School, Wherever You Go, The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, Sharing the Bread, and Wide-Awake Bear. Pat has won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor, The Charlotte Zolotow Honor, the Golden Kite Award, and three Crystal Kite Awards. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, daughters, and two cats.
Gail Nall writes about her love of ice skating and the most embarasssing moment of her life when she first skated with the rink’s synchronized skating team. Relates the importance of not giving up and how to move past an embarassing moment to become sucessful. Colorful hand-drawn doodles. Gail is the author of Breaking the Ice.
Sally Nemeth writes about her first and only fishing trip with her grandfather and her horror on learning after returning home that the fish he had caught and that she had named were destined to be their dinner—or would they? Includes color photos. Sally is the author of The Heights, The Depths, and Everything In Between.
Kenneth Oppel sends us a full-color map of the childhood neighborhood! Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwingtrilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide, and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn was winner of a Michael L Printz Honor Book Award, and the Canadian Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Timesbestseller and was named Children’s Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, and The Boundless, a thriller set aboard the longest, most magnificent train ever built. His most recent book is The Nest, a novel illustrated by Caldecott-winner Jon Klassen. Born on Vancouver Island, Oppel has lived in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, England, Ireland, and now lives in Toronto with his wife and children.
Jim Paillot writes about life in the desert, odd but true things that have fallen on his head, and how artists have a lot of bad art inside them before they get to the good art. A funny handwritten letter with handdrawings about not giving up on yourself. Jim illustrates the Dan Gutman series My Weird School and the Trudi Trueit series Secrets of a Lab Rat.
Susan Patron writes about her secret childhood conversations with a chair, fact vs. fiction, and whether a fact is not a fact if it’s too hard to believe. Susan is the author of many books inluding Newberry Award winner The Higher Power of Lucky.
Celia C. Pérez writes to us about her favorite podcasts and shares a hot chocolate recipe! Celia is the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Cuban father. Her debut book for young readers, The First Rule of Punk, was a 2018 Pure Belpré Award Honor Book, a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards honor book, a winner of the 2018 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, a Junior Library Guild selection, and was included in several best of the year lists including the Amelia Bloomer List, NPR’s Best Books of 2017, the Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books, the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids, School Library Journal’s Best of 2017, The Horn Book Magazine’s Fanfare, and ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books. Things Celia loves in no particular order include: reading, revising, coffee, Halloween, snail mail, finding original Cutler mail chutes in old hotels, gray days, pit bulls, baking, podcasts, music, zines, handmade gifts, and trying to minimize her carbon footprint. Originally from Miami, Florida, she now lives in Chicago with her family. In addition to writing for young readers, she is a community college librarian.
Mitali Perkins writes to us about growing up in India terrified of dogs, and how she ended up owning (and loving) three. Mitali has written ten novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near(nominated for the National Book Award, Walter Award honor book), Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the top 100 books for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an American Library Association’s Top Ten Novels for Young Adults), and Tiger Boy (winner of the Charlotte Huck Honor Award and the South Asia Book Award.) Mitali was born in Kolkata, India, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Rebecca Petruck writes about finding her passion for stickers, and books. And, we’re mailing these letters with special scratch-n-sniff popsicle stamps for an extra-special summer treat! Rebecca is the author of Boy Bites Bug (May 2018) and Steering Toward Normal (2014), both with ABRAMS/Amulet. Bug received a starred review from ABA Booklist, who said it’s “…funny, perceptive, and topical in more ways than one.” SLJ called it “a sure bet for reluctant readers.” Steering Toward Normal was a BCCB Best Book of the Year, and an American Booksellers Association New Voices selection as well as a Kids Indie Next List title. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington, and is a mentor for Pitch Wars, Writing in the Margins, and SCBWI-C. She is represented by Kate Testerman of kt literary. Visit Rebecca at rebeccapetruck.com and @RebeccaPetruck on Twitter.
Jose Pimienta writes to us about the day he left Georgia, picked up a good friend in Kentucky, and headed west to pursue an art career in California. This awesome letter about their trek and the lives they’ve built since arriving in West Burbank is filled with wonderful illustrations, too! Jose (Joe Pi) was born in the Imperial Valley and raised as a Cachanilla in Mexicali, BC. During his upbringing, he was heavily influenced by animation, music, and short stories. He’s been drawing for as long as he can remember and loved analyzing everything on the TV screen. After high school, he left his garage band and ventured towards Savannah, Georgia where he studied sequential art and discovered the wonders of storyboarding, a wider variety of music, traveled more, and made friends. In 2009, he packed his belongings and drove to Los Angeles, with a friend to pursue a career in storyboarding. Nowadays, he resides in Tujunga where he takes walks every morning along with a big cup of coffee. He draws comics, storyboards, and sketches for visual development. Joe Pi still makes music and smiles as often as possible.
Sally J. Pla writes about superheroes and the time she was tricked by her brother. Sally is the award-winning author of The Someday Birds (2017), about a young boy’s epic cross-country journey. It’s the winner of the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award, a NY Public Library Best Children’s Book, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Nerdies Award winner. Her second novel, Stanley Will Probably Be Fine (2018), is a Junior Library Guild Selection with a starred review from Kirkus (“add to the growing list of intelligent books about kids whose brains operate outside the norm”). The School Library Journal calls it “an excellent addition to promote social-emotional learning.” Her first picture book, Benji, the Bad Day, & Me (Lee & Low), will be out this September. Sally has appeared on local television and radio as a writer and autism advocate. She believes in kindness, respect, and the beauty of different brains, because we are all stars shining with different lights! She lives in San Diego, where she’s hard at work on the next story.
Sarah Prineas writes to us about creating maps, and runes, and her collection of dragons! Sarah lives in rural Iowa with a mad scientist husband, two kids, two dogs, two cats, chickens, bees, and a bunch of goats. Her main thing is writing—she loves to write, and talk about writing, and write emails to other writers. And reading. She reads a lot. Mostly fantasy, but also romance and regular fiction. She lives on 40 acres out in the countryside, and is working to restore the woods and prairie. So basically she’s either writing or she’s outside working the land, canoeing around her lake, hiking, or gardening. Or wrangling goats.
Michael Reisman writes about how before there were good video games, he and his friends had fun making up games and stories, and about the many ways you can tell stories (drawing, painting, singing, writing, etc.). Lots of hand-drawn pictures. Michael is the author of the Simon Bloom series.
Madelyn Rosenberg writes to us about all the things she wanted to be before becoming a writer, including a rock star! Madelyn Rosenberg wrote about all kinds of real-life colorful characters as a reporter in Southwest Virginia. Now she makes up characters of her own. She is the author of eight books for kids of all ages, including a young-adult novel Dream Boy she wrote with her friend Mary Crockett. Her most recent books are How to Behave at a Dog Show and Nanny X Returns. She lives with her family in Virginia, where she works as a freelance writer and coaches recreational soccer.
Aisha Saeed writes about her passion, and how it led her writing. Aisha Saeed is a New York Times bestselling author. She wrote Written in the Stars(Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015), which was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the middle grade novel Amal Unbound (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018), a Summer 2018 Indie Next Pick and Amazon Best Book of the Month that has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and is a Global Read Aloud for 2018. She also has a forthcoming picture book Bilal Cooks Daal (Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads, 2019). Aisha is also a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC, and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel. Aisha is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary Agency and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three sons.
Melissa Sarno shares a lovely handwritten letter about a very special tree. Melissa is the author of Just Under the Clouds and the forthcoming A Swirl of Ocean. She lives in the lower Hudson Valley of New York with her family. Read more about her at melissasarno.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @melissasarno.
Dianne K. Salerni asks if you believe finders are keepers and losers are weepers. How honest should you be when no one is looking? A funny but thought-provoking letter about honesty and a great discussion/writing prompt. Dianne is a retired 4th/5th grade teacher and author of The Eight Day series.
Charlotte Salter writes to us about the interesting things she collects on the beach. Charlotte lives in London, England, where she is a copywriter by day and an author by night (which might be why her books are so dark). Her novels The Bone Snatcher and Where the Woods End are published by Dial Books. She Tweets in a mysteriously sporadic manner as @CeSalter.
Holly Schindler writes about the cool stuff she finds when going treasure hunting for her hobby. She includes photos of some of her favorites from her collections. Holly is the author of The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky.
Lisa Schroeder writes about going through a box of old letters that her great-grandmother kept from the 1930s and 40s when letter writing was the main form of long distance communication. Lisa is the author of over a dozen books for kids and teens, including It’s Raining Cupcakes and My Secret Guide to Paris.
Shari L. Schwarz writes to us about the time her dad tricked her during a vacation in Colorado. Shari is the author of Treasure at Lure Lake, a middle grade survival adventure novel that came out April 12, 2016. Shari is a mom of four boys—three teenagers and one kindergartener (yes, they are alike in many ways!) who keep her busy with their music and sport events. She’s a simple person (her husband would totally disagree!) and a homebody, but she does love long chats with friends over a latte, dreaming of going to the beach, and writing adventure stories for children. If she’s not writing, she’s probably reading or working on an editing project. In the quiet spaces of life, she might find time for her other favorites: gardening, weight-lifting, hiking, and a bit of photography. She has degrees in Cross-Cultural Studies and Elementary Education with an emphasis in Literacy. Most recently, she worked as an elementary school librarian before her little guy came on the scene. Now, she stays home with him and writes.
Rachel Searles writes from the woods about the languages she’s spoken, from the secret made-up language she used with her childhood best friend to the fluent German she perfected while living in Germany. Rachel is the author of The Lost Planet series.
Lois Sepahban writes about all the animals that have shared her life with her, including a very special dog named Strider, an Australian Shepherd that walked her to the bus stop each morning and met her there every day when she came home from school. Lois spent her childhood climbing trees, reading books, and creating maps and leading her brother and sister on hunts for buried treasures. On all of her adventures she was accompanied by her dog, Strider, who walked her to the bus stop every morning and then met her there to walk home at the end of the day. She studied literature in college and became a teacher. When she read books out loud to her students, especially books like The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw or Sounder by William H. Armstrong, she became inspired to write books of her own. Today, she is married and has two children. She lives on a small farm where she has a barn that she fills with animals who need homes. She has dogs, cats, and the sweetest chickens in the world!
Laura Shovan writes to us about her interest in drawing robots. Laura is author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book for children, Takedown, is about a girl wrestling on an all-boy team. She is a longtime poet-in-the-schools in Maryland.
Tricia Springstubb writes about her little sister who is twelve years younger than her and the conversations they had via letters once Tricia had gone off to college. She writes about at no matter what age, there are always things in life that need to be figured out. Tricia is the author of Moonpenny Island. Reading and activity guides for teachers and librarians can be found on her website.
Rebecca Stead writes about an incident from her childhood when in order to back up a lie she told classmates, she stole from one of them. This is a letter about the consequences of not being honest and the relief of telling the truth. Rebecca is a New York Times bestselling author of several books including Newberry Award Winner When You Reach Me.
Aron Nels Steinke shares some of his earliest memories, along with some of his fantastic illustrations! Aron is the creator of the Mr. Wolf’s Class graphic novel series published by Scholastic and the Eisner Award-winning coauthor (with Ariel Cohn) and illustrator of The Zoo Box. He is an elementary school teacher by day and cartoonist by night. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.
Shawn K. Stout writes to us about how a diary can be a best friend. Then, she tells us something very exciting about ravens! Shawn is the author of the Not-So-Ordinary Girl series as well as the middle grade series Penelope Crumb. Stout has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Maryland with her husband, baby daughter, and two ancient dogs.
This is a beautifully illustrated letter about how through teamwork Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr create a book, with Matthew writing and Robbi illustrating. Matthew and his wife Robbi run the small press Bobbledy Books that publishes picture books and music for kids.
Ellie Terry writes about the horrors of getting the worst fifth grade teacher in her school! (Hint: he was HAIRY!) Ellie writes heartfelt contemporary fiction for middle-grade readers. Her middle-grade debut, a verse novel titled Forget Me Not, was published in 2017 by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. She lives in southern Utah with her husband, three kids, two zebra finches, and a Russian desert tortoise. You can visit her on Twitter and on Facebook.
Tracy Trivas writes about believing in yourself and your dreams. She had a fabulous idea only to have it ripped to shreds by a friend. She starts to doubt herself but then gets mad, and overcoming her self-doubt, follows through with her idea—writing the book The Wish Stealers.
Kristin Tubb writes about her love of comets, planets, and stars. She also explains the 12- and 13-sign horoscopes. Kristin Tubb is the author of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different, Selling Hope, and The 13th Sign. She lives in Tennessee with her family.
Lisa Tyre writes to us about the interesting stories behind how towns are named. Do you know how your town was named? Lisa would like to know so get those pencils/pens/crayons ready to write! Lisa grew up in a small town in Tennessee surrounded by her crazy family and neighbors. She learned early on that not every child had a pet skunk! Lisa has wanted to write for as long as she can remember, probably because she comes from a long line of storytellers. Lisa loved listening to her dad tell tales about the escapades of his youth.
Sara Varon writes about all the things she sees while walking through her new neighborhood. A beautifully illustrated letter about the changes in life, moving and appreciating the good and not-so good in every neighborhood. Sara is a printmaker, comic book artist, and illustrator of several books including the Eisner-nominated picture book Odd Duck.
Frans Vischer writes about moving from Holland to America when he was eleven. His first year of school in America was very difficult due to his shyness, so he communicated more with drawings than with words, eventually becoming an animator for Disney. Includes hand-drawn artwork and photos. Frans has worked on films such as The Princess and the Frog and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and writes books about his enormous, lovable cat Fuddles.
Jessica Vitalis is our new Children’s Correspondence Coordinator, and she introduces herself to you with lots of fun facts and photos! Jessica is a middle grade author and an active member of the literary community. Jessica volunteers as a Pitch Wars mentor, with the We Need Diverse Books campaign, and contributes to The Winged Pen. When she’s not pursuing her literary interests, Jessica can be found chasing her two precocious daughters around Ontario or eating copious amounts of chocolate. She’d love to connect on Twitter at @jessicavitalis.
This letter is written as if it’s from the character Cody Jones from The Code Busters Club series. It includes an illustrated list of questions to help you decide if you too can be a Code Buster. Penny Warner is also the author of The Mystery of the Haunted Caves, winner of the Agatha Award and an Anthony Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.
Elissa Weissman writes about her many childhood penpals and visualizing a person based just on their handwriting. Elissa is the author of Nerd Camp, winner of the Cybils Award, Maine Student Book Award master list, and the Sunshine State Youth Book Award master list 2015-2016.
A. B. Westrick writes to us about one of her special kitties, Pokey, who lived to be twenty years old. Plus, she teaches us how to draw a picture of a cat! A. B. is the author of Brotherhood (Viking/Penguin Young Readers 2013), winner of the Jefferson Cup Award, the Housatonic Book Award, the Jane Addams Honor Award, and the NCSS Notable Trade Book Award. Brotherhood also made the ALA’s 2014 list of Best Fiction for Young Adults, and was a Junior Library Guild Selection. She and her family live near Richmond, VA.
Kristi Wientge writes to us about her not-so-official status as the world’s worst speller, and the Magic Spell Wand she dreamed of inventing when she was a kid. Kristi Wientge is originally from Ohio where she grew up writing stories about animals and, her favorite, a jet-setting mouse. After studying to become a teacher for children with special needs, she spent several years exploring the world from China to England, teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids inside out. She’s spent twelve years raising her family in her husband’s home country of Singapore. Karma Khullar’s Mustache is her debut novel. You can connect with Kristi on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Ellen Wittlinger writes about the summer she left the Midwest and become a California girl! She tells us all about the great summer she spent with her Uncle Walt and everything she learned from him. Ellen is the author of fifteen YA and middle-grade novels. Her novel Hard Love won both a Printz Honor Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her books have been on numerous ALA Best Books lists, Bank Street College of Education lists and state award lists. Ellen has won state awards in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Her work has been translated into many other languages including Turkish, Croatian and Korean. She has taught at Emerson College in Boston and in the Simmons College Writing for Children MFA program.
Lisa Yee takes a break from writing about superheroes to tell you why she has the best job in the world—she even got to go to Japan and take ninja lessons for her job! Lisa’s debut novel, Millicent Min, Girl Genius, won the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award. Her other novels for young people, with nearly two million copies in print, include Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, So Totally Emily Ebers, Absolutely Maybe, and two books 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 Good Luck, Ivy. Her recent novel, Warp Speed, is about a Star Trek geek who gets beat up every day at school. Lisa is a former Thurber House Children’s Writer-in-Residence whose books have been chosen as an NPR Best Summer Read, a Sports Illustrated Kids Hot Summer Read, and a USA Today Critics’ Top Pick.