On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, nine authors from across the country will present their works in our first annual Reading Rock Stars – Houston program! Three elementary schools in Houston will receive a set of books for each school’s library and each student who participates will be given an autographed copy of the author’s book. The Houston program is made possible by the Read 3: H-E-B Child Literacy Program. Learn more about Reading Rock Stars.
Meet the authors!
Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Keeper, and many picture books. She has two grown children and lives in Texas with her husband.
Carolyn Dee Flores (Trinity University) is a rock musician/composer, turned computer analyst, turned children’s book illustrator. Dale, dale, dale / Hit It, Hit It, Hit It : Una fiesta de números / A Fiesta of Numbers, written by René Saldaña Jr., is her latest book. Carolyn’s debut book Canta, rana, canta / Sing, Froggie, Sing is about an underwater singing frog and is currently on the Tejas Star 2014 Reading List. Her second book, Daughters of Two Nations, won a 2014 Skipping Stones Honor Award for excellence in multicultural literature.
Keith Graves is the author and illustrator of many hilarious picture books for children, including Chicken Big, Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance, and the upcoming The Monsterator, the latter from Roaring Brook Press. Keith lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Nancy, and twins, Max and Emma.
René Saldaña, Jr. is the author of several books for young adults. His most recent title is Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de números/Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers (Carolyn Dee Flores, illustrator), a bilingual counting book celebrating Mexican American fiestas that includes piñatas and friends and family. With Erika Garza-Johnson, he co-edited Juventud!, an anthology of short fiction and poetry for young adults. He teaches in the College of Education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he lives with his family.
Liz Scanlon is the author of the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as the the Book Festival-featured Happy Birthday, Bunny!, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, and several other picture books. Future books include The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Katy McDonald Denton, In the Canyon, illustrated by Ashley Wolff, and Scanlon’s first novel, The Great Good Summer, debuting in 2015. Ms. Scanlon is a frequent & popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences.
Don Tate has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed books for children including Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (Charlesbridge); She Loved Baseball (HarperCollins); and Ron’s Big Mission (Penguin). Don’s first book as an author, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw (Lee & Low, 2012), has received numerous awards such as an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor; a Kirkus Best Children’s Books List Selection; a Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2012; a New York Public Library Top 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing; as well as one of Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2012. Don is also one of the founding hosts of the blog The Brown Bookshelf – a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers with book reviews, author and illustrator interviews. Don lives with is wife and son in Austin, Texas.
Mimi Brian Vance grew up in the rich gumbo of languages and cultures of Louisiana. The heart-warming oral tradition of the bayou country inspired her passion for languages and story-telling. As a U.S. Diplomat for nearly a decade, she constantly used her foreign language skills at posts around the world. But it wasn’t until the middle-of-the-night baby-wake-ups with her two nearly-Irish-twins that she realized just how much they needed another way to ‘talk.’ American Sign Language gave her and her hearing children who weren’t yet old enough to talk the ability to understand each other.
Convinced that ‘baby signs’ are the best thing since sliced bread, she wants to share this tool with other moms, dads, grandparents, and anyone lucky enough to have a baby or toddler in their lives. She created a series of books as the optimum teaching, learning, sharing, bonding, nurturing and enriching means of bringing signs to babies. The delightful Words by the Handful stories create an interactive signing activity in a easily shared, readily repeated, highly beneficial, read-aloud experience.
Andrea White, since retiring from the practice of law, has published four books of historical fiction written for middle school students. In 2006, Surviving Antarctica was selected for the Bluebonnet list, and the Texas State Reading Association awarded Andrea the Golden Spur award for the best book by a Texas author. Her second novel, Window Boy, was translated into Chinese with a forward written by NBA star, Yao Ming. n 2012, Windows won the Spirit of Texas award, established by the Texas Library Association for middle school fiction. Married for twenty-six years, Andrea and her husband, Bill, formerly mayor of Houston, have three grown kids.
Gwendolyn Zepeda was born in Houston, Texas in 1971 and attended the University of Texas at Austin. She was the first Latina blogger and began her writing career on the Web in 1997 as one of the founding writers of entertainment site Television Without Pity. Since that time, Zepeda has published three critically acclaimed novels through Hachette, four award-winning children’s books through Arte Publico Press, a short-story collection, and a book of poems. She is Houston’s very first poet laureate. Her first poetry collection, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners, was published by Arte Publico Press in 2013. Her second is forthcoming.