Reading Rock Stars Austin 2017

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It’s time for another round of Reading Rock Stars in Austin!

The Texas Book Festival brings books to life through Reading Rock Stars, a program that brings author and illustrators from across the country into Title I schools to present their picture books and novels. After each presentation, every single student receives a copy of the presenting author’s book. For many of these students, books received during Reading Rock Stars are some of the only books that they own.

Each year, the Texas Book Festival brings some of the children’s authors appearing at the Festival Weekend into Austin schools to share the excitement and energy of the Festival with students. This year, we’ll bring 19 authors and illustrators to our six Austin area campuses.

We’re thrilled to welcome the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle; Caldecott Medal honoree Javaka Steptoe; and two time Newbery Medal honoree Katherine Paterson as Reading Rock Stars authors. We’re also so excited to have eight  New York Times bestselling authors including, Mac Barnett, Andrew Clements, Stu Gibbs, Kadir Nelson, Matt de la Peña, Aaron Reynolds, and Dan Santat. All of our authors share unique, hilarious, moving, and inspiring stories through their books and in person.

Our schools have been working diligently to prepare students to meet each of our authors through activities, read alouds, and writing exercises. Everyone is excited to welcome these authors to our educational community and we are grateful for their support and participation in Reading Rock Stars!

Meet our 2017 Reading Rock Stars Austin authors and be sure to come see them during the Texas Book Festival, November 4 – 5!


MAC BARNETT is the New York Times bestselling author of many picture books, including Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both illustrated by Jon Klassen and both Caldecott Honor Award winners. He is also the author of the bestselling Terrible Two series with Jory John. His most recent book is I Love You Like a Pig. Mac lives in Berkeley, California.



MONICA BROWN is the award-winning author of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/no combina, Waiting for the Biblioburro/esperando al Biblioburro, and the Lola Levine chapter book series. Her book, Lola Levine, Drama Queen is a 2017-18 Texas Bluebonnet nominee. Her newest picture book, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos celebrates the renowned Mexican Artist and her relationship to her pets and muses. Brown’s books are inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and she wants to share Latino/Latina stories with children. Monica resides in Flagstaff, Arizona where she is Professor of English at Northern Arizona University.


SHEELA CHARI is the author of the Edgar Award finalist Vanished. Her most recent book, Finding Mighty, is also a mystery novel. She lives in Scarsdale, New York, with her husband and two daughters.



ANDREW CLEMENTS is the bestselling author of more than eighty books for young readers, including the modern classic Frindle, which has sold over 6 million copies and his latest novel, The Losers Club. Andrew taught in the public schools near Chicago for seven years before moving east. He has four grown sons and lives with his wife in Maine.



MIKE CURATO is an author and illustrator. He illustrated Margarita Engle’s book All the Way to Havana. He traveled to Havana to do visual research and bring this story to life. He is the author and illustrator of the Little Elliot series and has illustrated a number of other books for children, including Worm Loves Worm.



MARGARITA ENGLE  is a Cuban American poet, novelist, and journalist. Her work has been published in many countries. Engle is the author of award winning books: The Surrender Tree, The Lightning Dreamer, Enchanted Air, Drum Dream Girl. 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. Margarita is the national Young People’s Poet Laureate and she is the first Latina to receive that honor.


STUART GIBBS is the author of the FunJungle series, as well as the New York Times bestselling Spy School and Moon Base Alpha series. He has written the screenplays for movies like See Spot Runand Repli-Kate, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, and Fox. Stuart lives with his wife and children in Los Angeles.


CHRIS HARRIS is a writer and executive producer for How I Met Your Mother and The Great Indoors, and a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman. His pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, ESPN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on NPR. He is the author of the anti-travel guide Don’t Go Europe! His new book is I’m Just No Good at Rhyming. He lives in Los Angeles.


CYNTHIA LEVINSON is a former teacher and educational policy consultant and researcher, Cynthia Levinson holds degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University. She is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books for young readers, including We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March and The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist.


ANDREA J. LONEY won the 2014 Lee & Low New Voices Award for her picture book biography Take a Picture of Me, James Vanderzee! (Lee & Low Books). She is also the author of Bunnybear(Albert Whitman & Company), and Double Bass Blues (Knopf, Spring 2019). She lives in Los Angeles, California.



JUANA MARTINEZ – NEAL  is a mixed media, traditional artist born in Lima, the capital of Peru. Alma and How She Got Her Name/Alma y cómo obtuse su nombre is her debut picture book as an author illustrator, will be published by Candlewick Press in April of 2018. Juana is also the illustrator of La Madre Goose (Putnam), La Princesa and the Pea (Putnam), and Swashby and the Sea (forthcoming Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She was named to the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Illustration Honor list in 2014, and was awarded the SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize in 2012. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her family.


KADIR NELSON is an acclaimed artist and the illustrator of several New York Times bestselling picture books, including his authorial debut We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, which won a Coretta Scott King Award and a Sibert Medal. Kadir has received three additional Coretta Scott King Awards and five Coretta Scott King honors. He has also received two Caldecott Honors, for Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, and has twice received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.


EMMA OTHEGUY’S last name is pronounced ‘Oh-teggy’ (rhymes with Peggy). She is the author of Marti’s Song for Freedom, which is her first picture book. Otheguy is a children’s book author and a historian of Spain and colonial Latin America. She is a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, and her short story Fairies in Town was awarded a Magazine Merit Honor by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Otheguy lives with her husband in New York City.


KATHERINE PATERSON, a two-time winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award, has written over thirty books and received numerous accolades, including the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. She is the author of Bridge to Terabithia and My Brigadista Year, which is her most recent novel. With her late husband, John Paterson, she co-authored The Flint Heart, a wryly retold fantasy illustrated by John Rocco and published by Candlewick Press. A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Katherine Paterson is well known for her work in promoting literacy in the United States and internationally, and in 2000 the Library of Congress named her a Living Legend. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.


MATT DE LA PEÑA is the New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal winning author of six young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoyThe Living and The Hunted) and two picture books (A Nations Hope and Last Stop on Market Street). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. De la Pena currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his family. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.


AARON REYNOLDS is a New York Times bestselling author and has written many highly acclaimed books for kids, including Here Comes Destructosaurus!, Carnivores, and the Caldecott Honor–winning book Creepy Carrots! He regularly makes time to visit schools where his hilarious hands-on presentations keep kids spellbound. Aaron lives in Chicago with his wife, two kids, four cats, and anywhere between zero and ten goldfish, depending on the day.


DAN SANTAT is the Caldecott Medal–winning and New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and the road trip/time travel adventure Are We There Yet? His artwork is also featured in numerous picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade novels, including Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta series. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and many, many pets.


JAVAKA STEPTOE is an award-winning artist, author, designer, and illustrator. He recently won the 2017 Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for his latest picture book Radiant Child: The Story of Young Jean-Michel Basquiat, which is also a New York Times bestseller. His debut picture book, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall, won the Coretta Scott King Award, and Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow (written by Gary Golio) received a Coretta Scott King Honor. Steptoe has also illustrated Do You Know What I’ll Do? by Charlotte Zolotow, A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes, Amiri and Odette: A Love Story by Walter Dean Myers, Rain Play by Cynthia Cotten, and Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English, which received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.


STEVEN WEINBERG  loves to draw and write. He is the author and illustrator of Fred and the LumberjackRex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg!You Must Be This Tall, and the illustrator of Beard Boy. He lives in the Catskills, where this book takes place.