Plum Creek Literacy Festival

Thank you for attending the 19th annual Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival Event!

19th Annual 

Plum Creek
Children's Literacy Festival

Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary & Adult Offerings

Sept. 25-27, 2014

Read Rosemary Wells Literacy Statement»

20th annual festival to be held October 1-3, 2015


Featured authors, illustrators and conference sectional leaders for the 2014 festival

Linda HoytLinda Hoyt

Linda Hoyt has had a rich array of experiences in education ranging from classroom teaching to working as a reading specialist, curriculum developer, Title I teacher, staff developer, and Title I District Coordinator. She is the author of twenty-four powerful professional books, six video programs, and instructional resources published with National Geographic School Publishing and Rigby Education.  In addition to writing, Linda is a frequent presenter at regional and national conferences throughout the US and Canada.

Her many books include the popular Revisit, Reflect, Retell and Interactive Read Alouds.

Her energetic presentation style and practical strategies have made her one of the most requested literacy speakers in the United States.  Linda and her husband Steve live in central Oregon where they enjoy outdoor activities and the clear air of the mountains.

Rosemary Wells – author and illustratorRosemary Wells

Rosemary Wells is the author and illustrator of the best-selling Max and Ruby series.  Other unforgettable characters include McDuff, Noisy Nora and Yoko.

Rosemary grew up in New Jersey and began her career as a book designer with Macmillan. Her career as an author and illustrator spans more than 30 years and 60 books. Inspired by her children, Wells developed lovable characters to whom we can all relate.

Nick Bruel – author and illustratorNick Bruel

Nick Bruel has won the Caldecott Medal three times, the first time for “Tuesday” when he – No.  That’s David Wiesner.  Try again. – Nick Bruel is the founder of the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst – No.  That’s Eric Carle. – Who? – Eric Carle. – Who’s “Eric Carle”? – Really?  You don’t know who Eric Carle is?  The Very Hungry… nevermind.  Try again. – In 1891, Nick Bruel sailed to French Polynesia to paint – THAT’S PAUL GAUGUIN!  Stop it!  Just stop it. – So, smarty-pants, who’s Nick Bruel? --  The Bad Kitty guy. – Oh, THAT guy.  Why didn’t you just say so?  Nick Bruel is the author and illustrator of the highly popular, New York Times best-selling, and award winning Bad Kitty series.  He lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY with his wife Carina, his daughter Izzy, and his cat Esme.  He’s never been to Tahiti.

Brian Lies – author and illustratorBrian Lies

Children’s book author/ illustrator Brian Lies has created more than two dozen books, including his New York Times bestselling bat books, Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library and Bats at the Ballgame. His most recent illustrated books are Bats in the Band, More (text by I.C. Springman) and a middle-grade novel, Malcolm at Midnight (written by W.H. Beck) which has been nominated for a Golden Sower award.  Brian’s books have won several state awards, including the Bill Martin, Jr. Award (Kansas), and have been translated into eight languages. He has also won many awards for his political illustrations in newspapers and magazines.  His work has been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, and shown in galleries around the country.

Brian nearly stopped reading in the third grade, but was encouraged by his local librarians and rebounded, becoming an avid, lifelong reader.  A 1985 graduate of Brown University with a degree in British and American Literature, he feels very strongly about the importance of encouraging young people to read.  Brian spends part of the school year traveling throughout the United States to work with students and encourage them in their goals.  He lives with his family in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Jack Gantos - authorJack Gantos

Jack Gantos is the author of over forty books for children from the Rotten Ralph picture books, collections of Jack Henry short stories, upper elementary and middle school Joey Pigza novels, young adult novels—Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, Desire Lines, and a memoir, Hole in My Life. His work can lead readers from the cradle to the grave.

Mr. Gantos was a professor at Emerson College where he developed the Masters Degree Program in Children’s Literature, Writing and Publishing. He now spends his time writing and is an active speaker at book and literacy conferences, schools and libraries. His works have received a Newbery Award, Scott O’Dell Award, Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, Sibert Honor, National Book Award Finalist honor and he is the 2010 recipient of the NCTE/ALAN AWARD for his contribution to the field of Young Adult and Children’s Literature. Dead End in Norvelt received both the 2012 John Newbery Award and the Scott O’Dell award for Historic Fiction. The companion novel, From Norvelt to Nowhere, is his most recent release, with The Key that Swallowed Joey Pigza due out in the fall of 2014.

J. Patrick Lewis - poetJ. Patrick Lewis

An Indiana Hoosier by birth, J. Patrick Lewis has published over eighty-five children’s picture/poetry books to date with Creative Editions, National Geographic, Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Chronicle Books, Candlewick, Harcourt, Little, Brown, Scholastic, Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, and others. He was recently given the 2010-2011 NCTE Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award, and was the Poetry Foundation’s third U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (2011-2013).

His latest offerings include Everything is a Poem: The Best of J. Patrick Lewis; Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems; and National Geographic's Book of Animal Poetry.

Jim Murphy – authorJim Murphy

Two-time Newbery Honor Book and Sibert Award winning author, Jim Murphy’s childhood consisted of thousands of baseball games with neighborhood kids, roaming the vast New Jersey Meadowlands and inventing various "adventures."

Jim didn't have much time for or interest in reading — until a teacher named a book the students were absolutely forbidden to read. Rushing to see what the fuss was all about, Jim first read the forbidden book and then kept on reading -- anything he could get his hands on.

After attending Rutgers University and doing graduate work at Radcliffe College, Jim got a job in juvenile publishing. Jim is the author of more than 30 books about American history. His work has received many awards including the Newbery Honor and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for The Great Fire and An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 and the Sibert Award for Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America and An American Plague. Jim is also the recipient of the 2010 Margaret Edwards Award for significant contribution to young adult literature.

Jim lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with his wife Alison Blank, his two talented musician sons, a regal mutt, an African water frog that will live forever, and a vast collection of books.

Floyd Cooper – author and illustratorFloyd Cooper

Floyd’s dream of being an illustrator in New York City finally came true when he received his first book manuscript to illustrate, Grandpa's Face, written by Eloise Greenfield, a well-known children's writer. Floyd's illustrations for the book brought him a lot of attention, and his career has continued to grow ever since.

With more than 90 children’s books published and more than 2000 book-cover illustrations, Floyd has established himself as a master craftsman of children’s literature and illustration.  He has received numerous awards and praise for his work, including the 2009 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for The Blacker the Berry.  Floyd has also earned three Coretta Scott King Honors for Brown Honey and Broomwheat Tea; Danitra Brown; and I Have Heard of a Land. His awards would fill countless pages, and has been nominated for the 2013 NAACP Image Award for In the Land of Milk and Honey, as well as the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow commendation for Max and the Tag-Along Moon.

The illustrative technique Floyd uses is called oil wash on board. He paints an illustration board with oil paint, and then, with a stretchy eraser, he erases the paint to make a picture. He calls this method of painting a "subtractive process."

This Tulsa native now makes his home in Easton, Pennsylvania with his wife and two sons.

Dandi Daley Mackall - authorDandi Mackall

Dandi won her first writing contest as a 10-year-old tomboy. Her 50 words on “Why I Want to Be Batboy for the Kansas City A’s” won first place, but the team wouldn’t let a girl be batboy. It was her first taste of rejection.

Since then, Dandi Daley Mackall has become an award-winning author of over 450 books for children of all ages, with sales of 4 million copies in 22 countries. She is the recipient of the prestigious Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature. The Silence of Murder is winner of the 2012 Edgar Award and ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2013, as well as being nominated for the 2014-2015 Young Adult Golden Sower award.  A Girl Named Dan (her own “batboy” story, and a lesson on Title IX), Larger-than-Life Lara, the Winnie the Horse Gentler series and Starlight Animal Rescue series are all best sellers. My Boyfriends’ Dogs is being made into a 2014 summer Hallmark television movie. Her newest title, The Secrets of Tree Taylor, is written for middle school. Dandi is a national speaker, keynoting at conferences, Christian school international conferences, and Young Author events, and has made dozens of appearances on TV.

Jeff Kurrus – author and photographerJeff Kurrus

Jeff Kurrus is the editor of NEBRASKAland Magazine and author of the Golden-Sower nominated Have You Seen Mary?, the recently released The Shortest Grant Writing Book You’ll Ever Need, and the upcoming The Tale of Jacob Swift. He lives in Gretna, Nebraska with his wife Laura, daughter Madeline, son Eli, and fish Herbert II.

steve-jenkins.jpgSteve Jenkins – author and illustrator

Steve Jenkins is an author and illustrator, combining his love of science and proficiency in art. Steve has lived in North Carolina, Panama, Virginia, Kansas, and Colorado. After graduating with a degree in graphic design, he moved to New York City and worked in advertising and design, first in large firms and then with his wife, Robin Page, in their own small design firm.

Steve and Robin began reading to their children when they were a few months old, continuing to read to them almost every night. This got him thinking about writing and illustrating his own books for children. Years later, Steve has garnered many awards, including a number of Orbus Pictus Honor awards, the 2003 Caldecott Honor for What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?, and the 2008 Theodor Geisel honor award for Vulture View.

Steve says, “For me, making books represents the happy intersection of children, science, art, my design partnership with Robin, and my life-long love of reading.”


Other Adult Conference sectional leaders and topics

Donalyn Miller, The Book WhispererDonalyn Miller

  • Bring on the Books!
  • Conferring with Readers: Finding Focus




Dale Allender, Director of NCTE-West in Berkley, Calif.Dale Allender

  • National Council of Teachers of English speaker





Twyla Hansen, Nebraska State PoetTwyla Hansen

  • Playing Around With Words: Reading, Writing and the Creative Process



Tricia ParkerTricia Parker-Siemers, Language Arts Director for the Nebraska Department of Education

  • Protecting the Love of Learning in the Age of Accountability



Monica Burns

Monica Burns, Apple Distinguished Educator

  • Making the Most of iPads in the Classroom




Amanda GeidelAmanda Geidel, Concordia education professor

  •  Successful Intervention Plans from Start to Finish 




Jill JohnsonJill Johnson, ESU6 Professional Development Consultant

  •  Writing Instruction vs. Writing Assignments



The Golden Legacy, featuring original illustrations from the Little Golden Books, will be at the Marxhausen Gallery of Art Aug. 20 – Oct. 1.

This exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.


  • Making reservations to stay in Seward? Ask for the Concordia rate at Cobblestone Inn and you will receive a 10% discount on your room.