Featured Authors, Illustrators & Conference Leaders

The Plum Creek Literacy Festival is proud to host authors, illustrators and literacy experts from around the nation.

Authors & Illustrators

Jon Agee

Author, Illustrator

Jon Agee is the author and illustrator of many beloved books for children, including Milo's Hat TrickThe Wall in the Middle of the Book, and The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (all ALA Notable Books), along with a series of popular wordplay books, among them, Go Hang a Salami! I'm a Lasagna Hog!

Marc Brown

Author, Illustrator

Marc Brown is the author and illustrator of the bestselling Arthur series and executive producer of ARTHUR on PBS. The show has won seven Emmys, the Peabody Award and is now the longest running children’s animated show in history. The Arthur books have sold more than 75 million copies and the show is seen by children all around the world.

"When my three sisters and I were growing up near Erie, Pennsylvania, our grandmother Thora told us the most wonderful stories. Back then I never dreamed I would grow up to tell stories of my own," Marc says. "But when my first son, Tolon, was born, I started telling him stories every night before he went to sleep. Most of the stories were about animals. One night our story was about an aardvark who hated his nose. The aardvark, of course, was named Arthur, and that story became Arthur's Nose, the first book in the Arthur Adventure series."

What began as a simple family ritual soon grew into a full-time profession for Marc. Trained at the Cleveland Art Institute, he went on to create more than one hundred and thirty picture books for children. Before his current success, Marc worked at many jobs, including stints as a truck driver, soda jerk, actor, chicken farmer, television art director, short order cook and college professor.

Marc is married to psychologist and artist, Laurie Krasny Brown. They divide their time between New York City and a small farm on Martha’s Vineyard. They have three grown children and two cats on dietary restrictions.

Marc's Website

Bryan Collier

Author, Illustrator

Bryan Colllier, graduate of Pratt Institute, is a beloved illustrator/author known for his unique style combining watercolor and collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for "Trombone Shorty," "Dave the Potter," "Martin's Big Words" and "Rosa." His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Medals. His recent books include "Thurgood," "Between the Lines" and "By and By." 

Bryan's Website

Heather Fox


Heather Fox is an award-winning illustrator of stories for children that include the Llama Destroys the World series, Don't Feed the CoosSanta BabyButts Are Everywhere, and more! Her art is created in both doodle and digital forms. When she isn't making books, she enjoys drinking coffee, dancing, and playing music (sometimes all at the same time). She lives in the heart of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with her husband and Frenchie.

Heather's Website

John Hendrix

Author, Illustrator

John Hendrix is a New York Times Bestselling illustrator and author of many children's books including, "Drawing is Magic," "John Brown: His Fight for Freedom," "Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus," and YALSA Nonfiction Finalist, "The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler." His illustrations have appeared on book jackets, newspapers and magazines all over the world. John is also a Professor of Art, teaching illustration in the Sam Fox School of Art as Chair of Design at Washington University in St. Louis. He is chair of the new MFA Illustration and Visual Culture program, which launched in the fall of 2019.

John's Website

Laurie Keller

Author, Illustrator

Laurie Keller is the author and illustrator of many books including The Scrambled States of America, Potato Pants!, Arnie the Doughnut, Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners (Amazons No. 1 Editors' Pick on their Best Books of 2007 List), The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut chapter book series, and We Are Growing!, part of the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading series and winner of the 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. When Laurie isn't busy making books, she enjoys playing the banjo (the neighbors do not enjoy this), traveling, hiking, camping and playing outdoors. She lives in the Mitten State along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Laurie's Website

Gordon Korman


Gordon Korman is the author of more than ninety books for kids and young adults, most recently WAR STORIES, and NOTORIOUS. His writing career began at the age of twelve when his seventh grade English assignment became his first published novel. Now, four decades later, he is a full-time writer and speaker, with over thirty-two million copies of his novels in print in thirty-five languages. Each year he travels extensively, visiting schools, libraries, and bookstores, bringing his trademark humor and adventure styles to readers everywhere. A native of Ontario, Canada, he lives with his family in Long Island, New York.

Gordon's Website

Steve Light

Author, Illustrator

Steve Light grew up in an enchanted place known as New Jersey. He went on to study Illustration at Pratt Institute; he also studied with Dave Passalacqua. Steve Light has work in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. He has published many children’s books by Abrams, Candlewick Press and Chronicle Books. Steve loves to draw everyday especially with fountain pens and sharing his art and stories with children.

Steve's Website

Torrey Maldonado


Growing up, Torrey hated reading. No. He hated boring books and books that seemed to hate or dismiss him and where he was from. With books failing him in a failing school, he unplugged so hard from books that he repeated a grade, almost three times. Luckily, he was introduced to NOT boring and culturally responsive books. It inspired him to become a middle school teacher and author. For nearly 20 years, he has used the formula that hooked him to books. Provide mirror and window books for readers to love, they will love those books back, and book-lovers and writers will grow. He still teaches in the Brooklyn neighborhood where he was born and raised and uses his students’ & his experiences to write what readers say "don't feel like books". Voted a "Top 10 Latino Author" & best Middle Grade & Young Adult novelist for African Americans, he was spotlighted as a top teacher by NYC’s former Chancellor. His writing is praised for its current-feel, realness, & universal themes.

Torrey's Website

Daniel Miyares

Author, Illustrator

Daniel Miyares is a critically acclaimed picture book author and illustrator. Some of his books include: FloatNight OutThat is My Dream, and Bring Me A Rock!. Daniel has been called “…a master of visual storytelling.”- Jody Hewston, Kinderlit, and “…enchanting, versatile” – The New York Times. He believes that our stories have the power to connect us all. Daniel’s story currently takes place in Lenexa, KS with his wife, their two wonderful children, and a dog named Violet that gives them all a run for their money. 

Daniel's Website

Sherri Duskey Rinker


Sherri is the #1 NYT bestselling author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Series and Steam Train, Dream Train (Chronicle Books). She also authored the nonfiction picture book biography Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton (HMH, illust. by John Rocco), which received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. Some of her other titles include The 12 Sleighs of Christmas (Chronicle, illust. by Jake Parker) and Celebrate YOU (Balzer+Bray, illust. by A.N. Kang).  Sherri has two new titles releasing this fall: Construction Site Mission: Demolition, which continues the Construction Site series, and her first novel for young readers, Revver The Speedway Squirrel (Bloomsbury). Sherri lives in the Chicago area with her husband, two sons and one fluffy dog. Inspired by her sons, by her 25-year career as a graphic designer and by her own childhood memories, Sherri writes from a place of love and in hopes of happier bedtimes and sweet dreams for all.  In addition to writing, Sherri loves to read, collect antique oil paintings, cook and garden.

Sherri Duskey's Website

Grant Snider

Author, Illustrator

Grant Snider is an author and illustrator of picture books and the creator of the popular online strip Incidental Comics. His books include the comics collections The Shape of Ideas and I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf  and the picture books What Color is Night? and What Sound is Morning? His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Kansas City Star, The Best American Comics 2013, and all across the internet. Grant lives in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, daughter, and three sons, where he also practices orthodontics. You can often find him carrying a sketchbook, lost in his own thoughts.

Grant's Website

Javaka Steptoe

Author, Illustrator

Javaka Steptoe won the 2017 Caldecott Medal for his picture book biography Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (Little, Brown). The book won many other honors, too, including the 2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and multiple starred reviews. His debut picture book, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers (Lee & Low Books,), earned him a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, in addition to a nomination for Outstanding Children’s Literature Work at the 1998 NAACP Image Awards. Since that time, Steptoe has illustrated and/or written more than a dozen books for youth readers, collaborating with some of the top names in the business

Javaka's Website

Jonathan Stutzman


Jonathan Stutzman is an award-winning filmmaker and a best selling author of books for children, including: Llama Destroys the World, Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse, Don't Feed the Coos!, the Tiny T. Rex series, and many others. His short films have screened around the world and on television, and he is a contributing writer to the Emmy-winning variety show HitRecord on TV. Jonathan lives in the wilds of Lancaster, Pennsylvania with his wife Heather and their frenchie.

Jonathan's Website

Evan Turk

Author, Illustrator

Evan Turk is an Ezra Jack Keats Book Award-winning illustrator, author, and animator. He is the author-illustrator of The Storyteller, Heartbeat, and You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks. He is also the illustrator of Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book; Grandfather Gandhi; and its companion Be the Change. Originally from Colorado, Evan now lives in the Hudson River Valley. He is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and continued his studies as a member of Dalvero Academy.

Evan's Website

Jennifer Ward

Author, Illustrator

Jennifer Ward began writing and illustrating books in grade school, just for fun. Now she’s a grown-up and believes she has the most fun job in the world - actually writing books for children. With more than 25 acclaimed and award-winning picture books under her belt (and more on the way), Jennifer’s writing is influenced by concepts of science and nature, such as her ALA Notable MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST, her NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book FEATHERS AND HAIR, WHAT ANIMALS WEAR, and WHAT WILL GROW?, which received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Shelf Awareness, and Publishers Weekly. Jennifer writes full-time from her home in Southern IL, where she is easily distracted by everything outside of her windows.

Jennifer's Website

Gene Luen Yang

Author, Illustrator

Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. His other works include the Secret Coders series (with Mike Holmes), The Shadow Hero (with Sonny Liew), New Super-Man from DC Comics (with various artists), and the Avatar: The Last Airbender series from Dark Horse Comics (with Gurihiru). He was the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and in 2016 he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. 

Gene Luen's Website

2020 Literacy Experts

Kathy Collins

Literacy Expert

Kathy Collins presents at conferences and works in schools all over the world to support teachers in developing high-quality, effective literacy instruction in the elementary school grades. She is the co-author, along with Matt Glover, of I Am Reading: Nurture Meaning-Making and Joyful Engagement with Texts (Heinemann, 2015) and the co-author, along with Janine Bempechat, of Not This But That: No More Mindless Homework (Heinemann, 2017). Kathy’s other books include Reading for Real: Teach Children to Read With Power, Intention, and Joy in K-3 Classrooms (Stenhouse, 2008) and Growing Readers: Units of Study in Primary Classrooms (Stenhouse, 2004). Kathy works closely with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. She was a classroom teacher in Brooklyn, New York. Kathy and her family live in Durham, New Hampshire.

Dr. Lauren Gatti

Literacy Expert

Lauren Gatti has been an educator for over 20 years, teaching at both the high school and university levels. She earned her B.A. in English and secondary English from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, her M.A. in English from Loyola University of Chicago, and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is an Associate Professor of English Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a baker, a writer, a (slow) runner, and a shameless cat lady. She firmly believes that we all need more poetry in our lives.

Sidney Keys III

Literacy Expert

Sidney Keys III, a 13-year-old rising entrepreneur, decided to take his love for reading to the next level and create Books n Bros Reading Club at the young age of 10. Having multiple meet ups with different boys ages 7-13 years old, he is paving the way for change. Books n Bros is not only encouraging literacy within Black Culture and African American Literature, but also entrepreneurship, financial literacy and endless possibilities.

Regie Routman

Literacy Expert

Regie Routman is an educational leader, mentor, coach and teacher who is passionate about improving the literacy and learning lives of all learners. She works side by side with administrators, teachers, and students in underperforming schools to raise expectations, accelerate reading and writing achievement, and bring joy and authenticity into teaching and learning. She is the author, most recently, of Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners (Stenhouse, 2018) For full information on Regie’s many books, podcasts, and resources-- and to contact her-- go to www.regieroutman.org and @regieroutman on Twitter and Facebook.

Regie's Website