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2019 Annual Fall Conference: School Libraries Are Game Changers!: Authors


Ruth Chan is an illustrator and author who spent her childhood tobogganing in Canada, her teens in China, a number of years studying art and education, and a decade working with families in underserved communities. Her first book was Where's the Party? and she most recently illustrated The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko. She now writes and illustrates full-time in Brooklyn NY, where she lives with her dog, Feta. Visit for more information on Ruth.

Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies. Her 2019 release, Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank, tells the parallel stories of Dr. King and Anne Frank, both born in 1929, as they met hate with love and used words to articulate their vision for a better future. The book has been featured at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and the Tulisoma Book Fair at the African American Museum in Dallas and is scheduled to be presented at the Jewish Community Center in Dallas and the Museum of Tolerance, a Simon Wiesenthal museum, in Los Angeles. For more, visit

Anika Aldamuy Denise is the author of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré; Starring Carmen!; Lights, Camera, Carmen!and many other celebrated books for young readers. Her stories are often about family and reflect her bicultural heritage and upbringing. In her nonfiction work, Anika strives to illuminate the important contributions of influential Latinas, so that readers of all backgrounds, but especially those in the Latinx community, are inspired to dare greatly and share their gifts with the world. Anika grew up in Queens and now lives with her husband and three daughters in Rhode Island. For more information on Anika visit

John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro are the authors of several works of nonfiction for adults and have written about sports for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. Ouisie has won six Emmy awards for her work in documentary sports television. John is also a novelist. They are married and live in Brooklyn, New York. War in the Ring is their first book for young readers.

Vashti Harrison earned her MFA in Film/Video from Cal Arts and her BA from the University of Virginia. Her experimental films and documentaries have shown around the world at film festivals. After a brief stint in television as a production coordinator, she is now a freelance graphic designer and a picture-book illustrator. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Deborah Heiligman has written many nonfiction books for children, including National Book Award Finalist Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner, Printz Honor Winner, and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers; The Boy Who Loved Math; and her newest work, Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "The Children's Ship.” She lives with her family in New York City.

Jessie Janowitz is the author of the middle-grade novels The Doughnut Fix and The Doughnut King. Besides writing and reading, Jessie enjoys traveling the country to speak to students of all ages about why storytelling is a critical life skill.

Claire B. Joseph, MS, MA, AHIP, is Director of the Medical Library of South Nassau Communities Hospital.  She is the author of The Medical Library Association Guide to Developing Consumer Health Collections (2018) and is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet.

Torrey Maldonado NYC’s current and former chancellors have praised Torrey Maldonado for his teaching and books. He has taught for twenty years in his Brooklyn childhood hometown. His books consistently earn Middle Grade and Young Adult awards. Tight won the humanitarian Christopher and is a Washington Post Best Book of 2018. Growing up, Torrey hated books because “they were boring or seemed to hate or dismiss people where I’m from”. Culturally responsive books and educators inspired him to teach and write. Voted a "Top 10 Latino Author" & best MG and YA novelist for African Americans, his work reflects his students’ and his experiences and is celebrated as authentic and universal. Learn more at

Donalyn Miller is a leading expert on independent reading, children’s literature, and the author of two bestsellers, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. She is the founder of the annual #bookaday event, co-founder with Colby Sharp of The Nerdy Book Club, and co-host of the monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk. Her most recent book is co-authored with Colby Sharp, Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids. Her articles have appeared in Education Week Teacher, The Reading Teacher, Educational Leadership, The Washington Post, and other prominent periodicals. Find her on Twitter @donalynbooks.

Olga Nesi is the librarian at Edward B. Shallow JHS in Brooklyn.  She has been a librarian for nineteen years, prior to which she was a classroom teacher.  In 2011, her book Getting Beyond Interesting:  Teaching Students the Vocabulary of Appeal to Discuss Their Reading was published by ABC- CLIO.

Doug Salati grew up in central New York and studied art and illustration at Skidmore College and RIT.  He graduated from the Illustration as Visual Essay master’s program at SVA in 2014 and was a 2015 Sendak Fellow. His illustration work has been recognized by 3x3 Illustration, American Illustration, and the Society of Illustrators. His first illustrated book was In a Small Kingdom written by Tomie dePaola. His most recent book is Lawrence in the Fall written by Matthew Farina. He lives and works in New York City. Visit for more information on Doug. 

Barry Wittenstein is the author of several picture books, with his most recent being A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. His other books include Waiting for Pumpsie and The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really!). Barry is pursuing a master’s degree in Childhood Education at Hunter College and lives in New York City.

Salina Yoon is a Geisel Honor-winning author/illustrator of a dozen picture books and early readers, and nearly 200 innovative novelty books for young readers. Her Penguin and Bear and Floppy picture book series have been featured in Kohl's Cares for Kids and have sold around the world. Salina's most recent book is Kiki & Jax: the life-changing magic of friendship by Marie Kondo. She lives in San Marcos, California, with her husband, Chris Polentz, and their two sons. For more information on Salina visit

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