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Books for the Beast


Jennifer Donnelly  -   Gareth Hinds  -   Tonya Bolden

Jennifer Donnelly - Sara Siebert Memorial Keynote Speaker

Jennifer DonnellyJennifer Donnelly lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and daughter. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History. Her first young adult novel, A Northern Light, was awarded Britain’s Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction and a Michael L. Printz Honor. Other works include, Revolution, a Kirkus Best Book, and the Waterfire Saga. From the Penguin Random House website: Jennifer’s ideas for books all come from the past. “Something clutches at me and catches me. It’s usually a dark thing. I hear or see or read about someone or something, and it grabs hold of me and won’t let go of me—or maybe it’s that I can’t let go of it—and so to resolve my obsession, I do what writers do, which is make up a story,” she says. “At first it’s all ideas and imagination, which is exciting and wonderful, but then the ideas have to be converted into a book. I outline neurotically, blocking out each and every scene, fitting them together, taking them apart, smoothing and finessing, until I’m satisfied that there is indeed a story there and that it has a beginning, middle, and end.”

Jennifer also does a lot of research for her books. “There is nothing I like better than poking about in dusty old archives, reading yellowed diaries and notebooks and letters, hearing the voices of another time. A point eventually comes when I feel I have enough control of the facts to start writing, but I always have to stop researching before I wantto stop. I like a certain level of richness in what I write and read. I don’t enjoy skinny books. I want to create believable human beings, and believable stories, and to do that, I need a lot of knowledge about the period in which I’m setting my story. It’s my job to create a seamless and compelling past. If I don’t, I won’t earn my readers’ trust.”

Jennifer’s next book, These Shallow Graves will be published in October, 2015.

Accolades for Jennifer’s work:

A Northern Light

Starred Review ... (an) ambitious, beautifully written coming-of-age story ... Many teens will connect with Mattie's fierce yearning for independence and for stories, like her own, that are frank, messy, complicated and inspiring. –Booklist


Starred Review … “The novel is rich with detail, and both the Brooklyn and Paris settings provide important grounding for the haunting and beautifully told story.” -Kirkus

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Gareth Hinds - Featured Speaker

Gareth HindsGareth Hinds is the creator of critically-acclaimed graphic novels based on literary classics, including Beowulf (which Publisher’s Weekly called a “mixed-media gem”), King Lear (which Booklist named one of the top 10 graphic novels for teens), The Merchant of Venice (which Kirkus called “the standard that all others will strive to meet” for Shakespeare adaptation), The Odyssey (which garnered four starred reviews and a spot on ten "best of 2010" lists), Romeo and Juliet (which Kirkus called "spellbinding"), and Macbeth (which the New York Times called "stellar" and "a remarkably faithful rendering"). Gareth is a recipient of the Boston Public Library’s “Literary Lights for Children” award. His books can be found in bookstores and English classrooms across the country, and his illustrations have appeared in such diverse venues as the Society of Illustrators, the New York Historical Society, and over a dozen published video games.

He lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife. When he's not working on a book he enjoys painting landscapes and practicing aikido.

Accolades for the books of Gareth Hinds

Romeo and Juliet

Starred review…”Shakespeare’s tragic lovers receive star treatment in this spellbinding graphic-novel production. ... As thrilling and riveting as any staging.” -Kirkus Reviews


“With its simple, linear plot, its witches and its ghosts, its clear-cut moral questions about the lure of evil and whether and how we control our own fates, (Macbeth) is well suited for teenagers. Gareth Hinds’s stellar new graphic-novel adaptation, aimed at a young adult audience, makes that abundantly clear. The play also, of course, features some epic fight scenes and lots and lots of blood, and Hinds makes the most of these opportunities to show how naturally Shakespeare takes to the comics form.” —The New York Times

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Tonya Bolden - Featured Speaker

Tonya BoldenTonya Bolden has written more than twenty books for children and adults. Her book Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America was named a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal. Her Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists received a starred review in Booklist magazine. Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl was named a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALSC 2006 Notable Children’s Book, a NAPPA Gold Award Winner, a CCBC Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Recent titles include: Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty and Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America. Tonya grew up in New York and graduated from Princeton University. She currently lives in New York City.

Tonya says about her work: “I hope my readers leave my books with an increased love for reading and knowledge seeking”.

Accolades for the work of Tonya Bolden

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl

Starred Review “Bolden supplements quotes from Lyon's accounts with extensive research and enthralling detail, and the result is both an inspirational portrait of an individual and a piercing history about blacks in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries--subjects rarely covered in books for youth.” -Booklist

Capital Days: Michael Shiner’s Journal and the Growth of our Nations Capital

Starred Review…"Well written and impeccably researched, this excellent title offers a uniquely personal look at history. A must-have." -School Library Journal

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