Five Authors chosen for “CBC Meet the Author/Illustrator” column in Knowledge Quest for 2008-2009

AASL Contact: Melissa Jones

CBC Contact: Rebecca Miller


For Immediate Release
September 17, 2008

In 2007, the Children’s Book Council and the American Association of School Librarians created a “Meet the Author/Illustrator” column for the AASL journal Knowledge Quest.

Knowledge Quest ( readers have been very responsive to the column. The KQ editors passed along the following messages received from some readers:

“My school has become so gung-ho about technology that my teachers have ‘forgotten’ the power of reading – the CBC column is perfect for promoting pleasure reading.  I copy it out of the print issue of Knowledge Quest and put it in faculty mailboxes – and, for those who don’t read print anymore, I’m sending them the link!”

“When budget time came, my administrator suggested that we drop the author visit for next year as an economy measure.  I was able to give him a couple of ‘Meet the…’ columns and remind him what kids are NOT learning in their classes.”

The CBC and AASL are pleased to be continuing the program for 2008-2009. In order to show readers the wonderful variety in children’s book publishing, columnists will represent different genres, target audiences, publishing companies, and levels of national prominence.

The contributors for the 2008-2009 editorial cycle are as follows:

September/October 2008 – Nontraditional settings
Simon Basher (Kingfisher)

Open up any of Simon Basher’s books— The Periodic Table, Physics, or his upcoming, Biology—and right away you will see that calling his approach to science “non-traditional” is a bit of an understatement!  Basher, a designer and artist by trade, presents science in a whole new light with his quirky, manga illustration style, keen design sense, and good doses of humor offering an original and alternative vision of nonfiction. 

Through personification, Basher gives us scientific topics in an innovative way to appeal to a wide range of young readers—science fanatics and novices alike. From the Noble Gases to gravity to cells, each description of a concept explains the basic facts through a first-person narrative and accompanying manga-style “portrait.”  It is Basher’s portraits that transform science curriculum into a community of fascinating characters.  Who could resist such charming interpretations?  But even more important is the fact that the characters help young readers to remember the information that is presented.  As much information is absorbed visually through the illustrations as is digested through the usual textbook approach.

Simon Basher’s primers to chemistry, physics and biology—with other subjects to come (including astronomy)—will undoubtedly usher in a new generation of science lovers.

Simon Basher is an artist and designer who has been creating artwork for over 8 years.  Inspired by a love of simple line work and a rich palette, his characters blend the edge of manga with the cuteness of Hello Kitty.  He is based in London and Tokyo.

November/December 2008 – Evidence-Based Practice
Josephine Nobisso (Gingerbread House)

The soul of home-schooling is evidence, and Josephine Nobisso utilized evidence intuitively, as the very basis for advancing her student.  In larger settings, she never conducts a workshop—whether with children or adults—without incorporating evidence.  Her workshop follow this paradigm:  a short diagnostic, verbal proofs to elicit the strengths and deficits she will address, a written model for the changes (sometimes drastic, but always visionary and educationally sound), a period of silent individual work which is intended to provide evidence of the understanding of the precepts taught, and, finally, a rewriting/editing session during which she hears the evidence and offers ways to address the deficits in the knowledge being acquired.

Miss Nobisso has published many children’s books. Each year, to rave reviews and repeat performances, she conducts 100 writing workshops. She is an NCEA Distinguished Graduate and a Delta Kappa Gamma Friend of Education for “someone outside the profession who has given outstanding service to promoting quality education and for providing outstanding service to the education of others.”

January/February 2009 – Doing Honest Work
Julie Crabtree (Milkweed Editions)

Julie Crabtree likes this topic because it addresses both the fictional plot of her book Discovering Pig Magic, as well as the general, highly subjective topic of plagiarism in terms of her own work as a children's writer. If I write about a magic sorceress school for girls, am I jumping on JK's train? And if I am, is it ethical? legal? still creative and original? For children, as parents and librarians, how can we define academic honesty?  Would my theoretical girls’ sorcery school be academically immoral? Should my character, Ariel have claimed Rachel Ray's recipe as her own because it DID have one different ingredient? Anyway, you see where I am going.  As an author, mother, and volunteer, I see that this is a topic with wavery lines, worthy of exploration.

Julie Crabtree has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Highlights for Children, MotherVerse, and Green Prints. She received her B.A. in English from the University of California at Davis and earned her paralegal certificate. She worked as a legal administrator, and then became a freelance writer. Passionate about cooking and gardening, Julie lives with her husband and two young daughters in Castro Valley, California.

March/April 2009 – Social Scholarship
Blue Balliett (Scholastic, Inc.)

In her art mystery books, Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game, elementary grade teacher Ms. Hussey uses art and architecture to teach her students how to think critically. She also encourages a number of social and cooperative learning techniques. This is social learning at its finest – the marriage of strengths and the respect for individuals.

Blue Balliett’s enthusiasm for teaching each unique child to “think outside the box” as well as to function successfully as members of a group is very much evident in all of her books. Ms. Hussey, the unconventional, free-thinking teacher at University of Chicago’s Lab School, continually challenges her students, primarily by using art.  Various art mysteries (a missing Vermeer painting, secrets about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, a missing Alexander Calder sculpture), provide the means for her students Petra, Calder, and Tommy to grow intellectually and socially in ways they probably wouldn’t in a normal classroom setting   Ms. Hussey teaches them to look at things in new ways. After viewing an exhibit of Alexander Calder’s mobiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in The Calder Game, Petra, Calder, and Tommy see mobiles in everything from leaves to paper trash. 

In 2004, Blue Balliett’s debut, Chasing Vermeer, soared onto The New York Times best-seller list shortly after publication and won many accolades including the Edgar Award. The highly anticipated sequel, The Wright 3, was also an immediate New York Times bestseller and international success.  Most recently, Balliett has “outdone herself” with The Calder Game, according to Publishers Weekly in a starred review. Balliett is also an international success; her work has now appeared in 34 languages. Blue Balliett grew up in New York City and studied art history at Brown University.  She taught at the University Of Chicago Laboratory Schools before becoming a full-time writer. 

May/June 2009 - AASL Conference (co-editor Sara Kelly Johns)
Joan Bauer (Penguin Group USA)

Intellectual Freedom is a core value of the library profession and a key responsibility for students in AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learners.  Joan Bauer’s work, including her newest novel, is both directly related to and eminently teachable for this topic.

Joan Bauer’s newest novel, Peeled, deals with a small town on the brink of hysteria. Rumor has it that a local house is haunted, and the unscrupulous local newspaper is playing into the residents’ fears in order to turn a profit. It’s up to high school journalist Hildy Biddle to find out what’s really haunting her town—and why. When her school paper gets shut down, Hildy and her friends organize an underground newspaper in order to expose the truth. But it’s hard to prove that a ghost doesn’t exist, especially when everyone else is so intent on believing the story.

Peeled is a novel about freedom of the press, the influence that even children and teens can have on policy, and groupthink. These are questions of vital importance to the work of the AASL and its membership and sure to be the subject of numerous sessions and meetings at the AASL Conference.

Joan Bauer is the critically-acclaimed author of numerous young adult novels. She has been awarded the Newbery Honor and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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The Children’s Book Council, Inc. (CBC) is a nonprofit trade association of publishers of trade books for children and young adults in the United States. The CBC promotes the use and enjoyment of trade books for young people, most prominently as the official sponsor of Children’s Book Week, the longest running literacy event in the country.

Published bimonthly September through June by the American Association of School Librarians, Knowledge Quest,, is devoted to offering substantive information to assist building-level library media specialists, supervisors, library educators, and other decision makers concerned with the development of school library media programs and services. Articles address the integration of theory and practice in school librarianship and new developments in education, learning theory and relevant disciplines.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.