2018 Keynote Speakers

Kelly DiPucchio – 2017 GCBA Picturebook (Gr. K-4) Winner: Author

Kelly is the award-winning author of several children’s books, thousands of To-Do lists, and a few recipe cards. Two of her books, Grace For President and The Sandwich Swap, were New York Times bestsellers.

She has authored over twenty books, and her books have received such honors as the IRA Teachers’ Choice Reading List, Notable Children’s Book for younger readers by the Association for Library Service to Children, Parents Choice Award, and the NAPPA Gold Award. In 2014, DiPucchio was awarded the Gwen Frostic Award, granted by the Michigan Reading Association to an illustrator or author from the state who has helped promote literacy.

Today, Kelly lives with her husband and three children in southeastern Michigan.

Click here for her website.


Louis Sachar – 2017 GCBA Book (Gr. 4-8) Winner: Author

Louis Sachar has been writing children’s books for over thirty years. He is best known for his Newbery Medal and National Book Award-winning novel Holes, which was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name. He is also the author of both the Sideways Stories From a Wayside School and the Marvin Redpost series, as well as many other critically acclaimed
novels. His most recent middle grade novel, Fuzzy Mud, is a cautionary environmental tale that features both mystery and humor.

Sachar’s lectures are as imaginative and entertaining as his works of fiction, and he enjoys speaking to audiences of all ages on the writing process and sharing the backstories of how his bestselling novels came to be.

Sachar was born in New York and raised in California, where he attended college and law school. While working in an elementary school during college, he was inspired to begin writing books for children. His middle grade novels often feature complex characters, struggling through captivating adventures and are beloved by children and educators alike. He lives in Austin, Texas with his family.

Click here for his website.


Grace Lin – National Book Award Finalist/Newbery Honor Recipient

Grace Lin is a NY Times bestselling author and illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels. Grace’s novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was awarded the Newbery Honor in 2010 and Grace’s early reader, Ling and Ting was honored with the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011. Most recently, the cover illustration for her novel When the Sea Turned Silver (a 2016 National Book Award Finalist) was displayed at the White House, where Grace was recognized as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling. Many of Grace’s books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, “Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal.”

Click here for her website.


Laurel Snyder – Local Author Spotlight

Laurel Snyder is the author of six novels for children: Orphan Island,  Bigger than a Bread Box,  Penny Dreadful,  Any Which Wall,  Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains OR The Search for a Suitable Princess, and Seven Stories Up. She has also written many picture books, including Charlie and Mouse,  The Forever Garden,  Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova (a GCBA 2016-2017 Picturebook Nominee),  Inside the Slidy Diner,  Good Night, Laila Tov,  Nosh, Schlep, Schluff,  The Longest Night,  Camp Wonderful Wild,  and Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.

In addition to her books for children, Laurel has written two books of poems, Daphne & Jim: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Biography in Verse (Burnside Review Press, 2005) and The Myth of the Simple Machines (No Tell Books, 2007). She also edited an anthology of nonfiction, Half/Life: Jew-ish tales from Interfaith Homes (Soft Skull Press, 2006) A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Michener-Engle Fellow, Laurel has published work in the Utne Reader, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Revealer, Salon, The Iowa Review, American Letters and Commentary, and elsewhere. She is an occasional commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered”, and she teaches in the MFAC program at Hamline University, but most of all, she is a mom.

Click here for her website.


Åse Marie Ommundsen – International Scholar Spotlight

Åse Marie Ommundsen is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and Professor II at Nord University, Norway. Her current interest is in picturebooks, on which she has published articles in Norwegian, Danish, English, French and Dutch and lectured as a guest lecturer and keynote speaker. Her current research project is What Difference Does the Picturebook Make? In 2013 Ommundsen was awarded the Kari Skjønsberg Award for her research on children’s literature.

Click here for her curriculum vitae.