Author Sessions

Friday, October 20 & Saturday, October 21
During Concurrent Session Timeslots

The listing provided below may differ from content presented at the AASL National Conference as presenters, sessions, etc., may have changed or cancelled since their original acceptance. AASL provides this listing as an example of the professional development school librarians can expect at the event.

Conference attendees may use the AASL2023 app for an up-to-date and comprehensive listing of all conference events. The app will launch in early October.

A Is for Adventure

This panel of authors offers something for everyone, and adventure for allAuthor James Ponti takes learners around the world with diverse, multitalented, fun characters, in the action-packed spy series City Spies. Clayton C. Anderson, real life astronaut, invites students into the world of space exploration both with starry wonder and engaging fascinating factsA fast-paced time traveler is introduced by Cliff Lewis to share the message of collective action, individual superpowers, and the urgency of climate change.    

Clayton Anderson, a retired astronaut, once spent 152 days aboard the International Space Station. He is now the President and CEO of the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in his hometown of Ashland, Nebraska. A sought-after public speaker and award-winning author of The Ordinary Spaceman, It’s a Question of Space, A is for Astronaut, and Letters from Space, and So You Want To Be An Astronaut?, he now lives in Omaha. 

Clayton‘s appearance supported by Sleeping Bear Press.

Cliff Lewis is the author of We the Future, a fast-paced, time-bending caper that makes an inspiring playbook for young climate activists. He’s a professional writer, a hometown story-slam winner, and a keynote speaker living with his family in Pennsylvania.

Cliff’s appearance supported by NorthStar Editions.

James Ponti is the New York Times Bestselling author of three Middle Grade book series: City Spies, about an unlikely squad of five kids from around the world who form an elite MI6 Spy Team; The Edgar Award-winning Framed! series, about a pair of tweens who solve mysteries in Washington, D.C.; and the Dead City trilogy, about a secret society that polices the undead living beneath Manhattan. He lives with his family in Orlando, Florida. 

Giving Voice to Marginalized Youth

Meet two authors who strive to create books and reading experiences that reflect the diversity of the world. Cicely Lewis, the Read Woke librarian, and Edd Tello, a bilingual writer and English teacher in Mexico, will share their work and how rewriting the narrative and giving voice to underrepresented or oppressed people, challenges social norms and leaves room for everyone to see themselves in a story. 

Edd Tello is a bilingual writer of children’s literature and current Spanish literature teacher of the year. He is the author of Only Pieces and No Place for Fairy Tales. Edd holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Seville and a business certificate from the University of Washington. He’s currently a high school teacher in Mexico. When he isn’t reading or writing, you can find him drinking coffee or making his friends laugh with his anecdotes and jokes. You can find him online at eddtello.com and @eddstello on socials. 

Edd’s appearance supported by Rosen Publishing.

Cicely Lewis is a writer and librarian living in Georgia. She is the founder of the #ReadWoke movement and was recognized by School Library Journal as the 2020 School Librarian of the Year.  She started Read Woke™ Books in partnership with Lerner Publishing Group in response to the shootings of young unarmed black people, the repeal of DACA, and the lack of diversity in young adult literature. Readwoke.com 

Cicely’s appearance supported by Lerner Publishing Group.

Middle Grade Books From Award Winning Authors

Join award winning authors as they discuss their upcoming middle-grade projects ranging from historical fiction to graphic novels. They’ll share insight into their creative process, how they find inspiration for their stories, and tips for aspiring young writers. 

Lisa Yee has taken a private-investigator course, and it’s slightly possible that she’s a secret undercover operative. She’s also a Newbery Honoree and a National Book Award finalist for Maizy Chen’s Last Chance. Some of her other twenty-one novels are the groundbreaking Millicent Min, Girl Genius; Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time; and the DC Super Hero Girls series. A frequent contributor to NPR’s Books We Love, she divides her time between Western Massachusetts and Los Angeles. 

Lisa’s appearance supported byPenguin Random House.

Mae Respicio writes novels full of hope and heart. Her debut, The House That Lou Built, received the Asian/Pacific American Library Association Honor Award in Children’s Literature and was an NPR Best Book of the Year. She’s also the author of the acclaimed Any Day With You and How to Win a Slime War. 

Mae’s appearance supported byPenguin Random House.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Meet two authors who share important messages through comic books, and picture books (oh my!)  Author Sophia Gholz loves visual storytelling and writes picture book biographies, rhyming rhythms for fun readalouds, and her upcoming free verse to introduce readers to the wind Author Cindy Ticknor explores the ‘mysterious’ math through a math comic book series that engages learners who may struggle with math. 

With over 25 years of teaching experience, Dr. Cindy S. Ticknor is a professor of mathematics education who has combined her research interests and love of games to create a graphic novel that teaches fractionsIn addition to authoring The Mysterious I.D. Vide in Newton’s, she has won over $3 million in grants to promote STEM and STEAM education. 

Cindy‘s appearance supported by Math Comic Hero.

Award-winning author Sophia Gholz loves visual storytelling and focuses on books with heart. She writes inspiring picture book biographies, rhyming rhythms for fun read-alouds, and fascinating nonfiction like her upcoming free verse to introduce young readers to the wind. Her debut, The Boy Who Grew a Forest, was Florida State Book Award gold medalist and Green Earth Honor book. Her recent release, Bug on the Rug, is a current Sunshine State Young Reader Jr nominee. 

Sophia‘s appearance supported by Sleeping Bear Press.

Redefining Love and Belonging

Children’s books have many themes expressing the difficulty in belonging. Author McCall Hoyle’s books feature dog protagonists who face serious obstacles and deep emotions in finding a life of purpose as working dogs, working dogs who must transition to the life of a pet, and her new book about a street dog who connects with a little girl who was also abandoned by her caregiver. Author Kerry O’Malley Cerra explores the deaf experience through two books sharing her characters experience with hearing loss and stepping outside of her comfort zone to speak out and stand up. 

McCall Hoyle is an award-winning author and teacher librarian. When she grows up, she’d also like to be a professional dog trainer. She writes heartfelt books for kids of all ages and believes one of the best ways to spread hope and share her heart is by writing about the special bond between dogs and their humans. When McCall isn’t writing or teaching, you can find her with one of her four-legged friends training for agility, obedience, or dock diving—or perhaps chasing make-believe bunnies with them at a lure coursing event in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains she calls home.

McCall’s appearance supported by Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Kerry O’Malley Cerra is an award-winning author of middle grade books. Her first novel, Just a Drop of Water, landed on five state reading lists, won the Crystal Kite Award, a Florida Book Award, and was named to VOYA’s Top Shelf Fiction list for 2014. Her second novel, Hear Me, is out now. Stay tuned for her forthcoming books, Make a Little Wave, (Aug. 6, 2024 from Carolrhoda Books, Lerner Publishing Group) and the tentatively titled nonfiction picture book The Gallaudet Eleven: The Story of NASA’s Unheard of Bioastronauts (March 2026 from Little Brown BFYR). Kerry’s work has received praise from The New York Times, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, VOYA, and the Horn Book Guide calling her stories moving, perceptive, well-developed, and woven with an expert hand. Kerry lives in South Florida with her family and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. 

Kerry’s appearance supported by Lerner Publishing Group.

The Secrets of Collaboration

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr are partners in creativity and life, collaborating to make books and advocate for Title I schools. They’ll share the secrets of successful collaboration, talk about their creative process, and recap their epic, 50-state literacy tour. 

Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr are the husband/wife, author/illustrator team behind The Cookie Chronicles, The Real McCoys, Babies Ruin Everything and Everywhere, Wonder. These days, they spend most of their time making books and raising four kids. They spend the rest of their time speaking, teaching, and leading workshops on collaboration and creative entrepreneurship-and in the summer, running a commercial salmon fishing operation on the Alaskan tundra. 

Matthew and Robbi’s appearance supported by Penguin Random House.

Tackling Serious Topics with Tweens

Join authors Sydney Dunlap, Maria Jose Fitzgerald, and Heather Murphy Capps as they offer age-appropriate content that tackles serious topics in a way that helps and guides both readers and educators to develop thoughtful discussion. With Dunlap exploring the vulnerability of youth human trafficking, Capps inspiring social justice, and Fitzgerald sharing a story of activism, their stories encourage inquiry and consideration at a critical stage in learner development. 

Sydney Dunlap is a former teacher who has worked with at-risk youth in numerous settings. She is a published poet and has also written for a newspaper. Her novel, It Happened on Saturday, appears on School Library Journal’s mock Newbery list and is featured in Kirkus as promoting children’s mental health. 

Sydney’s appearance supported by Northstar Editions.

Maria Jose Fitzgerald grew up snorkeling and hiking in Honduras, where her stories of conservation and friendship are usually set. Her novel, Turtles of the Midnight Moon, was a Winter 2023 Indie’s Introduces and Indie’s Next pick. Maria lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and three noisy canines. 

Maria’s appearance supported by Penguin Random House.

Heather Murphy Capps writes upper middle grade books about history, social justice, science, and magic. As a biracial author, Heather is passionate about creating diversity in publishing. Her debut novel, Indigo and Ida, has been called “moving and inspiring” and received two starred reviews. 

Heather’s appearance supported by Lerner Publishing Group.