the authors behind the books we love

2017 has been quite the banner year for picture books about authors.

I love learning about these creators and seeing how fragments of their lives are woven into the fabric of their stories.

I’ll refrain from making lengthy remarks today and try to woo you with images! I’ve also listed a few more author bios from the Orange Marmalade archives you won’t want to miss.

Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton, written by Sheri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by John Rocco
published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Read about the creator of beloved figures like Mike Mulligan and Katy the snowplow while you watch her at work! A total delight for ages 4 and up.

A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White, written by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
published in 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.


Illustrated with warmth and tenderness by Lauren Castillo, this brief account of the creator of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan suits ages 5 and up. Especially relevant for those who have already heard those stories read aloud.

John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien, written by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
published in 2017 by Roaring Brook Press


Meet young J.R.R. and hear the earliest rumblings that led to Smaug’s appearance in The Hobbit. A lush beauty for ages 4 and up.

Agatha Christie, written by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Elisa Munsó
first published in Spain in 2016; first U.S. edition 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books


Visually arresting, this peek at the grand dame of mystery will tickle the fancies of folks age 5 and up, even if they haven’t met Hercule and Miss Marple yet.

Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote, written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Raúl Colón
published in 2017 by Peachtree Publishers


Engle’s fascinating free verse provides intriguing insights and Raúl Colón’s masterful illustrations bring medieval Spain to life. Fabulous extras make this a gem for ages 6 through much older.

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books, written by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
published in 2017 by Chronicle Books


You may not recognize Newbery’s name unless you track the prestigious Newbery Award in American children’s literature, but trust me — this guy is the father of children’s literature and this delightful book will make you wish there were a national holiday on his birthday! Fascinating and joyous!

Here are a few more author bios you won’t want to miss, linked to my earlier reviews.

Beatrix Potter & the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig

A Boy Called Dickens

The Journey that Saved Curious George

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man who Created Peter Pan

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Anderson

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day

The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White

Wanda Gag: The Girl who Lived to Draw