Authors 2018

Alyssa Capucilli


When I was a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York, the weekly trip to the public library with my mother and sisters, was much anticipated. I loved the quiet hush of the room, I loved the books on the shelves, I loved the books in my hands. I quickly became an avid reader and vowed to read every book from A to Z! Louisa May Alcott and Beverly Cleary were two of my favorite authors! Although I loved to imagine myself as different characters in books, I never imagined that the authors who created them were real people!

My home was filled with books and book lovers as well. And even though I spent much of my time writing, imagining, and creating stories, songs, poems, and puppet shows, I began focusing on story telling in another way; I began to tell stories through movement and dance, and spent numerous years dancing professionally. I still love to dance, but now I find that I enjoy inventing worlds through words even more.

Nowadays, my home is a small cozy cottage in Hastings on Hudson, New York. It is still filled with books and even more book lovers — my two children, Peter and Laura, my husband, Bill, and of course our lovable chocolate Labrador, Huckleberry! I find that I get many ideas and much inspiration from the long morning walks through the woods that I take with Huckleberry each day. Huckleberry especially loves the snow!

Stacy McAnulty

Stacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’s also qualified to be a paleontologist (not really), a correspondent for The Daily Show (why not), and a Green Bay Packer coach (totally!). She is the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Book New Writer Honor Recipient for Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Her other picture books include Brave and Beautiful, both illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. She’s also authored the chapter book series Goldie Blox, based on the award-winning toys, and The Dino Files. Her debut middle grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, will publish in 2018. When not writing, Stacy likes to listen to NPR, bake triple-chocolate cupcakes, and eat triple-chocolate cupcakes. Originally from upstate NY, Stacy now lives in Kernersville, NC with her 3 kids, 2.5 dogs, and 1 husband.

Cynthia Lord


When Cynthia Lord sat down to write her first children's book, she knew it would be a middle-grade novel. As she recalls, "I grew up next to a lake in New Hampshire and I remember being ten years old, lying on our pier, listening to the seagulls calling, and daydreaming about Borrowers and Chocolate Factories and Secret Gardens."

In her Newbery Honor Award winning novel, Rules, twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life, which is near impossible with a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. Filled with humor and warmth, Rules takes a candid and sensitive look at feeling different and finding acceptance—beyond the rules.

In Cynthia's second novel, Touch Blue, eleven-year-old Tess is faced with a new foster brother and the threat of losing the island home that she loves. Set among the lobster boats and rocky coast of Maine, Touch Blue is a thoughtful, funny look at what it means to belong-—and how lucky we feel when we do.

The idea for her first picture book, Hot Rod Hamster, came from the experience of reading to her daughter. "She would cuddle close to me," says Cynthia, "and whenever she saw an array of fun things in the illustrations, she'd stop me from turning that page. 'What would you pick, Mama?' she'd ask. Then with great joy and purpose, she'd point to something else on the page. It was always a special moment between us, and I wanted to recreate that for other families." In Hot Rod Hamster, the reader helps a little hamster make his big racing dreams come true.

A former teacher and bookseller, Cynthia still enjoys lying on a pier, reading a good book. And she hears plenty of seagulls at her home near the ocean in Maine, where she lives with her husband and their two children.

London Ladd

A graduate of Syracuse University with a BFA in Illustration. London has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed children’s books including March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (Scholastic), written by Christine King Farris, the older sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Under the Freedom Tree (Charlesbridge) and Frederick's Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass (Disney/Jump at the Sun).

Sean Jensen

Sean Jensen was born in South Korea, but he was raised in California, Massachusetts and Virginia, mostly on or near military bases. Given his unique background, he's always been drawn to storytelling, a skill he developed at Northwestern University and crafted for the last 16 years, almost exclusively covering the NFL, for major newspapers and websites. During his career, he's fostered strong relationships with athletes in multiple sports, and penned profiles on Jared Allen, Jason Brown, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Randy Moss, Derrick Rose and Adrian Peterson, among others. He's earned distinctions from the Illinois Associated Press, Minnesota Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Pro Football Writers of America and Associated Press Sports Editors. In 2006, he received a special achievement award from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He founded E & Z Enterprises, a marketing consulting company that works with leaders, nonprofits and businesses to showcase stories of impact and influence. In his spare time, he volunteers in his community, including as a board member of a Twin Cities community soccer club. He's trying to eat more carrots and veggies, though he craves buttered movie popcorn and chicken wings. He lives in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minn., with his wife, two children and dog.

Rachel DiNunzio

Author / Illustrator
Rachel DiNunzio is a local author, illustrator and publisher.  She has written several books in the Forsynthia series. Her latest project involves students in elementary school to college, its called: My Thoughts Can Change the World. Rachel believes that what you do outwardly and what we think internally, impacts everything around us. The project’s goal is to make a positive impact for people, animals, plants, and our environment, through the sharing of thoughts and ideas. Rachel loves working with schools to empower the students into not only believing that they can make a difference, but also works with them to write down their thoughts.

Vanessa B. Newton


Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. Being part of a diverse, tight-knit community during such turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz.  Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art. The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.

Thomas McDade & Melanie Morse

Authors & Production Specialists
Thomas McDade is television producer, director, and editor who has traveled throughout the world over the past 20 years. He is the owner of Honey + Punch LLC, a Buffalo-based media production company. Melanie Morse is a mother of three boys, an experienced educator, a daydreamer, a traveler and a storyteller. When she’s not wrapped up in an adventure with her super awesome boys, or with Seymour & Hau, she is the Producer for commercial storytelling company Honey + Punch.

Dee Romito

Dee Romito is a middle-grade author and former elementary school teacher, Dee lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, where she and her family are steadily checking items off their own bucket list of adventures. You're likely to find her at the local ice cream shop, writing at a cafe, or curled up on the couch with her cats. And while she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of Dee's all-time favorite things. To join the fun and create your own bucket list, visit

Maria DiVencenzo

Maria DiVencenzo is an author and founder of Winterlake Press.  She is an award-winning author and publisher of books for children including The Scariest Dream Ever and The Star of Christmas. Maria also wrote three Little House novels depicting the childhood of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother, Caroline. An independent publisher, Winterlake Press uses proceeds from book sales to support children’s programs in schools and libraries. In 2010, Winterlake Press became a founding sponsor of, a storybook support program that connects deployed US service men and women with their families back home. She also works with teachers and librarians to provide seminars and enrichment programs for classrooms. Maria lives in Western New York with her husband, four children, and shaggy black Schnoodle.

Brian Herberger

Brian Herberger has spent much of his career teaching middle school English. His favorite genre, whether encouraging students to read, reading to his own kids, or simply relaxing with a good book, is young adult fiction. Brian weaves many of his personal interests into his books, Miss E. and Cross Country. The activism and free-spirited culture of the 1960s, memories of flying in his father's airplane as a boy, the adventure of a cross-country trip, and the sights and sounds of his hometown of Buffalo - all of these elements find their way into his stories, along with engaging characters who bring his historical fiction to life.  Brian lives in the Washington DC area, but he'll always call Buffalo home.

David Kalvitis


In 2000, author/designer David Kalvitis, started a dot-to-dot revolution, producing award-winning dot-to-dot puzzles. He has been dedicated to creating the most amazingly complex and artistic dot-to-dot puzzles to ever hit the market. The Greatest Dot-to-Dots aren't just for little kids and here's why: The final image cannot be determined until completion of the puzzle; puzzles can number in the thousands; and there are 17 different ways of completing these dot-to-dot puzzles.

Kalvitis's puzzles challenge children and adults of all ages, are an incredible learning tool, and are a fantastic way to relieve stress. With nearly 1 million Greatest Dot-to-Dot Books sold worldwide, David Kalvitis continues to strive to make connecting and coloring dot-to-dots a wonderfully enjoyable and relaxing experience.