Mardigian Library

Library Virtual Hours:
Sunday: Noon to 5 pm  |  Monday-Thursday: 9 am to 7 pm  |  Friday: 9 am to 6 pm  |  Saturday: Closed

Young Authors' Festival

A Celebration of Writing for Students in 3rd-5th Grades, their Parents, and Teachers

Guest Authors & Illustrators

Decorative pencil line

Michigan author Jean Alicia Elster, B.A., J.D., is the writer of the novel The Colored Car (Wayne State University Press. 2013). Formerly an attorney, she is now a professional writer who has won numerous awards and recognition for her work.

  • In 2014, The Colored Car was selected a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan and was awarded the Midwest Book Award in Children's Fiction by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. It was also chosen as an Honor Book for the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People.
  • Her book, Who's Jim Hines? (Wayne State University Press, 2008) was selected as one of the Library of Michigan's 2009 Michigan Notable Books. The Michigan Reading Association placed the title on the Great Lakes Great Books Award 2009-2010 ballot for grades 4-5. It was also a ForeWord Magazine 2008 Book of the Year Award finalist in the category of Juvenile Fiction.
  • A children's book series Joe Joe in the City, which includes the story I'll Do the Right Thing (2003). She was awarded the 2002 Governors' Emerging Artist Award by ArtServe Michigan in recognition of this series and in 2004, I'll Do the Right Thing received the Atlanta Daily World Choice Award in the category of children's books.
  • In recognition of outstanding work, Elster was honored with a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts, awarded by Kresge Arts in Detroit, a program of The Kresge Foundation.
  • Elster also collaborated in the preparation of the manuscript for Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialog with Today's Youth, by Rosa Parks (Lee and Low, 1996), which received four awards including the NAACP Image Award and the Teachers' Choice Award.

Elster is frequently invited to speak at schools, libraries, and conferences throughout the state of Michigan and across the United States. She is the founder and president of Write Word LLC (established as Write Word, Inc. in 1994). She and her husband live in Detroit, Michigan and are the parents of two adult children.

(Bio from author's website

  • Jean Alicia Elster

  • The Colored Car
  • 2018 Guest Authors & Illustrators

    Mark Crilley, Michigan author and illustrator

    Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he began drawing almost as soon as he could hold a pencil in his hand. Graduating from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 1984, he proceeded to Kalamazoo College, where he was befriended by children's book writer/illustrator (and 2001 Caldecott award winner) David Small. David's example was instrumental in suggesting the course that Crilley's writing and illustrating would eventually follow.

    While teaching English in Japan in 1992, he invented Akiko and fashioned her first adventure, a 33-page comic book story entitled Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which was first published in 1995. Later, he would write and illustrate a series of novelized adaptations of "Akiko" for young readers. The first in the series, Akiko on the Planet Smoo was published in March of 2000; the tenth, Akiko and the Missing Misp, hit stores in November of 2008. Crilley has since published several other book projects, including a four-volume manga series called Miki Falls, Brody's Ghost,a six-volume manga series, and a graphic novel about how to draw, called The Drawing Lesson. He has also penned several how-to books about drawing techniques,including the Mastering Mangaseries, The Realism Challenge,and his most recent, entitled Chibi!

    Crilley's novels have been featured in USA Today, the New York Daily News, and Disney Adventures Magazine, as well as on CNN Headline News. Today, Crilley is one of YouTube's "Top 25 Most Subscribed Gurus," creating drawing demonstration videos that have been viewed more than 60 million times.

    Mark Crilley now lives in Michigan with his wife, Miki, and their children, Matthew and Mio.

    • Mark Crilley

    • Akiko on the Planet Smoo, 2001
  • 2017 Guest Authors & Illustrators

    Kristen Remenar, Michigan author
    and Matt Faulkner, illustrator

    Kristen Remenar is an author, children's librarian, teacher, and national speaker on children's literacy. Groundhog's Dilemma is her debut picture book. She also writes for several blogs including ReaderKidz, Nerdy Book Club, and Curious City. Groundhog's Dilemma was illustrated by Matt Faulkner, Kristen's husband.

    Matt Faulkner is a well-known illustrator and author of children's books with over 20 books to his credit. His graphic novel for young adults, Gaijin: American Prisoner of War (Disney/Hyperion Books), won the 2014-2015 Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award for Children's Literature. Matt was one of the guest speakers at the first Young Authors' festival in 2013, when The Night Henry Ford Met Santa was the highlighted book. His newest works include What's the Big Deal about First Ladies and What's the Big Deal about Freedom.

    The Faulkner Remenars live in the metro Detroit area with their three lovely children and several mostly-lovely cats.

  • 2016 Guest Authors & Illustrators

    Christopher Paul Curtis
    Michigan author and Newbery Medal winner

    Born in Flint, Michigan, Christopher Paul Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint's historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging car doors, and it left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large automobiles particularly big Buicks.

    Curtis's writing and his dedication to it has been greatly influenced by his family members. With grandfathers like Earl Lefty Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and 1930s bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression, it is easy to see why Christopher Paul Curtis was destined to become an entertainer.

    Christopher Paul Curtis made an outstanding debut in children's literature with The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963. His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, is the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King A uthor Award.

    Christopher Paul Curtis and his wife, Habon, have three children, Steven, Cydney, and Ayaan. He lives in Detroit, Michigan, with his family. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing basketball and collecting music.

  • 2015 Guest Authors & Illustrators

    Gary Schmidt, author

    Gary Schmidt is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. His latest book, Orbiting Jupiter, was just released in October. Gary lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by.

  • 2014 Guest Authors & Illustrators

    Toni Buzzeo, author

    Toni Buzzeo grew up in Dearborn, Michigan. Her mother, Jeanne, gave Toni the gift of reading, taking her to the Dearborn Public Library, what is now the Bryant branch. Toni loved the library and began working there when she was still in high school. After taking classes at the Henry Ford Community College, she became a student at the University of Mic higan-Dearborn, earning a bachelor's degree in English. She received her Master's degree in English from UM in Ann Arbor.

    After college, Toni and her husband Ken moved to Maine where she eventually became a children's librarian. She began writing for children in 1995, and we're glad she did! She has published over 20 books and is a New York Times best selling author! Her book One Cool Friend was named a 2013 Caldecott honor book, a huge achievement for any author. We are extremely proud to call Toni an alumna of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

  • 2013 Guest Authors & Illustrators

    Carol Hagen, author

    Carol Hagen was born into a large family and grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, where she began writing at a very young age. She lived not too far from where Henry Ford lived and set up his factory, which was part of the inspiration for her book, The Night Henry Ford Met Santa. Carol is a former English teacher and school librarian and has taught in the public school system in both Michigan and California.

    Educated in Michigan, Carol holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University. She continues to write and currently works for a non-profit in Orange County, California where she resides with her family.

    Matt Faulkner, illustrator

    Award winning children's book author and illustrator Matt Faulkner grew up in a small town just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Upon graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983, Matt took a job in NYC at an ad agency setting typography. It didn't take long to realize he was he the wrong guy for that job, but luckily the owner of the agency liked the drawings Matt had done on his work table during lunch and hired him to draw storyboards! Matt's first author/illustrated work was The Amazing Voyage of Jackie Grace from Scholastic in 1985. He has written and illustrated a number of children's books including The Black Belt, The Amazing Voyage of Jackie Grace, The Moon Clock, The Twelve Wild Geese, and The Giving Season. He has also illustrated Trick or Treat on Monster Street, The Monster Who Ate My Peas, ScatterBrain Sam, and of course, The Night Henry Ford Met Santa. In addition to writing and illustrating books for children, Matt also creates illustrations for national newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. His work has won wide praise for its humor, exuberance, and sensitivity. Matt is married to author and children's librarian Kristen Remenar. They live with their 3 kids and 3 cats in Lake Orion, Michigan.

    • Carol Hagen

    • Matt Faulkner

Young Authors' Festival Sponsors