Artist / Authors and Songwriters
Have you ever felt like you had a weird way of looking at things? Michael Austin first remembered feeling that way with coloring books. "Stay inside the lines," his Mom suggested. "Why?" He wondered. He thought he was being daring, wild, and expressive; all those lines just slowed him down! What he created may have been a nightmarish mess, but it was in fact, his beginning in art.
He eventually grew up enough to discover "technique" and "control" with crayons, but his "strange point of view" had grown with him. He realized this during the newspaper's annual Thanksgiving Giant Turkey Coloring Contest. Armed with a freshly sharpened box of colors, he created a giant turkey complete with pointed fangs and multicolored feathers. When he handed his entry, he noticed that his turkey definitely did not look like any of the others. Unfortunately, that was where the story ended. After that disappointment, he was certain he would leave art behind to become a football player.
Then his dad introduced him to drawing and he discovered art once again! He realized he could draw things his own way, strange or not. As his greatest artistic influence, his dad always drew pictures that he would recreate. This helped him practice and sharpen his skills. TV also began to make its mark on his life. Characters from shows like "The Addams Family" and "Scooby Doo" appeared in his drawings. Then, in the third grade, he had to write and illustrate a story every day as part of his schoolwork. Most of his stories involved pretty much anything creepy, gross, or just plain weird (usually his family was the source of inspiration for those things, especially his little brother). He still puts his family in his illustrations. You’ll find his wife, Kim, in 13 Monsters Who Should Be Avoided and The Horned Toad Prince.
Throughout his life, Michael Austin continued to draw. His illustrations appeared in Highlights, Cricket, and Spider. One day his stepmom met children's book author Carmen Deedy. She "presented" Ms. Deedy with a copy of one of her own story ideas that her son had illustrated many years ago. Ms. Deedy encouraged Michael to send samples of his art to the editors at Peachtree Publishers. As a result, he landed his first picture book projects. This was a new adventure in art for a former kid who still loves anything weird.
Books Illustrated by Michael Austin
- Crunk, Tony. Railroad John and the Red Rock Run. Peachtree, 2005.
- Hopkins, Jackie M. The Horned Toad Prince. Peachtree, 2000.
- Levin, Amy. Bats, Bats, Bats! Scholastic, 2000.
- Reiss, Mike. Late for School. Peachtree, 2003. (A 2004 Children’s Choice)
- Shortsleeve, Kevin. 13 Monsters Who Should Be Avoided. Peachtree, 1998.
Barrie Teague Alguire is the author of the Preschool and Elementary chapters, as well as two puppet plays and two readers theatre scripts. She holds a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MLS from Texas Woman's University. Barrie has been a children's librarian in the Arlington Public Library System since 1994. In 1999, she wrote the manual for Open a Book - On With the Show! She presented workshops throughout the State on the 1999 and 2004 Texas Reading Club manuals and is currently serving as chairperson of the Texas Reading Club Advisory Committee.
Maureen Ambrosino was born and raised in upstate New York. She graduated from Saint Francis College in Pennsylvania with a degree in English/Communications and worked in various TV and newspaper positions before finding her way to the library. She was the library director for the E. M. Cooper Memorial Public Library in Wilmington, NY from 1994-1996, which served a population of 1,038. Maureen relocated to Houston in 1997 and managed Houston Public Library's nationally recognized ASPIRE homework centers for at-risk junior high students. She accepted a position with Fort Bend County Libraries in 2000 and graduated from UNT with an MLS in 2001.
Currently, Maureen is the Youth Services Librarian at the brand new Cinco Ranch Branch of Fort Bend County Libraries. She is a member of the TALL Texans class of 2004, a member of the Texas Library Association Día de los niños committee, Children's Round Table, Young Adult Round Table, and TALL Texans Round Table.
Shawn Clements is an artist and writer who has been doing what she does best for the last twenty years. She is a University of Texas graduate with a degree in English, specializing in controversial literature. Shawn, who is the graphic designer for the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library, spends her free time corralling her pit bull and having battles of wits with her teenager. Her special interests include collaborative art, turtles, Victorian history, and the American old west. She has written multiple short stories and poems and is currently marketing her first full-length fantasy novel.
Consuelo Forray, co-author of the Bilingual Programs chapter, grew up in Chile. She graduated from Universidad de Chile with a Library Science degree. She has lived and worked as a librarian in Chile, Panama, and Ecuador. For the past seven years she has worked for the Fort Bend County Libraries where she selects and evaluates the bilingual collection and presents bilingual storytimes.
As a Wired for Youth Librarian with the Austin Public Library, Michele Gorman has been instrumental in the development and creation of an award-winning library program in the inner city that focuses on technology and information literacy for teens. In addition to working in the trenches as a young adult librarian, Michele is a freelance writer. She has published several articles about graphic novels in various professional journals and is the bimonthly graphic novels columnist for Teacher Librarian. Michele's first book, Getting Graphic!: Using Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy with Preteens and Teens was published by Linworth in 2003. Her second book, the 3rd edition of Connecting Young Adults and Libraries: A How To Do It Manual, co-authored with Patrick Jones and Tricia Suellentrop, was published by Neal-Schuman in 2004.
Shelly Lane, author of the Toddler Programs Chapter, is a third generation Texan residing in Dobbin, Texas. She has been at the central branch of the Montgomery County Memorial Library System for over five years. Shelly currently works as a Children’s Librarian Assistant and hosts the weekly Toddler Time Story Hour for children three and younger. She completed her MLS with a specialization in children and youth services through the University of North Texas in the summer of 2004. Shelly also participated in computer training through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Jeanette Larson is the Youth Services Manager for Austin Public Library. She directs the library’s services for youth at 21 library locations and oversees ten award-winning Wired for Youth technology centers.
Jeanette is the author of three prior manuals for the Texas Reading Club, Color Your World…Read!, Animal Antics, and The Secret Code is R*E*A*D. A frequent contributor to Book Links, Texas Library Journal, and other publications, Jeanette is also the author of Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults (Linworth, 2004) and Model Policies for Small and Medium Public Libraries (Neal-Schuman, 1998).
An active member of the Association for Library Services for Children, Jeanette has served twice on the Newbery Award Committee. She is also a member of the Texas Library Association, which honored her as Librarian of the Year in 1998 and with the Siddie Joe Johnson Award in 2002. Jeanette has almost 30 years experience in libraries in Texas at Irving Public Library, Mesquite Public Library, and at the Texas State Library and in California at Anaheim Public Library.
Kim Lehman's professional career spans more than 23 years of working with children as a teacher, professional storyteller, musician, puppeteer, and workshop presenter. She has performed at the Texas Library Association evening storytelling concert and was a guest storyteller in over 15 segments for the "Pepe's Magic Playhouse" children's television show. In 1999, Kim wrote and performed in a summer reading program video that won a "National Hometown Video" award. As a teacher, Kim presents workshops on using music with children. Currently she is a freelance performer, workshop presenter, and works as a youth specialist for the Austin Public Library.
Sally Meyers, author of the theme song, "Get Wild…Read!" has been the Children's Services Coordinator for the Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo for thirteen years. Previously she was teacher-director of La Escuelita Preschool. Ms. Meyers served on the Texas Reading Club Advisory Committee from 1994-1998 and has written the summer reading piggyback theme song since 1995. She has served as a member of Children's Round Table's 2x2 Committee and is presently chair of student participation on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee.
Children’s author Lucas Miller, a.k.a. the “Singing Zoologist,” creates songs, stories, and puppet plays that somehow manage to be both outrageously funny and scientifically accurate (well, except for the talking poodle . . . and the dancing cow . . . oh, and the singing porcupine.) Since 1993, Lucas has delighted over half a million folks at libraries, schools, and children’s concerts throughout the nation. His zany, family-friendly humor and inventive, sophisticated songwriting earn rave reviews from educators, parents, critics, and kids alike. On stage, Lucas is a bundle of kooky energy with a passion for getting kids excited about butterflies, toads, sea anemones, and everything wild. He gets his audiences singing like bees, chickens, snakes, and even bats (you don’t actually make any sounds - you just move your lips and act like you’re singing in such a high pitch that your voice cannot be heard!)
Both of his CD’s, The Anaconda La Bamba! and There’s a Chicken on My Head!, won Parents’ Choice Awards and Lucas was named “Best New Artist for Older Children” in the 2001 Children’s Music Web Awards. His third CD, featuring this year’s theme song, “Go Wild…READ!” will be available in early 2005. Miller’s book, Fifi the Ferocious, follows a pampered pooch as she escapes her cozy home and goes on the prowl, only to discover that turtles, skunks and porcupines are a lot harder to catch than she thought!
Lucas graduated cum laude with a degree in zoology from Miami University (in Ohio, not Florida) and he admits that he occasionally scours his old textbooks looking for song ideas. He’s living happily ever after with his wife and two children in Austin, Texas. If you think “zoology” and “fun” don’t even belong in the same sentence, then you need to sample Lucas’ creativity at www.lucasmiller.net. Or, if you prefer, you may call him at 800.755.4415 and he’ll sing a few bars of “A Snake’s Not Slimy” for you on the phone!