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Nell Carvell

Nell Carvell, retired Director of Southern Methodist University’s Preschool Initiatives program, has more than 40 years teaching experience, including classroom teaching, teacher training, and private practice in academic language therapy for children with dyslexia. Nell is the author of the widely acclaimed Language Enrichment Activities Program (LEAP), a language enrichment literacy program designed for early childhood classrooms, particularly for classrooms that include children living in extremely low-income settings. At Southern Methodist University, Nell directed a program of teacher and mentor training with the purpose of implementing LEAP. The program was implemented in 225 classrooms in the Dallas Independent School District, in more than 200 classrooms in Dallas Head Start, and in other classrooms in Texas, California, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Alabama. More than 50,000 children have received LEAP instruction. Through extensive independent research, the program was shown to be highly effective in both public school districts and Head Start settings. In 2015, Brattle published Nell’s 2016 update LEAP Into School!®

Fran Hodgkins

Fran Hodgkins was born in Massachusetts, the youngest of four children. As a child she loved animals and books—especially books! The neighborhood branch library was one of her favorite haunts, and she spent hours there, reading her way through the children’s collection.

“I loved to read, and I found out during middle school that I loved to write just as much.” With the encouragement of two teachers, she decided to study journalism, although she did not have the drive that many of her classmates had to be a reporter. “Yet in a way, journalism was the perfect choice for me, because I was terribly shy. Having to interview people for class assignments was the motivation I needed—get over your shyness or fail the class!”

Not long after graduation, she got a job working for educational publisher Silver Burdett Ginn. There she learned a great deal about writing for children, because she read excellent examples of children’s literature that were used in the company’s basal reading program. During this time, she published her first article for children, a piece about the Burgess Shale fossils for The Dolphin Log.

Since then, Fran has written more than 20 books for young readers. In fall 2014, The Secret Galaxy was published by Tilbury House Publishers. It went on to become a Junior Library Guild selection and part of the Bank Street Best Books for Children list. In summer 2015, Little Loon was published by Down East Books.

Fran lives in Maine with her family.

Samuel Valentino

Sam Valentino has a love for telling children’s tales. For over 10 years, he has been creating his own unique books as personalized gifts to each of his children. These books have been his inspiration to create fairy tales—which he also beautifully illustrates.

Sam has been writing and illustrating for as long as he can remember. From his early crayon beginnings, Sam has moved on to almost all media. From sketching storyboards and animated commercials to painting murals in childcare centers, Sam has tried it all. A lifelong writer and reader, book illustration remains one of his most enjoyable art endeavors.

Sam lives in the Greater Boston area with his wife, who is a wonderful graphic designer and just plain wonderful in general. They have three children, all of whom like drawing. Unlike their father, however, they are also musically talented!

Sam is also the illustrator of the award-winning title, The Last Akaway.