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Kelly Barnhill

Newbery Medal Winner and New York Times Bestselling Author

Kelly Barnhill admits that the sum of her former jobs—bartender, park ranger, church janitor, wild-eyed activist, wildland firefighter, receptionist, and teacher—prepared her for very little, save the telling of stories. And she tells them very, very well. Barnhill’s prodigious storytelling talents have been recognized with the 2017 Newbery Medal—the most distinguished contribution to American children’s literature—for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which has sold over a million copies.

Barnhill is winner of a World Fantasy Award and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award and the PEN/USA literary prize. Hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Barnhill has been nominated for the Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction, and been a finalist of the National Council of Teachers of English Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children.

In addition to being an award-winning writer of fantasy novels and short stories for children and adults, Barnhill is also a trained teacher who does interactive classroom visits, large-scale lectures and presentations, one-off writing workshops, and in-depth residencies. Whether appearing at local libraries, schools, and bookstores or at universities, conferences, and festivals, Kelly’s presentations are tailored to the needs and interests of the participants, young and old. Her wish is that they leave captivated by the wonder and magic of the written word.

Speaking Topics

  • Into the Deep Dark Woods of Writing—Tools to Help You Navigate Your Journey
  • The Magic of Landscapes—The Intrinsic Connection Between the Ground Under Our Feet and the Shape of Our Stories
  • Children’s Literature for Grown-Ups—What Kids’ Books Teach Us About Life
  • The Stitching on the Fabric of the World—A Folkloric Approach to Worldbuilding in Fantasy
  • Why Magic?—What Fantasy in Literature Teaches Children About Real Life
  • The Case for Radical Empathy—Using Story to Build Bridges and Smash Walls


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Books by Kelly Barnhill