Ellen Oh  –  Jim Ottaviani  –  Maris Wicks

Ellen Oh – Sara Siebert Memorial Keynote Speaker

EllenEllen grew up in New York City and graduated from New York University and Georgetown Law School. She is a former corporate attorney with twenty years of experience in nonprofit, and entertainment/Intellectual Property Law. She is also a former adjunct college instructor and the author of the YA fantasy trilogy, The Prophecy Series, and the upcoming middle grade novel, The Spirit Hunters, to be published in fall 2017. She is also the editor of the critically acclaimed short story collection, Flying Lessons. Ellen is co-founder of  We Need Diverse Books™, a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. Oh her website, Ellen says, “My favorite teacher ever was my HS English teacher who told me I had an amazing talent for writing and encouraged me to write creatively. He’s the reason I learned to love writing.” She also shares insight into her beginnings as a writer. “I started writing in the year 2000, after I read an article about Ghengis Khan in Time Magazine. They’d just named him Man of the Millenium and I was intrigued enough to buy a biography on him. Little did I know that I would learn about ancient Korean history from a biography about a Mongol!”

Accolades for Ellen’s work:


“Fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling will be drawn to the despised warrior princess; fans of Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix will love the setting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This is a true adventure novel. The characters are well drawn, the plot is both well conceived and fast moving, and the ending is just satisfying enough, while still leaving readers ready for a sequel.” (School Library Journal)

“Prophecy grabs you from the start and never lets go. Oh has written an exciting debut that promises more fantastic adventures to come.” (Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix)

Flying Lessons and Other Stories

“Inclusive, authentic, and eminently readable, this collection of short stories is an excellent addition for libraries and classrooms.” — School Library Journal, starred review

“Thought provoking and wide-ranging, this first anthology from WNDB should not be missed.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review


Jim Ottaviani

JimJim Ottaviani (FeynmanPrimates) is the world’s preeminent writer of comics and graphic novels about science. Notable works include a biography of Niels Bohr and the fast-paced tale of the desperate lives of early paleontologists and T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, from Aladdin books.

Ottaviani has a background in science, earning a B.S. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986, followed by a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan in 1987. He worked for several years retrofitting and fixing nuclear power plants. Intrigued by the research component of his job, Ottaviani began taking library science courses at Drexel University, and in 1990 he enrolled in the Library and Information Science program at the University of Michigan. He earned his M.S. in information and library studies from Michigan in 1992. He spent several years working as a reference librarian at Michigan’s Media Union Library. He now works at the University of Michigan Library as coordinator of Deep Blue, the university’s institutional repository.

Ottaviani’s interest in writing science-related comics was inspired by Richard Rhodes‘s book The Making of the Atomic Bomb. In discussing the book with comic book artist Steve Lieber, the two decided to write and illustrate a famous meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg during World War II. That projected expanded to include other stories from the history of science to become the graphic novel Two-Fisted Science, including stories written by Ottaviani and illustrated by a variety of artists.

Accolades for Jim’s work:

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas

“Presented as dedicated, iconoclastic, and profoundly in awe of the creatures around them, Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas are inspiring figures, and Ottaviani does a first-rate job of dangling enough tantalizing tidbits to pique readers’ interest in the topic.” ―Booklist

“The story of how each of these women loved primates and lived among them to study their behavior is compelling, and might inspire a whole new generation of scientists to follow in their footsteps.” ―School Library Journal

The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded

“A powerful, sympathetic portrait of one of the twentieth century’s great minds.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Teens with math or computer science bent will enjoy this slice of history and will learn about logic and algorithms along the way. Those who are interested in social justice and LBGTQ rights will also be engaged.” (School Library Journal)

Selected as a 2017 ALA/YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens: Nonfiction


Maris Wicks

MarisMaris Wicks is a writer and illustrator of science comics, as well as a self-proclaimed gigantic nerd. She has written, drawn, and colored comics for First Second Books, New England Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as Spongebob Comics, Marvel Comics, and DC Comics. Wicks is the illustrator of The New York Times Bestselling book Primates (2013), written by Jim Ottaviani. Her latest graphic novel, Human Body Theater (2015), is a 240-page rollicking romp through the major systems of the human body (told in comics format, of course). Her newest book is Coral Reefs (2016). Wicks also has an ongoing collaboration with science communicator/comic artist Rosemary Mosco to bring you Your Wild City, a weekly webcomic about urban ecology.

When she is not busy making comics, Wicks can be found prepping slides for her collection of vintage microscopes, traveling, scuba diving, hiking, and baking cookies (though never all of those things all at once). She was a program educator at the New England Aquarium for eight years, teaching kids about how awesome marine science is. Now, her work in science education and outreach continues into her comics work: Wicks was the science outreach communicator for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution onboard the R/V Atlantis for Popping Rocks Cruise in March/April of 2016. She is currently in Antarctica as a part of the USAP Artists & Writers grant, working on a graphic novel about life and science in Antarctica.

Accolades for Maris’ work:

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas

“[Ottaviani and Wicks] succeed in conjuring the feel of extraordinary science. And they do so not by manufacturing fake emotion, but by sticking to the reality of being a scientist–the hard punishments of fieldwork, the strains on marriage, the cocktail-party diplomacy back home and, most important of all, the elation of discovery. Especially in its portrayal of this final element,Primates is the kind of book that can produce new scientists.” ―Carl Zimmer, The New York Times Book Review

“A graphic format admirably propels this lightly fictionalized group biography.” ―The Horn Book

Human Body Theater: A Non-Fiction Revue

“Brilliant adjunct reading for biology students and the terminally curious.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A delightful and enlightening addition to nonfiction graphic novel collections.” ―School Library Journal, starred review

“This informative, frank exploration of the body perfectly balances science and silliness.” ―Booklist, starred review