John Steven Gurney, Children's Author and Illustrator

Author/Illustrator of picture book Dinosaur Train and graphic novel Fuzzy Baseball, illustrator of 150 chapter books including The A to Z Mysteries.

John Steven Gurney is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel, Fuzzy Baseball, and the picture books, Dinosaur Train and The Bossy Pirate. He has illustrated over 150 chapter books, including the A to Z Mysteries, The Bailey School Kids, and The Calendar Mysteries series. He has illustrated the board board game Guess Who, as well as advertising, posters, puzzles, and a shopping bag for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

John loves visiting schools to talk about illustration. Since 2002 he has visited schools in 31 different states and five countries. John lives in Brattleboro, Vermont with his wife Kathie. He has used more than 40 people from his town to pose as characters for his books. He has a BFA in illustration from Pratt Institute and an MFA in Illustration from The University of Hartford.

The most important thing the author wants readers to gain from his books:

As an illustrator, John’s goal is to entertain the reader, regardless of their age. He wants to compel the reader to linger on the illustrations, taking the time to notice details that are supplemental to the text. As an author, his goal is to engage the reader and hopefully throw a few surprises at them.

Why the author is an authority on the subject of his books:

Every illustration tells a story, but how? How does a book get published? What is the editor's job? Schools in 30 states and 5 countries have invited John to share his work and answer these questions. He takes the audience through his illustration development process, including visual research, sketch development, and painting. John's presentation is informative and often quite funny. Information is presented with clarity and humor. Then John switches gears and the session gets interactive. Volunteers from the audience experience what it's like to pose for an illustration. John answers questions and draws some cartoons. But the highlight is when John leads the audience in "draw-along" activities.


Three of John's illustrations are in the collection of the Mazza Museum of Picture Book Art. Dinosaur Train was a 2009 SMART Book Award Finalist. The Meanest Hound Around was named to the 2004 Iowa Children’s Choice Award Master List and the Young Hoosier Book Award Master List in Indiana.


Social Media:


Speaking Engagements and School Presentations:

The main focus of my presentation is the thought process involved in the creation of an illustration. I discuss my background and my creative process as an author and illustrator. I touch on the publishing process. My PowerPoint presentation focuses on my own creative process specifically, and generally on what makes an illustration an effective device for telling a story (it should be noted that because of the nature of my work, many of slides are quite funny - but don't tell the kids that, let it be a surprise). I demonstrate with volunteers from the audience how people pose as models for my illustrations. In closing I draw some cartoons for the audience. If we can get the kids some clipboards with paper (or their notebooks) I can lead them in some fun drawing activities.

Presentation Audience:


Grades K-3

Grades 4-6

Middle School

High School




301+ Appearances



Willing to Travel

Book Type:

Picture Book

Children's Fiction






Youth Issues

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