Some of the authors on our list are famous. Others aren't yet. The one thing they all have in common is an excellent website. What do we mean by "excellent"? Well, if there's one thing we looked for more than anything else, it's a sense of uniqueness. A lot of author sites we visited were good, but not really unique. After visiting the first few dozen, a lot of them started to blur together in our minds. The ones that made the final cut stood out to us as having distinct personalities all their own.
So who are we anyway? We're a bunch of kids who met at a young writers summer workshop, who got together to start a creative writing club. We meet twice a month under the guidance of our workshop instructor, Mrs. Stein, who also edits this page for us. We write everything from poems to stories.
Here are the author links in alphabetical, by last name, order. There are some really great author websites out there, so it was really hard to choose just 10. Only "official" author websites were considered for this list. This means that we didn't consider any fan pages. There are some terrific illustrator sites out there too, but we didn't consider them for this list unless the illustrators are also authors. We also kept our list to present day authors.
A great big thanks to Wendy for her cool background that we used on this page! "A" is for apples, and authors too. The websites on this list are our picks for the the best apples in the barrel.
Avi - There was some debate among us on whether this website should make our list or not. Most of us are fans of Avi's books. There's a lot to like about his website too. The design is simple but pleasing to the eye. There's a complete list of books, with behind-the-scenes stories about the writing processes. There's a bulletin board that makes it easy for visitors to post comments. It's too bad that some people choose to abuse the space with rudeness. When we visited, there was an offer of a free gift for teachers. But there are problem areas. On the interior book details pages (the "notes from Avi"), there are no navigation links. If you want to stay on the site, you have to use the Back button on your browser. Also, when we visited in early June 2001, we saw instructions to click on "how to order books," but we couldn't find any such link (and we looked really hard). We even used the search feature, but the results only showed the same instructions we'd seen (to click on "how to order books"), not the actual link. Still, Avi's website made our list because, in spite of these minor inconveniences, this is a top quality author site.
Haemi Balgassi - We love this site because it has a real homey feel to it. One of our members said it made her feel "warm and fuzzy inside." We got a real personal sense of what the author, her books and family are like. There's a seasonal writing contest for kids, book excerpts, advice for new writers and free printouts for teachers. You don't even have to be interested in books to like this site. Aside from being a great author site, it's a great looking family site with a lot of interesting and inspiring content for just about everybody.
Barbara Helen Berger - This website is Impressive with a Capital "I." We all agree that it is one of the most gorgeous, stylish websites out there. Maybe that's because the author is also a very talented illustrator! We really could tell that she loves both her jobs: writing and illustrating books. A really neat feature she offers is free e-cards that you can send to your online friends.
Judy Blume - It's appropriate that this popular author chose to go with a baseball theme for her website, because it definitely bats a home run. Let's face it. Judy Blume is about as big a name as there is in children's and young adult books. A lot of us expected her homepage to be kind of stuffy and predictable. We were in for a happy surprise. This is another site with a real personal feel to it. This site, managed by the author's husband, has just about everything a Judy Blume fan could want, including the latest news that was posted when we visited: that she's working on a new Fudge book! Hey, you can never be too old for Fudge!
Eric Carle - Arguably the best-loved children's book author/illustrator on our list, this website is exactly what you would imagine an Eric Carle website would/should be. There's no mistaking it as belonging to any other author or illustrator. It is distinctly Eric Carle, and that is a very good thing. It's the only website we can think of where RED font type actually WORKS! You'll find a message from Eric Carle himself, bibliography (also in Spanish, for the titles available in Spanish editions), and descriptions and reviews of his many books. There's also a bulletin board, the "Caterpillar Exchange," where teachers can share ideas on how to use the author/illustrator's books to teach their students. One of our club members summed up this site as "one of the most cheerful, colorful spots on the web."
Kristine O'Connell George - Almost every member of our club writes poetry so it wasn't a big surprise to any of us that this website made so many of our lists. Much of the site, like Poetry Thinks, Bookshelf, Biography and the For Teachers sections, are light and airy. But our favorite section, Tips for Young Poets, turns off the lights. This section has a pitch black background that is illuminated with colorful, animated clipart that accompany some really helpful tips for young writers of poetry and other written art forms.
Aaron Shepard - At first glance, we didn't think this site would make our list. But boy were we wrong! There is a LOT to find on this awesome website, like a readaloud story read by the author himself, other original stories, printable color book posters, and play scripts that are FREE for schools to download and use.
Cynthia Leitich Smith - This website is definitely one of the more ambitious author sites out there. This isn't just an individual author's website. There are book reviews, original interviews with other authors, information about multicultural books, and of course information about the author and her own books. It took us a few visits to see all the pages on this website (by author website standards, it is HUGE, and includes a virtual fictional town from one of the author's books). You can sign up for the author's free newsletter to keep up with changes to the site.
Rick Walton - Okay, okay. It's not exactly the most sophisticated looking website out there. Not even close. In fact, it reminds a lot of us of our own bedrooms before our moms make us clean them up! But when it comes to the "cool" factor, this site wins hands-down. No, not for design. For text content. Sound boring? It's anything but! This guy is really funny! And we don't mean just funny. We mean hilarious! No site made us laugh so much. Our tip to you here is to poke around this site thoroughly. Not everything is what it seems. In fact, MOST everything is NOT what it seems. We don't want to give away any surprises, so you'll just have to take our word for it. Go and see for yourself.
Jane Yolen - This author has written over 200 books! No kidding! But that's not why she made our list. The number one reason is that one of our members got his butt saved when he visited this website a few weeks ago. He had to do a report on an author for school. He had over two weeks to get it done but typically waited until the night before because he likes "to work under pressure." Come on, Jake. Who're you kidding? Just admit you forgot already! If you need to do a class report on Jane Yolen, this website will be your new best friend. You'll find a ton of info on her website, including a detailed biography and even childhood photos. As if that weren't enough, the author includes links to other sites that offer information about her. Guess when you write more than 200 books, a lot of people write about you!