Bio: Johnell DeWitt

Dewitt 139As soon as I was old enough to know books weren’t born in a library, I wanted to write my own.

I grew up on a small farm in a town with no stoplights, but I knew the world was a big place because of the books my mom would read to me.

We eventually traded life on the farm for life in a desert town, much bigger and more varied. It was a shock to my young system and I hated it … at first.

Books were my friends those first few days and my escape.

After time, I came to love my home and the educational opportunities that came with a bigger city. I eventually went off to college, with a stint in Finland in between, and graduated with a degree in public relations.

I landed my first job in high-tech doing International PR. Moved from there to work at a private college in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and eventually on to D.C., where I worked in the Community Relations arm of an international organization.

As most good stories go, I met a man, fell in love and decided to marry him. He was a foreign service officer on his way overseas, so I joined him.

I’d already traveled quite a bit before getting married, so my family’s adventures abroad just added to the stories brewing in my head until I had to find a place to put them. I decided to dust off the dream of childhood and write my own stories.

I’ve since joined The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, and completed Joyce Sweeney’s Picture Book Essentials Class, Mira Reisberg’s Picture Book Academy, Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write Middle Grade, and James Patterson’s Master Class.

A few of my favorite children’s book creators are:

Helen Lester
Mo Willems
Don and Aubrey Wood
Jan Brett
Chris Riddell
Peter Brown
Graeme Base
Godeleine de Rosamel
Sandra Boynton
Vivian French
Chris Van Allsburg
Leslie Patricelli
Lane Smith
Jon Scieszka
Gail Carson Levine
Roald Dahl
Llyod Alexander
Kate DiCamillo
C.S. Lewis
Madeline L’Engle
Brandon Mull
Angie Sage
JK of course
Bill Watterson—okay, technically he’s not a kid’s writer, but I loved him as a kid.

And too many to go on …

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

-Harriet Tubman