Kersten Hamilton was born in High Rolls, New Mexico. From the time she was 6 years old, she knew she wanted to be a writer, a poet in particular. She wanted to make word magic and tuck it inside the covers of a book. During her exciting childhood, she accompanied her parents as they tracked caribou and arctic wolves across their homestead in Alaska, caught tree frogs in the swamps of the Pacific Northwest and chased dust devils and rattlesnakes in the desert of New Mexico. Before settling down to have her own children, she worked as a ranch hand and archeological surveyor among several other jobs. She is the author of 28 books for children and young adults, as well as musicals, poetry, short stories, and articles.24 books.

Selected Reviews of Kersten’s Books

Firefighters to the Rescue!
Kersten Hamilton
Illustrated by Rich Davis
   Firefighters have become contemporary heroes. Here we follow them from their daily chores and fun around the firehouse, to their snapping into action at the sound of the fire bell. Just a few brief phrases per double page with the repeated title refrain take us onto the truck and under way. With the noise of the siren and the lights flashing, the truck zooms through traffic to the fire. The firefighters go to work with ladders and hoses. Spectators watch as the firefighters rescue a young boy’s pet from the burning house, for a satisfying conclusion. Double-page scenes that bleed off all edges are painted like dioramas with sculpturesque people, solidly-modeled vehicles, settings devoid of unnecessary clutter. Emotions are generated by the intensity of the naturalistic colors, the placement of the fire truck on the streets, and the dynamics of the firefighters at work. Only male firefighters are depicted. 2005, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group, $15.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

This is the Ocean
Kersten Hamilton
Illustrated by Lorianne Siomades
   Brief rhymes take us from the ocean through the rain cycle as the sun lifts the moisture to clouds, which release the rain over the mountains. The rain forms brooks, which run into rivers, through valleys and marshes, back into the sea. The journey is described simply but in language rich with figurative description. Siomades parallels the text’s versified telling with cut-paper creatures and landscapes designed more for eye-appeal than scientific accuracy. The double pages present pink porpoises, purple goats, and a gull riding a turtle; all recognizable but attractively simplistic, making the journey from cloud to ocean easy to follow. More facts are presented in prose at the end. 2001, Caroline House/Boyds Mills Press, $14.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

The Butterfly Book: A Kid’s Guide to Attracting, Raising, and Keeping Butterflies
Kersten Hamilton
   An oversized, 40-page that offers lots of scientific information on butterflies and practical information on dealing with them. Kids will learn to create “fast food restaurants” for butterflies as well as how to plant the right kinds of plants (not just flowers) to attract them to the back yard. They’ll also find out how to use netting “corrals” to protect caterpillars from bird and insect predators, how to raise butterflies indoors and even how to mend a broken butterfly wing. Although the guide is careful to note that butterflies should be released quickly in order to find mates, parents might want to monitor their children’s field activities so that young naturalists do everything by the book, so to speak. 1997, John Muir Publications, $7.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Donna Freedman (Children’s Literature).

Program Details


Picture Book People:
How writers, editors, artists, printers and most importantly readers work together to create great books.

Grades K-3

30-40 minute presentation followed by question and answer session
Ideal for 20-50 students
Larger groups can be accommodated

An interactive, conversational presentation which follows the creation of a picture book from the first flash of inspiration through writing, working with an editor and an illustrator, and finally the importance of a good reader to finally bring the book to life.

This presentation is perfect for students who are just beginning to experience the excitement of reading, as well as those who are preparing to pursue their own creative process creating classroom books. Making and reading books is hard work. But it is worth it!

Is That A Fact?

Grades 1-3

20-30 minute presentation followed by writing and sharing session
Ideal for 10-30 students
Larger groups can be accommodated

A non-fiction literary adventure in exploring, describing and celebrating our wonderful world.

This Is The Ocean, which describes the water cycle in lyric poetry, will be used as a model as students are encouraged to observe and describe the world around them.

A detailed Teacher’s Guide including literature, art, classroom experiments and brainstorming sessions related to the water cycle will be provided. Teachers and librarians are encouraged to make copies and share.

Track That Fact!

Grades 3-5

30-40 minute presentation followed by question and answer session
Ideal for 20-50 students
Larger groups can be accommodated

A fact-finding expedition into the fantastic-and fun-world of research. This presentation explores the writing of the award winning nonfiction book, The Butterfly Book: A Kid’s Guide To Catching, Raising And Keeping Butterflies. Students will learn how authors use the library, the Internet, expert interviews and conduct personal research as well as the importance of verifying facts.


Excellence In All Things
Becoming a Writer

Grades 6-10


Picture Book Wizards:
Writing books that create readers

60 minutes

Books for the very young may be ignored by the literati and neglected on best seller lists, but they are treasures to those who are raising up the next generation of readers.

It is most often a hard working teacher who witnesses the miraculous transformation when decoding skills and comprehension come together and a brand new reader is born. But every teacher has a silent partner cheering them on-the writer whose stories make all the hard work of learning to read worthwhile.

This class samples the ingredients used by the greatest picture book wizards of all time as they make reading magic!

Character Creation:
Involving your reader mind, body and soul!

60 minutes

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…” William Shakespeare

   When it comes to understanding human nature, Shakespeare knew more about the human heart than Sigmund Freud ever learned. He had to. His livelihood depended on it! Shakespeare created characters so universally human, so intimately like us that they have lived on for hundreds of years.

Your effectiveness as a writer of fiction depends on your ability to create characters as well, characters who explore your readers’ deepest fears, their secret loves, their greatest yearnings.

How is it done? Characters can never live or breathe on the printed page. They spring to life inside your readers, in their hearts and minds. It is the marvelous mix of mind and soul in every human that makes storytelling possible.

This essential ‘humanness’ transcends cultures and leaps like lightning across centuries-it is the stuff of legend and myth, the stuff of literature… and the stuff of bestsellers.

We will explore the complete spectrum of tools available to writers in the hearts and minds of their readers, from a positive response to armatures (human shaped things) hardwired into our sub-brains at birth, to exploration of archetypes such as Hidden Nobility, the Universal Quest, and the Yearning for a Lost Father.

You can hold lightning-or the hearts of your readers-in your hands. This class will show you how!

Additional Information

To learn more about Kersten and her publications please visit