Kate Christensen is the author of six novels, including The Epicure’s Lament and The Great Man, which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Her most recent book is Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites. Her essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, among them the New York Times Book Review, Elle, the Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Bookforum and She lives in Portland, Maine, where she is currently working on a new novel. Her second nonfiction book, How to Cook a Moose, will be published by Islandport Press in September 2015. She blogs about food and life in New England at

Stephanie Valdez is the co-owner of Community Bookstore in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and Terrace Books in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Before following her Luddite ways to bookselling, she was a co-founder of SpeakSake, a web startup, and worked in finance. She was born in Mexico City.

Marion Winik is the author of eight books of creative nonfiction, including the New York Times Notable Book First Comes Love, and The Glen Rock Book of the Dead. Winik writes a column at, reviews books for Newsday and Kirkus, and teaches at the University of Baltimore. She was a commentator on All Things Considered for 15 years.


As owner of Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, Kansas, Sarah Bagby is passionate about healthy communities and the state of the publishing industry. Sarah serves on a number of industry boards, including the American Booksellers Association and the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. Watermark Books is Wichita’s premier independent bookstore, voted the city’s best by the Wichita Eagle in 2013, and has served the community for 37 years.

Sloane Crosley is the author of the New York Times best-sellers I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number, the former of which was a finalist for The Thurber Prize. She is also the editor of The Best American Travel Writing 2011 and author of the e-book, Up The Down Volcano. She was the founding columnist of the New York Times "Townies" Op-Ed series and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, GQ and NPR. Her first novel, The Clasp, will be published by FSG in 2015.

Gregory McNamee, a contributing editor to Kirkus Reviews and a contributing editor and consultant to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, is the author or editor of more than 30 nonfiction books, among them Gila: The Life and Death of an American River and Aelian’s On the Nature of Animals.

Young Readers’ Literature

Dr. Claudette S. McLinn is Executive Director at the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature. She has over 30 years of experience as a teacher, librarian and administrator in elementary and secondary education, and she has also taught children’s and teen literature at the graduate level. A life member of the American Library Association, she has chaired the Pura Belpré Award Committee and served on the Caldecott, Newbery and Coretta Scott King committees. She received her Ed.D. from Pepperdine University and her MLIS from Wayne State University, and she currently serves as a member of Pepperdine University’s Board of Visitors. She resides in Simi Valley, California.

Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was 4 years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read. She sold her first piece of writing—a haiku—at 9. After a varied career in public-relations writing, food journalism and teaching English as a second language, she began writing books for children in 1997. Her third book, A Single Shard, won the 2002 Newbery Medal, and her most recent novel, the New York Times best-seller A Long Walk to Water, won the 2011 Jane Addams Children's Book Award. She lives in Rochester, New York.

John Edward Peters earned a graduate degree at Columbia University’s School of Library Service, and worked for over 30 years as a children’s librarian for the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries. He retired in 2010 as the supervising librarian for NYPL’s Children’s Center at 42nd Street. He has served on numerous national children’s book-award committees, including Boston Globe–Horn Book, Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder and Sibert. He has been a contributor to Kirkus Reviews since 1986 and also writes and reviews for several other professional journals. He lives in the Bronx.



The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earned the Kirkus Star with publication dates between November 1, 2014, and October 31, 2015, are automatically nominated for the 2015 Kirkus Prize, and the winners will be selected on October 23, 2015, by an esteemed panel composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.