About Me



You can contact me at kristydempseybooks @ gmail.com

I am a Middle School/High School/ Advanced Placement Language and Composition English Teacher and former Preschool-12th grade librarian at The American School of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, an International Baccalaureate PYP and MYP school. I believe in the power of story to help us understand ourselves and the world around us.

I am also the author of ME WITH YOU (Philomel), MINI RACER (Bloomsbury) and SURFER CHICK (Abrams), as well as the recent A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT (Philomel). Four more books will publish in 2016: Superhero Instruction Manual; Ten Little Fingers, Two Small Hands; A Hop is Up; and Ten Little Toes, Two Small Feet. See the “My Books” page for more information.


Where were you born? Where have you lived?

I was born in Lake City, South Carolina. We soon moved to Gastonia, North Carolina. And after that to Statesville, NC. And after that to Elizabethton, TN where I started first grade at Happy Valley Elementary School. But in fourth grade, we moved to Greenville, SC, where I eventually graduated from high school (Travelers Rest High School) and university (Furman University). I then moved to Carrollton, Georgia until I moved to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where I have lived since 1998.

What are your hobbies?

I like writing, exercising, and doing any kinds of arts and crafts. I don’t consider myself an artist but if you read my blog, you will occasionally see my limited artistic efforts. Some day I want to take a painting class. And a drawing class. And a mixed media collage class.

Who are your favorite writers?

I love books by Kate Dicamillo, Barbara O’Connor, Linda Urban and Richard Peck, among many others. My favorite poets are Mary Oliver, Mary O’Neill, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Mary Ann Hoberman, Joyce Sidman and Marilyn Nelson, along with many, many, many others. My first favorite and still one of my most favorite poets was Carl Sandburg. (I love poetry!)

Ask me more questions and I’ll give you more answers!

15 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Amanda Whitehead

    A Dance Like Starlight has left me with chills. What a gorgeous, important book. Thank you, from a ballet teacher in Berkeley!

  2. Kristy,
    My 29 year old daughter Lisa Skyped me last night and read to me your book “Surfer Chick” I have to tell you that you “nailed it”!! Every page had some detail that applied to Lisa and Me! I was in tears halfway through, and she would turn the page and some detail would astonish me because of how accurate it was. It is as if you wrote this book for us!

    We still surf together every chance we get. She is getting married on the beach in June and (if I can do it with out bawling like a baby) I would like to give your book to each of our 100 guests.

    Thanks for what you do…
    Erik Hertz

    1. Erik,

      And now I am in tears! What a beautiful message. My very best wishes to you, as well as to your daughter in her upcoming marriage. My own relationship with my daddy was very special and I know that much of the success I have in life and in relationships was due to his example. I feel honored that Surfer Chick reflects that truth for you and your daughter. Thank you so much for your note. I consider it a treasure.

  3. Judy Bauman

    Hi Kristy,

    I am the chair of the Illinois Monarch Award: Illinois’ K-3 Readers’ Choice Award. I am pleased to tell you that your book Dance Like Starlight has been chosen to be included in our 2016 Illinois Monarch Award Master List. Children will read the 20 nominated books and vote in February and March 2016. Last year over 170,000 Illinois children read and voted!
    A heads up to your publisher is in order since schools and libraries all over Illinois will be ordering this book for their patrons. If you want to know more about the Monarch Award visit our website http://www.islma.org/monarch.htm or just contact me at jbauman@lisle202.org.


    Judy Bauman
    Tate Woods Elementary School

  4. Dolly

    Dolly Bonnet from California,

    Hi Kristy,
    Question, What inspired you to write “A Dance like Starlight”? I loved the book but I thought the writer will be an African American writer… to my surprise!

    1. Hi, Dolly, I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. I was inspired to write A Dance Like Starlight after reading an anecdote from a 1950’s newspaper about Janet Collins’ performance with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. It was such a widely publicized event that drew people from all races. I was reminded of a concert I saw as a child during which I was moved to tears, and I imagined how a young African American child might feel having witnessed Janet Collins’ historic performance. While my main character is fictional, the emotion she feels was documented by various witness accounts of the event. My hope was to not only get the events right in my telling, but also to represent correctly the human emotions that bind us all together, independent of race.

      Thank you for loving my book!
      All my best,


  5. Jessica

    Happy Thursday or when ever your reading this. I just wanted to come on here and leave you a reply. I’m a sophomore in high school and I’m taking a children’s literature class, we have been learning about different children book authors and making a paper on them. I chose to learn about you and write a paper on your work. I have learn so many good things, you are a kind, caring, and loving person and I am glad I decided to learn about you. I know that you love to help children and make them understand they can do anything in the world. You help kids know that hope can make you do what you want to do each day. One of my favorite books that you wrote is surfer chick, it’s such a great childrens book. This story shows if you say you can’t do something then you wont be able to, but if you say you can then you would be able to. Good job on doing what you love. Keep doing what your doing. People like you inspire me everyday!

    1. Hi, Jessica,

      What a lovely message to receive! My favorite thing about Surfer Chick is that she chose to be brave. I feel like being brave is a choice, even when big waves threaten to knock you down. We often have to face risks in order to achieve our biggest dreams. Thanks so much for reading my books and for letting me know that you enjoyed them.
      All my best,
      kristydempseybooks@ gmail.com

  6. LJubica Arceneaux

    I wanted to take a moment and thank you for the signed copy of “Superhero Instructional Book” that I received at the South Carolina Association of School Librarians conference last week in Greenville. It is such a great book. I look forward to sharing the book with our students and really enjoyed meeting you.

    If you are ever in Columbia stop by Rosewood Elementary School and I love for you to sign the book “A Dance Like Starlight.” We have Floyd Cooper’s signature and would love to also have your signature. Thank you for the smiles and encouragement you provide through your books.


    1. I’m so sorry I am just now seeing your message! I LOVED getting to be at SCASL that year and I hope to be able to visit again. I’m checking my schedule and will try to send you an email at Rosewood because I would LOVE to visit!

  7. Tammy Brown Elkeles

    Dear Kristy Dempsey,
    I admire your writing and all your picture books. My favorite book of yours is A Hop Is Up.
    This is such a fun story with lighthearted, lovable characters brought to life by the cheerful illustrations.
    You can’t sit still forthis fun-filled trip around the neighborhood. The book invites kids to hop, jump, slip, slide, boing, leap, and generally join in the fun as a young boy walks his dog around his culturally diverse neighborhood. Each spread introduces some new form of action in an admirably simple turn of phrase with just enough silliness to capture its audience’s imagination. Kids will immediately understand the meaning of the line “Aboing-boing-boing is a skip-skip-skip” and will definitely join the fun. I also love the way the boys interact with one another as they act out each page.
    I love your poetic and playful text, which is brought to life by Lori Richmond’s rich, kid-friendly, and expressive illustrations.
    Your work has also informed and inspired my own writing by showing me how to take a simple situation like walking the dog and create an imaginative, fun, and lively adventure that no child will want to miss.
    I’ve been writing for many years, but I haven’t yet begun the process of looking for an agent. I’m going to start soon though, for my picture book The Birds’ Bakery. The protagonist of my story, Kai, is heartbroken when his parents inform him that their beloved bakery, his safe haven, may have to close its doors permanently due to a lack of business. The only customers are the local birds. Kai is always eager to feed them with special concoctions that he bakes. What he doesn’t know is that his beloved birds might save the bakery from bankruptcy! It’s a fun story with a big heart. If it ever gets published, may I send you a review copy?
    No matter what your answer is, it is a great honor to write to you. I am and always will be a big fan. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your wonderful work.
    Yours sincerely,
    Tammy Brown Elkeles
    Tammy Brown Elkeles

    1. Hi, Tammy. I am so sorry to just now finding your message! Thank you so much for being in touch. I wish you the very best of luck in your writing career and I am so grateful for your words. Have you heard of SCBWI? It is an organization for writers and illustrators of books for children and young adults. Wishing you the very best!

  8. Hi Kristy, I very much enjoyed your interview with Jonathan Rogers on his new podcast The Habit. I was encouraged to hear you self-identify as a slow writer. I’m a slow reader and writer, too. Yet amazingly, I’ve published one book (Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ) and have produced a stack of rhyming photo books for my grandchildren over the past 11 years. Two questions. Would you be willing to look at 3 of the best ones? And how might I try to get them published? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Rondi! So sorry it took me so long to respond. The start of the school year (still) has me in its grips! My schedule is really tight between now and the end of this year and I do not have time to take on any critique clients before then. But if you’ll contact me again after the beginning of the year, my schedule will open up. I wish you the best!

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