Carmen Agra Deedy has been writing for children for over two decades. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1964. She grew up in Decatur, Georgia, where she lives today.

Deedy began writing as a young mother and storyteller whose NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title, Growing Up Cuban In Decatur, Georgia. The pithy collection of twelve stories soon garnered awards, among them a 1995 Publishers Weekly Best Audio (Adult Storytelling) and a 1996 Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

Her children’s books have won numerous awards.

The Library Dragon received various children’s state book awards and has sold near half a million copies. In 2003 the book was her home state’s choice to represent Georgia at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival.

The Yellow Star was the recipient of the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award (Honor), presented to Ms. Deedy at the United Nations by Mrs. Kofi Annan.  It also received the 2001 Christopher Award, the 2000 Parent’s Choice Gold Award, the 2001 Bologna Ragazzi Award (for best international children’s book), the 2002 WOW Award (National Literary Association of England), among other notable awards and honors. It has been translated to over a dozen languages.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach was presented with the 2008 Pura Belpre Honor Award, the 2008 NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Book Award, the 2008 Best Children’s Books of the Year (Bank Street College of Education), the 2008 International Latino Book Award, the Irma Simonton and James H. Black Award (Honor), the 2008 E.B White Award (Nominee), and the 2009 ALA Odyssey Audio Award (Honor), among others.

Deedy’s most recent children’s book, 14 Cows for America, is based on an astonishing gift Americans received from a Maasai village in Kenya, following the events of 9/11. The book was released in September of 2009 and is a New York Times Bestseller. The Wall Street Journal described it as a  “ . . . moving and dramatically illustrated picture book.”

Deedy is now expanding into the world of chapter books with her upcoming Fall 2011 title, The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. This is a story of deception, intrigue, and derring-do that reveals the unlikely alliance between a cheese-loving cat and the Cheshire Cheese inn’s mice in Victorian England.

Deedy has spent the past twenty years writing and telling stories. She has been an invited speaker at venues as varied as The American Library Association, Refugees International, The International Reading Association, Columbia University, The Smithsonian Institute, TED, The National Book Festival, and the Kennedy Center.

An ardent supporter of libraries, she was the 2008 National Spokesperson for School Library Media Month (AASL). She has spoken before Noble Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, CEOs of major corporations, and heads of state. Over a span of twenty years, Deedy has told stories to hundreds of thousands of school children. They remain her favorite audiences.

21 thoughts on “Bio

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  2. HI carmen you were at my school today and i got your autograph you probably get a lot of comments like this but you were great and i hope you well on writing your book

  3. Hi Ms. Deedy! We liked your book, “The Cheshire Cheese Cat”. One of our kitties eats cheese like Skilley. He kind of looks like him only he is black and has a straight tail. We call him Hero. Are you going to write another book about Pip and Skilley at the Old Cheshire Cheese? We hope so!

    Tessa and Finley Jones
    Pasadena, CA

    • Hi tessa and finley,
      I love your enthusiasum for my book ” The Cheshire Ceese Cat.” that must be one cat of yours. No, sadly I wont be writing another book about Pip and Skilley. Maybe you can when you two get older.

      Carmen Agra Deedy

  4. Carmen,

    My class was captivated by your performance of “Wicked John”. Thank you for coming to Midway Elementary and sharing the art of storytelling. I was taken with your performance as well!

    Brett Bodell

  5. Hi Carmen. We loved you at Jonesboro last weekend. We have been going there for over thirty years now and you are one of the bright spots.

  6. Carmen It was such a pleasure to hear you this Sat., at the Athens Story telling Festival. We saw you there last year & were so disappointed that you were only going to speak once so we made sure to be there to hear you! We definately were excited to hear your stories especially Waltzing Hilda !!
    We immediately went into the book store to purchase one of your cd’s so we could hear your voice again ! I just got done playing it for my step mother who was thrilled to hear ” the Library Dragon”. I also wanted to thank you for autographing it once u came in out of the cold. I can’t wait to get the book & play the CD for Karen’s Grandson MASON!! We want to pass on our LOVE of stories, books & the telling of the stories to him!! Hoping to see & hear you again soon. Love, Angie & Karen (Athens, AL)

  7. Mrs. Deedy,
    You told the story of how you fell in love with books tonight at our school. wow! You thrilled and inspired me and my children and a room of about 500 children, teachers and parents. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and your enchanting spirit. Please keep writing. My 10 year old adores the Cheshire Cheese Cat, and my 6 year old is best friends with Martina and the Library Dragon.
    Your friends in Norfolk,
    Heidi, Max & Sophie

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  9. Carmen Deedy i am doing a research paper about u and waa wondering what school did u go to and who were your parenta and if u had any siblings

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  11. Hola Carmen!

    I just watched your TED talk. I loved it girl, it reminds me of my own crazy family! Hearing your family story was inspiring. I hope one day I will be able to write a book of my own with such warm feeling and love. Are you planning on writing any novels in the future? Either way, I’m a big fan now, hope to meet you in person at one of your events! Best of luck mujer!


  12. I was wondering why you wrote The Library Dragon. Did you know a mean librarian when you were a kid? My teacher, Mrs. Worl says she’s a friend of yours, is that true?

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