Illinois Authors

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John Sullivan

Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Sullivan lives in Chicago.

Biography: John Sullivan's debut picture book, Kitten and the Night Watchman, won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Margaret Wise Brown Prize. It was named a best book of the year by The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and BookPage. The book was inspired by his experience of working for the City of Chicago guarding buildings and equipment when during one of his rounds he found a cat, Beebe. They were companions for seventeen years. Stanley's Secret and Ethan and the Strays followed. He is a cat lover, an amateur tap dancer, and life-long Chicagoan who has worked as a warehouseman, mail handler, laborer, and night watchman. He is now a full-time children's book author!

  • Kitten and the Night Watchman Ezra Jack Keats Award, Margaret Wise Brown Prize, Best Book, The Boston Globe, 2018, Best Book, Kirkus, 2018, Best Book, Publishers Weekly, 2018, Best Book, Bookpage, 2018, Starred Review, Kirkus, Horn Books, Publishers Weekly, BCCB, Booklist, Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2019
  • Ethan and the Strays Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2024

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Children


Selected Titles

Ethan and the Strays
ISBN: 1534471324 OCLC:

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2023

From the award-winning author of Kitten and the Night Watchman comes a heartwarming picture book about a young boy who finds joy in rescuing and caring for stray cats.On the way to school, Ethan notices some stray kittens in the alleyway. He wants to look after them, but his dad has a strict no-pet policy. Still, with the help of his older brother, Ethan does what he can to rescue the kittens and realizes that caring for something else can bring great joy. This hopeful story is based on the author’s real-life experiences rescuing stray animals.

Kitten and the night watchman
ISBN: 9781481461917 OCLC: 1022759316

Winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Margaret Wise Brown PrizeSELECTED AS A BEST BOOK OF 2018 BY THE BOSTON GLOBE, KIRKUS REVIEWS, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, AND BOOKPAGE“Empathetic, poetic, and a joy to look at, cute kitty and all.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)“This quiet, understated book contains a wealth of emotions.” –The Horn Book (starred review)“[Illustrator] Yoo sets a lovely mood, taking readers from sunset to dawn through washes of orange, pink, and blue, the watchman’s compassionate demeanor assuring them that all’s well.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)“Yoo’s textured, serene artwork in beautiful saturated tones perfectly complements Sullivan’s lines and conveys a beauty in the night and the construction site that readers might otherwise miss.” —Booklist (starred review)“This soft, gentle story is a perfect bedtime story for lovers of trucks and construction equipment, cats, and nighttime wanders.” —BCCB (starred review)A stray kitten changes the way the watchman sees nighttime in this tender book based on a true story, illustrated by Strictly No Elephants artist Taeeun Yoo.The night watchman hugs his wife and kids and drives to work.All night he is alone.Every hour he makes his rounds.He sees the stars twinkling. He hears the sounds of the night:ki-DEE ki-DEE ki-DEEshhhhheeeeeEEEERRRROOOOooooommmmmmWoof! Woof! Woof!Meeeoooow.When he is joined by a stray kitten, the night suddenly seems different. Has the kitten found a new home?Kitten and the Night Watchman is inspired by the true story of author John Sullivan meeting a stray cat while working as a night watchman. The cat, Beebe, was John’s companion for seventeen years.

Stanley's Secret
ISBN: 1534487832 OCLC:

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2023

The award-winning author of Kitten and the Night Watchman is back with an inspiring and poignant picture book about a boy learning the self-confidence to fulfill his dream of dancing in front of his peers.The only audience shy, quiet Stanley dances in front of is his pet mice, Squeaker and Nibbles. He also practices when he’s alone in empty classrooms or the gym when he helps the janitor after school, tap dancing shuffle, tippy-tap, tippy-tap. “Talent should be shared,” encourages Principal Reynolds. Can Stanley find the courage to perform in the school talent show?