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Matt de la Peña


Matt de la Peña is the New York Times Bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of six young adult novels and five picture books. Matt’s debut novel, Ball Don’t Lie, published in 2005, was made into a major motion picture (released in the fall of 2011) starring Ludacris, Nick Cannon, Emelie de Ravin, Grayson Boucher, and Rosanna Arquette. The book was named as an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

Matt’s second novel, Mexican WhiteBoy, was an ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults (Top Ten Pick), a 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society, a Junior Library Guild Selection and it made the 2008 Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Literature Blue Ribbon List.

Matt’s other award-winning novels for young adults are: We Were Here, I Will Save You, The Living and The Hunted (a sequel to The Living.) He also wrote two books in Scholastic’s popular Infinity Ring Series: Curse of the Ancients and Eternity.

His first picture book, A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (Illustrated by Kadir Nelson) was released in 2011, the same year his first middle grade story “Believing in Brooklyn” appeared in Guys Read: Thriller, edited by Jon Scieszka.

Matt’s second picture book, Last Stop on Market Street (illustrated by Christian Robinson) was awarded the 2016 Newbery Medal. His other acclaimed picture books are: Miguel and the Grand Harmony (illustrated by Ana Ramirez); Love (illustrated by Loren Long); and, Carmela Full of Wishes (illustrated by Christian Robinson).

In 2016 Matt was awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award.

He has also published short fiction and essays in various newspapers and literary journals, including: Time Magazine, The New York Times, NPR.org, The Writer, Pacific Review, One Teen Story, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, George Mason Review, and Allegheny Literary Review.

Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball.

de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY — he teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges all over the country.

Learn more about Matt de la Peña on his website


Last Stop on Market Street
Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony
A Nation's Hope: the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
Carmela Full of Wishes

Festival Testimonials

This was awesome! Great glimpse into life of artist.
I think I’m going to cry! (Steven Kellogg) was so nice, and he is a good drawer and writer. (2nd grade student)
I really liked the open interaction.