Children’s and Middle Grade Author
Award Nominated Writer
Travels from: Columbus, Ohio

“A beautifully executed, character-driven tale of family, courage, resilience, and the meaning of what is right.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Elisa Stone Leahy is a queer, Peruvian-American children’s author who lives with her husband and kids in Columbus, Ohio. She likes writing about characters with complicated identities because her own identity has plenty of layers. Elisa was born in Ica, Peru, to American parents and lived there most of her life. She left Peru to study in the US, then left the US to start a family in Canada.

In 2007, Elisa started a documentary film company with her partner, Matthew. Together they have told stories about kids in Honduras with HIV/AIDS, guerrilla gardening in Vancouver, Canada, elderly activists around the United States, and a handwoven Incan footbridge in the Peruvian Andes.

Elisa’s work with immigration advocacy, in particular with her friend Edith Espinal, inspired her to write her first book, Tethered to Other Stars, which received starred reviews from both Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for the Cybils Award. Her second book, Mallory in Full Color (November 2024) explores queer identity and learning to value all the many facets of ourselves.

Elisa's Featured Titles

Tethered to Other Stars

Quill Tree Books |
Middle Grade

Perfect for fans of Efrén Divided and A Good Kind of Trouble, this luminous middle grade debut follows a tween girl navigating the devastating impact of ICE’s looming presence on her family and community.

Seventh grader Wendy Toledo knows that black holes and immigration police have one thing in common: they can both make things disappear without a trace. When her family moves to a new all-American neighborhood, Wendy knows the plan: keep her head down, build a telescope that will win the science fair, and stay on her family’s safe orbit.

But that’s easier said than done when there’s a woman hiding out from ICE agents in the church across the alley—and making Wendy’s parents very nervous.

As bullying at school threatens Wendy’s friendships and her hopes for the science fair, and her family’s secrets start to unravel, Wendy finds herself caught in the middle of far too many gravitational pulls. When someone she loves is detained by ICE, Wendy must find the courage to set her own orbit—and maybe shift the paths of everyone around her.


The Author's Journey

This classic author talk covers the author’s background and her journey into publishing with a focus on growth mindset. With interesting anecdotes and audience participation, Elisa shows how her drive to tell stories combined with a whole lot of hard work resulted in her first published book. Best for large assemblies 5th-8th grade.


Stone Vs. Slime

Using the allegory of stone and slime, Elisa explains fixed and growth mindset. With hands on participation and anecdotes from her own life, Elisa walks students through the ways that growth mindset allowed her to become a published author. Suitable for classes and smaller groups. 5th-8th grade.


Writing Workshop

In this hands-on workshop, Elisa gives an overview of the 3 basic elements of narrative structure–Plot, Characters and Theme. With clear examples, interactive discussions and brainstorming worksheets for each element, students leave this workshop with all the tools needed to build a solid narrative.

Resources for Teachers Link

Elisa’s Events Link

Elisa’s News Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Kirkus Starred Review
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Cybils Award Finalist

Media clips

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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