“She had all members of the audience, from 6-60 glued to their seats.” — Cleo Joyce, Forsyth Public Library, 2022

Lynne Kelly’s career as a sign language interpreter has taken her everywhere from classrooms to hospitals to Alaskan cruises. She was born in Galesburg, Illinois, grew up in Houston, lived in some much colder places, then found her way back to the Houston area. For a few years she also taught special education, a good career for someone with excellent organizational and planning skills. Lacking those skills, she quit teaching in 2006 and thankfully has more time for writing. But it was during those teaching years that she worked with some great kids and became interested in writing, so that all worked out.

Her 2019 novel Song For a Whale, about a deaf girl named Iris who forms an unlikely bond with the “loneliest whale in the world,” has been described as “finely crafted,” “important,” and “uplifting” by reviewers from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal. Song For a Whale received the 2020 Schneider Family Book Award and was named one of the best books of the year by New York Public Library.

Lynne's Featured Titles

The Secret Language of Birds

Delacorte Press |

From the award-winning author of Song for a Whale comes a poignant and heartwarming tale about a girl who discovers a pair of endangered birds about to lay eggs in the marshes of her summer camp…and the secret plan she hatches to help them.

Nina is used to feeling like the odd one out, both at school and in her large family. But while trying to fit in at summer camp, she discovers something even more peculiar: two majestic birds have built a nest in the marsh behind an abandoned infirmary. They appear to be whooping cranes, but that’s impossible—Nina is an amateur bird-watcher, and all her resources tell her that those rare birds haven’t nested in Texas for over a hundred years.

When Nina reports the sighting to wildlife officials, more questions arise. Experts track all the endangered birds, but they can’t identify the female bird that Nina found. Who is she, and where did she come from?

With the help of some fellow campers, Nina sets out to discover who the mystery bird really is. As she gets closer to the truth, will she find a flock of her own?

This instant classic from award-winning author Lynne Kelly captures the coming-of-age moment of learning to spread your wings in a way you’ll never forget.

Song for a Whale

Delacorte Press |
Middle Grade
In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the Schneider Family Book Award-winning story of a deaf girl’s connection to a whale whose song can’t be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” to him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

“Fascinating, brave, and tender…a triumph.” –Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan


Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) |
Middle Grade

After ten-year-old Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.


Keynote: A Writer Writes and a Whale Sings

When we sit down to create, we don’t know how the finished product will turn out or how our audience will receive it. Yet there’s something that drives us to keep working on our craft. Lynne Kelly will share her fascination with a whale who sings like no other and what he has in common with those of us who create books.


Get In, Writer, We’re Going Plotting: How Your Character Drives the Plot

All stories have obstacles, but every character responds differently to those obstacles. Whether you like to plan your whole novel before you start writing or figure it out as you go, the characters you create determine how your story unfolds. In this session we’ll work on developing characters that drive the plot, and plot points that reveal who our characters are.


Once More With Feeling - A workshop on emotion and motivation

The books that stick with us most are ones that make us feel like we’re traveling the journey alongside the character. In this workshop, we’ll work on showing emotions and motivations so readers will feel pulled into your story and connected to your characters.


A Bridge Over Muddy Middles - A workshop on writing powerful midpoints

Often our stories start out strong, but turn mushy somewhere along the way. Writing a powerful midpoint gives you clarity about where your character is going and what they’ll need as they step into the last half of their journey. Whether you like to plan every scene before drafting or discover the story as you go, firming up the midpoint will give your work a stronger foundation.

Lynn’s Upcoming Events

Resources for Readers

Honors, Awards & Recognition

ALA Schneider Family Book Award
The Odyssey Award
The Crystal Kite Award
South Asia Book Award

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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