Rajani LaRocca

Award Winning Children’s Author
Newbery Honor, Walter Dean Meyer Award
Travels from: Boston, MA

“My students absolutely loved Rajani’s writing lesson!” — Kelly Van Kirk, 6th Grade ELA Teacher, Prescott Valley, AZ

Rajani LaRocca is a physician and award-winning author of books for young people. She was born in Bangalore, India, immigrated to the U.S. as a baby, and spent most of her childhood in Louisville, Kentucky. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, she trained in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she’s been working as a primary care internal medicine physician since 2001. She lives in eastern Massachusetts with her family and impossibly cute dog.

Rajani has always been an omnivorous reader of novels, nonfiction, comic books, and cereal boxes. She is now an omnivorous writer of award-winning books for young readers: novels and picture books, fiction and nonfiction, in prose and poetry. Her middle grade novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole, won a 2022 Newbery Honor, the 2022 Walter Dean Myers Award, the 2022 Golden Kite Award, and the 2021 New England Book Award, as well as other honors. She is the author of numerous other acclaimed novels and picture books, including Midsummer’s Mayhem, Seven Golden Rings, and more. She also co-hosts the STEM Women in KidLit Podcast.

The books Rajani read as a child helped shape who she is today in ways she’s still discovering. Books inspired her to pursue medicine, made her yearn to live in different worlds, and helped her consider what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. A lifelong book lover, she never saw herself in a book until she was an adult—and when she did, it was world-changing and mind-blowing. She believes that everyone deserves to see themselves in the pages of a book; that writing and reading diversely promotes empathy; and empathy makes the world a better place.

Prepare an Invitation for:

Brazaletes para los hermanos de Bina / Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (Storytelling Math)

Charlesbridge |
Children’s

¡Celebremos la diversidad, las matemáticas y el poder del cuento!

Celebrate diversity, math, and the power of storytelling with this bilingual (Spanish and English) edition!

¡Ahora en edición bilingüe inglés-español! Para la celebración hindú Raksha Bandhan, Bina decide regalarles a sus hermanos brazaletes de cuentas hechos por ella misma. Para eso averigua qué colores le gusta a cada uno y cuáles no, y se pone manos a la obra. Al seguir patrones de cuentas de colores alternados, uno y uno, Bina descubre algo nuevo sobre los patrones… y sobre sus hermanos.

Los libros de la serie Cuentos matemáticos celebran las aventuras diarias de niños que usan las matemáticas mientras juegan, construyen y descubren el mundo que los rodea. Historias divertidas y actividades prácticas facilitan que tanto los niños como los adultos exploren juntos  las matemáticas de la vida diaria. Fue desarrollada junto a expertos en el currículum STEM,

For the Hindu holiday of Raksha Bandhan, Bina is determined to make beaded bracelets for her brothers all by herself. She finds out which colors her brothers like and dislike and sets to work. Working with her every-other-one beading pattern causes Bina to discover something new about patterns–and her brothers.

Storytelling Math celebrates children using math in their daily adventures as they play, build, and discover the world around them. Joyful stories and hands-on activities make it easy for kids and their grown-ups to explore everyday math together. Developed in collaboration with math experts at STEM education nonprofit TERC, under a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation.

I’ll Go and Come Back

Candlewick |
Children’s

A tender, beautifully illustrated story about a girl in America and her grandmother in India, whose love stretches between languages and cultures—and across the world.

When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond—looking at books together, making designs with colored sand, shopping at the market, playing games, eating chapatis, and sipping warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.” Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?

The Secret Code Inside You: All About Your DNA

little bee books |
Middle Grade

“Dynamic and eye-catching illustrations. . . . A solid introduction to a complex topic.” –Kirkus Reviews

This whimsical approach to explaining the concept of DNA, cells, and chromosomes manages to make a complex topic accessible to preschoolers.” –School Library Journal

Learn about the secret code that is DNA in this vibrant and informative picture book!

There’s a secret code inside you, a code called DNA.
A code that tells your body’s cells what they should do each day.
It looks like twisted ladders, or tiny, twirling noodles.
It makes us into people, instead of into poodles.

Why can’t humans breathe underwater? Why are some people tall and others short? Why do we resemble our parents and grandparents? This book explores all this and more in flowing, rhyming text, explaining cells, DNA, and genetics in a way that is simple and easy for children to understand. Colorful and brilliantly illustrated, The Secret Code Inside You illustrates that while DNA may be the blueprint for how a person looks, what you choose to do with your body is entirely up to you!

My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris

Golden Books |
Children’s

Help your little one dream big with a Little Golden Book biography all about the first female Vice President Kamala Harris! The perfect introduction to nonfiction for preschoolers!

This Little Golden Book about Kamala Harris–the first woman, first African American woman, and first Indian American woman to be elected Vice President of the United States–is an inspiring read-aloud for young girls and boys.

Read all the Little Golden Book biographies: My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris, My Little Golden Book About Frida Kahlo, My Little Golden Book About Ruth Bader Ginsburg, My Little Golden Book About Betty White, My Little Golden Book About Jackie Robinson, My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr., My Little Golden Book About George Washington, My Little Golden Book About Abraham Lincoln, My Little Golden Book About Balto, and My Little Golden Book About Johnny Appleseed.

Where Three Oceans Meet

Abrams Books for Young Readers |
Children’s

A child, mother, and grandmother travel all the way to the end of the earth in this picture book that celebrates multigenerational love—perfect for fans of Drawn Together and Alma.

“I want to see what’s at the end of the earth!”

Sejal, Mommy, and Pati travel together to the southern tip of India. Along the way, they share meals, visit markets, and catch up with old friends.
For Pati, the trip retraces spaces she knows well. For Mommy, it’s a return to the place she grew up. For Sejal, it’s a discovery of new sights and sounds. The family finds their way to Kanyakumari, where three oceans meet, and delight in making it to the end of the earth together.
This own voices picture book celebrates the beauty of India and the enduring love of family.

Much Ado About Baseball

Yellow Jacket |
Middle Grade

Much Ado About Baseball is the best children’s book I’ve read in the past 10 years!” -Brad Thor, New York Times bestselling author of the Scot Harvath series

“A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.” –Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

In this companion novel to Midsummer’s Mayhem, math and baseball combine with savory snacks to cause confusion and calamity in the town of Comity by Newbery-Honor winner Rajani LaRocca.

Twelve-year-old Trish can solve tough math problems and throw a mean fastball. But because of her mom’s new job, she’s now facing a summer trying to make friends all over again in a new town. That isn’t an easy thing to do, and her mom is too busy to notice how miserable she is.

But at her first baseball practice, Trish realizes one of her teammates is Ben, the sixth-grade math prodigy she beat in the spring Math Puzzler Championships. Everyone around them seems to think that with their math talent and love of baseball, it’s only logical that Trish and Ben become friends, but Ben makes it clear he still hasn’t gotten over that loss and can’t stand her. To make matters worse, their team can’t win a single game. But then they meet Rob, an older kid who smacks home runs without breaking a sweat. Rob tells them about his family’s store, which sells unusual snacks that will make them better ballplayers. Trish is dubious, but she’s willing to try almost anything to help the team.

When a mysterious booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives in her mailbox, Trish and Ben start to get closer and solve the puzzles together. Ben starts getting hits, and their team becomes unstoppable. Trish is happy to keep riding the wave of good luck . . . until they get to a puzzle they can’t solve, with tragic consequences. Can they find the answer to this ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most?

Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (Storytelling Math)

Charlesbridge |
Children’s

Celebrate diversity, math, and the power of storytelling!

For the Hindu holiday of Raksha Bandhan, Bina is determined to make beaded bracelets for her brothers all by herself. She finds out which colors her brothers like and dislike and sets to work. Working with her every-other-one beading pattern causes Bina to discover something new about patterns–and her brothers.

Storytelling Math celebrates children using math in their daily adventures as they play, build, and discover the world around them. Joyful stories and hands-on activities make it easy for kids and their grown-ups to explore everyday math together. Developed in collaboration with math experts at STEM education nonprofit TERC, under a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Red, White, and Whole

Quill Tree Books |
Middle Grade

Newbery Honor Book! A heartbreakingly hopeful novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

* Walter Award Winner * New England Book Award Winner * An NCTE Notable Verse Novel * Golden Kite Award Winner * Crystal Kite Award Winner * Goodreads Choice Nominee * A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of the Year * An SLJ Best Book of the Year * A BookPage Best Book of the Year * An NYPL Best Book of the Year * A Mighty Girl’s Best Book of the Year * An ILA Notable Book for a Global Society * A Bank Street Best Book of the Year *Junior Library Guild Selection *

Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and home, with her family’s traditions and holidays. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted—they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma. Although their names are linked—Reha means “star” and Punam means “moon”—they are a universe apart.

Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick.

Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can’t stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She’ll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma’s life.

From Indies Introduce author Rajani LaRocca comes a radiant story about the ties that bind and how to go on in the face of unthinkable loss. This is the perfect next read for fans of Jasmine Warga and Thanhhà Lại.

Seven Golden Rings A Tale of Music and Math

Lee & Low Books |
Middle Grade

Skipping Stones Honor Award, Skipping Stones Magazine
Lasting Connection Title, Book Links

In this clever, convivial picture book, an Indian boy untangles a mathematical conundrum to win a place at the Rajah’s court.

In ancient India, a boy named Bhagat travels to the Rajah’s city, hoping to ensure his family’s prosperity by winning a place at court as a singer. Bhagat carries his family’s entire fortune–a single coin and a chain of seven golden rings–to pay for his lodging. But when the innkeeper demands one ring per night, and every link snipped costs one coin, how can Bhagat both break the chain and avoid overpaying? His inventive solution points the way to an unexpected triumph, and offers readers a friendly lesson in binary numbers–the root of all computing.

El dulce y alocado verano de Mimi/ Midsummer’s Mayhem

Roca Infantil y Juvenil |
Middle Grade

UNA DELICIOSA RECETA PARA LA DIVERSIÓN.

¿Podrá Mimi deshacer el alboroto causado por sus dulces horneados en esta reinterpretación de fantasía contemporánea de El sueño de una noche de verano?

Mejor novela middle grade del 2019 para Kirkus.

Mejor novela middle grade del 2019 para las librerías independientes de EE.UU.

Mimi, una chica de once años, sueña con ganar el concurso de pastelería en el que el juez es nada menos que su gran ídolo, un chef de reconocido prestigio. Pero Mimi pierde a su mejor colaborador cuando su padre regresa de un viaje de negocios y misteriosamente es incapaz de distinguir entre sabores deliciosos y desagradables. Un día Mimi decide seguir a través del bosque una extraña música que a la vez le resulta familiar; ahí conoce a un chico de ojos dorados, y juntos cocinan utilizando ingredientes exóticos del mismo bosque. De pronto, todos los que le rodean comienzan a actuar como si estuvieran locos de remate.

Hermanas que le riñen, camareras que hablan en rima y saboteadores culinarios se mezclan en una receta llena de alborotos en esta divertida noche de un sueño de verano y pasteles.

ENGLISH DESCRIPTION

A Kirkus Best Book of 2019!
An Indies Introduce Selection for 2019!
An Indie Next Pick for Summer 2019!

“A delectable treat for food and literary connoisseurs alike.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“What a wonderful, intriguing, and magical book. And wow, did it ever get my tastebuds going! Each time I picked it up, I felt the urge to head to my kitchen. . . . What I loved most was the smartness of it. It never once doubted its young readers.” Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor- and National Book Award-Nominated author

“Midsummer’s Mayhem is an enchantment of a novel, bursting with magic, mystery, and mouth-watering baked goods. Readers who have their own baking-show dreams will be cheering for Mimi until the very last page.” Kate Messner, award-winning author of Breakout, The Seventh Wish, and All the Answers

Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad’s a renowned food writer, Mom’s a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It’s easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi’s dream of proving she’s not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a baking contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what’s happened. In the process, she learns that in life as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . .

Midsummer’s Mayhem

Yellow Jacket |
Middle Grade
A Kirkus Best Book of 2019!
An Indies Introduce Selection for 2019!
An Indie Next Pick for Summer 2019!

“A delectable treat for food and literary connoisseurs alike.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“What a wonderful, intriguing, and magical book. And wow, did it ever get my tastebuds going! Each time I picked it up, I felt the urge to head to my kitchen. . . . What I loved most was the smartness of it. It never once doubted its young readers.” Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor- and National Book Award-Nominated author

“Midsummer’s Mayhem is an enchantment of a novel, bursting with magic, mystery, and mouth-watering baked goods. Readers who have their own baking-show dreams will be cheering for Mimi until the very last page.” Kate Messner, award-winning author of Breakout, The Seventh Wish, and All the Answers

Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad’s a renowned food writer, Mom’s a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It’s easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi’s dream of proving she’s not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what’s happening. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . .

Feeling Divided, Being Whole

Rajani describes the inspiration for Red, White, and Whole and her path to writing it, from her childhood to the present day to inspire kids to tell their own stories and know that we all belong.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
45-60 minutes, Ages 9 and up

Seeing Yourself in Stories: Writing Middle Grade Novels

Rajani explains how she went from doctor to doctor-author, and the inspiration and stories behind her middle grade novels.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
45-60 minutes, Ages 8 and up

Math and Magic

Rajani talks about her fascination for math puzzles and how that led to writing Much Ado About Baseball, Seven Golden Rings, and other books, and how to embrace the wonder and joy of math and science in literature.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
45-60 minutes, Ages 8 and up

Bracelets for Bina's Brothers and Patterns

Rajani reads the book, and talks about recognizing patterns and making them, and how math is everywhere!
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
30 minutes, Ages 3-7

My Author Journey and Seven Golden Rings

Rajani talks about her love of puzzles and riddles from a young age and how it led to writing Seven Golden Rings. Includes a reading of the book.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
30-45 minutes, Ages 5 and up

Where Three Oceans Meet and the Power of Three

Rajani talks about writing Where Three Oceans Meet. Includes a reading of the book.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
30-45 minutes, Ages 5 and up

Science and The Secret Code Inside You

Rajani talks about being a doctor, the concept of “nature vs. nurture,”  how it led to writing The Secret Code Inside You. Includes a reading of the book.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
30-45 minutes, Age 5 and up

Family, Journeys, and I’ll Go and Come Back

Rajani talks about her author journey and her visits to relatives to India that inspired her picture book, I’ll Go and Come Back. Includes a reading of the book.
Audience Size: Assembly or classroom-size group
30-45 minutes, Ages 5 and up

Q&A Sessions

Q & A for groups who have read one or more of my books
Audience Size: Classroom-size group
20-30 minutes

Rajani’s News

Rajani’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2022 John Newbery Honor Winner
2022 Walter Dean Myers Award Winner
2021 New England Book Award Winner
2022 SCBWI Golden Kite Award Winner
Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2021
New York Public Library Best Book of 2021
School Library Journal Best Middle Grade of 2021
NCTE 2022 Notable Verse Novel
BookPage Best Middle Grade Book of 2021
2022 SCBWI Golden Kite Award Finalist
A 2022 Notable Books for a Global Society Award Winner
A Mighty Girl 2021 Book of the Year
2021 Cybils Award Finalist, Poetry
2021 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner, Poetry/Verse Novels
Spring 2021 Kids’ Indie Next Top Ten Title
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
2022-23 Vermont Golden Dome Award Nominee
2022-23 Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Award Nominee
2022 Ohio Buckeye Award Nominee
2022-23 Iowa Chidren’s Choice Award Nominee
2020 Massachusetts Book Award Honor
Kirkus Best Middle Grade of 2019
2019 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner
School Library Journal Fuse #8 2019 Best Middle Grade
A Mighty Girl Best Book of 2019
Indie Next Pick for Summer 2019
Indies Introduce Selection for Summer/Fall 2019
2022 Mathical Honor Book
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
School Library Journal Fuse #8 2021 Best Middle Grade
2021 Massachusetts Book Award Honor
Skipping Stones 2021 Honor Award Winner
2021 Mathical Award Winner for Grades 3-5
Book Links Lasting Connections 2020 Title
School Library Journal Fuse #8 2020 Best Math Book for Kids
2023 New York Charlotte Award Nominee
2023 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award Nominee
School Library Journal Fuse #8 2021 Transcendent Holiday Book
School Library Journal Fuse #8 2021 Best Math Book for Kids
2021 Nerdy Book Award Winner, Fiction Picture Books
2022 Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title
CCBC Choices 2022 Title

Media Kit

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

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