Middle Grade/Young Adult Author
Former Educator
Travels from: Cleveland, OH

“In my twenty years of teaching, I’ve never had a book have such an impact on students.” — 5th Grade Teacher, Boston, MA

Shelley Pearsall is the author of seven acclaimed books for middle grade and teen readers. Her inspiring and thought-provoking novels are used in classrooms nationwide, and her author visits have reached a quarter-million students. She is represented by literary agent Steven Malk of Writer’s House.

Prior to becoming a full-time author, Shelley was a classroom teacher. She has also worked in the education departments of several parks and history museums where she created museum theater events and public programs. She has a B.A. from The College of Wooster and M. Ed., from John Carroll University.

Shelley’s first book, Trouble Don’t Last, was published in 2002 and received the prestigious Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. All of the Above and The Seventh Most Important Thing were named American Library Association Notable Books. Her newest novel is Things Seen From Above (February 2020). Shelley’s books have appeared on numerous state reading award lists and received other honors.

As an author, Shelley is committed to bringing history to life for readers in engaging and compelling ways. Since childhood, she has written stories with diverse characters and voices because she believes in the possibilities of books to build bridges and start conversations. Frequently, her novels feature themes of personal courage and overcoming adversity.

Today, Shelley lives in Ohio’s beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park with her British husband, Mike, and their two shelter cats named Charlie and Lola. When Shelley isn’t writing or visiting schools, she loves to travel the world with Mike in search of new stories and adventures.

Shelley's Featured Titles

Things Seen from Above

Knopf Books for Young Readers |
Middle Grade
A shift in perspective can change everything.

This brilliant new novel from the author of The Seventh Most Important Thing celebrates kids who see the world a little differently.

April is looking for an escape from the sixth-grade lunch hour, which has become a social-scene nightmare, so she signs up to be a “buddy bench monitor” for the fourth graders’ recess.

Joey Byrd is a boy on the fringes, who wanders the playground alone, dragging his foot through the dirt. But over time, April realizes that Joey isn’t just making random circles. When you look at his designs from above, a story emerges… Joey’s “bird’s eye” drawings reveal what he observes and thinks about every day.

Told in alternating viewpoints–April’s in text and Joey’s mostly in art–the story gives the “whole picture” of what happens as these two outsiders find their rightful places.

The Seventh Most Important Thing

Yearling |
Middle Grade
This “luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews) story of anger and art, loss and redemption will appeal to fans of Lisa Graff’s Lost in the Sun and Vince Vawter’s Paperboy.


Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge—he is ready to send Arthur to juvie forever. Amazingly, it’s the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours of community service . . . working for him.

Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. He can’t believe it—is he really supposed to rummage through people’s trash? But it isn’t long before Arthur realizes there’s more to the Junk Man than meets the eye, and the “trash” he’s collecting is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine. . . .

Inspired by the work of folk artist James Hampton, Shelley Pearsall has crafted an affecting and redemptive novel about discovering what shines within us all, even when life seems full of darkness.

“A moving exploration of how there is often so much more than meets the eye.” —Booklist, starred review

“There are so many things to love about this book. Remarkable.” —The Christian Science Monitor

Jump into the Sky

Yearling |
Middle Grade

It’s May 5, 1945. Carrying nothing but a suitcase and a bag of his aunt’s good fried chicken, 13-year-old Levi Battle heads south to a U.S. Army post in search of his father—a lieutenant in an elite unit of all black paratroopers. The fact that his father doesn’t even know he’s coming turns out to be the least of his problems.

As Levi makes his way across the United States, he learns hard lessons about the way a black boy is treated in the Jim Crow South. And when he arrives at his destination, his struggles are far from over. The war may be ending, but his father’s secret mission is just beginning—and it’s more dangerous than anybody imagined. . . .

Shelley Pearsall has created an unforgettable character in Levi and gives readers a remarkable tour of 1945 America through his eyes. Jump into the Sky is a tour de force of historical fiction from a writer at the very top of her game.

All Shook Up

Yearling |
Middle Grade

The King of Rock ’n’ Roll lives! And he’s Josh’s dad.

When 13-year-old Josh finds out that he has to stay with his dad in Chicago for a few months, he’s not too thrilled. But when he arrives at the airport, he’s simply devastated. His father—who used to be a scatterbrained but pretty normal shoe salesman—has become . . . Elvis. Well, a sideburnwearing, hip-twisting, utterly-embarrassing Elvis impersonator.

Josh is determined to keep his dad’s identity a secret, but on his very first day at his new school, a note appears on his locker. It’s signed Elvisly Yours, and instead of a name, a sneering purple smiley face. The secret is out, and when his dad is invited to perform at a special 50s concert at his school, Josh is forced to take drastic action. From award-winning author Shelley Pearsall comes a hilarious novel about discovering the important (and sometimes painful) difference between who you want to be—and who you really are.

All of the Above

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers |
Middle Grade

Based on a true story, All of the Above is the delightful and suspenseful story of four inner city students and their quest to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. Weaving together the different personal stories of the kids, their teacher, and the community that surrounds them, award-winning author Shelley Pearsall has written a vividly engaging story about the math, life and good-tasting barbecue. Filled with unexpected humor, poignant characters and quiet brilliance, All of the Above is a surprising gem.

Crooked River

Yearling |
Middle Grade

The year is 1812. A white trapper is murdered. And a young Chippewa Indian stands accused.

Trouble Don’t Last

Yearling |
Middle Grade
Eleven-year-old Samuel was born as Master Hackler’s slave, and working the Kentucky farm is the only life he’s ever known—until one dark night in 1859, that is. With no warning, cranky old Harrison, a fellow slave, pulls Samuel from his bed and, together, they run.

The journey north seems much more frightening than Master Hackler ever was, and Samuel’s not sure what freedom means aside from running, hiding, and starving. But as they move from one refuge to the next on the Underground Railroad, Samuel uncovers the secret of his own past—and future. And old Harrison begins to see past a whole lifetime of hurt to the promise of a new life—and a poignant reunion—
in Canada.

In a heartbreaking and hopeful first novel, Shelley Pearsall tells a suspenseful, emotionally charged story of freedom and family. Trouble Don’t Last includes a historical note and map.


Virtually Yours: School Visits

Since 2020, more than 75 schools from across the US (and around the world!) have taken LIVE virtual tours of Shelley’s cool writing space and talked to Shelley about her writing and books. A former teacher, Shelley has worked with more than 250,000 students nationwide as a visiting author for the past 20 years.

Want to schedule for 2022-2023? Given the unpredictability of travel, Shelley is not currently scheduling in-person school visits, but she welcomes virtual visit requests.


More than a Virtual Visit

Looking for something more? Try out one of Shelley’s interactive virtual visits that involve students in a live art or writing activity. Recording and/or streaming permitted within your school or library.

Bird’s Eye Drawing with Things Seen From Above
Students will create an amazing “bird’s eye” view drawing of a city with Shelley and get a special look at the unique people and art that inspired her novel, Things Seen From Above. Q&A time included.

Writing LIVE! Grades 4 and 5
Then, Shelley will lead students through three fast-paced and fun writing activities–a setting warm-up, a character brainstorm, and a figurative language poem. Make writing come to life in your classroom!


Hampton's Throne Speaks | Virtual Writing Workshop, Grades 5 to 8

Join Shelley for this imaginative 60-minute virtual writing workshop that blends art and writing! The workshop will focus on the sculpture Hampton’s Throne in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection, which is featured in Shelley’s novel The Seventh Most Important Thing. Shelley will lead students through a variety of activities to virtually explore the sculpture and use it as their inspiration for writing. Personification, figurative language, and brainstorming will be highlighted. Q&A time included. Grades 5 – 8.


Exclusive Mentor Author for Your School

Give your students and staff the opportunity to develop a real connection with a real author through this extended mentorship opportunity. It is available to schools using one or more of Shelley’s books as classroom texts. Over the school year, you can schedule up to 8 hours of virtual time with Shelley. She can provide virtual book presentations, writing workshops, mini-lessons on writing skills, teacher support/consulting, student writing feedback, and Q&A.  Teachers will also have access to Shelley’s writing process materials to use as examples with their classrooms, and she will provide a short introductory video to kick-off the mentorship.


Resources for Teachers

Resources for Kids

Shelley’s Blog

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2021 Ohioana Book Award Finalist
Nominee for Virginia Reader’s Choice Award
2016 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Junior Library Guild Selection
2020 Mathical Honor Book
VOYA Top 5/Top Shelf

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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