Toni Buzzeo

Toni Buzzeo is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and librarian. She has published twenty-nine picture books for kids as well as eleven books for teachers and librarians.

A former college and high school writing teacher, Toni and her books have won many awards, including a 2013 Caldecott Honor for One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small.

Born in Dearborn, Michigan, Toni Buzzeo spent her early years as an only child, finding solace and imagination in the company of her beloved Grandma Mae Mackey and the world of books. Her mother instilled in her the love of reading, and visits to the Dearborn Public Library, especially the Bryant Branch, became a cherished part of her childhood.

When she was eight, her life took a turn when the Snow Branch Library was built just five blocks from her home, becoming her personal Disney World. These early experiences with libraries and books influenced her future career choices.

As Toni's family expanded with the arrival of younger siblings, she took on the caretaker role and discovered her love for reading to them.

As a teenager, Toni began her writing journey as a poet and anthologist. She spent countless hours at the kitchen table, transcribing poems she admired into notebooks, a process that honed her writing skills and instilled a love for poetry. Throughout her college years, she continued to publish her poetry and eventually recognized herself as a true writer.

Toni Buzzeo holds a BA and MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, Dearborn, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, respectively. She also earned an MLIS in Library and Information Science from the University of Rhode Island.

Toni started her career in libraries as a "page" at the Dearborn Public Library. After marrying her husband, Ken Cyll, Toni moved to Buxton, Maine, where they built a life on an old colonial farm, raising their son, Topher, alongside crops and animals. Later, in 1988, she began working as a children's librarian at the Baxter Memorial Library in Gorham, Maine.

In 1995, Toni shifted her focus to writing for children. She embarked on a five-year apprenticeship in writing books, immersing herself in stacks of literature while learning from the best in the field. Her hard work and dedication paid off, leading her to publish twenty-nine books for children and eleven books for teachers and librarians.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the library profession, Toni was named the Maine Library Media Specialist of the Year in 1999.

Her literary talents were further acknowledged when she won the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant for her book, The Sea Chest (2000). The University of Michigan-Dearborn School of Education honored her as Alumnus of the Year in 2004. The Maine Literary Award for Children's Books honored her dedication to literature, recognizing her work One Cool Friend in 2013.

Toni Buzzeo now divides her time between two homes: Arlington, Massachusetts, and Sarasota, Florida.

Photo credit: Elyse Pono Photography
years of life: 4 October 1951 present


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