Sally M. Walker

© John Womack Photography

Sally M. Walker has been a children’s book writer for over 20 years. Most of her books are nonfiction and present various science topics to young readers. Fossil Fish Found Alive is the story of the hunt for the elusive fish called the coelacanth. Sally also enjoys combining science investigation with historical topics. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which won the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal, tells about the history, loss, and re-discovery of the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland takes readers on archaeological expeditions, where the forensic analysis of colonial settlers’ bones helps us to understand their lives. Sally especially enjoys writing narrative nonfiction that captures the reader’s attention with a true story. She is also the author of 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I loved Albert Payson Terhune’s dog books and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes also ranked high on my list of favorites.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

 I have lots of favorite lines, for many different reasons. Some might be for the language flow, others for interesting words. But the most attention grabbing line for me has always been: “‘Where’s Papa going with that ax?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” I’ve never forgotten that sentence since the very first time I read it as a young girl. And it glued my attention to the page!

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Lois Lowry, Jerry Pinkney, and Jim Murphy or Russell Freedman.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

Probably because I have always loved a good story, reading, and playing with language. When I was a kid, we went to the public library at least twice a week. I took my two children to the library at least that often, maybe more. And now that they’re grown and out on their own . . . well, I STILL go to the library twice a week. I LOVE libraries!!

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Yes. First, the more you read, the better you will write. And second, give yourself time to daydream. That’s where ideas begin.