Kerry O'Malley Cerra

Bachi Frost

Kerry O’Malley Cerra is an award-winning author of middle grade books. Her first novel, Just a Drop of Water, landed on five state reading lists, won the Crystal Kite Award, a Florida Book Award, and was named to VOYA’s Top Shelf Fiction list for 2014. Her second novel, Hear Me, is out now. Stay tuned for her forthcoming books, Make a Little Wave, (Oct. 1, 2024 from Carolrhoda Books, Lerner Publishing) and a nonfiction picture book, The Gallaudet Eleven: The Story of NASA’s Deaf Bioastronauts (March 2026 from Little, Brown BFYR). Kerry’s work has received praise from The New York Times, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, VOYA, and the Horn Book Guide calling her stories moving, perceptive, well-developed, and woven with an expert hand. Kerry, a former high school media specialist and social studies teacher, lives in South Florida with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

The Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series. I love, love, love books that make me laugh.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“There ain’t no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it.”― Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn-Dixie
There is a painful, universal truth in this quote. It’s raw but also beautiful and important, and it’s helped me through many difficult times.

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

As a kid, I devoured Judy Blume books, so she’s at the top of my list. I was later introduced to—and fell in love with—Kate DiCamillo’s work. She, as the whole world knows, is an incredibly gifted writer! We actually grew up in nearby towns, and I wish more than anything we’d been childhood friends. I imagine the tales we may have created together under the Florida pines. Finally, I’d have to add Cece Bell. As a deaf author myself, Cece changed my world when I read El Deafo. I’d never known a deaf person to share so openly and honestly about their struggles. I was an adult when I read it, and I cried fiercely . . . then I made my family read it, too.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

As my hearing loss progressed, I knew it was time to stop teaching. I never wanted to be the social studies teacher who simply lectured. I was all about whole-class discussions. Immersive learning. When I reached a point where I could no longer do that meaningfully, I left, and I missed it terribly. One day, I saw an ad asking, “Have you ever wanted to write for children?” My heart leaped! I’d never thought about that as a career, but I’d been making up stories in my head for years. I knew it was my way to stay connected to kids, and I’m so grateful for the many opportunities that have since come my way. Speaking in schools is the highlight of this writing gig, for sure.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Ahhh, so much advice! Let’s see . . . 1. Read. A lot! 2. Read some more. 3. Keep reading! 4. Believe in yourself and never give up. If you want something badly enough, you have to make it happen.