Donna Jo Napoli was born in 1948. She has earned three degrees from Harvard University: a B.A. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Italian Literature, and a Ph.D. in General and Romance Linguistics. She has taught on the university level since 1970, is widely published in scholarly journals and has received numerous grants and fellowships in the area of linguistics. She teaches linguistics and was chair of the linguistics program at Swarthmore College. She is a published poet and coeditor of four poetry volumes. Napoli was introduced to Dutton by Lloyd Alexander. Dutton promptly published her first middle grade novel, Soccer Shock, in 1991 to critical and popular acclaim. In 1993, Napoli's versatility became evident with the publication of The Prince of the Pond which won the New Jersey Reading Association's M. Jerry Weiss Book Award in 1997. Napoli has also won a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Choice of the Years Best books for her novel Zel. Napoli's Stones in Water won the Golden Kite Award in 1997. She has written many young adult novels including The Wager in 2010.
Kadir Nelson began drawing at the age of three, and painting at age ten. He won an art scholarship to study at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating with honors, he began his professional career as an artist. He has worked with numerous companies including Dreamworks, where he served as the lead conceptual artist for Amistad and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron; Sports Illustrated; Coca-Cola; The United States Postal Service; and Major League Baseball. In 1999, he started collaborating with several notable authors on a series of picture books including Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen; Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange; and Salt in His Shoes by Deloris and Roslyn Jordan. He won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, a Caldecott Honor and an NAACP Image Award for illustrating Carol Boston Weatherford's Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. He is the author and illustrator of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.