About Debbi

Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of middle grade novels Keep It Together, Keiko Carter, a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and New England Book Award finalist and Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai, starred review from Kirkus, Amazon Best Books, and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. She is also the author of three chapter books series including Jasmine Toguchi (JLG selections, the Amelia Bloomer and CCBC Choices lists, and a Cybils Award winner) and co-authored a picture book biography, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites which received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist.

A former classroom teacher, Debbi has spoken on panels at conferences and book festivals, taught writing workshops for children and adults, and loves doing author visits at schools and libraries. She is on the faculty of The Highlights Foundation.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Debbi was a raptor rehabilitator, outdoor educator, and a zoo educator. A third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in California, Debbi now lives in Connecticut with her husband, rescue dog, and bunny where she writes in her studio, The Word Nest. She enjoys running and hiking, and loves to travel with her husband and daughter. Her favorite foods are sushi, ramen, and chocolate.

Represented by Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

awards & distinctions

Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai: starred review from Kirkus, Amazon Best Books of the Year, Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter: New England Book Award finalist (NEIBA), Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection

Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites: starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, starred review from Booklist, Chicago Pubic Library’s Best of the Best of 2021, Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection

Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen: Junior Library Guild selection, Amazon’s Best Children’s Books, Nerdy Book Club Award winner, Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year, Amelia Bloomer List, CCBC Choices list. Otter Award (Washington Library Association) nominee, the Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award (Oregon Library Association) nominee, and Nutmeg Book Award nominee (Connecticut Library Association).

Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl: Cybils Award winner, Junior Library Guild selection, Nerdy Book Club Award winner, CCBC Choices list, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books list, Romper’s 100 Progressive Books for Children, Maryland Blue Crab Award winner (Maryland Library Association).

Jasmine Toguchi Flamingo Keeper: Junior Library Guild selection, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books list.

My Furry Foster Family – Truman the Dog: Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books list, Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr (Florida) nominee, and the OTTER Award (Washington Library Association) nominee.

photo credit Roy Thomas