About Debbi

Long Bio: Debbi Michiko Florence is the author of upper middle grade novels Sweet and Sour, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter, Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai, and This Is How I Roll. She has a debut middle grade series called Last Chance Academy coming in spring 2025 and several other projects in the works! She is also the author of three chapter books series including Jasmine Toguchi with four new books: book 5 Jasmine Toguchi Brave Explorer, book 6 Jasmine Toguchi Peace-Maker, book 7 Jasmine Toguchi Bridge Builder, and book 8 Jasmine Toguchi Great Gardener. Follow Jasmine as she travels to Japan on vacation! And Debbi co-authored a picture book biography, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites.

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. She also co-hosts an Asian American Voices In-Community Retreat. For more info here is a podcast interview.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Debbi, who has a degree in Zoology, was a raptor rehabilitator, an outdoor educator, and a zoo educator. A third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in California, Debbi now lives in Connecticut with her husband and two rescue dogs, Kiku and Ponyo, where she writes in her studio, The Word Nest. She loves dogs, coffee, boba tea, running and hiking, and traveling with her husband and daughter.

Short Bio: A third-generation Japanese American, Debbi Michiko Florence is the acclaimed author of more than 25 books for children and tweens. Her books have received starred reviews, JLG Selections, and inclusion on lists such as Amazon Best Books and the Chicago Public Library Best of the Best. She loves to write stories about friendship and family. Her middle grade novels include Sweet and Sour and Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai. She is also the author of the award-winning Jasmine Toguchi chapter book series. A native Californian, Debbi now lives in Connecticut.

Represented by Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Member of Authors Guild, PEN America

Article on Discover Nikkei, Where Dreams Come True: The Works of Debbi Michiko Florence by Chiani Fujiwara

Interview with Debbi Michiko Florence on Bee The Love

awards & distinctions

Sweet and Sour: Bank Street Books Best Books 2023, 2024 Sakura Medal nominee, 2024-205 South Carolina Book Award nominee

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 Public Library’s Best of the Best of 2021, Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection, Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award nominee 2023-2024, 2024 Sakura Medal nominee

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: Brenda De Los Santos