2019 Fish Fry Guest: Eliza Wheeler


The Solon Springs Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the special guest for our Second Annual Fish Fry on Friday, April 12, 2019 will be Eliza Wheeler. Eliza, a 2001 graduate of Solon Springs High School, is​ the author-illustrator of ‘Miss Maple’s Seeds’, which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list, and was a 2017 Sendak Fellowship recipient. Her presentation will be “Following The Joyful Paths:, “My Journey from the Northwoods to the New York Times Bestseller List.”

She has illustrated many children’s books, including ‘Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced The World That Fairies Are Real’ (Marc Tyler Nobleman), ‘The Pomegranate Witch’ (Denise Doyen), ‘John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R.Tolkien’ (Caroline McAlister), ‘Tell Me A Tattoo Story’ (Alison McGhee), ‘Wherever You Go’ (Pat Zietlow Miller) and the Newbery Honor winning novel ‘Doll Bones’ (Holly Black). Eliza and her husband Adam live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For a list of books Eliza has illustrated, please consult her website: http://wheelerstudio.com/books/


Eliza Wheeler was born in Duluth, Minnesota and grew up in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, where the headwaters of the St. Croix and Brule Rivers meet. She was strongly influenced by the wilderness and seasons of Wisconsin, and also by her family of teachers, musicians, and artists. Drawing was her favorite form of play as a child, her emotional outlet as a teen, and her passion as an adult.

Eliza went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, from 2001-2006, for a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in graphic design. After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles with her husband, Adam Wheeler, and spent several years working as an in-house and freelance designer before realizing that graphic design is a terrible profession for someone who hates working on the computer as much as she does. She returned to paper and ink, and began exploring the idea of pursuing illustration work. In 2009, Eliza attended her first conference of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and, after the first keynote speech, she knew she had found her creative “home” and began building her illustration portfolio and writing picture book manuscripts.


In 2010, she received the SCBWI Los Angeles National Conference portfolio mentorship award, and the next year won the portfolio showcase grand prize—a trip to New York to meet with publishers. In 2012, she signed a contract for her first self-authored picture book, MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS, with editor Nancy Paulsen at Penguin Books, which released in 2013 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Since the release of MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS, Eliza has illustrated over a dozen picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels for major U.S. publishers, including Penguin Random House, Little Brown Books, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and MacMillan publishers.

In 2017, Eliza received the prestigious Sendak Fellowship Award, which was a paid month-long illustration retreat to Scotch Hill Farm in upstate New York, owned by the late Maurice Sendak. It was there that she created a mock-up for her second self-authored picture book, HOME IN THE WOODS, a story inspired by her grandmother’s childhood in northern Wisconsin during the Great Depression. The book will be published by Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Random House Books in the fall of 2019.

Her love of children’s literature allows her to experience her own childhood again—to reconnected with and express her imagination as vividly as when she was building forts in the woods and playing with dolls. Little has changed; only now those worlds she imagined then she has the ability to capture and share now in the form of pictures and words.