I am the New York Times bestselling author of Minecraft: The Crash, as well as the creepy Caribbean series The Jumbies, which includes The Jumbies (2015), Rise of the Jumbies (2017), and The Jumbie God’s Revenge (scheduled for 2019). I’ve also written the contemporary YA novel Angel’s Grace and 9 non-fiction books for kids in elementary through high school.
I’m a former elementary school teacher, I do lots of author visits, and I’m on the faculty at Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.
My name is pronounced buhTEEST.
I’ve wanted to write since I was three and my mother bought me an oversized illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It was so spellbindingly beautiful, I thought I wanted to live in its pages my entire life.
I decided to be a writer then, but I didn’t tell anyone until I was thirteen. I was inspired to write for kids after reading Rosa Guy’s “The Friends.”
Before I became a published author, I was a teacher. I taught mostly 2nd grade because it’s the AWESOMEST!
After teaching for a few years, I worked in educational publishing making reading and language arts textbooks for kids. Later, I worked for a publishing company editing non-fiction books for kids. I still do some freelance editing for publishers and individual clients, but mostly my days are spent writing my own books and working with students in the Lesley University MFA program.
I love helping writers with their own books for kids.
You can find me at school and library visits, writing conferences, book fairs, and teacher and library conferences.
My debut novel was Angel’s Grace. It was named one of the 100 best books for reading and sharing by NYC librarians. I’ve always liked librarians. It was also the first novel I ever tried to write (except for the one when I was 12, but let’s not go there.)
The Jumbies (2015) and Rise of the Jumbies (2017) are both Junior Library Guild Selections, and received numerous accolades including starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, New York Public Libraries Staff Pick, Brightly’s Best Kids Books, We Need Diverse Books “Must Read,” named to Bank Street’s Best Books, Kirkus Best MG of the year, Publisher’s Weekly Best MG of the year, and NPR’s end year roundup.
Minecraft: The Crash debuted at #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list in July, 2018.
In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence.