Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Speaker Profile - Ilona Bray


Region: New York: West/Central Upstate
Age Levels: 5-10 and 11-13
Will Travel: < 500 miles
Skype Visit: Yes
SCBWI Profile: Member Profile
Speaker Email: via website,

Ilona Bray is not sure she'll ever outdo the rhyme she wrote about thistledown at age five, which featured the timeless question: "But how can a fairy be so hairy?" 

Nevertheless, she's continuing to try, penning books for kids of all ages. Her interests lie somewhere at the intersection of philosophy, science, and magic. This might explain why she didn't practice law for very long (though she writes about it in her day job as senior legal editor/author at Nolo, in Berkeley).  
When not donning a blue wig and factory apron to present her first published book, Mossby's Magic Carpet Handbook to kids in schools and libraries, she enjoys swimming, feeding backyard birds, visiting art museums (while wishing she had an ounce of drawing talent), taking train trips, and cooking up gluten-free foods (some edible, some not). She lives in an old Craftsman-style home in California's Bay Area.

Presentation Description:

Innovative and humor-filled presentation based on Ilona's book Mossby's Magic Carpet Handbook, with Ilona in full costume as a worker from the Mossby’s factory. Includes science demonstrations showing what kids would need to know in order to fly, such as:


What would happen if you fell off? Introduces concepts of gravity's effect on objects of different weights.

Why do you fart more at high altitude? This crowd-pleaser includes a demonstration of gravity’s effect on air, using a bottle of water that squirts when the lid comes off.

How will you find your way home? Highlights the differences between aerial views and street views. Optional: opportunity for kids to guess at what various aerial photos show.

Do not invite author Ilona Bray to your school if you expect a dignified speech about an author’s work. Invite her because she will delight , inform and surprise your students with her giddy enthusiasm for science concepts and creative writing. We can’t keep her book on the shelf. It simply flies out the door with student after student. Her presentation is truly magical! — Robin Ludmer, Teacher/Librarian, Beach Elementary School, Piedmont, California.

The audience comes away with a sense of wonder, plus a practical understanding of principles of air, gravity, and altitude.

Best age range: 8 through 11, or 3rd through 6th grades.