Sally J. Pla

Sally J. Pla

Keynote Speaker
Children's Author, Neurodiversity Advocate, Speaker

Sally J. Pla is the author of The Someday Birds, which received the 2018 Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award for its authentic portrayal of disability. It’s also a Goodreads Choice Nominee, NYPL Best Book, Bank Street Best Book, LA Library Best Book, and Junior Library Guild Selection, among many other accolades and starred reviews. Booklist called it “a delight from beginning to end.” Nerdy Book Club called it “A triumphant debut, with the resonance and depth of an instant classic.” 

Sally’s second novel, Stanley Will Probably Be Fine, is a 2018 Kirkus Best Children’s Book, a Bank Street Best Book, a NYPL Best Book, and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. In a starred review, Kirkus said: “Add to the growing list of intelligent books about kids whose brains operate outside the norm.” 

Sally’s first picture book, Benji, The Bad Day, & Me, won the 2019 San Diego Book Award. Her adult short fiction was featured in The Lascaux Review‘s Prize Volume 5. Her poetry is included in the climate-change anthology, No World Too Big (Charlesbridge 2023). Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Miami Herald, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s MetroParent magazine, and many other magazines and journals. Her new novel, The Fire, The Water, and Maudie McGinn, is about an autistic girl who learns to surf. It's already making its way onto award lists.

A writer’s residency at Hedgebrook started Sally on her second-career-in-midlife novel-writing journey. She has also been a business writer, special ed advocate, school board president, and mom. 

She is editor and co-founder of A Novel Mind, a resource on mental health and neurodiversity representation in children’s literature. Librarians have called it “a gold mine” of helpful information. 

Sally is neurodivergent, an autism advocate who believes in kindness, respect, and the beauty of different brains. We are all stars shining with different lights.

Find out more at, and follow her on Twitter @sallyjpla.