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Carla Ketner

Author of

Ted Kooser:
More Than a Local Wonder



Ted Kooser: More Than a Local Wonder


About Ted Kooser




2024 Midwest Book Award


2024 Paterson Prize
Books for Young People



Jill Esbaum interviewed Carla for "Picture Book Builders" on December 12, 2023. Read the interview here.

Pat Leach interviewed Carla and Paula for an "All About Books" segment that aired on Nebraska Public Media November 30, 2023. Listen to the complete interview here.

UNP University Press Week Guest Blog Post November 17, 2023

Ames Tribune Article November 3, 2023

University of Nebraska's Nebraska Today interview October 10, 2023 

Carla and Paula discussed the book on Nebraska Public Media's Friday Live in an interview with Genevieve Randall August 11, 2023. Find the interview at

Nebraska Book Festival article in the Lincoln Journal Star June 9, 2023

Cover Reveal on The Writing Barn's blog March 31, 2023

“A tender book celebrating the beloved American poet Ted Kooser, thoughtfully written by Carla Ketner and lovingly illustrated by Paula Wallace, may encourage a whole new crop of young writers. Pay attention to your close places, listen to your people, find what feeds your imagination—a joyous yes!”

Naomi Shihab Nye, the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate Emeritus

“This delightful portrait of U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser as a child will inspire many young people (and no doubt many of their parents) to trust their hearts and imaginations, and make writing, reading, listening, and observing important parts of their own journeys. The charming illustrations make this book wonderfully engaging.”

Connie Wanek, author of Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems

“As a boy, Ted Kooser did not know that the stories he heard about beloved people and places would someday lead him to finding his own voice as a writer. This lyrical picture book biography with luminous watercolor art shows younger readers how patience and persistence can help dreams come true.”

Karla Wendelin, children’s poetry blogger and former professor of children’s literature at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

"The threads of Teddy's childhood in Carla Ketner's nimble free verse weave into a fine quilt as adult Ted is named America's Poet Laureate. . . . Delicate and rich illustrations by Paula Wallace compliment the text, and readers both new and familiar with Kooser's work will find themselves at home, filling in their own empty spaces with the wonder of words."

Bethany Hegedus, Writing Barn founder and award-winning author of Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People: Maya Angelou

In The Press



A former elementary school teacher and instructor of college-level children’s literature courses, I now own and manage Ted Kooser’s home bookstore, Chapters Books & Gifts. Chapters is an independent, local bookstore, located on the historic courthouse square in small-town Seward, Nebraska. Some of my fondest memories at Chapters are of events featuring Ted reading from his poetry and his picture books.

Ted Kooser: More than a Local Wonder is my debut publication, but I’ve been writing for many years, practicing my craft and developing my skills, finding my voice as a writer. When I’m not reading, writing, or connecting readers to books that will touch their hearts and stretch their minds, I‘m likely to be walking my grand dog, tending my flowerbeds, looking up the names of local wildflowers, baking anything that lists chocolate as an ingredient, or traveling with friends and family. I love visiting new places, but I’m always ready to come home to Nebraska.

I’ve lived in eastern Nebraska for most of my life. For the past 25 years, I’ve lived only a few miles from Ted Kooser’s home. My husband and I raised our two sons here, and, like Ted, I feel at home among the cornfields and grasses, the wide-open spaces, wildflowers and cows, and the gentle rolling hills of our part of the countryside. I also love the wildlife and Midwestern sensibilities he writes about. His words speak to me on many levels.

Photo Credit Shoe Photography

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Chapters Books & Gifts, located on the historic downtown square in Seward, Nebraska, is owned by Carla Ketner and is Ted Kooser's hometown bookstore. Chapters is an independent, locally and woman-owned store, featuring books for all ages, unique toys for kids, and book-related gifts for adults.

Visit Chapters online at

Upcoming Events

News and Events


I'm available for school and library visits, bookstore signings, and other events. Contact me to discuss details.

For media inquiries, please contact 

Sarah Kee

In-house Publicist

University of Nebraska Press

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