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Home > Children's Authors & Artists > Karen Lynn Williams

Karen Lynn Williams
Photo of Karen Lynn Williams

Karen Lynn Williams, along with Khadra Mohammed, is the co-author of Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale (January 2021). Julia Cairns painted the delicate and vibrant illustrations for the book. The story is a Somali coming-of-age tale about a boy who needs to win a race but who must first discover how to capture the spirit of that fastest running animal on the planet, the cheetah, in order to accomplish his goal.

Karen Lynn Williams is a teacher, writing instructor, and award-winning children’s book author. She has been writing for over 35 years and has published 15 books for children.

Karen worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, Africa, which is the setting for When Africa Was Home (Booklist Editors’ Choice). She also lived and worked in Haiti, the setting for her highly acclaimed books Circles of Hope (Skipping Stones Honor Award) and Tap-Tap (Junior Library Guild Selection). In Pittsburgh she volunteered with the Pittsburgh Refugee Center and helped to settle refugees from Somalia.

She is also the author of Galimoto, which was selected as a Reading Rainbow Featured Book and was one of the New York Times Top Ten Books of the Year.

Ms. Williams has also been an instructor in writing programs at Seton Hill University and Chatham University and the Institute for Children’s Literature.

After spending seven years on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, Karen has recently returned to Pittsburgh, where she lives with her husband and has four children and six grandchildren.

Author Extras & Links


  • Readers can learn more about author Karen Lynn Williams and her work on her website.
  • Click here to read an author interview with both Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed about writing and about their joint book Four Feet, Two Sandals.

a page from the book…


Pages 20-11 from the book “Never Say a Mean Word Again”, written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard

A sample of a page written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed and
illustrated by Julia Cairns from their book The Spirit of the Cheetah



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