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The 'ittle Bear Team

Who Are Behind the Books???

'ittle Bear

The Bear Behind the Stories

‘Ittle Bear came to the Wills family around 1990.  She was found in a small store in the small town of Nashville Indiana by Katy Wills. 


The exact story on how she came to be Sarah’s is remembered and told in different ways, but she first joined Sarah in her travel and study abroad summer 1990 in St. Brieuc, France with the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages. 


Together with Sarah, she traveled to many countries (at least 30 and counting) and looks forward to many more adventures.  She can’t wait to share her story with you!

Sarah Wills Carlsson

Author and The Big Person

Sarah was born with a love of travel and interest in different countries and languages. 


Whether it was traversing the United States on an orange box in the backseat of a Chevy Vega, or taking the train across Canada, she loved to be going to new places and experience new things. 


Her interest in languages, combined with studies in electrical engineering (BSEE, 1996, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA) and engineering management (MS-MS&E, 2000, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA), led her to a career in the global automotive industry. 


Throughout her career, she lived in Germany, Sweden, and the United States, has worked daily with more than 10 countries, and has traveled to more than 30.  This interest and passion led her to be a cultural bridge in her work, and also train and develop others through her company, Nspir


After encountering too many closed-minded, inflexible people in her training for adults, she wanted to introduce young children to the wonders of experiencing travel and other cultures, while giving them a toolset that they could develop and work as they grew up. 

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Katy Wills

Illustrator and Giver of 'ittle Bear


Katy Wills has had a great imagination and talent for drawing ever since she was a young child.  She also has always had a tremendous sense of adventure, ready to take off to climb a mountain, guide a river, or venture to places unknown.

She and Sarah have talked for years about how fun it would be to write books about what the little bear that she gave Sarah would do if she could go off on adventures of her own, and managed to squeeze out the time to bring 'ittle Bear to life.

She has studied at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and University of Tennessee, and has worked her way up in IT to now being the Business Relationship Partner in addition to Product Owner at Zimmer Biomet.  Throughout her career in IT, she has loved working with and establishing relationships with her customers, suppliers, and developers around the world and has been recognized for this by her employers.

Katy is a master of managing all things, including working full-time, renovating a house, and illustrating 'ittle Bear books.  


Her big sister wrote this so that her space was no longer blank.  Her own words will come with time.

Valerie Banks Amster

Editor and Spanish Language Translator

Valerie is thrilled to be part of ‘ittle Bear’s team! She met Sarah in college at Northwestern University, where she earned her Bachelors degree in journalism and Masters degree in education. Since then, Valerie has spent more years than she will divulge in the classroom teaching Spanish and journalism, and writing and editing for local and national magazines.


Her most recent endeavor is Horse Tales, in which she writes the life lessons her equines have taught her into childrens songs, and manages the production of the accompanying childrens books and music videos.


She hopes that her miniature therapy horse, Lola, will someday get to meet ‘ittle Bear in person!

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Photo by Jordan Koepke Photography


Jennifer Royall Anderson

Book Designer

Jennifer Royall Anderson is a graphic designer and singer, living in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA with her husband and teenage daughter. She is thrilled to be involved in the 'ittle Bear project as the book designer. Since she was a child, she has always lived a life in two genres of art: Visual art and music. She earned a Bachelors degree in Music from Northwestern University, and both a Masters and Doctorate in Music from University of Maryland. 


Jennifer’s excitement about designing the book, from a graphic designer’s perspective, is obvious. So. Much. FUN! But her singing experience is another reason. Her extensive training in opera and classical singing involves becoming familiar with many different languages, as well as characters and stories from many countries and time periods. This has inspired an interest in other cultures and traditions. So she is eager to journey with ‘ittle Bear and see what this cute little bear learns on her adventures. 


When she isn’t designing for her wide variety of clients, Jennifer can be heard singing in opera productions around the DC metro area, including at the Kennedy Center, where she has sung as a chorister with the Washington National Opera for over 20 years. 

Jennifer Burke

Marketing Consultant

Jennifer is so excited to be part of the adventures of 'ittle Bear! She's a college pal and sister of the heart from days shared at Northwestern University where Jennifer got her B.S. in Communications. She has a Master's in Library + Information Science, years spent in both the marketing and library worlds, and is also the founding President behind the successful Library Marketing + Communications Conference. But she spends most of her time now helping solopreneurs and small business owners to bring their experiences and expertise online, while demystifying marketing and tech via marketing coaching and teaching at Mighty Marketing Mojo


Jennifer spent her high school years living abroad and traveling, so she greatly understands journeys, adventures, experiencing new places, and the power of learning about other cultures. She's excited to bring some of those same experiences to kids and parents through 'ittle Bear's stories. 

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Our Ambassadors

Just as countries have ambassadors to represent them, so does 'ittle Bear!

Our Ambassadors are volunteers who help us out because they believe in our project and 'ittle Bear's messages.  Would you like to join us and help spread understanding and compassion in the world?  Reach out to us today.

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