Shelley Tanaka was born in Toronto, Ontario. She has a B.A. (Hons) in English and German from Queen's University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. For the past thirty years she has been fiction editor at Groundwood Books, Canada's foremost children's book publisher, where she has worked with some of the country's finest children's book writers, including Martha Brooks, Alan Cumyn, Deborah Ellis, Sarah Ellis, Martine Leavitt and Tim Wynne-Jones. She has edited several dozen children's books, including thirteen Governor General's Award winners.
Shelley is the author of more than twenty books for children and young adults. She has won the Orbis Pictus Award, the Mr. Christie's Book Award, the Science in Society Book Award and the Information Book Award, and she has twice been nominated for the Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis. Other honors include Texas Blue Bonnet runner-up, School Library Journal Best Books, ALA Notables and IRA Young Adults' Choice. She has also worked as a translator. Good for Nothing, by Michel Noel, was selected as Canada's translation choice for the Honour List named by the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY).
Shelley teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts, in the MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.