About the Author
Toni K. McMorris is a native of Detroit, Michigan and attended Detroit Public Schools. A graduate of Cass Tech, Performing Arts Curriculum, she earned an undergraduate degree in human resources, masters in health administration, and licensed in property and casualty, life, health, and disability insurance.
Toni has lived in Nigeria, and Vancouver, British Columbia – where she pursued her love of creative writing. While in British Columbia, McMorris began writing poetry and the manuscript for her book, Good Secrets and Bad Secrets. Although she is not an illustrator, she was able to draft several possibilities for a character to effectively narrate the content within the book. Ultimately, she decided a lizard and named her “Libby.” In 2011, Toni published, "Good Secrets and Bad Secrets with Libby the Lizard." Libby made her debut television appearance on local news in Detroit in 2012.
In July 2012, McMorris was invited to speak at the National Medical Association’s Annual Conference and Scientific Assembly to share her book and data she'd gathered. Then, in 2013, Good Secrets and Bad Secrets with Libby the Lizard was animated by Brian Golden. The 12-minute presentation ran for an entire year on public access television in Oakland, County Michigan.
Over the next few years, McMorris collaborated with Inkster Preparatory Academy to create a reading campaign that would enhance literacy and protect children from harmful behaviors. The book was the focal point of K-3rd grade lesson plans, concluding with Reading Night to showcase Libby with families and the community. Principal Shawn Hurt said, “Our reading scores in 2018 and 2019 increased tremendously in part because of Libby the Lizard. We developed classroom and school expectations with students, who enjoyed learning with Libby the Lizard, and parental participation soared to over 92%.”.
McMorris has plans to create an entire Libby the Lizard series of books and animations that continue to focus on child safety.