James Berry was born in 1925 in Jamaica, grew up there, and has used it as the setting for most of his fiction. When twenty-three years old, he moved to England where he became an educator and literary scholar, publishing Bluefoot Traveller: An Anthology of West Indian Poets in Britain in 1976 (revised 1981).
In addition to his scholarship and writing fiction, Berry has published two collections of poetry, Fractured Circles (1979) and When I Dance: Poems (1988). Featuring a deft prose style and fine depictions of life in Jamaica, A Thief in the Village was declared a Coretta Scott King Award honor book. Although he did not begin writing fiction for young readers until late in his life, Berry has in less than a decade established himself as a distinguished voice in the field of young adult literature.