It’s All About…Books!

me, age 2, reading babes in toylandI was born in Memphis, Tennessee, where my father was in graduate school, but I grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey.

As a child I loved to draw, practice piano, and play in our beautiful yard with my sisters and cousins—but most of all I loved to read. I remember the first beloved book I picked out from a Scholastic Books Duckflyer in grade school: The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. I read Beatrix Potter books and countless Highlights magazines while sitting in the allergist’s waiting room. Next, I read Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and many other novels between piano and drawing lessons. And soon I was reading and rereading such books as The Hobbit, Watership Down, and The Martian Chronicles. In high school while working at the Parsippany Library I read the entire science fiction section from A to Z. My favorite authors were Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury.

first day of school 1969 smallerI studied literature and poetry—my true love!—at the University of Pennsylvania and many years later as a graduate student at Western State Colorado University.* As a longtime editor, I work with words every day, and enjoy reading as much as ever. But my favorite book of them all is a picture book, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, whose birthday, June 10, I share.Ice Skating!

As a writer and a poet, I have been exploring the world of children’s literature for about seven years. Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes (Albert Whitman, Fall 2013) and Cheers for a Dozen Ears: A Summer Crop of Counting (Spring 2014) are my first books. Sugar White Snow and Evergreens: A Winter Wonderland of Color appeared Fall 2014. All are fabulously illustrated by Susan Swan, as is Sun Above and Blooms Below: A Springtime of Opposites (Spring 2015), the fourth and final book in this series of rhyming concept books inspired by visits to farms in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where my family lives.

me, younger, burjan's mazeFrom Apple Trees to Cider, Please! (Albert Whitman, Fall 2015, re-releasing under the title Une journée au verger, Éditions Scholastic, September 1, 2016), delightfully illustrated by Julia Patton, is another rhyming picture book that celebrates farm life and seasonal activities.

chickenhead smallerMy first prose picture book, The Boy Who Said Nonsense (Albert Whitman, May 1, 2016), illustrated by Nicola Anderson, is inspired by and dedicated to my nephew Christopher. It’s a modern fable about a boy named Tate. Tate loves numbers, especially 11, and he can count lots of things just by looking at them. All this counting makes most people think Tate talks nonsense. Tate never seems to mind, but his brother Balen does. No one seems to understand Tate—until Balen makes a connection and helps the whole family see things from Tate’s perspective. My hope is that the book helps readers to see through the eyes of and celebrate children who communicate in different ways.

What’s up next? I’m still deciding! But I write every day and look forward with hope and wonder to publishing more books and poems for children—and grownups!—across the coming years.

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*I’m still waiting to finish my MFA in Poetry with an Emphasis in Formal Verse (i.e., on sabbatical while several kids are in college…)