Summer 2017

My photograph, above right, shows why it's no surprise to my mother that I grew up to write picture books.

In the photo, I'm not quite three years old, but already captivated by the combination of words and pictures. I don't remember what the story was, but I do remember that I couldn't be bothered to smile for the camera, no matter how my father cajoled me.

The fascination with stories continued throughout my childhood. I read constantly: fairy tales, science fiction, mysteries, history, biography, and at breakfast, the backs of cereal boxes.

I've had ten picture books published, with nine different, wonderful illustrators, most recently, A Dignity of Dragons and Little Treasures: Endearments From Around the World.


My book The Bake Shop Ghost was inspired by listened to the Charlie Daniels song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." A duel with a spirit is an old folktale motif. I translated the idea to a more modern setting with female characters.

Majorie Priceman's illustrations wonderfully capture the humor and energy of the story this ghost story with cakes. The book has garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. The Parents' Choice Foundation reviewed it on their website. It has also been nominationed by The Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association.

On Nov. 19, Daniel Pinkwater read the story on National Public Radio. Listen to him here.

This lead to my collaboration with composer Jonathan Schwabe on the musicial version of the story.

Like many writers, my first attempts at writing took the form of poetry, so I was especially pleased to return to that love in The Reptile Ball. I played with poetic forms from limericks to perfect rhymes. The book was an ABA Pick of the Lists title and the New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing.


The Magic Nesting Doll was inspired by a stacking doll that I saw that was painted with scenes from Russian fairy tales. The doll struck me as the perfect magical object. I used Russian imagery and classic fairy tale elements in this original story. Artist Laurel Long used motifs from Russiam enamel art in her marvelous illustrations.

In a lovely twist worthy of the genre, the book inspired a doll, carved and hand-painted by Russian artisans and sold by Tolstoys.

The Magic Nesting Doll is a Storyteller's World Honor Book, and a West Viriginia Children's Choice nominee. It has been translated into Greek and Korean.

Laurel Long was also the illustrator for my retelling of the Grimm's fairy tale The Lady and the Lion. I remember reading it was a child and being fascinated by the enchanted prince who was transformed by a splinter of light and the trails the heroine endured to be reunited with her true love.

The book has been published in a Greek and Korean edition.

Email Jacqueline K. Ogburn

The Jukebox Man was inspired by my grandfather, who was a jukebox man in North Carolina during the middle of the 20th century.

Artist James Ransome captured the feeling and period so beautifully, that I could hardly believe he had never seen my grandfather's shop or gone with him on his rounds. The book won the AAUW award for juvenile literature.

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