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