I edited by day and wrote by night. Well, some nights I went out with Jim McMullan, a wonderful illustrator. On our first date, he picked me up at my apartment, looked through my bookshelves and pulled out three books with Jim McMullan covers. How could I resist him? Within a year, we were married.
I kept reading. When our daughter was born, I read to her endlessly. One hot summer in Sag Harbor, we kept cool curled up on an old couch on the porch with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter.
And I kept writing – stories about Fluffy, the Classroom Guinea Pig (who will never die), a Greek Mythology series, books set in a medieval school for dragon-slaying, and picture books with art by my favorite illustrator, Jim McMullan.
When I visit schools, kids always ask me how many books I’ve written. It’s over a hundred now, not bad for someone who set out to be a reader.
As soon as I could, I began reading my way through the Children’s Room shelves at our local public library in St. Louis, Missouri. I carried my books home, settled in with a cat or dog or my guinea pigs on my lap, and read for hours. My favorites were Greek myths, Nancy Drew mysteries, Pippi Longstocking, and animal stories, but only if the animals didn’t die. I also read Little Women (it was sad but acceptable if people died) and The Borrowers, about tiny people who lived behind the walls of houses. I loved comic books, too, and Mad Magazine. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, “A reader.”
After college, I taught fourth grade in an inner-city Los Angeles school and on an American Air Force base in Germany. Every day after lunch I read to my students, and in time I started to wonder if I could write books like the ones I read to my class. I tried, but after a day of teaching, I had little energy left for writing, so I moved to New York City, where I’d heard writers lived, and took a job in publishing, which was less tiring than teaching.
Jim when I met him.
I loved reading to Leigh.
I've always loved books.
Mom and Dad were big readers.
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