"Kids’ books are the most important books in the world,” says Jean Gendreau. "Books are like friends -- They tell you secrets, they make you feel better and they're fun."
Born in Scotland, in a minister’s family, Jean was a bookie kid who grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. She walked her family’s basset hound at 5am, rowed on the lake in her own rowboat and played viola, sometimes playing in musicals such as "Pirates of Penzance." Later she studied Indian languages in Delhi, India, and married a Muslim man in India. She loved staying with her in-laws in their huge old house and living with the women in the women’s quarters. The most fun was talking to people who had never spoken to a westerner before. And when she went out, she wore a long black veil – which she loved because the veil was a great disguise so no one knew she was an American.
So far, Jean’s stories in Cricket magazine have been about riddles and about life in South Asia. After 9/11 she wrote about Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the great pacifist leader who worked closely with Gandhi in the 1940s. (Her earlier work is published under the name "Jean Akhtar Cerrina.") She also writes essays for newspapers and travel blogs about her trips around the world. For years she worked as an editor and also taught English in college. Right now she is marketing a young adult historical fantasy novel set in 1895 in a Minnesota mining town.
Jean’s favorite things today are her family -- her daughters, her grandson, and her husband -- and writing. She lives in a log house in the Minnesota north woods, among wolves, ravens and pine martens. She and her husband often paddle kayaks or hike in places such as Mongolia, Vietnam, India, Bhutan, Brazil and Greenland. She still plays the viola and dreams about new stories to write.
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