• I’ve been nuts about children’s books ever since I was a kid—began buying them myself at sixteen when I was working at a day care center and haven’t stopped since.

    At UCONN, I had the privilege to attend Francelia Butler’s Children’s Literature class and the luck to raise my hand before she was done asking if anyone wanted to drive Maurice Sendak from his home to hers, so they could attend a conference together.

    Sendak was lovely, gave me a tour of his studio and signed my well-worn copy of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. I was blown away by the honor, but knew he was in for a “bad surprise.” His chauffeur-to-be had a car with two colors of primer and Bondo comprising most of its outer surface and no heat on the inside, due to a mouse living in the heater ducts. He managed to hide his dismay after one shocked second. I think he realized (1) the car must work since it managed to arrive, and (2) he’d not get to the conference in time if he refused the ride. He got in, shrugged under the passenger’s quilt to keep warm, and proceeded to chat amiably the whole two hours of travel time.

    I’ll never forget how open and hilarious he was. It was my first close-up look at how wonderful children’s book authors/illustrators could be.

    When I was just starting to write for children, I read Touch Magic, by Jane Yolen. I wrote her a fan letter and included two stunningly awful manuscripts. She kindly recommended I join SCBWI and it has been the best professional advice, ever. I’ve never encountered a nicer, more helpful, talented and lovely group of people than those in SCBWI. I’m honored to belong.


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