I grew up in a big family—the fifth of ten children—and spent lots of time outdoors, hiking and camping and playing. As a child, I collected feathers and rocks and seashells, and caught tadpoles in order to watch them grow into frogs. I loved insects, especially caterpillars and butterflies. With siblings, cousins, and friends, I climbed trees, rode bikes, roller-skated, played hopscotch, and made dolls out of hollyhock flowers. Our mothers would say, “Come home at the twelve-o’clock whistle,” which meant that when a factory at the edge of town blew its whistle at noon, we’d all know it was time to go home for lunch. We’d play again in the afternoon, and gather at someone’s house after supper for games of kick the can, softball, or “Annie-eye-over.” It is easy to remember lots of details from those years when I write books and poetry for children. Applesauce Weather is especially influenced by those early childhood memories.
The question I am most often asked about the books Rick Lieder and I create together is “Which comes first, the poem or the photographs?” It’s an impossible question to answer, because we work together right from the start. We are both deeply interested in the natural world—I keep my eyes open and try to find just the right words to share what I see, and Rick does the same with his camera. When we talk together, at the beginning of a project, our ideas might be vague: “Let’s do something with insects.” Or “Everyone loves fireflies.” Then as our work progresses, it becomes more focused—we might be looking at images of birds and realize that the smaller birds should go together in one book, and it could be mostly about birds in flight. As I write a poem, we start to match images to words. Sometimes Rick keeps working to get a better image to go with a line of a poem, and sometimes I revise my poem so that it will more naturally be paired with a particular image. We work with Sarah Ketchersid, our wonderful editor, and with others at Candlewick, throughout the process.
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Me
I am famous for being in a movie. Well, famous in my family for being in a movie my dad was taking when I was running down a sand dune on Cape Cod and lost my balance. I went facedown in the sand, as Dad kept the camera running.
I taught in a one-teacher school in Telida, Alaska, for three years. The first year, I had five students, one in each grade, from kindergarten to grade four.
I love to swim and was once on a synchronized swimming team. Swimming at sunrise in a cold lake or ocean is my idea of heaven.