When I was a kid I spent years making paper dolls with my best friend. All of our dolls were animals that we made out of cardboard, and then we made paper clothes for them and paper versions of everything a little animal needs. Especially mailboxes! Every animal had a mailbox, and they sent one another a lot of mail. When I grew up, I knew I loved animals (I even studied zoology and wildlife biology in college), and I knew I loved to draw and write stories. But it took me quite a while to start writing and illustrating picture books about talking animals. I love what I do now, and I think it’s pretty great that this is exactly what I loved to do in third grade, too.
My first book, Hazel and Twig: The Birthday Fortune, is about two tiny mouse sisters. Even though the characters are mice, I used pictures of my daughters as drawing models. I tried to make Hazel and Twig look exactly like them, only. . . mice. Another thing that is true to life about Twig is that she usually wears only one shoe. When my younger daughter was tiny she did the very same thing. We probably would have forgotten about this funny habit if it weren’t for Twig reminding us of it! I also like to tell people how long it took me to make this book. Hazel and Twig are a preschooler and a baby, but by the time the book came out, my daughters were in fourth and first grade, and they even had a little brother. The girls like to think up mouse names for him so he can be in a book someday, too.
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Me:
1. I grew up in Michigan, which happens to be shaped like a mitten. When I tell people where I come from, I have to make my hand into a mitten shape and point to the spot. Michigan people can’t help themselves! We are mitten people.
2. I have a dog named Wilbur. Yes, he is named after Wilbur the pig from Charlotte’s Web. Sometimes when I am walking him and someone asks me what his name is, I say Wilbur, and then they say “Some Pup.” So I reply, “He is radiant.”
3. I love to swim. My favorite distance is one kilometer. That’s about forty-four laps in an American pool. I count the laps in my head, but if I lose track, I pretend that I am participating in World Swim Forever Day, and I just keep on swimming. Maybe someday we could pick a day and observe it everywhere, for all absentminded and daydreaming swimmers.