I grew up in the Beaches, a neighborhood in Toronto, Canada, one street from the shore of Lake Ontario. My family often went for hikes along the wild eastern beach under the rocky Bluffs that jut into the sky about two hundred feet above the water’s edge. My sister, my brothers, and I built castles out of sandy clay, adorned with pebbles of sea glass and chunks of broken pottery that we imagined came from the kitchens of houses that had fallen over the cliffs. We made people out of sticks and seaweed, and once found a dead rat to play the monster who threatened the castle-dwellers.
We were always making things, often out of other things; costumes out of curtains, a dollhouse out of a drawer, forts out of boxes, a circus out of the backyard, a wig out of a mop... so it was a short voyage to my first career as a toy designer and not much further to making up words and pictures in my life as a writer and illustrator.
Sneaky Art: Crafty Surprises to Hide in Plain Sight is my second book with Candlewick. The first was a middle-grade novel called Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance.
The seeds for Sneaky Art were clearly sown when I was a child beachcomber, thrilled to find odd treasures in the sand, turning them into stories or using them as the foundation for new works of art. (How far had that tiny rubber lion travelled across the waves? Did it have a name on the other side of the lake? Would its owner mind that it joined a zoo constructed of driftwood and populated with a fishing lure and seagull bones?)
Years of living in Manhattan, as the mother of young children, showed me that treasures often lie unnoticed on the streets of New York City as well. (Where was the striped glove’s partner? What words had been written with the red pen? How had no one noticed when a baby’s shoe fell off?) Everything from lost objects to graffiti, from advertising to manhole covers and subversive street art, added to the daily visual feast of big city life. I eventually began to place my own small contributions in places chosen to best surprise the viewer. And to conceive of a book that might inspire young artists to do the same...
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I have sailed across the Bermuda Triangle.
2. I like to hold garter snakes.
3. I have never made a pie from scratch.