I have always loved stories as much as some people love watching elephants, riding bicycles, or eating chocolate ice cream. As I travel and visit with students and others I am surprised and touched by the variety of our lives, the kindnesses we show to each other, the things that make us laugh, the ways we get through sadness, the stories that are part of all our lives.
I grew up on a farm in Maine with three brothers, two sisters, my parents, and a great-great uncle. My grandparents lived downstairs. Even when I was a child I loved the sounds of words, the sounds of the names of the cows on our farm, such as Riverflat Blanche Wisconsin. We did not do much writing when I was in school and I did not imagine I would one day be writing children’s books.
After growing up in Maine I eventually ended up in Iowa where my husband Rich was, for many years, a professor at Cornell College. We raised our daughter and son in our house near the campus. I write in the office on the first floor where I can look out onto the porch and watch the comings and goings in the front yard and on the street leading to main street.
After living for a time in California, our daughter Sarah now lives in Wisconsin with her husband Reed and their children. Our son Justin spent some years in Honduras and later Boston, eventually he and his family settled in Brooklyn, and now Evanston, IL. Sarah and Justin have always loved books and stories. In fact, Justin and Sarah are really responsible for my deciding to write children’s books. We had such a good time reading when they were young I thought I would like to write books that children and adults could share.
I bought a tablet and a new pen and began to write. Since that time I have worked at writing nearly every day, except holidays or traveling days.
In 1999, Mary Azarian who illustrated my book Snowflake Bentley won the Caldecott Award for those illustrations. If you’d like to know about Snowflake Bentley or any of my other books you may wish to go to my “Books” page.
My most recent titles are non-fiction picture books–one a biography, co-written with June Jo Lee, Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Re-mix (Readers to Eaters, 2017), the other a “biography” of a lost then found creek, Creekfinding (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Re-Mix was awarded a Sibert Honor and an Orbis Pictus Honor. Creekfinding received a Riverby Award for excellence in natural history writing for young readers and the Green Earth Award as a book “that best convey[s] the message of environmental stewardship.” Watch for a new book in the Spring of 2021.
I hope readers and story-lovers will come here to learn about my stories and books, and to think more about making stories out of their own interests, worries, hopes, and old socks, or best stew.