I’ve been a teacher and a librarian and a writer for almost fifty years. I started as a children’s librarian at The New York Public Library. My favorite libraries were in the South Bronx and in Spanish Harlem, in old Carnegie buildings where crowds of children poured in every day.
I taught grades 5-12 in Brookline, Mass. and I continue to teach English to immigrant women in a program at Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women in Boston.
I’m also a bookbinder. As one young friend put it, “It’s always about books.” Reading, writing and making books are my favorite things. I love to talk about books, discover new authors and illustrators, hear about what people young and old are reading.
My first published book was Don’t Be Mad, Ivy (Dial Press, 1981). I was writing what I thought were picture book texts but my editor saw they came together as a chapter book for young readers.
Leo, a character from that book, became the hero of my next book, Toad Food and Measle Soup (Dial,1983). Leo has been a favorite of mine, appearing again in It’s a Deal, Dogboy (Viking 1998).
Leo and Ivy appear in Luck Charms and Birthday Wishes (Viking 1984) and Just for the Summer (Viking 1987) along with friends Emily Mott and Johnny Ringer.
My daughter, a ballet dancer who also loved to play ice hockey, was the inspiration for my middle grade novel, Ballet Bug (Viking 2001), about a girl who tries to do both.
Goyangi Means Cat (Viking 2011) is a picture book about a little girl from Korea who comes to a family in America. She speaks only Korean and the family speaks only English but they teach each other words during her first week in her new home. The events in the story are fiction but it was influenced by my family’s experiences.
Another picture book, Dog Wants to Play, (Viking 2009) is set on a farm. Jeff Mack brings it to life in brilliant color. Poor Dog is disappointed again and again but all ends well in a riotous ending.
After writing several episodic books, I set aside time to work on a longer novel. In Count Me In (Viking 1986), Katie feels left behind by her parents’ divorce. She lives with her mother and stepfather who are expecting a new baby. She visits her father in the city but she can see that there’s no place for her there. She wonders where she will fit after the baby’s born.
In my second novel, Friends First (Viking 1990), Miranda ’s closest friend, Gus, lives downstairs. They’ve grown up together, best friends for years. I wanted to explore the possibility of a close friendship like theirs lasting as they grow older. They write a science fiction/romance together, trading chapters, and use it to reflect their friendship and the stresses that come with adolescence. A Spanish edition, Los Amigos Primero (A LA Orilla Del Viento, 53) is illustrated by Vicent Marco.
My latest book has the working title, Book Babies. It’s a picture book to be published by Viking. The illustrator is not yet named. In it four babies appear mysteriously on an island. One is discovered in the mail bag, two are left on the ferry and one is found sleeping on the fish pier on a pile of nets. The babies are discovered by the ferryman, the harbor master and the fisherman and not one of them knows what to do. The librarian takes charge!