Picture books are my first and greatest love. I can’t imagine my life without creating little gems that make you laugh and sigh. I wish I could say I write one kind of book, and when you buy my book you know exactly what you’re getting because it’s like the one you read before. People like that kind of author. People buy lots of books from authors like that. But that is not what you get when you read my books because I write books that are funny and serious, books that star animals and kids, historical fiction, travel and magical realism. I’m sort of like an old fashioned “Cabinet of Curiosity,” filled with interesting, quirky things.
But, despite lots of different styles, there are some things you can always count on:
- I’ll write for the biggest YOU you can be, who is often bigger than your parent know.
- I’ll write for all the silly, smart, thoughtful, worried kids who live in the real world.
- I’ll give you a satisfying ending that leaves you with hope.
- I’ll give you something to think about when the reading is over.
I struggle all the time with a swizzly brain that doesn’t seem to have an “off” button. So, even though I’m best known as a picture book author, I write other things too. Lyrics, musicals, screenplays, articles.
How many books have you written?
“Fifty-four and counting.”
What’s your favorite?
“Honestly, it’s the one I’m working on. I get so excited my eyeballs jiggle. But of the published books, my favorite is ‘Lovabye Dragon.’” Tomorrow, it will probably be a different one.”
Have your books been translated into other languages?
“I have books in 29 different languages. This is one of my greatest thrills.”
Where do you get your ideas?
“I think about the world and imagine the things you think about or worry about. Or I have a quirky thoughts about
Do you have a family?
“My husband, Chuck, is a bronze sculptor. I have three children, who are my hearts—Maaike, Anneke and Rob. Also, three clever, hilarious grandchildren—Lucia, Marina and Esme. I am their greatest fan. And I plan to have a new puppy very very soon.”
What’s your best-selling book?
“Mama, Do You Love Me? has sold around 3 million copies.”
Where do you live?
“Port Washington, Wisconsin, a little harbor town. I live in a perch I call “The Crow’s Nest” right on the harbor. My perch is on the fourth floor, which is super high for Port Washington, so I live in the sky. The sky is a very good place for an author to live.”
Why does your hair look like that?
“I have curly, purple and blue hair that looks like birthday ribbon on a good day. Or, on a bad day, like a UFO which experiencing a mechanical breakdown. I picked this style because I like it and . . . why not?”
When is your birthday?
“The month of February. The whole month. I celebrate from the first day until the last, though I do share my birthday with two famous presidents and all valentines.”
Do you like to write?
“I love every single minute, except the ones where I’m banging my head against the wall in utter and complete frustration. I do not like those minutes.”
Besides writing, what else do you like?
“I like planting poppy seeds along the rip rap on Lake Michigan, hiking, adventures with my grandkids, exploring, reading. I like the outside. When it’s cold, I like the inside. Dogs. Birds. Animals of all stripes, except for the blood-sucking monsters of Wisconsin—mosquitos. Kids. Fog. Mysterious things. Laughing.”
Is there anything you don’t like?
“YES! Meanness. Bossiness. People who think they know all the answers. Cliques or clubs that don’t have room for you. Rules that don’t make sense.”
Do you have a favorite color?
“Orange because it’s cheery and cozy.”
What are your favorite words?
“Mysterious. Higgledy-piggledy. Marshmallow. Eyeball. Granna (my grandma name).”