I have always been curious about the world and I have always loved to write. As a child, I read everything, including a grandparent’s old set of encyclopedias that had lots of information about plants, animals, geology, and cultures all around the world. My first poem was published in the newspaper for Mother’s Day when I was in grammar school. It read:
Happy Mother’s Day
Her smile is kind,
Her eyes are blue.
But not all of this
Is completely true.
p.s. Her eyes are green
At the time, I didn’t understand why everyone thought this poem was so funny. Now I get it. Thankfully, I’ve also learned a lot more techniques for writing too. Now I focus on telling the heart of a story, rather than trying to make that story fit what seems like silly rules.
My books for young readers are adventures that explore the world around us. Gregor Mendel didn’t climb Mount Everest and Sophie Germain didn’t fly to the moon. But scientists, mathematicians, historians, and artists understand that each day can be an adventure if we look closely and question the mysteries of everyday life.
I love nurturing young readers’ curiosity and confidence in themselves as writers. In addition to my books, I engage students at schools and libraries. For a month each summer I teach in-depth writing workshops for middle school students. We do things like eat popcorn—and then write poems about it. Or we catch tadpoles—and then write scenes about werewolves wading in creeks. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve also worked with students with learning differences. A theme of my teaching and author visits is that every student can be a writer and take pride in having a unique voice.
My writing and teaching are informed by decades of thinking about the relationship between the written word and various audiences. I studied journalism at Northwestern University and have an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Hamline University. I’ve written everything from award-winning children’s books to five-word marketing slogans, from magazine articles to labels for a museum exhibition about Chinese dinosaurs, from advertisements to websites.
For many years I lived in Chicago, eating deep-dish pizza and working at The Field Museum, which is one of the world’s top museums of natural history. Now I live on the campus of a boarding school in Connecticut with my math teacher husband, two kids, and a deaf cat named Zeus.