It was almost thirty years ago that I got started in children’s books, and if I remember correctly, I had this idea that I would do picture books for a while and then move on to animation or film, or marry the king of something...read more
It was almost thirty years ago that I got started in children’s books, and if I remember correctly, I had this idea that I would do picture books for a while and then move on to animation or film, or marry the king of something and be Queen Elise of Somewhere, painting landscapes in between tea and crumpets. Well, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way, because here I am, still making books for children—and boy am I glad! This time it’s a book called THUMB LOVE and it’s about the relationship between a little girl and the thumb she’s trying to quit sucking. Why thumb sucking? Because thumb sucking was a very important issue in my life and I have the thumb to prove it. I actually sucked my left thumb so much that it’s smaller, straighter, and weaker looking than the other thumb. In my formative years it was in my mouth so much that it never got the chance to grow up big and strong like the other one! Maybe that’s too much information, but it makes the point that I had a habit. A BAD habit, and it took a great deal of will power, relentless teasing, scolding, and sleepless nights to break it. What I needed at 6 years old was a program—a twelve-step program to kick the habit! Now, all these years later I have finally written the book that I so desperately needed to write. When I write a book, I’ll only write one I would enjoy reading myself. I needed a book to give to a young friend at Christmas, and I ended up writing AUNTIECLAUS. After reading my fifth-grade diary, I felt so sorry for my geeky middle school 11-year-old self that I sat down and wrote THE SECRET ORDER OF THE GUMM STREET GIRLS. And now I have THUMB LOVE for my little thumb-sucking self, who might have been able to avoid those three years of orthodontics. OW! The other thing that has motivated me to stay in child’s books, lo, so many years, is that I just really enjoy entertaining. When I was a kid I was sick all the time. I think I missed forty days of second grade. I suffered from colds, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and found myself with a lot of down time. I wish I could say I was a big reader, but the truth is I really wasn’t. Not unless you count comic books. I devoured them by the hundreds. I tried to copy the pictures, too, which was the beginning of my fascination with words and pictures. A little later I found THE HOBBIT, and I was hooked on reading. I discovered the intense pleasure of becoming immersed in a world, and reading under the covers with a flashlight. That delicious anticipation of each return to the world of whatever book I’m reading has really never left me. I think it’s an important job to entertain, and I’m happy to spend my life trying to do that for others.