Fun Questions & Answers

Here are some question from kids that I have received over the years. If you have a question that is not answered here on elsewhere on my web site, please contact me. Click to see the answers!

Do you know your hair is gray in the back?

No, at least not until a kindergartener asked me this question. I can only see the front of my head and a little bit of the sides. I knew they were gray. I went home and asked my family this same question. Yes, they assumed I knew, so they never told me.

How old are you?

I was born between Christmas and New Year’s Day, on December 29, 1956. I will let you do the math.

Do you have children? How old are they? Are they artists too?

I have a son and a daughter. They are artists too. My son is an animator and he lives in Chicago. He loves to bike, ski and teleboard. My daughter lives in New York City. She is an abstract painter. She also writes poetry.

Both kids love to draw and read.

Are you married?

Yes. My husband also loves to read, read, read. He likes to cross country ski, snow shoe and bike. He also runs. We all love the outdoors! He does not love to draw, so we draw pictures for him.

Where do you live?

I live in Vermont. My studio is in my home, which is an old farmhouse on a dirt road. We keep warm in the winter with a woodstove. We go through about five cords of wood each year, which my kids get to stack! I can see Mount Mansfield from my studio. It is the tallest mountain in Vermont. We can see snow on top of the mountain from October through May! We like to climb it in the warm weather. On my son’s 8th birthday, we climbed it with a bunch of 8 year old boys. We had a lot of fun and we didn’t lose one of them!

Have you ever made a snow angel?

Yes, many times. We have also made snowmen, women, dogs, cats, monsters, forts and castles.

Does Margaret drive a bus?

When I visit schools I talk about the process of creating a picture book. The editor is a very important part of that process. My editor’s name is Margaret. Upon hearing this, one student made the connection that his bus driver’s name was also Margaret. He wanted to know if she was the same person. So, I asked my editor if she drove a bus in her spare time. She said no.

Are you rich?

That depends on what you mean by rich. Do I make lots and lots of money? No. Do I love what I do? Absolutely! I get to draw and write everyday…and…I can go to work in my pajamas!

Have you always wanted to be a “book-maker”?

No, I wanted to be a dancer on Broadway or a rock star. I also wanted to be a doctor or a fashion illustrator. It wasn’t until art school that I discovered that I could grow up to be a bookmaker. At Parsons School of Design in New York City, I took a class where we made our own picture books. It took all year to make one dummy. I loved the class so much, that I took it again the next year and made another dummy. It was taught by a wonderful picture book maker, Maurice Sendak. He made the book Where the Wild Things Are. Maurice taught the class with Jane Bierhorst. I was very lucky to have them both for teachers.

Who is Jane and what does she do?

Jane is a book designer. A book designer takes the pictures that the illustrator has made and the words that the author has written and “shapes” them into a book.

Do you have any pets?

We have had dogs, cats, bunnies, chickens, and a pony. When she was twelve years old, my daughter asked for only two things for Christmas, an aloe vera plant and a cat. Santa found the plant and we found the cat at a local vet. He was a barn cat that needed a home. His name was Zulu and he loved to show off his belly. We have a dog who also loves to show off his belly. His name is Wilbur. He’s a Bernese Mountain dog. He was born on April 27,2015. Wilbur weighs 96lbs.

Where do you get your ideas?

Most of my ideas come from my family, my community and things that are close to me. Something will happen, like a dog barking or my daughter losing her hat, and a seed will be planted for a story. I may not know it at the time it is happening. The seed sits in my brain for a while and one day a story starts to form. I knew that I wanted to write a book about Joe’s Snack Bar for years before I knew what the story wanted to be. Then one day while I was at my drawing table I started making silly rhymes like, “He’s gone to the moon,” cried tiny June.” Sometimes an idea comes to me when I least expect it. The idea for Bob came to me while I was walking home from the general store. I wasn’t even in my studio. I was standing in the road.

Do you ever get stuck?

Yes! I think sooner or later everyone gets stuck. If I am writing or drawing something and I do not think it is working, if I think my story is dumb or my drawing is ugly, I stop working and take a break. I try to do something completely different. I go for a walk or a swim and try to forget about what I am working on. I then go back when I am feeling refreshed and look at it again. Two things can happen. Sometimes I look at what I was working on and can’t figure out what I didn’t like about it in the first place and other times I still don’t like it and I start again.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Yes. I am the youngest. My sister is 5 years older than me. My brothers are twins and are four years older than me. I will tell you that while growing up I was picked on. They will tell you I was a pest. I think there is a bit of truth in both stories!

How long does it take to make a book?

It takes a long time to make a book. It can take me a year to write the story and another year to make the pictures. Then it takes the publisher a year to eighteen months to print the book.

Which comes first? Do you write the words or draw the pictures?

A story may start with a thought or an image in my brain. It hangs out until it becomes a jumble of words and pictures in my head. For me, it is always the words that demand to come out first, while the pictures just dance around for a bit longer. I can spend weeks or months getting the words just right. I am always making changes. I add words and take away words. It isn’t until I have finished writing the story and I am sure that I do not want to make any more changes that I begin to draw pictures. But, while working on the pictures, I usually end up changing some of the words.

How do you make a book?

First, I write the story or a publisher sends me a story written by another author. Next, I begin by creating a storyboard using the words and rough sketches. Then, I make lots of dummies. I make more changes in the pictures and sometimes in the text, with each new dummy. When I am happy with the dummy, I create careful pencil sketches for every page in the book before I begin making the final illustrations out of pen and ink and watercolor. At this point, I know my book so well that I can turn on my music and play with my paint. This helps me to keep my pictures fresh. Visit the “all about” section for Bob and other books and you will see where all of the time goes! Click to “how I work” to learn more about the process.

How many books have you made?

Lots! I am always making new books. I wanted to make twenty books by the time I turned forty years old. I did that and then stopped counting! You can click to my book list and count for yourself!

What is your favorite color?

If I have to choose a color, I think it would probably be purple. I like the way it looks and the way it sounds.