On my bulletin board is a quote from Emerson: "May the work that you do be the play that you love." It's a perfect statement of the way I feel about writing for children─at times, it seems more like play than like work, particularly since I began writing almost exclusively for children.
Although born in Wisconsin, I grew up in the Northern Alberta town of Grande Prairie, where the Aurora Borealis flickered and shimmered across the night sky. The winters were long and cold, so cold my nostrils stuck together when I breathed too deeply, so cold my legs turned blue if I were foolish enough to go outside without warm stockings or pants, so cold I could hear the ice on the slough snapping and popping as I lay in bed at night. Winter days were short. It was dark when I left for school in the morning and dark when I came home. I still ice skated and played hockey, no matter how cold, often by moonlight. When I was older, I ice curled, my favorite winter sport, then and now. If only curling had been an Olympic event when I was younger, because I would have loved to try out for the team.
In summer, the prairie sun rose very early and darkness didn't arrive until nearly midnight. Days seemed endless, wonderful for a child who loved to wander the countryside, either on foot or by horseback. And both the long nights of winter and the long days of summer were perfect for a child addicted to reading. And I read everything. I'd check out as many library books as the librarian would allow, wake early in the morning to read, and read under the covers with a flashlight at night. I'd even read while I walked somewhere. In those days, there weren't as many books for children and young adults as there are today, so I was soon reading adult books.
After graduating from high school in Grande Prairie, I attended the University of Alberta, first in Calgary and later in Edmonton. I taught first grade for a few years, then studied journalism at the University of Utah. There, a class in writing for children unearthed my passion.
Some of my published books touch on things that worry me or worry children, such as the teens who flirt with trouble in Sexted!, the bully in Bully at Ambush Corner, or the animals being used in medical research in Saving Casey. In other books I tell readers about the world around them, such as in Flush! Treating Wastewater, or about the world as it was before they were born, as in Sarah on Her Own. At times I simply want to make a reader chuckle (Samantha Gill, Belly Dancer). I also like to write about people I admire. Jackie Robinson, Baseball's Civil Rights Legend tells the story of the courageous man who dared to make a difference. Woody Guthrie, America's Folksinger tells of the talented, tormented man who gave America his creative gifts despite suffering a debilitating illness. Children of the Dust Days describes the lives of the young people who faced a world of poverty, dust, and famine. Someday I'll write about growing up in Northern Alberta. Those memories are simmering inside me, waiting to come to an irresistible boil.