I was born in Poland, and immigrated to the U.S. when I was seven. I learned English with the help of a Mother Goose collection which my relatives had given me. Before I understood the words, I was fascinated with the pictures: a woman with a gaggle of kids living in a shoe, a little man jumping over a candlestick, blackbirds flying out of a pie! What did it all mean? Eventually, I learned English, and read many more books, but the nursery rhymes continued to fascinate me. Little did I know then what a big part they would play in my life.Years later, I attained my lifelong dream of making books for children, and most of my titles are extensions of Mother Goose rhymes.
When I'm not writing and illustrating picture books, I enjoy spending time outdoors- hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, and I was once a rock climbing guide.
Some fun facts:
I was a stunt double for an actress in two rock climbing episodes of the soap opera, One Life To Live.
I can scale cliffs, but a spider will scare the living daylights out of me!
One of my dreams has been to learn to yodel, and I have - well, just a little. I don't think you'd really want to hear me.
I fell in love with words and language as a child in Poland. I had a favorite poem collection called Sto Bajek (100 Tales) by Jan Brzechwa. There were poems about whining vegetables, fish mathematicians and coat sleeves arguing with each other. I was amazed and inspired by the preposterous humor and wonderful sounds and rhythms! I just knew I wanted to make books someday.
I hope to make them laugh, or ponder, or have some visceral connection. I hope they will pay attention to details in my art. Most of all, I hope they will be inspired to become insatiable readers.
I find inspiration in nature, so walks are always helpful when I am feeling stuck. I try to experience the world with a child's sense of wonder- finding joy and awe in simple moments: a pair of mallards in a pond in spring, a frog hopping by, deer grazing in a field, the rare sighting of a reclusive Pileated woodpecker who lives near my home.
A typical day starts off with a walk with my dog. If I am working on illustrations, I will be at my drawing board either sketching and re-sketching and re-sketching, or painting, and often re-painting as well. If I am writing a story, I will start with a notebook and pencil, then go to my laptop to type and revise, revise, revise...
If ideas escape me, I go for another walk with my dog and rehash the story in my head, often coming up with fresh ideas and solutions.
My new book, Vole and Troll, is coming on September 10, 2019. It's my first book (of 27) written in prose, but with rhymes and songs in it. The story is a loose retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, in which the tricky little vole teaches the grumpy old troll interactive songs (like the Hokey Pokey) and thus manages to sneak across the bridge to the tasty grass on the other side of the creek. In the end, music bridges the gap between these two unlikely friends.
It's a dream I've had all my life. I had a difficult childhood that involved separation from my family in Poland, the death of my mother when I was 12 , and 3 1/2 years spent in a strict Catholic Children's Home when I was an adolescent. Books saved me during those years. They offered solace, humor, comfort and hope. I knew early on that I wanted to make books. Initially, I thought I'd be an illustrator--for I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil--and, for a long time stories eluded me. But one day, I tapped into that part of my brain, and ideas have kept pouring out. I hope children find the kind of joy and reassurance in my books that I experienced in books when I was a child.