I love getting together with my children — all grown-ups now — at Christmas. My daughter-in-law majored in ‘entertaining’ and she always has ‘Poppers’ and we always play games. One year she taped a question on the bottom of each plate. Questions like these: What is the best Christmas present you ever received — and we each had a chance to answer the question. It was a great way to get to know each other a little better — and to enjoy a laugh together too.
What’s the first book report you ever wrote?
I think the first book report I ever wrote was on Clara Barton. It was one of those very old orange biographies. Do they still exist? I kind of hope not. That might have been in 4th grade. Then in 9th grade, I wrote my first research paper and chose Eleanor Roosevelt as my subject. When I was asked to write the Carolrhoda biography of Eleanor, I kind of wished I had saved that paper.
Do you like to gift wrap presents?
Who wraps presents anymore? Don’t we all just tuck them into a gift bag and stuff in lots of tissue paper? In fact, I loved wrapping presents when I was in my teens. I worked a few hours a week at Esther’s Gift Shop in my home town of Hutchinson, MN. People came in to buy wedding gifts, Mother’s Day gifts, gifts for every occasion. There was a machine we used to make bows. I became a wrapping whiz.
What 3 children’s book authors or illustrators or editors would you like to invite to dinner?
I’ve been very fortunate to in fact have dinner with several authors — Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle, Jane Resh Thomas, Mary Casanova, and Margi Preus, among others. But if I could sit down and have a chat with Eleanor Roosevelt, that would be a mighty thrill. O.k., I guess she wasn’t a children’s author — but she was an author.
Where’s your favorite place to read?
Nowadays I read in bed every night before going to sleep. I really have to limit the amount of time I read and sometimes I fall asleep with the book in my hands and the light on. When I was growing up, my favorite place to read was lying on my belly on a plaid wool blanket under the giant oak tree in the front yard of the farm. I could hold that position for hours, reading Betsy, Tacy and Tib and all the rest. I’d read the entire series and then start over.