My cat Catalina keeps me up at night, meowing and wandering back and forth over me, looking for our other cat Spike, who died last fall and with whom she’d been together since kittenhood.
What is your proudest career moment?
I have two, and they happened close together. When Big Momma Makes the World had its launch in London, the London planetarium was filled with children, and someone narrated the text while Helen Oxenbury’s amazing art was projected onto the planetarium ceiling. The lights all went out when Big Momma made the dark, and then the stars filled the sky. At the end of the book the London Gospel choir sang, and all the children waved the balloon sculptures and swords in time to the music.
Not long after, I visited a school on the Navajo reservation where my daughter was volunteering and read Rattletrap Car to all the classes at the school. Back in the trailer where she stayed, I was helping my daughter pack when one of the little boys from the school, maybe six years old, burst in, saw me, cried, “Bing Bang Pop!” and laughed and laughed. Seldom has a book of mine received such a joyous reaction.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Some days I think just getting out of bed and sitting down to write is the bravest thing I ever do. Other times I think it was standing on the edge of a live volcano or whitewater rafting down the Zambezi river. Almost everything scares me, and I like the quote (although I can’t remember who said it and I’m probably mangling it), “Use all your courage today. We’ll get more tomorrow.”
What’s the first book you remember reading?
A Babar book, written in longhand rather than typeset, in the bookmobile that came at the foot of the hill where we lived.
In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?
Basketball. Unless there’s a medal for reading.
What TV show can’t you turn off?
I no longer have a television, so this one is hard to answer. I watch a few shows on my laptop once in a while, and the one I watch most is the Rachel Maddow Show.