Big Green Pocketbook

The Encyclopedia of Writing and Illustrating Children's Books

Starting Over … Sort Of 

This year — after more than 40 years as a full­time writer of books for chil­dren — I feel the need to start over. What went wrong in my career? It’s a long list, I’m afraid

Rabbit Hill

Robert Lawson Gave Me Animals 

Is there any­thing fin­er than a mid­dle grade book with inte­ri­or art? Yes, a mid­dle grade book about wood­land ani­mals with excel­lent inte­ri­or art.

Childcraft cover

A Lust for Endpapers 

They say don’t judge a book by its cov­er but watch out for entic­ing end­pa­pers! I dis­cov­ered the lure of end­pa­pers as a kid leaf­ing through my cousin’s Child­craft series.

Child Life

Magazine Parade 

In which Can­dice F. Ran­som takes a look at Amer­i­can chil­dren’s mag­a­zines from 1789 to today.


When I Was a Wild Pony 

The title of this essay comes from a dream I had last night, its mem­o­ry and mean­ing caught between mys­te­ri­ous dream­time and awak­en­ing in this harsh end-of-sum­mer world. I was nev­er a wild pony. 

Andersen's Fairy Tales

Borrowed Sparkle 

I sat on a rust­ed swing hung from an I beam in our base­ment with a heavy book on my lap. I was ten and lone­ly because my only sis­ter had left home a year earlier.

Waiting for Mr. Tumnus

Waiting for Mr. Tumnus 

Long ago, on windy, win­try nights, I’d look out the win­dow by my bed as trees shift­ed for a glimpse of a light deep in the woods.  The yel­low light — on and off as the wind tossed — kept me up late, won­der­ing.  We had no neigh­bors on the oth­er side of our woods.

Candice Ransom

My Journey with Margaret Wise Brown 

How long does it take to write and have a non­fic­tion pic­ture book pub­lished? A few years? Five? How about nineteen?

Candice Ransom

Listening for Stories 

Each morn­ing, when I can, I walk two and a half miles.  I walk for exer­cise because I write most of the day.  But main­ly I walk to lis­ten for stories. 

Candice Ransom

Crafting a Home of the Heart 

It had been years since I last vis­it­ed the home of my heart, the only place where I can breathe freely. Con­icville is in Shenan­doah Coun­ty in the Val­ley of Vir­ginia, bor­dered by the Alleghe­ny Moun­tains. It con­sists of a church, a ceme­tery, and a scat­ter­ing of hous­es and farms. In 2012, I trav­eled to meet my 98-year-old cousin. His farm

Candice Ransom

The Cottage of Lost Play 

Work­ing on my mag­i­cal real­ism mid­­dle-grade nov­el, I real­ized I couldn’t visu­al­ize where my sto­ry is locat­ed. I could describe imme­di­ate build­ings, but the land­scape was blank. If I couldn’t see it, nei­ther could a reader.

Candice Ransom

Finding Wonder 

When fairy tale char­ac­ters step into the woods, they are beset by tests, yet are stronger by the time they find their way out. At the begin­ning of 2021, I wan­dered in a deep, dark woods because, as Bruno Bet­tel­heim warns in The Uses of Enchant­ment, it’s where you go after los­ing the frame­work which gives struc­ture to your life.

Candice Ransom

Losing Wonder 

I hadn’t writ­ten in months. Yet each morn­ing, dur­ing that misty peri­od between sleep and wake­ful­ness, ideas popped into my mind. In the cold win­ter light, though, those ideas were revealed as with­ered and drab. Covid stole more than con­cen­tra­tion and moti­va­tion. It robbed me of wonder.

Candice Ransom

Making Peace with January 

This year, Hal Borland’s Book of Days migrates upstairs with me to read dur­ing my after­noon rest and before bed. It’s a dai­ly jour­nal begin­ning Jan­u­ary 1, writ­ten from his farm in rur­al Con­necti­cut, meant to help him answer the ques­tions: Who am I? Where am I? What time is it? At 68, I ask those ques­tions, too. Borland’s entries mix mid-70s sci­ence with New Eng­land lore, his nat­ur­al obser­va­tions of the sea­sons with his own qui­et musings.

Jan­u­ary 6: Frost flow­ers fas­ci­nate me. They are relat­ed to frost ferns, those intri­cate pat­terns that formed on win­dow­panes before we slept in heat­ed bed­rooms. Frost ferns were indoor plants, cre­at­ed by the humid­i­ty in the room. Frost flow­ers are wildlings, out­door grows cre­at­ed by humid­i­ty in the starlight.

Candice Ransom

Magic Needs Humble Soap 

When I was ten, I want­ed to be a detec­­tive-vet­er­i­­nar­i­an-artist-writer-bal­let dancer. Nev­er mind I couldn’t stay up late, stand the sight of blood, or ever had a sin­gle dance les­son. Ten-year-olds view the world as lim­it­less. When I was a teenag­er, my dreams shift­ed to more spe­cif­ic: a writer of children’s books and an ani­ma­tor for Walt Dis­ney Studios.

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