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.