Skinny Dip with Stephanie Calmenson

Stephanie Cal­men­son (Pho­to: Car­los Chiossone)

Author of the beloved Din­ner at the Pan­da PalaceStephanie Cal­men­son has shared her love of lit­er­a­ture with ear­ly child­hood and ele­men­tary read­ers by chan­nel­ing her enthu­si­asm for their expe­ri­ences into her books. 

Who was your favorite teacher in grades K-7 and why?

I loved my kinder­garten teacher, Ms. Cogan, who taught with warmth and joy. Fast for­ward a cou­ple of decades and, inspired by Ms. Cogan, I’m teach­ing kinder­garten in that very same Brook­lyn classroom.

Stephanie Calmenson
Stephanie Cal­men­son, age 5

When did you first start reading books?

I was about four or five when I got hooked on the Little Golden Books edition of Heidi. I listened to, recited, and studied that book until I was actually reading it. I was even captivated by the copyright page. (Clearly an author-in-the-making, I was thrilled when I got to write my own Little Golden Books.)

Your favorite daydream?

When I was a kid, I dreamed of having a dog. In adulthood, I made my dream come true as soon as I began working at home.

May I Pet Your Dog?My shag­gy dog Rosie became the star of Rosie, a Vis­it­ing Dog’s Sto­ry. My dachs­hund Har­ry became the star of May I Pet Your Dog?

Dinner party at your favorite restaurant with people living or dead: where is it and who’s on the guest list?

No big dinner party for me, thanks. I'll be at Pop's Luncheonette on Flatbush Avenue with Maurice Sendak. We'll be sharing Brooklyn stories while drinking egg creams.

What’s your favorite part of starting a new project?

When the language meets the idea. It can be as simple as a catchy title, or a few lines that sing to me.

HeidiYour best memory of your school library?

The libraries I've visited as an author have replaced any memory of my own school library. They're havens for kids, lovingly created by librarians who want nothing more than to assist and inspire.

Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Mint chocolate chip. No, wait—jamoca almond fudge. Okay, it's definitely green tea. Hold the cone! Chocolate fudge brownie!

Magic MountainBook on your bedside table right now?

Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain.

What’s your hidden talent?

The hidden talent I wish I had is to sing well enough to fill a room.

Your favorite toy as a child …

My pink puppy. I named her Heidi, of course.

Why do you feel hopeful for humankind?

It's a challenge to feel hopeful these days, but good people banding together and speaking out helps. As Dr. Seuss writes in The Lorax, "UNLESS someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, NOTHING is going to get better. It's NOT."

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David LaRochelle
6 years ago

What a won­der­ful cir­cle, to be teach­ing in the same kinder­garten room that you attend­ed! If Ms. Cogan was still alive at the time, she must have been very proud.

stephanie calmenson
Reply to  David LaRochelle
6 years ago

Thanks for not­ing this, David. I was­n’t able to track down Ms. Cogan, but did find my fifth grade teacher and it was love­ly to con­nect with her adult-to-adult.