I grew up near San Francisco. As the oldest of five children, I loved to tell stories to my younger brother and sisters. Learning to read opened up the world of books, and at a young age I decided to become a writer. I started my first book at the age of eleven, but never even finished the first chapter! I continued to write through high school and college, and began amassing an impressive collection of rejection slips.
I earned a Master's degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, and launched a career as an elementary teacher. It was perfect training for a children's writer, because I read so many great books. I taught Kindergarten through third grade in schools in Arizona, Oregon, and Idaho.
Mid-way through my teaching career, I took off several years to raise my son. While I was at home, I started to write down stories to amuse him, and to fictionalize incidents from my teaching experience. I had intended to write non-fiction and curriculum materials, but when I sat down to write, the words poured out as stories and poems. It was as if all the children I had taught over the years were now telling me stories.
I have published twenty-six children’s books, and more than thirty short stories in children’s magazines such as Cricket, Spider, and Highlights for Children.
My books have won several awards, including the Oregon Spirit Award, Nevada Young Reader’s Award, Children Choice list, ABA Pick of the Lists, CBC Best Books of 2000, and the Parent's Guide to Children's Media Award. In 2004, Elbrite Brown won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for his illustrations in My Family Plays Music. In December 2005, Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie! was selected by TIME magazine as one of the best children's books of 2005.One is A Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale was awarded an Anne Izard Storytellers Choice Award in 2009. Pick a Pumpkin, Mrs. Millie! was named to TIME Magazine's Best Children's Books of 2009 list. My books have also been nominated for state awards in Maryland, Rhode Island, Oregon, Kansas, Indiana, and Washington.
My children’s books are:
The West Texas Chili Monster
Now We Can Have a Wedding
Third Grade Pet
Mean, Mean Maureen Green
Rabbit Pirates: A Tale of the Spinach Main
Weird Stories from the Lonesome Café
Cool Cat, School Cat
Go to Sleep, Groundhog!
My Family Plays Music.
That Crazy Eddie and the Science Project of Doom
Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!
The Mystery of the Burmese Bandicoot
Mrs. Millie Goes to Philly!
One is a Feast for Mouse
Pick a Pumpkin, Mrs. Millie!
The Case of the Purloined Professor
Cinco de Mouse-O!
Carmen Learns English
Nora and the Texas Terror
Haunted House, Haunted Mouse
The Secret Chicken Society
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Millie!
Snow Day for Mouse
My interests include music, reading, and bird watching. With my background in performing music and in teaching, I enjoy speaking at schools, conferences, festivals, workshops, and libraries. I live with my husband and cat in Ontario, Oregon.