One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother singing a nursery rhyme to me while I was falling asleep. It was a simple song, in Hungarian (the language we spoke at home), about a squirrel that climbed up a tree, holding a letter in its mouth, and the letter was for me! I still remember the words and how happy I felt when I heard her soothing voice.
I started writing poems of my own almost as soon as I could write. I remember trying to find rhyming words for the ends of the lines and working hard to make the rhythm work. One of my favorite birthday presents was a blue notebook from my sister. On the front she wrote: For Your Poems. (see pictures) I carefully copied my poems into this notebook for all of third grade. I would fall asleep at night thinking of new poems to add the following morning.
When I started writing for children, the stories often came to me in short lines but I felt like in order to publish them, I would have to write them in prose. Then on a whim, I sent Louise May, my editor at Lee and Low, a narrative in seven verses called Shanghai Moments. “Can you write more?” she asked me in an e-mail. This became my first book written in verse, SHANGHAI MESSENGER, illustrated by Ed Young. Since then, I have published two other books in verse, WHERE THE STEPS WERE, and my new book, ETCHED IN CLAY.~ read more ~