What’s with the name, anyway?
How do you pronounce it?
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I was born in 1963 in Princeton, New Jersey, which back then was a quiet college town, surrounded by old farmland slowly giving way to housing developments. I spent a lot of time building dams and forts in the woods across the street with my best friend, inventing things, and writing and drawing with my older sister. At various times during my childhood, we had newts, gerbils and rabbits as pets. When I was in fifth grade, an author and illustrator visited my school, and I was amazed that one could have a job writing and drawing. I wished it could be my job! But I didn’t think I was good enough at either writing or drawing to even try.
I had always liked to draw, though, and kept doing it just for fun. During high school, I also painted with oil paints and made stained glass windows. I actually sold some, too—my first taste of self-employment. I went to Brown University after high school, where I studied Psychology and British and American Literature. I began to think about what I really wanted to do for a career, and what I really wanted was something that involved art. So after graduation from college in 1985, I moved to Boston to study drawing and painting at the Boston Museum School (also known as the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
At the Museum School, I started getting paintings in exhibitions and won a few prizes, and then was able to get political illustrations published in the Christian Science Monitor and the Boston Globe.
Suddenly I had a career as an editorial and political illustrator, working with a lot of magazines and newspapers. In 1989, I illustrated my first book, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye, with Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston.
Since then, Ive illustrated over twenty-five books, including my latest one, Bats at the Ballgame, which I also wrote. My other four written-and-illustrated books to date are the New York Times bestsellers Bats at the Beach and Bats at the Library, Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, and Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle.
I also get lots of work published in Cricket, Spider, Ladybug and Babybug magazines, and I enjoy visiting schools to work with students on writing and illustrating stories.
I live in a seaside town in Massachusetts with my wife, my daughter, and two cats. My hobbies are bicycling, woodworking, and tending a big vegetable garden behind the house. I’m very interested in old-fashioned food preparation, too, and sometimes try making my own kimchi, sauerkraut, cheese, and other things (including a vinegar-laced drink called switchel, which I kind of liked but which everybody else in my family thought was really nasty).
I also read a lot, which I think is important—it keeps my imagination going, and leaves me feeling much more relaxed than television does!