When I was little, I loved the word tuxedo. Tuxedo, tuxedo. It was like a funny little song I’d sing over and over.
My love of tuxedo and other words later compelled me to spend winter breaks studying for school spelling bees. I remember the excitement of winning the fifth-grade bee by successfully spelling lion and the disappointment of not winning the sixth-grade contest because I spelled effect instead of affect. Always listen to how the word is used in a sentence, I learned.
Today I’m still finding the music and joy in words—and in being selective with them. As the author of more than 300 nonfiction books for beginning readers, I’ve written on topics from tomatoes to tornadoes. With each one, I feel I’m helping kids learn a little bit more about the world around us.
I love sharing stories, as I’m fortunate to do with features in newspapers and other publications. It’s hard to beat that moment during an interview when the subject gives you that perfect line—a gold nugget of personality, wisdom or insight that makes the story meaningful and memorable. I’ve mined such moments from physicians, chefs, Kirby Puckett and Rob Zombie, among others.
After living a mile from the shores of Lake Michigan for many years, my husband and I now live in my hometown of Fairmont, Minnesota, the "City of Lakes," where I strive to remain one shade of pale.