As a children’s writer, illustrator, and cartoonist, I enjoy creating cool, fun stuff for kids and teaching them how to be creative themselves. Here’s a little bit about me and what I do.
As a writer, I specialize in children’s poetry and fiction. As an illustrator, I specialize in cartooning. I’ve had over 400 short stories, poems, articles, puzzles, and pictures published in a variety of places ranging from Highlights For Children to The Saturday Evening Post.
I especially enjoy writing humorous stories and poems that involve word play, surprise endings, and funny ways of looking at the world. Some of my favorite topics are animals, school, holidays, monsters, and food. My poems have been included in over a dozen anthologies including Caroline Kennedy’s Poems To Learn By Heart and Kenn Nesbitt’s One Minute Till Bedtime. My poetry has also been published in The Journal of Children’s Literature and archived by the Poetry Foundation.
I’ve contributed material to a variety of educational companies, both in print and online, including Pearson, Prentice Hall, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Peoples Education, Educational Testing Services, Super Teacher Worksheets, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. I also had work included in a booklet distributed to second and third grade classrooms across the country as part of the Scholastic Lucky Book Club. In addition, I’ve written articles and essays for parenting, camping, and writing publications and illustrated features in several periodicals.
My work has been published in the United States as well as in Canada, India, Australia, Ireland, and Great Britain.
During the school year I teach elementary and middle school students how to draw cartoons through my afterschool classes and school visits. My cartooning workshop serves as an introduction to drawing cartoon characters, such as some of the 1,000+ original characters I’ve created, through an easy step-by-step process and also encourages kids to make up their own. Students with no experience can learn how to draw cool cartoons in just one session.
By partnering with schools, my workshops have helped raise thousands of dollars for art supplies, videos, library books, playground equipment, and other educational and enrichment programs that benefit students directly. I also run my programs through community centers, libraries, scouting groups, day cares, and homeschooling organizations.
During the summer I work at Camp Walden, a children’s summer camp in Cheboygan, Michigan, where I put together a daily camp newspaper. This gives me a wonderful opportunity to combine my writing and drawing skills while working in a peaceful and natural environment. In addition to art and media programs, Walden offers activities in waterfront, athletics, horseback riding, performing arts, fitness, nature, and tripping. To find out more about the camp, visit www.campwaldenmi.com.
I graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and then went on to get a teaching certificate in elementary education. I’ve spent over 30 years working directly with kids through substitute teaching, camping, and enrichment programs. I’ve also given presentations for author/artist visits and helped judge art and writing contests for libraries and schools.
My professional skills (writing and art) were mostly self-taught, although I was influenced by a great number of role models: Walt Disney, Richard Scarry, Jim Davis, Sandra Boynton, Johnny Hart, Don Martin, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Dav Pilkey, Jeff Kinney, and R.L. Stine, to name just a few.
I belong to Poets’ Garage, an online critique group for professional children’s poets around the country, which has helped me immensely with my writing. I was a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a professional organization of children’s authors and artists around the world, for almost two decades.
I am a two-time recipient of the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Poetry and also won the SCBWI Magazine Honor Award for Fiction. In addition, I’ve been a multiple winner of the “Limerick Laughs” contest in The Saturday Evening Post and won several Honorable Mentions in competitions from Writer’s Digest.
Here are some other things I like: staying up late at night, sleeping late in the morning, going for long walks, feeding chipmunks, eating sushi, drinking coffee, and pretending to play the piano.