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I can't remember a time when I didn't have a book in my hand or words in my head. I was the shortest child in my kindergarten class and since then I've done a lot of growing, but one thing has never changed: I live in a flurry of words -- other writers' and my own.

In Fourth Grade I wrote a play and our class performed it, with costumes and make-up and scenery. When it was over and we were all standing on the stage taking our bows, I thought "This is great! When I grow up I'll become an actress."

I didn't.

In high school I had a job playing the piano at a dancing school. "What fun!" I thought. "When I grow up I'll be a musician."

I wasn't.

What I did grow up to be was a teacher. It was wonderful working with children, but not quite right. "I need to be around books as well as kids," I told myself, so I became a school librarian. "Perfect!" I thought, and for many years I spent every day surrounded by books and joyfully helping kids love to read.

But there was still something wrong. All those books were written by other people, and I had a story of my own bouncing around in my head. It was a science fiction story and although I could clearly see the characters and their adventures I wasn't sure I'd get the science parts right. I turned to my scientist husband Sam and said,"Let's write it together." To my amazement he agreed. We called the book TOO MUCH MAGIC, and followed it with another called BACKYARD DRAGON. After that I wrote several historical novels by myself, and Sam helped in many ways with the research.

Since then I've lived in a world of notebooks and manuscripts and school visits and award ceremonies and, best of all, letters from enthusiastic readers. Like the patchwork quilts I love to make, I stitch my books carefully as I build the characters and place them in their adventures.

Now I'm quite thoroughly grown up -- and guess what?

I'm a writer!

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Winner: Washington Irving Children's Choice Award
Selection: Junior Literary Guild
* Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Readers' Choice Award
* Illinois Library Association Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Award
Recommended Reading Lists:
* Virginia State Reading Association Young Readers' Master List
* Westchester NY Library Association Books To Share

* Junior Library Guild (formerly Junior Literary Guild
* Scholastic Book Club
* Tennessee Volunteer State Award
* Oklahoma - Sequoyah Children's Book Award
* Illinois Library Association Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Award
* Nevada: Young Reader Award
* Florida: Sunshine State Award

Winner: Washington Irving Children's Choice Award
* Junior Library Guild
* Scholastic Book Clubs (Arrow and Tab)
Recommended Reading Lists:
* Bank Street College of Education
* Westchester Library Association Books to Share

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what's next?

War Train, an unusual Civil War adventure story in which 10-year-old Willie, the only one who can save a troop train from a terrible crash, must find a way to do it despite his severe stutter.

Ghost Road, a scary trip back in time with Fifth Graders Jason and Chazz who join a runaway slave on a desperate, dangerous journey on the Underground Railroad.

. . . and other books to come!