About Me: Childhood, Family, Interests
I’m the youngest of four boys and I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mom, Alice, was a stay-at-home mom and my dad was a barber. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.
My favorite sport is baseball. I played baseball in the side yard with my brothers hour after hour. We also played on the same organized team. I love all four seasons, but my favorite is winter. I always loved how an overnight snow shower could paint the whole landscape white, changing it like magic. Then I would make a big snowman. A block and a half away from my home was my second home: the public library. There I met many new friends and they told me their stories. So I kept coming back for more and more and more. I fell in love with art in books at the library. I have one son and his name is Ian. Ian is a geologist. I’ve known my wife almost my entire life. I think we both fell in love with books together and have been in love with books ever since.
My Journey to Become a Writer/Illustrator
My mom said I was born with a pencil in my hand because as soon as I could hold a pencil, I started to draw. I’m still drawing. I didn’t have an art teacher until I was in public high school. Mr. Ertel taught me all about art. I wouldn’t be an artist without his help. After high school, I went to the Art Academy of Cincinnati. There I made new friends, other artists like me. I continued my education at Ohio State University, where I met Dr. Ken Marantz. Ken was the person who connected me to the world of picture books and gave me the wings to fly into the stories. Dr. Marantz and I became lifelong friends. I am now the illustrator-in-residence and writer-in-residence at Kent State University.
About My Work: My Books and Artistic Process
Illustrating a book is its own journey, whether you are drawing little piggies who eat roast beef or piggies having none. There’s always a lot of thinking and planning that goes into picture-making. I love illustrating books because it can take you forward or backward in time, even sideways. I get a chance to meet new characters. I also get to make friends with the authors of the books that I illustrate.
About My Work: Kids’ Reactions to My Books
I think young people and I have the same ideas about how we love the picture world in a story. Books and stories lighten us up. They illuminate the page and lighten up our minds and grow our imaginations.
Three Things You Didn’t Know about Me
1. You might not have known that I draw every day. Every day I draw because it makes me happy. Did you know that? You might have known that already.
2. My favorite fruit is blueberries. I think they might make me blue inside.
3. You may not have known that I have a learning disability. I’m dyslexic. Reading was difficult for me as a child and in a way it still is. But it didn’t hold me back from my dreams. In fact, I think in a way it helped me.