I was in second grade, reading a Beverly Cleary book, when I realized that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. There was something I loved about her friendly, interesting, and believable stories. If only I could write like that! But it wasn’t just writing that held my attention as I went through high school and on to college—it was children. The way they looked at the world. The things that delighted them. The stuff they worried about in the dark of the night. When my husband and I were raising our kids — Adam, Hanna, and Will — there was even more to learn, enjoy, and experience. This fascination with kids, coupled with a passion for writing, lead me to the place right here.
Those Shoes was written from a series of snapshots, with the first going back to sixth grade. Every kid in my class (or so it seemed) was getting a pair of royal blue-and-white “Starsky Shoes,” from the TV show Starsky & Hutch. Oh, man . . . how I longed for those shoes! The second snapshot happened years later when I was student teaching, and one of the students wore a pair of shoes with a ripped out sole. The boy was sent to the office and came back with a pair of less-than-desirable shoes. The look on his face was one I wouldn’t forget. Then, the third snapshot: I was volunteering in an under-resourced school. One of the students came to the school clothes closet because his feet were squeezed into shoes two sizes too small. We found him a great pair of sneakers, in just the right size, and that kid skipped out of the clothes closet happy about his new shoes. All these snapshots were taken out of my memory, and a story, along with Noah Jones’s amazing illustrations, tied them together!
Happy Like Soccer was written after coaching soccer for five years at this same school. I learned so much through this wonderful, chaotic, stretching experience! One of the biggest impressions was how important the support of family is to a kid. The family makeup isn’t the key, it’s the loving, protective support that builds a resilient kid. This story is a big thank-you to all the kids, their families, the teachers, and the other coaches. The dazzling illustrator Lauren Castillo brings it to life. It’s my hope that it says something not only about family, but community, too.
And the new picture book baby—A Bike Like Sergio’s. How I loved exploring this character and the sticky wicket he finds when some riches come his way. What fun to work with illustrator Noah Jones again, too!