My Life in Stories


1. I found Fuzzy Wuzzy (the caterpillar on my grandpa's pinky) while on family vacation. I told everybody that the way he made a "1" with his body meant that today was his first birthday. My aunts baked a cake. My uncles brought gifts, like a blade of grass and dirt. l thought it must really be somebody else's birthday, but it was, in fact, all for Fuzzy Wuzzy. This taught me that stories matter. (I'm in the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt.)

2. Later, when my mom would make me clean my room, I would sit on my windowsill and sing, "Where is Love?" from Oliver! Since I already had the words memorized, I decided to become a Broadway star. But as it turns out, you have to have a good singing voice. The vocal chords in my family were genetically ruined when my dad drank his mother's French perfume as a little boy.     

3. My friend and I put on our own plays instead. We wrote The Whipping Boy: The Musical, featuring the Songs of Weird Al Yankovic. We should have sought permission from the brilliant Sid Fleischman, but the story was so timeless, and I was so dumb back then, that I assumed the book had been written in the Middle Ages.

4. In high school, I filled many notebooks with sad poems, which I would send to prestigious literary magazines, in hopes of at least getting paid $50 for one of my hopeless crushes. Instead, I would get notes back like this one. I thought it was nice of them to write me back. On the other hand, I decided not to do poetry anymore.

5. Next, I grew up and had a family. Here are my three boys reading to their baby sister. Aww...

6. I also grew up to become a children's book writer, which was my dream in life (after the perfume incident crushed my other dream before I was even born.) I've written more than 60 children's books in all. You can find them at the library.

7. I encourage you to consider your own life to be a story. If you are going through something hard, you are in the middle of your story. You must go through lots of interesting plot elements to reach your happy ending. And that's when a new story begins.

8. I also encourage kids to read for at least 30 minutes per day because, a. It will make you smart (or smarter if you're already smart), and b. Stories are awesome. Here I am reading about marsupials with my boys