A. My first career was as a professional ballet dancer. I danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet for 11 years before going back to school to become a children's book illustrator.
A. Always the book I am currently working on.
A. Professional Children's School for high school while I studied at the American Ballet Theatre school (now known as the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School), and Parsons The New School for Design for my B.A. degree (begun at age 30).
A. Leonard Bernstein
A. My latest favorite movie is Pixar's WALL-E. The emotion the animators were able to bring to a few pieces of hardware and a couple of eyeballs is extraordinary.
A. I adore the show Monk. I am always interested in character, and how the writers (and actor Tony Shalhoub) have been able to create such a rich, complicated character who battles all kinds of afflictions yet remains so lovable is, to me, enormously satisfying.
A. One percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
A. Focus on your goal, and just keep plodding towards it with blinders on.
A. I love to perform. First as a ballet dancer, and now, when I go out to promote my books, I get to perform for audiences. Happiness to me is when I'm in the spotlight. I'm very lucky. I have a wonderful husband and children who are (knock on wood -- I am very superstitious) happy and healthy, who allow me to do what I love...which is basically to sit at my drafting table coloring every day, and occasionally stepping out into the limelight.
A. That someone would sneak up on me while I'm sleeping and shave off one of my eyebrows.
A. My favorite city is London -- I wish I had an English accent! Like Ruby in my book, I'm hoping one day to have tea with the Queen.
A. When I was a child, prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn was my dream and inspiration. Unfortunately, I was never that good a dancer.
A. My mother, who is my greatest role model.
A. Down, Boo, down! (spoken to the dog)
A. That I didn't make the most of my ballet career when I had the chance. Ballet requires sacrifice, determination, and above all, hard work, and I was too young to really understand that at the time. However, I'd learned those lessons by the time I launched my second career and and I'm grateful to have been given a second chance.
A. The ability to train my dog to stop chewing the sofa.
A. That I have been able to make a living in the arts my whole life, and combine it with raising children (Sasha, 17 and Ben, 14) who I not only love, but I really like.
A. I've never been very good at following rules...
A. I don't hold grudges.
A. My dog Boo, because she gets away with murder, and all she needs to do all day is eat and sleep.
A. I've always worn my hair pulled back in a bun or ponytail, and despite not having danced for over 20 years now, it's a habit I cannot break.
A. Harriet the Spy
A. The Wicked Witch of the West, the original version
A. A number of years ago I did a book with Lynne Cheney called A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women. In doing the research on these great American women in history, I was so awed and inspired by what these women were able to acheive -- and what they had to go through to give women of my generation and the next the ability to go after our own dreams with fewer stumbling blocks along the way. So many women, both nameless and well-known, worked so hard. I would be thrilled and honored to meet any one of them in order to say thanks.
A. When people are not efficient and are wasteful of other people's time.
A. Going to the theater, in New York or London.
A. I don't have to fantasize, I live it every day! My studio is just steps off my bedroom, so I am fortunate to be living my fantasy.
A. A sense of humor, kindness, and vitality
A. Banana Cream Pie! My mother still makes it for me every time I come home (occasionally she'll make two -- one for the family and one just for me!)
A. I Got You Babe, Stand By Me, Michael Bublé's Everything, Somewhere (There's a Place for Us), At Last
A. Fran Lebowitz, my cousin, who had her first New York Times best-selling book when I was young and impressionable and she inspired me to want to work in this field. Judith Viorst Jane O'Connor Nora Ephron Edward Gorey
A. My five favorite children's books are: Zlateh the Goat, by Isaac Bashevis Singer, illustrations by Maurice Sendak Eloise, by Kay Thompson, illustrations by Hilary Knight Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, illustrations by Sir John Tenniel Now We Are Six, by A.A. Milne, illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard All the World, by Elizabeth Garton Stanlon, illustrations by Marla Frazee
A. I have three sisters with whom I am very close, so I have always loved Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.
A. Advice for new ILLUSTRATORS: Keep working at it and do not get discouraged; it took me 20 years to develop my style and to really get to know what I was doing in this field so do not give up!
A. People most often comment about the details in my pictures -- I love to layer lots and lots of action, humor and surprise into my illustrations.
A. I was in New York City visiting family and preparing to attend the Quill Awards, a consumers choice book award program to promote literacy. At the last minute, I was invited to the Simon & Schuster offices to meet with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who was also in New York to discuss book projects. We had a wonderful chat, discussing a whole variety of story ideas, and the one that stood out was about manners and etiquette. The Duchess practices what she preaches, demonstrating great thoughtfulness that evening when, right before I headed out for the awards ceremony, she had a messenger deliver to me a beautiful eagle feather for good luck at the Quill Awards. And while I didn't win, the care, kindness, and good humor she demonstrated convinced me that we would work well together.