I’ve never wanted to be anything besides a writer of children’s books and have published 150 books for children and young adults.
My work includes picture books, board books, easy readers, chapter books, middle grade novels, “tween” fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and nonfiction. More than 45 of my books have been translated into 12 languages.
Among my popular titles are The Big Green Pocketbook, a classic picture book; easy readers such as Tooth Fairy’s Night, Garden Day, and Pumpkin Day; nonfiction, including Terrier Trouble! And More True Stories of Animals Behaving Badly and Big Rigs on the Move; picture books such as Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten and Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday; young reader biographies such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson; board books such as Hello, Virginia! and The Twelve Days of Christmas in Washington, D.C.; and novels such as Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World, Finding Days Bottom, and Rebel McKenzie.
My chapter book series, Time Spies, is a winner in the class room (out of print, but still available through third party sellers). Readers love the fast-paced stories that blend history, fantasy, biography, mystery, and adventure. I’ve also written eighteen titles in the Boxcar Children series.
I’m grateful for each honor my books have earned. They include: Booklist Starred Review, School Library Journal Starred Review, ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Readers, New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Book, Best Science Book, CBC Notable Children’s Social Studies Book, Pick of the List, New York Public Library Best 100 Book, Book-of-the-Month Club Selection, Smithsonian Notable Book, IRA Children’s Choice, IRA Teacher’s Choice, Independent Publisher Silver Medal, Independent Publisher Honorable Mention, Virginia Young Readers, Show Me State Readers, Prairie State Readers, Sunshine State Readers, Northern California Librarians Distinguished Book, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, William Allen White Nominee, Texas Bluebonnet Nominee, and twice Cybils Nominee.
I love making school appearances, as well as giving talks to industry professionals. I’ve delivered keynotes to many reading council conferences, library conferences, literary festivals, and writer’s conferences. Recently, I’ve spoken at the International Reading Association, Texas Reading Association, Virginia State Reading Association, Longwood University, William and Mary College, Hollins University, Virginia Festival of the Book, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Virginia Library Association.
I graduated in 2004 with my MFA in writing for children from Vermont College of Fine Arts, followed by an MA in children’s literature at Hollins University. In 2006, I taught at Spalding University’s graduate program in creative writing. Since 2008, I’ve been a faculty member at Hollins University, teaching in the Children’s Literature Graduate Program.