About Me

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My last name doesn’t follow the phonics rules. You may have learned “i before e except after c.” Our family name has the e before the i. Also you may have learned, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” That rule doesn’t work either, as we pronounce our name with a long i. We pronounce it Night-zel.

I wrote The Jacket I Wear in the Snow to show students in my class how a writer works. I used the pattern of “The House That Jack Built” and called it “The Zipper.”

The Dress I’ll Wear to the Party shows a bright printed dress with chicken heads. One of the girls in my class said, “I don’t think you’d wear a dress like that to a party. You’d choose something more sophisticated.”

When my grandson saw the page in The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s that says, “Here is the bunny I sleep with at night,” he said, “Just like me!” Someday I’ll tell him why I put the bunny in the book.

My grandsons--Scott with his bunny, and Jeff who became a train expert.

The last page of We’re Making Breakfast for Mother shows the family eating breakfast at Joe’s Cafe. The illustrator, Nancy Winslow Parker, had no way of knowing the small town where I grew up had only two restaurants. One of them was Joe’s Cafe!

There is an M2 shown on some of the boards in The House I’ll Build for the Wrens. I asked Nancy Winslow Parker to include this, because it was a log mark my father used in his job as a lumberjack to brand the logs he cut.

One of my grandsons loved trains and could name all the different cars when he was three years old, so I wrote I’m Taking a Trip on My Train.

Since Nancy Winslow Parker put Clyde, the cat, in each of our previous books, I wrote him into the text for I’m Not Feeling Well Today. He’s holding a catnip mouse.

I wrote Our Class Took a Trip to the Zoo because there was often a child in my classes who had a different experience on field trips than the rest of the class.

It was fun to figure out how to link the animals to each other as I wrote This is the Ark That Noah Built, like the lions lying down by the sheep.

"There was only one thing Wassamowin feared--Animiki, the thunderbird who lived in the mountains."
When I was doing research for From the Land of the White Birch, I discovered the Ojibwa people believed the Thunderbirds lived in the Porcupine Mountains that are only thirty miles from my childhood home.

I used many of my classroom experiences to write Liberty and Justice for All, a First Look at Core Democratic Values. The characters in the stories are each combinations of several students.