Q. What keeps you up at night?
A. Reading much, much too late!
Q. What is your proudest career moment?
A. In 2005 I won the Henry Bergh Award, which honors books that recognize the need to treat animals with kindness and caring (for my book Tails Are Not for Pulling). I got to stand on a stage in New Orleans with Norman Bridwell, author/illustrator of the Clifford books. I couldn’t believe I was in the same room with him. Plus, he was just as nice as I’d imagined he’d be.
Q. Describe your favorite pair of pajamas ever.
A. I had a bright red pair of long johns in college, the kind that are all one piece with a flap in the behind. I have no idea when, where, or why I bought them, but I remember one very strange party in the Carleton College dorms where everyone was wearing long johns and this bright red pair came in handy. They got soaked with beer, stained my skin, and went in the trash when I got back to my room. I’m pretty sure beery dorm parties are no longer allowed at my alma mater.
Q. What’s the first book you remember reading?
A. When I was little, I had a lot of Little Golden Books. Baby’s Mother Goose Pat-a-Cake was one of my early favorites. (I was obsessed with anything that had a cat on it. Still am.) The pages of the book are now faded, yellowed, and torn. The art was by Aurelius Battaglia, and one interior illustration looks a lot like my cat Tom, a tuxedo cat with perfect white mittens and bright green eyes. Now all he needs is a big red bow.
Q. Which book of yours was the most difficult to write or illustrate?
A. Peep Leap, my first published work of fiction for children. It took me years! I had written nonfiction but not stories…I had a long learning curve.
Q. What’s your favorite line from a book?
A. I still love “Let the wild rumpus start!” It gives me shivers. I feel powerful like Max in Where the Wild Things Are.
Q. What book do you tell everyone to read?
A. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. It made me laugh so hard I almost peed.
“Skinny Dip with Elizabeth Verdick” originally appeared in Bookology Magazine. Copyright © 2020 by Winding Oak LLC. All rights reserved.