I was born in Clinton, New Jersey, and lived there with my parents, my older sister, and our cat, DeeDee. My grandparents lived seven miles from our house and were an important part of my growing up. Our house was modern -- white carpeting, linoleum floors, large picture windows, and the prerequisite Danish modern furniture. My grandparents lived in an eighteenth-century stone farmhouse with Victorian furniture and odd stuff from their travels: Mexican Day of the Dead masks, Kabuki masks, African beaded tablecloths, gaucho spurs from Argentina. They also had a library with deep, comfy chairs. My grandmother had her special floor-to-ceiling bookcase full of her collection of books by women authors. I was drawn to the comfort and charm of my grandparents' home. It caught my imagination and has never let go. My family moved to North Dakota when I was nine, but those early years living near my grandparents in New Jersey had a profound effect on my life and work. My parents owned a portrait photography studio -- my dad took pictures with his large wooden bellows camera, and my mother colored the black-and-white photos with oil paints, brushes, and Q-tips. Music was a very important part of family life. On Sundays we listened to everything from Wagner's Ring Cycle to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey to "The Monster Mash." My dad sang along with everything. My mother sewed most of our clothes; she also drew for us, and read to us, and admonished us to get away from the TV and go My earliest memory is of lying on my stomach, a crayon in each hand, drawing large circles. I always loved telling stories with my pictures, or making pictures to accompany the stories I invented. I made my first comic strip when I was four on a scrap of wallpaper. It was a cat sliding down a banister and landing on a hat. My mother wrote the words in the word balloons for me. I loved picture books and comics and animated cartoons. I spent so many hours drawing and writing and making comic books that by the time I was in the second grade I had a prominent callus on my index finger from holding pencils and crayons. I was a daydreamer -- much of my school day involved staring out the window of the classroom. Nothing was as interesting as the characters and dramas and images in my mind. When I was seven, I knew I would be an artist when I grew up -- but what kind of artist? I asked my sister and she replied, "Be a children's book illustrator, of course!" My destiny was set.
Barbara McClintock attended Jamestown College in North Dakota until, at nineteen, she moved to New York City to begin her career as an illustrator and author. She now lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with her son and her fiancé.