I have been an artist since the age of four, when I began to draw everything I saw. Throughout my elementary school and high school years I went to painting classes. I followed with one year at Rhode Island School of Design. Then I went in another direction. I married and had a family. But I couldn’t put art aside forever. When the children were more independent, I returned to Parsons School of Design to get my BFA.
I hoped my Parsons experience would lead me to my art future. Although I loved the studio classes -- everything from drawing to painting to sculpture to printmaking -- I never saw what I really wanted to do with it.
Life intervened with a tragedy. We lost one of our daughters. The other was badly injured and required many orthopedic surgeries. Unbelievably, we then lost a new baby to SIDS. This was followed by the birth of two more little girls, ten months apart. They were a handful! I loved being back in a child’s world. I felt as though I had been given a front-row seat to the greatest show in the world.
On her second day of kindergarten, my little girl Cassie got on the wrong bus and went to the wrong school! We did get her home safe and sound -- and I had my first picture book idea. It took years of work to finally put this book right, and it has never been published, but I was hooked!
My first published book, Rodney’s Inside Story, is about a rabbit who lives in a cabbage and has vegetables for his toys and furniture. This was inspired by waiting in my daughter’s apartment for a furniture delivery before I had breakfast. A lighthearted, tentative beginning, for sure!
Next came A Winter Walk, based on a real-life experience with Cassie one cold winter day. I was beginning to tap into my own life.
Through a series of conversations with a Parsons teacher I finally began to understand why and what I was writing. As though I was shot out of a cannon, I wrote and illustrated four picture books in a few months! One of these, Old Friends, was published. One, about tap dancing, became Knockin’ On Wood. The other two are still unpublished, but they remain my seminal work. I finally felt that I knew what I was doing.
I write about real personal events, people I know, and people who interest me. Writing stories that portray and preserve vanishing worlds has become my mission. A good example is my book Radio Rescue. This is the true account of my father and his adventures with ham radio in New York City in the 1920s. This book tells a story of growing up in old New York, while giving a detailed description of the early years of wireless radio. The scientific basis of radio is also explained in the book’s endpapers, which quote the great men of science.
I have received many awards and have had five other picture books published, and I hope several others will be in print one of these days soon. Making picture books, a combination of words and illustrations that form a mysterious greater whole, is a sustaining joy to me, and I hope to my readers as well.
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Owney the Dog traveled on U.S. Mail trains in the early 1900s. Owney the Mail Pouch Pooch is written by Mona Kerby.
One rainy night in 1888, a stray dog wandered into the U.S. Post Office in Albany, New York. Workers found him the next morning asleep on a pile of mail...