A few (sometimes unexpected) things about the girl who became a writer:

1. As a kid, I loved being around books, but didn’t get into them too much. You were likely to find me with one of these in my hands, though. I LOVED GARFIELD! You would think that I would’ve grown up to become a graphic novelist (see #2). Maybe I still will one day.

Freedom Train was the first book I remember not being able to put down. I read it for a fourth grade book report. It was also one of the few book reports that I read the entire story. (Maybe not my best role model moment). It was my first introduction to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, my first glimpse of what slave life was like.

I think I have 20+ Garfield books lurking in my bedroom closet at my mom’s house. Sorry Mom. I’ll come get ’em.
First book I couldn’t put down.
The face of the sixth grade art rebel.

2. Not a great role model here either. My only F in school was in art. Sixth grade. All assignments were homework assignments. I didn’t like them. I didn’t do them. Sadly art and I still do not get along too well. I think illustrators are magical!

Have no fear, parents and educators. I redeemed myself. by becoming my high school salutatorian, even received an A in freshman art. Sometimes we just need a little time to find our way.

3. I grew up in Chicago. Even in this big city in the 70s and 80s you could find square dancers. My dad was a square dance caller. My mom led line dancers. My siblings and I learned by watching and had to fill in when a square was short a dancer. I was pretty good once upon a time. I think I can still do-si-do, swing your partner, and ala-man-left.

I love my siblings, so I will not publicly embarrass them by posting their pic, privately I’ll embarrass them as much as possible. That’s the job of the youngest. But my parents are responsible for this and they get the credit. My two grandfathers are featured in this poem.

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