Since I could first hold a crayon my natural instinct has been to tell a story. Perhaps this has something to do with being born in Holland, MI a town that shares the immigrant tale of Dutch people, my ancestors among them, who came looking for a better life. When I was small I helped my mother plant tulip bulbs in the fall. I clomped along in my wooden shoes with her in the spring at Tulip Time.
My father’s job required that we moved frequently while I was growing up. My mother who loved to swim and sail, always made sure that we lived on a lake. In each new place, my father lost no time marching my two younger sisters and me out to explore. We swam in clear water, hiked upturned creek beds, squished and sprang through peat bogs. As we did, we learned that each feather, footprint and fossil we encountered told a story.
In the winter when the lake was frozen, when leaves and tiny fish were suspended in the ice, we skated. One particularly windy winter morning, my mother surprised us with a sail that she had sewn from an old curtain. Down at the edge of the ice, we scrambled aboard our sled, unfurled the curtain and caught the wind. Immediately we shot forward, skimming across the frozen lake. I will never forget the lesson I learned that day about ingenuity, resourcefulness and working with nature's power.
Because my parents led by example, those early explorations began my creative journey. That path has taken me from traditional to computer animation, and finally to the writing and illustrating of books.
I am an author and illustrator today because whether I am sketching street scenes in Egypt, photographing camels and Mughal Architecture in India (which helped prepare me for illustrating THE OLIVE TREE and THE GREEN MUSICIAN), photographing work horses on Amish farms for my book THE GIANT, finding fossils with my daughter which led to writing and illustrating FOSSIL, or researching WWII era Poland in order to illustrate THE SEAGOING COWBOY, I am always looking for the next story to share.