Ahoy, mateys! Meet award-winning writer, poet, and stealth pirate Mary Quattlebaum, whose 2011 book, Pirate vs. Pirate, is a blustery adventure pitting Mean Mo against Bad Bart to determine who has the most impressive pirate skills (cannonball tossing! hardtack eating!). Other titles include Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, with its celebration of nature through rhythm, wordplay, and onomatopoeia; the Jackson Jones series, spirited and true-to-life stories about a 10-year-old boy (Jackson) and his urban neighborhood community; and many other books for young children and teens. Huzzah!
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Mary Quattlebaum, or see a selected list of her children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
Quattlebaum grew up in rural King George, VA with six brothers and sisters and lots of pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, goats, horses, turtles, chickens, and ducks). Her earliest memory is of her dad reciting nursery rhymes right before bedtime and she's loved poetry and the sounds of words and the world ever since. Her family made regular trips to the library, filling a clothes basket of books each time. Read alouds were popular — favorites were Curious George and Amelia Bedelia. In her journey to becoming a fulltime writer, Quattlebaum has tried on lots of hats: theme-park worker, 18th century tavern waitress for Colonial Williamsburg, and poetry instructor. Her experience as a medical writer for a children's hospital led to volunteer work with the kids — encouraging them to write poems and stories that expressed their feelings about things. This inspired Quattlebaum to try writing for kids like them.
Quattlebaum and her family now live in Washington, D.C., but she hasn't left behind her love of nature — she finds every opportunity to discover and savor urban wildlife all around, and share that with children through her books. In addition to writing picture books, poetry, and novels for kids, she also teaches writing and reviews children's books for The Washington Post, Washington Parent, and the National Wildlife Federation.