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Kids' Q&A

Judy Sierra and Marc Brown

Describe your latest project.
Judy Sierra: Born to Read is a tale in rhyme about a boy named Sam who decides when he is a teeny-tiny baby that books will be a huge part of his life. He reads nonfiction books in order to solve practical problems and accomplish amazing feats. He even tames a baby giant by reading aloud from his favorite picture books.

I wrote Born to Read as a companion to Wild about Books. I was hoping, of course, that Marc Brown would like the manuscript so much that he would take off his gardening gloves and rush to the drawing board. He did, and the resulting art is spectacular!

Marc Brown: I didn't think I would ever have a chance to illustrate a better story than Wild about Books but Judy proved me wrong. I love illustrating Judy's stories because they leave so much room for my imagination and the rhyme is so much fun to read aloud.

  1. Born to Read
    $8.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Born to Read

    Judy Sierra

  2. Wild About Books
    $7.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Wild About Books

    Judy Sierra

  3. Beastly Rhymes to Read After Dark
    $6.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Judy Sierra: It's funny that you ask this question. When my mother started reading fantasy books to me, I was convinced that the stories were real. I searched around the roots of every tree in the neighborhood for a rabbit hole so that I could go to Wonderland. I probed the depths of closets in the homes of my elderly relatives for a gateway to Narnia. I was ready to be swept away to Oz, and daydreamed of the adventures I would have there. Nowadays, I would choose to live in a tale of true adventure — I'd have liked to have traveled with Lewis and Clark, for example.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Marc Brown: Anything by James Marshall.

Describe your most memorable teacher.
Judy Sierra: I had two equally memorable and important teachers, Isla Worsham in first grade and Martha Delaney in 11th and 12th grades. They were joyful and exuberant women — free spirits — and they encouraged me to find and follow my own unique path in life.

Marc Brown: Mr. Ratburn (real name concealed for fear of legal action), my 7th grade algebra teacher. He was so memorable he wound up being a character in my Arthur books.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Judy Sierra: I have many favorite poems, and I use them as touchstones when I write my own verse. I love rhymes that come in sets of three, like these from Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter":

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages — and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
Judy Sierra: A librarian recommended Reading Magic by Mem Fox. It's about how kids really learn to read — not through phonics but by reaching for the magic behind the words.

Marc Brown: A friend sent it to me: The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

What do you do for relaxation?
Marc Brown: I like to grow things that I can eat.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Marc Brown: An FBI agent, which I realized before becoming a children's author/illustrator. (This may or may not be true.)

Judy Sierra: I wanted to be a maker of books. I thought that one person did all the work, from writing and illustrating to binding and shipping. I also wanted to be a dress designer and world traveler. When I was nine, I drew up plans for a flying house with a sewing room on the bottom floor, a library on the middle floor, and living quarters on the top floor, so that I could pursue all three endeavors at once. I wish I lived in a house like that today, because I find it difficult to write when I am away from home.

If you could be someone else, who would that be, and why?
Judy Sierra: I would be someone who is virtually indistinguishable from me, but who is not allergic to animals. Why? Because I love animals.

Why do you write books for kids?
Marc Brown: Because I like kids and I was fired from all my other jobs.

Judy Sierra: Before I began writing for children, I was a children's librarian, storyteller, and puppeteer. I always used folktales and poetry in my work, but I could never find enough good stories and poems in the library. So I decided to write my own. In my books, I try to create small, exciting worlds that take children away from the everyday. spacer

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