Click on any cover to learn more about each book. Some of these books are hard to find, so check your local library! Books are funny, though; they sometimes return with new life (in paperback, in "school edition," or even in another language). The internet can help you find copies of these books. If you are shopping, please support your local, independent bookseller, whenever possible! (In my hometown, we are fortunate to have two independent bookstores: the Gulf of Maine and the Bowdoin College Bookstore).
For further reviews and summaries, please go to my page on answers.com.
The Sailor's Book
The Sailor's Book was my first book. It was published in Canada, by Firefly Press in 1991. It was originally supposed to be a chapter book, or so I thought. I got stuck writing, and starting doodling. The first few lines were originally notes I made in the margins of an illustration. After the book was published, my friend Barbara pointed out to me that it was autobiographical - there was my Swedish self, and my Hong Kong self. I'd never noticed that. Art is funny for what it can tell us about ourselves. Often the artist doesn't quite realize what is going into a piece (speaking for myself!).
Mud Makes Me Dance in the Spring
I Wear Long, Green Hair in the Summer
Wind Spins Me Around in the Fall
I Slide into the White of Winter
The winter book was the first one I wrote. Mark Melnicove, who was at the time editor of Tilbury House, asked me if I couldn't do a book for each of the seasons. A quartet. It was such a wonderful vote of confidence. These books are my "fictional autobiography." They are based on experiences I had with my young family.
Did everything happen just like it does in the books? No. As my daughter used to point out, her father would never fall asleep under a newspaper on the beach. And I would have gone to the beach, even with no sleep and a grumpy baby. To me, these books are both fiction and encapsulated memories of who we once were.
These books also came out in French. A friend once saw the entire set in a bookstore window in Lyons, thrilling me greatly. Unfortunately, the translation was not so wonderful.
Dancing Feet was published by Harcourt in 1994. The New York Times Book Review ran an illustration from it, and said that it was "ebullient" (dictionary.com). That is just what I hoped it would be. The cover was inspired by Swedish midsommar dances, which tend to be ring dances. The book grew out of a rhythm that was stuck in my head.
I Swam with a Seal
I Swam with a Seal was written long after I swam with a seal (quite by accident, in Harpswell, Maine), but the experience stayed with me. It made me wonder what might animals think of us? All the animals in the book are Maine animals. This was another Harcourt book (1995). Both of them were edited by Liz van Doren.
To the Island & Up the Mountain
To the Island and Up the Mountain were published by DK Ink in 1998 and 2000. The editor was Dick Jackson. It was fun doing books about animals who act like people. These books celebrate ordinary pleasures and small moments picnic pickles, blackberries on a mountain, a rainy morning. There are a number of books about Chicken, Cat, Rabbit, and Dragon in my warehouse of unpublished stories. I like to think of them frolicking in the files.