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I started writing as a child to try to make sense of the world -- and I'm still doing it. Thanks to my mother, I have a black and white photograph of my first story, "The eight balls," which I use in school programs to encourage young writers to keep writing even if they haven't mastered all the conventions of the English language.
I was born in Evanston, Illinois, near Chicago, but I moved to rural Mississippi when I was in the second grade. My first published piece was a letter to the editor I wrote in the 7th grade, asking why public school track teams had not been invited to the annual Lions Club track meet.
This prompted several meetings of the town's fathers, but no meeting of public and private school athletes on the track. In high school, I wrote about and photographed my school's sports teams for the local newspaper, thereby equalizing treatment between the public high school and the local private academy.
At Northwestern University, where I studied journalism, I worked in the back shop at the Daily Northwestern. I learned to typeset and paste-up advertisements. (Though these skills quickly became obsolete, I learned things about layout and design that I still use today.)
After graduating from Northwestern with undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism, I went to Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. I studied politics, philosophy, and economics, learned to row, and met my husband, Richard.
After Oxford, Richard and I settled in Jackson, Mississippi, where I wrote for newspapers and later taught journalism. When my third son was a year old (in 1999), I began to write stories for children.
Boyds Mills Press published my first book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, in 2008. Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature (Boyds Mills Press, 2010) and Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature (Boyds Mills Press, 2014) followed. "Nathan's Pet Snails," a story and photographs, appeared in the January 2007 issue of Highlights. Richard and I have three sons.