About Me


As a child I loved to draw-but I also loved books, especially picture books. I still remember certain illustrations, covers and bindings from books that were read to me as a young girl.
  I’ve lived in many places. I grew up in Wantagh on Long Island, N.Y., graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts and attended St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I majored in fine art and learned how to design, print and bind handmade books. I also took courses in Children’s Literature. The combination of form and content in the picture book format fascinated me.
  After graduation I headed for NYC where I worked for 17 years in children’s book publishing as a designer and art director. But I didn’t begin to write until I had children of my own.
  My books have are available in many countries and in many different languages. You can find my books all over the world! Some of my books have been translated into German, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Tswana, Sesotho, and Zulu!
  I now live in Arizona.

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  1. When I was little I wanted to be Annie Oakley or Tinkerbell when I grew up.
  2. I wrote and illustrated my first book, Patsy the Turtle, when I was in kindergarten.
  3. My favorite part of writing a book is thinking and planning it; writing is hard.
  4. Once, I was in an Ivory soap commercial on TV.
  5. I have never liked Brussel sprouts, but I do like graham crackers and milk.
  6. I am shorter than my three sons but taller than my mother.
  7. When I write I can look out a window onto Mummy Mountain in Arizona.
Christmas Wish cover
A CHRISTMAS WISH FOR CORDUROY, is my newest book. Based on Don Freeman’s Corduroy bear, it will be published this fall by Viking Press.     SPMP cover Corduroy pet       because of you JPEG
THE SCARY PLACES MAP BOOK There are seven scary places to visit in this book. Special guides takes you on a tour of each terrifying place. Travel to the Western Terror-Tories with Gruesome Gus or sail the Seven Seas on the Ghostly Galleon with Captain Davy Jones. Or maybe a tour of Transylvania with Igor via Bloodmobile is more your style? You will visit places you have only read about. Bone voyage!
CORDUROY GETS A PET illustrated by Lisa McCue is a lift-the-flap book based on Don Freeman’s beloved character, Corduroy. Working on the Corduroy books is always a treat. Earlier in my career I was the art director at the Viking Press and worked with Don Freeman on A Pocket for Corduroy. For me, the Corduroy stories share a sense of discovery, humor, adventure, and friendship.
A new gift edition of BECAUSE OF YOU illustrated by Hiroe Nakata was published by Candlewick Press. This book begins with the line, “Each time a child is born, the world changes.” It is a book about sharing, caring, listening and kindness. It has become a popular baby gift, teacher gift, graduation present and mother’s day gift!


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There have been some pretty creative guesses about that. Big Guy? Brigadier General? Before Google? Book Girl? Actually the “B” is for Barbara and the “G” is for Gulbrandsen, my last name before I was married. But, I think “Book Girl” really suits me the best.
Usually the one I am working on. This question reminds me of a pet show where children brought in a favorite stuffed animal. Each one came home with a prize. My son’s rabbit won “Best Tooth in Show.” There is something special to me about each of my books. THE DINOSAUR WHO LIVED IN MY BACKYARD: Best First Book, JAKE BAKED THE CAKE: My Favorite Read Aloud, THE ONCE UPON A TIME MAP BOOK: was my Favorite Idea- well, you get the idea.
I didn’t plan to be a writer, but books have always been a part of my life. When I was growing up, bedtime was not bedtime without a story. I still have copies of some of my
bgh baby reading
The Little Red Caboose, by Marian Potter and illustrated by Tibor Gergely, The Tall Book of Mother Goose illustrated by Fedor Rojankovsky, Cinderella illustrated by Ruth Ives, A Little House of Your Own by Beatrice Shenk de Reigniers and illustrated by Irene Haas, and The Illustrated Treasury of Children’s Literature, edited by Margaret Martingnoni.
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I wrote my first book, PATSY THE TURTLE, when I was five. I did the pictures too! Click on the “Fun Stuff” button at the top of the page, then click on the PATSY THE TURTLE link to see and read the whole book.
 patsy tp
In college I majored in Fine Arts major and studied bookmaking. After graduation I worked in New York City in Children’s Book Publishing as an Art Director. I started writing books when I had children of my own.
road builders      One little pilgrims
Illustrations by Simms Taback, Lynne Cravath, and Peter Joyce
Everywhere! Children give me lots of material. Sometimes I’m intrigued with a subject or a point of view. ROAD BUILDERS and ONE LITTLE, TWO LITTLE, THREE LITTLE PILGRIMS are examples of subject books. Sometimes I begin with a concept. When I was little I thought all the nursery rhyme characters lived in the same town because they were always in the same book. That “town” became the setting for THE MISSING TARTS. I’ve never been very good at reading maps, but I’ve always liked maps with little pictures on them. I thought that putting together a book of maps of really interesting places would be fun. That is the idea behind THE ONCE UPON A TIME MAP BOOK and THE SCARY PLACES MAP BOOK.
Christmas Wish coverLots of things! I finished a new book about Corduroy called, A CHRISTMAS WISH FOR CORDUROY.  I am working on a book about farms and farmer’s markets as well as a book about Christmas elves.
I’ve always loved a good question. Especially one that has more than one answer. I often start working on a book by looking for a question I think children would find interesting. Does the world change when a baby is born? Do teachers get nervous the night before the first day of school? Do ornaments know when Christmas is coming? What would make someone “happy ever after?” Where do clouds sleep? Who are Eeney, Meeney, Miney, Mo? What happened to the Queen of Hearts’ tarts? How would a contemporary child describe a dinosaur? What does Neverland look like? Sometimes the questions are more practical; What are the Olympics? Why do you need so many trucks to build a road? What happens at a wedding? The fun of writing a book is in coming up with interesting questions. The hard part is coming up with great answers.
INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE? There are teacher guides and some fun projects that are related to my books in the “Fun Stuff” or “Parents & Teachers” section. Let me know what you think!