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 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, Chinese, and Zulu!
I now live in Arizona.
What do the initials "B. G." stand for?
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.
What is your favorite book you wrote?
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. Each one of my books is special to me in some way.
How did you become a writer?
I didn’t plan on being 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 favorites.
I still have my copies of 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 Schenk de Regniers illustrated by Irene Haas, and The Illustrated Treasury of Children’s Literature, edited by Margaret Martingnoni.
I wrote my first book, PATSY THE TURTLE, when I was five. I did the pictures too! Click on “FUN STUFF” at the top of the page, then click on the PATSY THE TURTLE link to see and read the whole book.
In college I majored in Fine Arts 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.
Where do you get your ideas?
From 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.
But every one of my books begins when I find the right questions to ask.