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Mary QuattlebaumI grew up in Virginia with three brothers and three sisters and lots of pets.  We loved playing pirates, roaming the nearby fields and woods, and fishing in the pond. Before bedtime, my dad used to recite nursery rhymes.  My favorite was "Hickory Dickory Dock" because of the satisfying click of the repeating "ck" sound.

As the oldest kid, I often read aloud to my six siblings. We loved Curious GeorgeAmelia Bedelia, and ghost stories.  Every two weeks we visited the nearest public library and checked out so many books that we had to lug them to the car in a laundry basket.  And I remember staying up late at night and reading under the covers by flashlight.

I never thought about writing for children, though, till I was a medical writer at a children’s hospital.  There, my husband Christopher (a former kid magician) and I led a weekly volunteer project that combined magic and writing to entertain sick kids and encourage their stories and poems.  We got to know some of these kids pretty well, and they were so funny, brave, and creative that they inspired me to try writing for young people.

Writers often get asked where we get our ideas.  I have to confess:  for me, the ideas often come from a big moosh of sounds, childhood experiences, current interests, overheard conversations, and daydreaming.  Especially when I walk the dog or garden, I like to play in my head with words and characters.

Mary Quattlebaum dressed as a pirate I am the author of more than twenty award-winning books for young people.  I am also a poet, freelance journalist, and creative writing teacher at a university.  One of my favorite things to do is to dress as a book buccaneer and visit arrr-some young readers, teachers, and librarians.

Some of My Books

Pirate vs. Pirate

Pirate vs. Pirate

A guy pirate and a girl pirate stage a series of funny contests to see who will be the best pirate in the world.  Publishers Weekly calls this “an all-around winner.”

The Hungry Ghost of Rue Orleans

The Hungry Ghost of Rue Orleans

A playful ghost haunts a restaurant in jazzy-snazzy New Orleans and discovers a sweet surprise. “Atmospheric and fun,” says Booklist.

Jackson Jones Series

Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns

Jackson Jones and the Curse of the Outlaw RoseThis fast-paced, funny chapter-book series is set in a city community garden. Jackson and his friends go up against a bully, a plot to destroy the garden, and a ghost.  Winner of Random House's Marguerite de Angeli Prize for Middle-grade Novel and Parenting Reading Magic Award.

  • Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns
  • Jackson Jones and Mission Greentop
  • Jackson Jones and the Curse of the Outlaw Rose

Jo MacDonald Nature Series

Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond

Jo MacDonald Had a Garden

Jo MacDonald Hiked in the WoodsOld MacDonald's granddaughter introduces kids to the wild animals in the pond, garden, and forest close to the farm.  Seek-n-find activities, onomatopoeia, and backmatter enhance learning and interactive fun.  Winner of NAPPA Gold Award and SIBA Best Picture Book.

  • Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond
  • Jo MacDonald Had a Garden
  • Jo MacDonald Hiked in the Woods

Sparks Fly High

Sparks Fly High

A lively, carefully researched re-telling of a colonial American folktale.  Set close to colonial Williamsburg, Va.  "Bursting with sizzle," says Kirkus in starred review.

Winter Friends

Winter Friends Eighteen poems share a child's playful experiences with city friends on a snowy day. "The poetry inside is invigorating, just like a crisp winter day," says Booklist in starred review.

Family Reunion

Family Reunion In 15 poems, 10-year old Jodie tells of her family's week-long reunion.  Mixed-media illustrations are full of hidden surprises.  Illinois Association for Gifted Journal calls the book a "colorful poetry festival" and "especially functional in classrooms, thanks to use...of verse formats...such as haiku, free verse, a sonnet, a ballad, and much more."
 For information about author visits, see my Speakers Bureau page.



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