"It is good people who make good places." Black Beauty
A long, long time ago in a pasture far away….
Awarded Best Young Reader of 2022
IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award
Even with a family heritage of poets and writers, I never thought I’d ever be one. There just didn’t seem to be time left in raising three very active girls.
Born near Columbus Ohio, but raised on a remote farm in New Berlin, Wisconsin, my parents made a bold move by packing up our farmhouse and six kids (four brothers and sister) and leaving the mountainous snowdrifts in Wisconsin to towering palm trees in Largo, Florida. Talk about cultural shock. I grew up wearing cowboy hats and boots to …
… fake eyelashes and high-heels in the Miss Largo Pageant.
I’m a late bloomer to writing for children.
And to prove it, I literally received the SCBWI Karen and Phil Cushman Late Bloomer Award for Finding Moon Rabbit.
I turned to SCBWI, Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators to help me perfect whatever craft and storytelling abilities I may have had. I attended writing and poetry conferences, worked with mentors, and read, read, read.
Books for children has changed since the days of Black Beauty, and what my girls read when they were young. There were no books for them with characters they could relate to. I wanted to change that.
Finding Moon Rabbit: A War. A Camp. A Girl. A Letter. is written with them in mind. I wanted them to be proud of their heritage, and the courage and bravery their grandparents, aunts and uncles exhibited while incarcerated from 1942-1945 during World War II. There were thirteen members of family in all. Most of them relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio after the war.
Poetry was my first love. As a member of the Florida State Poets Association, I served as Co-Editor for ten Anthologies.
My work has received SCBWI Florida Rising Kite Awards, a Gold (1st place) Royal Palm Award (FWA) for Three Horses for the Mikado: When Ulysses Grant Sailed to Japan, and Jenny and I took the Gold in May of 2023 with the IBPA Ben Franklin Award for Best Young Reader Novel.
Delving into my children’s Japanese American heritage, I have discovered that our differences can define us, but it is our similarities that bind us together. I love writing about little known historical events where cultures and people come together and share green pastures.
I live with my family in the Tampa Bay Area.
More from jc.
Why the horse theme?
After a tragic event when I was young, I began to believe I wasn’t a little girl, but a horse. It tried to escape from a bad thing that had happened to me. It took a lot of convincing to change my mind.
My parents assured me I wasn’t crazy, just crazy about horses. That passion, though, gave my courage wings.
Anna Sewell proved to me that I wasn’t the only one who thought like a horse. Her book, Black Beauty raised awareness against society’s everyday acceptance of unjust acts against those who couldn’t speak for themselves.
I like to think my stories offer hope, courage, and dignity to those who have had to endure hardship like I did, and come out a better horse for it.
I traded in my imaginary four hooves for two feet a long time ago, but it didn’t stop me from visiting other pastures.
I’ve been corralled in six states (Ohio and Florida twice),
trotted across the U.S. from the Atlantic to Pacific,
jumped over the pond to Europe, the Azores,
and flown the Pacific to whinny Aloha!
from emerald Hawaiian peaks.
My imaginings took me to wondering about the people whose feet walked the ground before me. What were they like? What were their struggles? What were their triumphs?
I also like to think that knowing your fellow travelers, past and present, helps to better understand each other.