Meet the author: Nancy Shaw

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When you were my age, did you like to read? I have always loved to read.

What was your favorite story? In elementary school, I liked Beverly Cleary, Ruth Stiles Gannett, and especially Half Magic by Edward Eager. (I like Harry Potter and I’m sure they would have been favorite books if I’d had them when I was young.) I kept loving to read all the time I was growing up, and I still do.

How do you get your ideas? Why Sheep? Ideas can come from real life–I wrote Elena’s Story because of visiting a middle school in Guatemala. I wrote Raccoon Tune because raccoons kept messing up our trash cans. The Sheep stories started from goofing around with rhymes–I wanted to see if I could tell a whole story that rhymed with “eep”–and then grew because sheep are fun to put in silly situations. They have a reputation for not being very sensible.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? It’s hard for me to write a book–especially getting started, and then making the characters have enough of a problem to be a real story.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? I’m fond of Raccoon Tune and Sheep Out to Eat, but I like them all.

What author do you really like right now? I have many favorite authors, especially Jane Austen and Anthony Doerr for adults. Some of the authors I like for young people are Maryrose Wood, Gennifer Choldenko, Lisa Yee, Cece Bell, David Wiesner, and Jerdine Nolen. A new favorite is The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Reading what you love is good practice for being an author. You will get a sense of how stories work, even if you are not thinking about it directly. And write what you enjoy writing, too

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