Leslie in kindergarten

About ME

The very first word I learned to read was A-L-L. It was particularly appropriate because from the joyful moment I got my first library card, my goal was to read every single book in the children’s section. Books were magical to me. I still feel that way.

When I was in college in a small New England town, a young woman came to speak as part of an alumni career day. She lived in the unknown, glamorous, and slightly intimidating New York City. She talked about her career as an editor at a publishing house where, she told us, she got to read books all day long.

It was one of those aha! moments. After graduation, I moved to New York City and began my publishing career. I spent many happy years as a children's book editor at various publishing houses. It took me a while to get used to reading on the job; at first, anytime someone walked by my desk, I’d guiltily try to hide my reading material. Then I’d remember that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing! The more I read on the job, the more I realized I wanted to write my own books. After a few false starts, my first book, Frannie’s Fruits, was published in 1989.

Eventually, I discovered how to get to Sesame Street. I worked at Sesame Workshop for the next 24 years, first as Senior Editor of Sesame Street Magazine and then as an editor in the publishing department and a writer of special projects. I now write full-time. I live in a small town outside New York City, where my husband and I have brought up two children and two dogs. I still read everything I can get my hands on--and write stories and poems that, I hope, introduce children to the magic of books.

5 things

you probably didn't
know about me

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Sesame Street

I worked at Sesame Street for more than 24 years. My favorite Muppets are Bert--because I identify with his neurotic personality; Cookie Monster--because, well guess!; and Julia, because I am a proud parent--I helped bring her to life as part of Sesame Workshop's autism initiative.

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Photography

If I weren’t an author, I’d want to be a wildlife photographer. Although I have to admit I might not be brave enough. This is the closest I've come to being a wildlife photographer. My dog, Jodie, was very cooperative.

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Impeached!

I was impeached in third grade. I was a class officer and had to go on trial with another class officer for cutting in line (my memory tells me my fellow officer wanted to get to the lunch room extra quickly because she had a flute lesson afterward). We were NOT removed from office, but I was so traumatized that I never again ran for office of any kind.

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The Missing Book

In 7th grade, because my friends and I didn’t like our teacher at all, we used to make up books for our oral book reports. My favorite was The by Zachary Westerly. The teacher never caught on (there was no Internet then). I don’t advise doing this!

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That Big Violin Thing

When I was in fourth grade, I really wanted to take trumpet lessons. My orthodontist said no to all woodwind and brass instruments, though. I ended up with the cello, and eventually gave it up because I hated lugging around something so big.

2016 Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

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