As "Assistant to the Editor" in a small publishing company (how glorious that I was not called a "secretary"), I was quickly able to do a whole range of exciting things, from reading manuscripts to working with some of the foremost illustrators of the day. Even as "Assistant Editor" I was working directly with Cyndy Szekeres, Margot Tomes, Wallace Tripp, and Marc Simont, among others. Early on I discovered Pat Cummings and Steve Henry--both newly graduated from Pratt, and both publishing exciting new books today.
My career seemed to move along swiftly and I became "Managing Editor"-- all under the tutelage of the brilliant but increasingly preoccupied Mr. Monjo, head of Coward, McCann & Geoghegan's children's book department.
I went off to Scholastic as Editor at Four Winds Press, then part of Scholastic, where I most remember working with Daniel Pinkwater, Betsy Lewin, and Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey. Then I moved on to Lothrop,Lee & Shepard/Morrow as Senior Editor, and then to Bradbury Press/Macmillan as Editorial Director...the Holy Grail as far as I was concerned.
I spot Susan Jeffers' jacket for THE NUTCRACKER and
art by Melissa Sweet and Lisa Campbell Ernst.
Things were going swimmingly until a new wave of corporate mergers swept the industry and Bradbury was bought by S&S and put out of business while I became head of Macmillan, wrongly adjudged the better "name." The only good news was that my whole staff and all of our authors and illustrators--and even the backlist--came with us.
Awhile laterI was hired to create the children's book division at National Geographic in D.C. I'd always loved illustrated non-fiction, learning my history right along with our readers and I got to continue working with such favorite talents as Jim Arnosky, Paul Goble, Cheryl Harness and Betsy Lewin.
After about three years, I was called back to New York to head up Morrow Junior Books. A year later there was another merger, and I became an editorial director at HarperCollins. Little short of 15 years later, I retired. Oddly enough, it was my longest tenure at any company. Working with Susan Jeffers on THE NUTCRACKER and Diane Goode on THE PERFECT SPOT and THANKSGIVING IS HERE! are among the happy memories.
While working full-time, it was hard to keep up with new developments in picture books. Now I find myself enjoying them in a whole new way. Steve Henry and I started talking about picture books and illustrating, developing the courses we teach today-- "Creating the Picture Book" at Pratt/Manhattan and "Picture Book Essentials," at the Scarsdale Adult School.
I find teaching a wonderful challenge. One surprise has been how generous students are during our workshopping sessions. The eagerness to help others is part of what makes children's books special.