Lynne Rae Perkins, in her own words...
I grew up in a small town not far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We
lived on the raw frontier of a new subdivision, where eighteen small ranch
houses sat bravely on eighteen lots with tiny sticks of trees and unpaved
driveways. To a child, it was a paradise of uninterrupted backyards with
unlimited playmates and extra mothers and fathers available if you should
happen to need one. Not to mention woods and a creek right nearby.
I thought we must be the luckiest people on earth. I remember even
liking my age and feeling a little sorry for those born in a year other than
As I grew older, it slowly dawned on me that there was a larger world,
where there were other opinions and ideas, other ways of doing things. Some
of them even seemed better than ours. To my perplexity, my parents were less
impressed with this news than I was.
I was also baffled by some other mysteries: Why didn't football players
like smart girls? And how could I pick one career and do it every day for
forty years? I received little guidance on the first question, but my
guidance counselor suggested that architecture would be a good choice for
someone with abilities in art and math. So I gave the "different drummer"
speech at graduation and went as far away to college as I could imagine
going, to Penn State, which was three and a half hours away by car. After
three days, during which I concluded that I wasn't nearly as smart as I had
thought I was, I fled in terror to the art department.
What do you think you'd like to do?" asked the adviser.
I think I'd like to illustrate children's books," I improvised. He
laughed heartily. "Who wouldn't?" he said. He advised me to go for a B.A. in
art instead of a B.F.A, because I would probably just get married anyway.
I went for the B.F.A. and met some wonderful I teachers and friends. New
worlds were opened to me. I learned to see beauty in unlikely places. My
parents thought I was nuts. I was considered a promising student. My parents
wondered how I was going to earn a living. So did I.
I went to graduate school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Then I had all sorts
of jobs while I waited for my real job, my "me," to pop up. I moved to
Boston and worked as a graphic designer. All the while, I was reading,
drawing, and sometimes writing.
My husband, Bill, introduced me to the idea of self-employment. We moved
to the north woods of Michigan, where we made rustic furniture and grew
Christmas trees. I began to spend a lot of time drawing and painting, and as
I did, I found my voice. (Somewhere in here, we had two children, Lucy and
Frank.) My ideas started to be stories and illustrations, peopled by those I
have known and loved and also by those I meet briefly and whose lives I have
I think making books is a way of having conversations with people. I
have been on the reader's side for most of my life. When my first book was
reviewed and I realized that a few people besides my mother were actually
reading it, I felt lucky to think that I could be on this end of the
conversation, too. I still do.