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Megan McDonald

As a child

“Sometimes I think I am Judy Moody,” says Megan McDonald, author of the award-winning Judy Moody books. “I’m certainly moody, like she is. Judy has a strong voice and always speaks up for herself. I like that.” Being able to speak up for herself wasn’t always easy. Megan grew up as the youngest of five sisters, in a house full of books in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father, an ironworker, built bridges across the city and was known to his co-workers as ‘Little Johnny the Storyteller'. Every evening at dinnertime, the McDonald family would gather around the kitchen table, talking and telling stories. But with four older sisters, Megan remembers barely being able to get a word in edgeways. “I’m told I began to stutter with the effort of trying to keep up,” she says. “That’s when my mother gave me a notebook, so that I could write down everything I wanted to say instead!”

As an adult

Megan has a BA in English from Oberlin College and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh. When she took her first writing class, her professor told her to go home and rip up all the poems she had ever written. He told her she was a prose writer. Megan went home and looked up “prose” in the dictionary, to find out what it meant! Before Megan became a writer, she worked in museums, libraries and bookstores, and also made a living as a storyteller and a park ranger. Megan now lives with her husband in Sebastopol, California.

As an artist

Megan’s first experience as a writer was when she was ten years old – she wrote a story for her school newspaper about being a pencil sharpener. “Anything can become an idea for a story,” she says, “even pencil sharpeners!” Megan has since written and published 25 books for children, including the hilarious Judy Moody adventures, which are largely inspired by her childhood memories of growing up with four older sisters. Megan says, “I’m lucky to be a writer, because I get to spend my days imagining (and I get to go to work in my pyjamas!). I spend my days thinking like a hermit crab. Or pretending I’m a bossy big sister with a little brother named Stink. Or supposing I’ve gone back in time to 1621, and am a girl who has just stepped off the ship from England to the New World in a mystery book I wrote called Shadows in the Glasshouse. I spend my days looking at things sideways, upside down, questioning everything, always wanting to see the inside.”

Things you didn't know about Megan McDonald

  1. She begins writing each book on a napkin.
  2. Her favourite book as a child was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.
  3. She is a lifetime member of the real Toad Pee Club!
  4. When she was born the fifth girl in her family, the doctor yelled, “It’s a boy!” for a joke.
  5. She loves ice cream so much (especially Screamin’ Mimi’s) that she once fell over chasing the ice cream van and had to have stitches!
  6. She has two dogs, two horses, and fifteen wild turkeys that land on her roof to wake her up every morning.
  7. The Rubber Hand Trick is the best joke she ever played on her sisters. Read the first book, Judy Moody, to find out just what it involves!
  8. Her middle name is Jo… She once wanted to change her name to Megan Jo Amy-Beth McDonald so it would contain the names of all four Little Women in the book by Louisa May Alcott.
  9. As a girl, she collected bugs, fancy toothpicks, scabs and Barbie doll heads!
  10. When she worked at a bookstore, she once chased (and caught!) a burglar who stole two bags full of books and tried to get away on his bicycle!

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