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Amy MacDonald

As a child

Amy MacDonald grew up in New England. Her favourite place was the family’s summer camp on a secluded pond in New Hampshire, where she spent vacations fishing and swimming. At dusk she would canoe to the end of the pond to watch the beavers, who were busy cutting down trees and building dams. With four children all one year apart, her mother achieved peace in the house by reading to them her favourite books, many of which were British (Swallows and Amazons, all the Molesworth books, everything E. Nesbit wrote, and Amy’s favourite, Tom’s Midnight Garden). Amy was a terrible bookworm, who read while she brushed her teeth, and got in trouble at school for reading during maths. She wanted very much to go to England, and to be able to fly.

As an adult

Amy finally got to go to England by marrying an Englishman. Not just any Englishman, but one who had spent a childhood vacation in the same house Swallows and Amazons was set in! When they were looking for a house to live in, near Cambridge, she came home one day and announced that she had found the perfect place – “It reminds me exactly of Tom’s Midnight Garden!” So they moved in, and you may imagine their astonishment when they discovered that Phillipa Pearce, the author of that book, lived next door! Amy also learnt to fly – by taking hang-gliding lessons in Sussex, which was almost as good as having wings.

As an artist

Amy learnt to write when she was in school just by copying her favourite authors (she wrote lots of Nancy Drew stories), and later by working for the local newspaper. She would never have written a children’s book if it weren’t for her son asking her one day what an echo was. (They were visiting that pond of her childhood, which really had an echo, as well as beavers.) Even though she has moved back to the United States, her writing is full of queens and vicars and sounds very British because of the time she spent there. She now teaches writing and visits schools around the world; one of her favourite things to do is to read Little Beaver and the Echo in Japanese to school children (or one of the twenty-six languages it has been translated into)!

Things you didn't know about Amy Macdonald

  1. I will do almost anything for chocolate.
  2. I love all animals. When I was little, I once saved a frog from being swallowed by a snake. I also raised a family of baby mice that had made a nest in my sleeping bag.
  3. I can whistle through my fingers, and wiggle just one ear.
  4. Most people don’t know that my real name is Margaret. No one has ever, ever called me that.
  5. As a little girl I refused to hold my mother’s hand when crossing the street. I always insisted on “holding my own hand”.
  6. I played ice hockey on a women’s college team – even though I didn’t go to that college. I just showed up at practice one day. I wore figure skates because I didn’t own any hockey skates.
  7. In one of my picture books most of the characters are named after my favourite children’s book editors.
  8. My favourite sound is the noise rain makes on the roof when you are falling asleep.
  9. I have a Border Collie who is smarter than most people I know.
  10. The thing I miss most about not living in England is having milk delivered to my door.

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