Hi! I'm Jacqui Robbins. I
grew up in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Connecticut. I graduated from
Yale University with a degree in Theater and Anthropology. I thought
I might be a famous theater director, but decided to work with children
instead. I was a drama teacher, a director in residence, an SAT
tutor, a bookstore shelver and story-reader, and had one job that
made me do nothing but type, before I realized what I really wanted
was to teach children to read and write.
taught at Ancona School and North Kenwood-Oakland Charter School
in Chicago and at Wissahickon Charter School in Philadelphia. I
made up stories for my students about the hard parts of being friends.
Peacemaking is my second favorite thing to teach (after reading
my daughter was born and Atheneum agreed to publish The New Girl...And
Me, I tried to be a mother and a teacher and a writer at the same
time. That was too much, so I decided to take a break from teaching
and write full time. Now, I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan with my
husband, two children, and two crazy cats.
Click on a question to see the answer. If you have any questions
that are not answered here, please contact me.
long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I could write. Even when I didn't know
I wanted to be a writer, I always wrote stories and letters. When
I announced to my friends that I was going to stop teaching for
a while and be a writer, one of them said, "Jacqui, you have
always been a writer."
do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from my classroom. None of the characters are real
students, but they are all situations with which children deal at
school. I got frustrated when I was teaching at how easy making
friends seemed to be in books. In real life, sometimes people get
punched in the head!
do you write? What is your process?
I write everything in a cheap spiral notebook first. I know it's
old-fashioned, but I like the feeling of handwriting; it slows me
down and lets me think as I write. When I finish a story or a chapter,
I leave it be for a few days. Then I write the whole thing over.
Sometimes I do that many times. Next, I type it onto the computer,
and fix it some more while I type. When I think it's ready, I share
it with my critique group. Then I edit it again with their ideas.
When I finally think, "Ah. It's done. It's perfect." I
send it to my agent, Jodi Reamer. Sure enough, I usually have to
write it all over again. Good thing I am a fast writer and typer!
do you write?
I have a beautiful green and dark wood writing desk in my study,
surrounded by books and a china tea set and all sorts of notebooks
and fancy pens. I never can get anything written there. Usually
I go to a coffee shop or my mom and dad's apartment when they're
not there. Sometimes I go to the library, but I don't get a lot
done -- I love to read too much!
are some of your favorite books?
When I was young, I loved My Fierce Tiger, by James Hepburn, and
The Perils of Penelope, which stars Bert and Ernie. When I got older,
I liked Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles and everything Judy
Blume wrote. One of the best parts of being a writer was getting
to meet Judy Blume at an event for my editor, Richard Jackson. All
these years I thought if I met her I would tell her all about how
much I loved her books and how they inspired me. Instead, we talked
about cupcakes and lip balm, but it was still great.
now, though, Katherine Paterson might be my favorite author ever.
I reread Bridge to Terabithia in the library this past summer and
just cried and cried. Everyone thought I was crazy (they were probably
love to read my children Peggy Rathmann's Good Night Gorilla and
Ten Minutes to Bedtime. We also read Close Your Eyes, by Kate Banks,
Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books, and Michael Rosen's poetry.
don't even get me started on all the books I like for grown-ups;
this answer is too long already!
you more like Shakeeta or Mia?
I am definitely more like Mia. I am shy until I know people are
safe; then I don't stop talking. I always watched people like Mia
does and thought a lot about how to make friends. My second book,
Two of a Kind, which came out in 2009, is also about a little girl
thinking about friendships. When she read it, my sister said, "First
Mia, now this? We get it: you were a loser. Write about something
else." So my third book, Desmond's New Shoes, is about a little
boy who can't sit still and is always in trouble. Can you guess
what my sister was like when she was little?
You can read more about
my previous and future books on the books page.
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