— Who I am & books I love
Welcome, bienvenidos, bienvenue! I’m Danielle. And those are my kiddos with me in the pics. (You probably realized that.)
Since you’ve come a-lookin’, here are some tidbits about me:
I was born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as an only child, where I spent a lot of time running around my building with friends (who are still good friends, over 30 years later!), and staring/wondering/dreaming out the window of my 18th floor bedroom window at night. After Stuyvesant High I earned my BA in Art History from Wellesley College, and eventually, my MA from The Courtauld Institute of Art. Art history, for me, was and is a subject of universal human stories, secret histories, and sometimes even beauty — things I’m eternally drawn to.
Here’s a joke for you: my career! Just kidding (sort of). Though I spent most of my 20’s working at top New York ad agencies in various management and production roles, I also at one point or another became a certified life coach, started a successful (but relatively short-lived) branding business, was an economic consultant in Washington, DC, and worked as a cocktail waitress in a private arts club in New York. Not in that order, but almost.
These days, in addition to spending most of my time writing — both children’s stories and philosophy essays (what a combo) — I also facilitate Dorado’s first and only Girls Who Code Club and am CEO of Everything at home. Like, interior designer/artist, chef, and chief of staff.
I live with my husband and two small daughters, who are amazing despite not yet being able to read my stuff yet. I’m a proud member of SCBWI, love the classes through the Gotham Writing Workshop, and always find big inspiration in the little things. Oh, and my favorite color is green.
My (Very) Favorite Picture Books
One of the best ways to get to know what inspires my own writing for children is by checking out other picture books I love. The list below isn’t nearly comprehensive, but what you’ll find is that I’m a fan of stories that cleverly convey a timeless, profound message, and have fun along the way. I love the blend of a beautifully imagined “otherworldliness” with deeply embedded, common human experience.
Contemporary Authors & Illustrators
I love everything by the incredible duo Julia Donaldson (author) and Axel Scheffler (illustrator), such as The Gruffalo and its sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child; The Spiffiest Giant in Town; The Snail and the Whale; and Room on the Broom. Always a combination of clever wit, classic storytelling, and neat rhymes to boot! Scheffler’s child-like illustrations are the perfect complement.
Andrea Beaty’s (author) and David Roberts’ (illustrator) trilogy — and soon-to-be quadrilogy — including Rosie Revere, Engineer; Ada Twist, Scientist; and Iggy Peck, Architect. I’m eagerly awaiting Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, being released November 5th! Beaty has a knack for fast-paced, imaginative stories with important life lessons, with rhyming prose that leave you exclaiming “wow!”. Roberts’ illustrations are a perfect match for Beaty’s words, as they’re just as detailed and captivating.
Peter H. Reynolds is a wiz with conveying the importance of creativity and the value of thinking differently. He’s author-illustrator of the “Creatrilogy” including The Dot, Sky Color, and Ish (among many other stories). The stories are simple, the messages powerful, and the illustrations just perfect.
Aaron Becker’s gorgeous, mystical series (Journey, Quest, and Return) make me want to frolick inside his imagination: these are picture books at their very best, with absolutely no words. And that’s hard to admit, as a writer!
Corduroy by Don Freeman gives me the warm fuzzies every single time I read it. While friendship, love, and belonging are at its heart, it’s got a super fun little adventure along the way — from the point of view of a sweet teddy bear.
Rain by Peter Spier is a beautiful wordless story where we follow a sister and brother on their rainy day adventures. I can almost feel the hot cocoa slip down my throat as they sit around the table with mom, regaling her with stories of their exploration.
The Giving Tree by the wonderful Shel Silverstein always makes me cry (in a good way, of course). What could be more poignant than the relationship between a pleasure-seeking boy and his generous tree-friend through the years? It’s a story that touches on human nature in a profound but accessible way.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (author) and Clement Hurd (illustrator) is etched in my memory and forever will be. There’s something about that rabbit’s room that is comforting, magical, and calming — where everything is right with the world.
Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard (author) and James Marshall (illustrator) is hilarious. It shows us that we should always respect the good things we have in our lives — because of the awful things that might happen if we don’t! Plus, it also shows us how awesome teachers really are.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans is the definition of classic: orphans, an old house in Paris, a cheeky little girl, and an all-too-believable turn near the end. Bemelmans’ sprightly drawings match the tone of Madeline’s personality to a T.
Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina has all the elements of a great children’s book: a clear story, an unexpected twist, clever repetition, and a perfectly neat ending. The muted color palette help create the ideal setting for the folksy-country-bumpkin protagonist.