In the history of the world there have been lots of onces and lots of times, and every time has had a once upon it.

N.D. Wilson,
Leepike Ridge

When no one is looking, I steal tubs of butter off the table. I take them to the basement to eat in private. Once I ate a pie.

Patricia MacLachlan & Emily MacLachlan Charest,
Once I Ate a Pie

Lucy was a good girl, but she hated being told what to do, and sometimes she was stubborn.  All the Quigleys could be a little stubborn.

Simon Mason,
The Quigleys

“He thinks,” whispered the Phoenix, “that her troubles have turned her brain. What a pity you know no French!” “I do know a lot of French,” whispered Robert, indignantly, “but it’s all about the pencil of the gardener’s son and the penknife of the baker’s niece—nothing that any one ever wants to say.”

E. Nesbit, The Phoenix and the Carpet

Questions People Often Ask ...

Where do you get your ideas?
From my own past, and from the children around me—in particular, my niece and nephew who live nearby. My nephew’s passionate love for animals went right into Batty. His sister’s calm way of going about being the oldest helped me with Rosalind. My nephew was also kind enough to turn into a brilliant soccer player—and is now my expert when I write about Skye and Jane and their antics on the soccer field.

I also borrow from other books, especially the ones I loved best when I was young. The idea of four sisters came from Little Women. Batty’s adventure with the bull came from Emily of New Moon. There are other examples, but that would be giving too much away!

Did you grow up in a family of four sisters?
No, I just had one sister who was four years older than I was, and didn’t like playing with me. The Penderwicks are more like the family I wished I had.

Is Arundel a real place? Is Cameron?
The places in my books are like the people—a mixture of real and imagined. Before I wrote The Penderwicks, I visited and photographed many gorgeous mansions in New England. All of these went into Arundel.

Cameron is loosely based on Amherst, Massachusetts. Here are two things I borrowed directly from Amherst for the books: Wildwood Elementary, where my niece and nephew went to school, and Antonio’s Pizza, which does indeed make the best pizza in the universe.

Who is your favorite Penderwick sister?
I don’t have a favorite. It’s easiest for me to write about Batty, and hardest to write about Rosalind, but that doesn’t mean I like Batty more than Rosalind. It’s sort of like parents with their children, I think—they love each one for different reasons, but not one more than another. Or, at least, that’s how it should be!

Who are your favorite authors?
My most favorite children’s book author is E. Nesbit. But there are so many others. Look along the right side of each page of this website for quotes from lots of them. 

How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me three years to write a Penderwicks novel.

Do you have any pets?
Right now we have a dog and two cats. Go here to see pictures of all of my past and present pets.

Are you writing more books about the Penderwicks?
The fourth Penderwick novel, The Penderwicks in Spring, will be published in March of 2015. I'm now working on the fifth in the series, which will also be the last.