Portrait of the Writer as a Young Girl

I post this (oddly eerie) photo not only to emphasize the importance of hair products or the silliness of 90s sweaters, but because it’s proof of how one librarian can change someone’s life. In 1990, Nancy Hensler arrived as the children’s librarian at a small library outside Philadelphia and began the “Write and Illustrate Your Own Book Contest.” Stoked out of my mind, I entered “The Dream Crystal,” the fantastical opus I had written over summer vacation about a fairy world I named after our local mall. I remember when Nancy called that day to tell me I won. It was my first acceptance.


Tonight, I’m stoked out of my mind to return to The Huntingdon Valley Library to help congratulate this year’s crop of winners, from K to 6th graders. I wonder which of them will move to New York someday to live the starving writer’s life? I can’t wait to see.

More information about the “Write and Illustrate Your Own Book Contest”

The story of “The Dream Crystal”


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