"I was born in Syracuse, New York, a small city at least five hours away from New York City. I spent my childhood riding bikes with my friends and building haunted houses in my parents’ basement.
I also spent a lot of time drawing monster comics and building pinball machines out of cardboard boxes.
I remember getting frustrated when my drawings didn’t turn out like I wanted them to. But I was determined to improve my skills, so I kept practising.
I studied art at SUNY Oswego, Syracuse University, and Scuola Lorenzo De Medici in Florence, Italy.
My first art job was painting huge posters to advertise movies, books and music. After that, I spent five years as a full-time muralist and faux-finisher.
A faux-finisher is someone who paints objects and walls to look like they are made of marble, wood, and other interesting textures. I learned a lot about how to paint while practising on the job.
In 2000, I moved to NYC to try to sell my stories to publishing companies. I didn't have much luck at first. Most editors thought my stories were too weird or gross for kids. A few of them liked my paintings and asked me if I wanted to illustrate other authors' stories.
The first book I illustrated was called The Icky Sticky Chameleon. It had a long sticky rubber tongue on the cover. (It was gross, and kids loved it!)
After that, I illustrated Linda Ashman's Rub-a-Dub Sub. It was nominated for the Bill Martin Jr. Award and published in several languages. Since then I’ve illustrated at least fifteen picture books for other authors, including James Howe's Bunnicula and Friends series and Eve Bunting's Hurry! Hurry!, one of School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2007.
After a few more years of practice and persistence, I became a published author in 2008. This book is Hush Little Polar Bear.
Since then, I’ve written and illustrated a long list of picture books, chapter books, and early readers, including the Hippo and Rabbit series, Frog and Fly in Six Slurpy Stories, and the Clueless McGee books. And my book, Good New Bad News, which has only four words in it, has been published in twelve different languages!
My paintings and drawings have been exhibited around New York State and Western Massachusetts, including the 2000 and 2002 Everson Museum of Art Biennials.
I now live in Western Massachusetts where I continue to write and illustrate books, paint murals and visit schools and libraries to talk about my work."