"I grew up with three brothers and three sisters and many, many pets and I often draw on childhood adventures (and misadventures) in creating stories and poems. My current everyday life also provides lots of inspiration for my writing. For example, my first book, Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns blossomed (pun intended!) from my small plot in a city community garden where, like Jackson, the main character, I seem to grow more weeds than flowers. "The hamster in Jazz, Pizzazz, and the Silver Threads is based on several real-life, mischievous hamsters. The ideas for Jenny's magic mess-ups' in Jazz, Pizzazz and its forthcoming sequel, The Magic Squad and the Dog of Great Potential, come from my husband's experiences as a kid magician. And the poems for A Year on My Street are all based on the people and happenings in my neighborhood, from feeding pigeons to listening to the sax man. "Before becoming a freelance writer, I worked as a research writer/editor for Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. These days, in addition to writing children's books, I direct Arts Project Renaissance, a creative writing program for older adults, and teach creative writing workshops to folks of all ages at local schools, libraries, and Georgetown University's continuing education division." Mary Quattlebaum's first book, Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns, is the winner of the first annual Marguerite de Angeli Prize for middle-grade fiction. She has also written Jazz, Pizzazz, and the Silver Threads; its companion, The Magic Squad and the Dog of Great Potential, to be published in March 1997; and A Year on My Street, a First Choice Chapter Book for younger readers. She received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Georgetown University. Recipient of the Novel in Progress/Judy Blume Grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she has been published in Children's Digest and Ladybug, as well as several literary magazines. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband.