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I was born and raised in Ohio. During my childhood, I spent most of my time drawing and reading fairy tales and myths. My mother, an amateur landscape and portrait painter, gave me art lessons. She always made sure I had enough paper, paint, pencils, and encouragement. I grew up wanting only to be an illustrator. I studied art at Laurel School in Cleveland and at Smith College.
Right after graduation, I married Samuel Fisher Babbitt, an academic administrator. I spent the next ten years in Connecticut, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., raising our children, Christopher, Tom, and Lucy.
My husband took time out from his academic career to write a novel and discovered that he didn't enjoy the long, lonely hours that writing demanded. My sister produced a comic novel, which required substantial rewriting. I learned three valuable things from observing my husband's and sister's forays into the writer's world: You have to give writing your full attention. You have to like the revision process. And you have to like to be alone. But it was years before I put any of this to good use.
In 1966, my husband and I collaborated on a children's book called The Forty-ninth Magician — he wrote it and I illustrated it. With encouragement from our editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, I continued producing children's books even after my husband became too busy to write the stories.
I write for children because I am interested in fantasy and the possibilities for experience of all kinds before the time of compromise. I believe that children are far more perceptive and wise than American books give them credit for being.