Marsha Diane Arnold
I was born in Kansas, land of wheat fields and orange-purple sunsets.
The first home I remember had no indoor bathroom! In winter, my younger brother and I took “baths” in the kitchen sink. In summer, we trekked to the “wash shed” beside our windmill. We sat in big, metal washing tubs as Mother poured warm water over our heads.
I was a timid child, but I had a special affinity for animals. Luckily, my father and his family were farmers. There were always plenty of animals around!
From first through sixth grade, I went to school in a two-room country school house. Later, I studied English at Kansas State University, but I never envisioned becoming a writer. As a child I loved to read, but I didn’t really relate to the fact that there was someone writing the books I loved. Writers? Surely they were magical beings very different from me.
At Kansas State, I met Fred Arnold, a young basketball player. His coach was Tex Winter, now the assistant coach for the L.A. Lakers. Tex led Fred’s team to the Big 8 Championship during Fred’s senior year! My son, Calvin, plays basketball too. We are big basketball fans at our house! When Fred and I were married, we moved to Northern California. We have lived in the same house for 23 years, surrounded by rolling hills, wild turkey, quail, and deer.
When my children, Amy and Cal, were small, I began to write about their daily adventures. This led me to write “homegrown treasures”, a syndicated column that won three Best Local Columnist awards from the California Newspaper Association. It made me happy to know that families read my column together and that both children and adults enjoyed it. I still believe that the very best writing is for all ages.
Writing a weekly column for ten years was a lot of work! But that experience taught me about writing and about discipline. Later, I wrote for children’s magazines, but my dream was to someday write a real book like the ones I loved to read as a child. I realize now that my first book Heart of a Tiger was actually a roadmap for myself, as well as others. The story is about the small kitten, “Number Four”, who has a big dream – to give himself a name like that of the Magnificent Bengal Tiger. The reader sees the process of having a dream, finding a mentor, and taking action to reach the dream.
I think it is in my book The Bravest of Us All that I come closest to writing about my childhood in Kansas. Although Kansas is not mentioned as the setting, fellow Kansans will recognize it. The story was originally inspired by my grandparents’ root cellar. There is mention of cow pastures, sandburs, tornadoes and other things Kansan.
I’ve been blessed in my writing career to have the very best editors and illustrators to work with. They play a big part in making my books the best they can be.
To find out more about my books and me, please visit my website, www.marshadianearnold.com.
*Book Awards Received*
Heart of a Tiger - picture book, Dial Books for Young Readers 1995* Ridgway Award -Best First Book* IRA Children’s Book Award – Distinguished Book* Junior Library Guild Selection* Houston Chronicle “Best Books of ’95 Roundup* ’98 Missouri Show Me Readers Award Winner* ’98 Washington Children’s Choice Award Winner* ’97-98 Young Hoosier Book Award Winner* SCBWI October 2001 “Book List for Children in Crises”
The Pumpkin Runner - picture book, Dial Books for Young Readers 1998* Smithsonian’s Notable Book 1998*Outstanding Book Westchester Library Master List*Missouri Show Me Readers Award Nominee 2000-2001*Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award Nominee 2000-2001
The Bravest of us All - picture book, Dial Books for Young Readers 2000*Atlanta Parent Monthly Best Books of 2000*Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award nominee, Kansas Reading Association, 2001*Missouri Show Me Readers Award Nominee 2002-2003*2001 Missouri Reading Circle (reading list sponsored by Missouri Reading Assoc.)
*Forthcoming Books*Prancing, Dancing Lily - Dial Books for Young Readers, March 2004Roar of a Snore - Dial Books for Young Readers