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Mymcbooks Interview Elizabeth Shreeve



Elizabeth Shreeve lives in northern California with her husband, sons, and various other mammals and amphibians. A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she is a member of SCBWI and the Northern California Children’s Booksellers Association.

Elizabeth is the author of the new picture book, Oliver at the Window (Front Street/Boyds Mills, October 2009), which follows a young child’s adjustment to his parent’s separation as he starts school for the first time. Other publications include The Adventures of Hector Fuller, a chapter book series from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. She is available for book signings and school visits, where she talks with kids about books, bugs, writing, and reading. To read more visit her website


Interview with Elizabeth Shreeve author of  Oliver at the Window.


I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog.

What is the last book you read?

Last adult fiction – Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s a London detective novel with magic and British humor mixed in, also a touch of ancient mythology involving spirits of the rivers. It’s a riot! Last book for kids – Kepler’s Dream by Juliet Bell, which is lovely. And I’m now reading a non-fiction book by Jon Young, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World.

What was your favorite children’s book?

Usually whatever I’ve read recently. The Oz books by L. Frank Baum were my favorite as a kid – I read all of them over and over. Dorothy is such a brave and good-hearted hero.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I was dyslexic as a kid and I remember writing my nickname backwards in crayon…on the wall. OOB.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

It came naturally, but my whole family can write. We are a mix of scientists and writers.

Do you generally get a story idea first or does the main character develop first?

Usually a character with something on her/his mind.

What inspired you to write Oliver at the Window?

I helped to raise my stepson, David, whose parents split when he was two. Now he’s grown to be a fine young man, but I remember him being so wistful sometimes, waiting at the nursery school window, uncertain who would pick him up. Will it be mom? Or dad?

Are you working on a new book?


What is the most difficult part of writing?

Finding and maintaining the child’s mind and perspective – digging deep to find what is original and true to the child’s experience. The wordcrafting is easier, but the emotional “truth” is elusive.

Do you write full time or do you still have a day job?

I work for an environmental design firm where I’ve been for 28 years, and I fit my writing schedule into the nooks and crannies. However, I’m always pondering my story.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I’ve not yet received a bad review but am still waiting for one of those fabulous stars! Rather than writer’s block, I can drift away from writing if I don’t touch base with it. A long walk usually helps. If I’ve been away from writing for a while, I have to spend a frustrating, unproductive few hours warming up the engine.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

I hope that children and families in transition will find a note of encouragement and reassurance.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

Oh, it would be a huge table! Betty MacDonald, author of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle…Virginia Lee Burton and William Steig and Bill Peet and Norman Juster and Ruth Stiles Gannett and Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman and J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugh Lofting and Carl Sandburg…not to mention all my fabulous friends who are authors.
What author inspires you the most and why?

Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, took a difficult topic and created a believable and memorable story. Oh, and it starred a girl protagonist. I love that.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

I rise early to find time to write – also I take things task by task. A whole book is much too enormous to face at 5 am!

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Seek the advice of people who love books – librarians and the knowledgeable staff of a local bookstore. Also consult reference books such as How to Get your Child to Love Reading, by Esme Raji Codell, or Healing Stories, by Jacqueline Golding.

What advice you would give to new writers?

Write a lot – don’t get stuck on a story. Let your imagination flow. Join SCBWI. And read, read, read!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

It’s so very important to encourage kids to read – it opens up worlds of thought, imagination and opportunity for them. Please share stories and books with children!


Thank you for this interview.



July 21, 2012 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , ,


  1. My comment disappeared. 🙂
    I’m happy to meet you here at Mymcbooks Elizabeth. Oliver At The Window sounds like a book I’ll introduce my granddaughter to because she’s dealing with that situation right now and has 2 children under 4.
    Carol L.
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    Comment by Carol L. | July 21, 2012 | Reply

  2. This is what I put on the other comment.1.Do I understand this problem. I have had two sons whose wives have left and the kids are shuffled between the houses. The older ones, 17 and 21, are OK and the younger ones are still working on it. Both my sons were told never to say bad about the mothers because both parents love them. The 8 year old often asks is it parent pick up? (the mother) or bus ?(my son). They will be fine but glad to know there is this book. Day care providers should know about this book.

    Comment by Leona Olson | July 21, 2012 | Reply

  3. This would be a great book for my students that live in a low income district. They often live with relatives or foster parents because their parents are in jail or deported to Mexico. I think it would make them feel that they are not alone.

    Comment by Theresa Baldwin | July 21, 2012 | Reply

  4. I did a book review on J. R. R. Tolkien if you are interested.

    Comment by Leona Olson | July 21, 2012 | Reply

  5. My brother is divorced from my nieces mom- they are young (3 and 5) so this book would benefit them greatly.

    Comment by Amanda Ray | July 21, 2012 | Reply

  6. So many of our students are experiencing the same thing that Oliver did in Oliver at the Window. This book will help them greatly to see that they are not alone and how to deal with it. This would be a tremendous asset to any classroom library 🙂

    Comment by Rhonda P. | July 22, 2012 | Reply

  7. Kudos Elizabeth for addressing a problem of kids with divorced parents. Your Hector books are adorable. Keep writing!

    Comment by your1chef | July 22, 2012 | Reply

  8. my grandson is having problems at school with reading,im trying to get him to read more this summer,he seems to read fine to me,but when doing reading on the school computer an then taking the test afterward he doesnt score well,I think first grade is too young to be testing reading on a computer,,

    Comment by vickiecouturier | July 24, 2012 | Reply

  9. I do understand the problems that young people today encounter. Oliver must feel his hardships very strongly.

    I am not surpried that the author comes from a line of writers. Her encouring words to emering writers are sincere and to the point.


    Comment by Benita | August 12, 2012 | Reply

  10. I am happy to find these books. The young people and their issues are very important!
    These are wonderful books! Great Job!!! Keep um coming!!!

    Comment by Cheryl Reinhardt | August 12, 2012 | Reply

  11. Thank you Elizabeth for your advice and encouragement. I look forward to checking out your books!

    Comment by likwan | August 15, 2012 | Reply

  12. I was really surprised to see that she has a day job. That’s pretty neat.

    Comment by Chelsea | August 15, 2012 | Reply

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