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Mackall, Dandi Daley 1949- (Dandi)

Mackall, Dandi Daley 1949- (Dandi)

Personal

Born Dorothy Ann Daley, March 24, 1949, in Kansas City, MO; daughter of F.R. (a physician) and Helen (a nurse) Daley; married Joseph S. Mackall (a professor and writer); children: Jennifer, Katy, Dan. Education: University of Missouri—Columbia, B.A., 1971; University of Central Oklahoma, M.A., 1989; also attended Institute of Biblical Studies (Arrowhead, CA) and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Horseback riding, tennis, walking, painting.

Addresses

Home and office—1254 Tupelo Lane, West Salem, OH 44287. E-mail—dandi@dandibooks.com.

Career

Author, educator, and lecturer. Freelance manuscript reviewer and editor, 1978-86; University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, lecturer in writing for children, 1986-89; freelance writer and public speaker, 1989—. Southwest Community College, Creston, IA, instructor, 1984-86; Southern Nazarene University, instructor, 1986-89; Ashland University, instructor, 1990-94; Institute of Children's Literature, instructor. Speaker at conferences; guest on television and radio programs.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (religious coordinator, 1990-94), PEN International, Phi Beta Kappa.

Awards, Honors

Silver Medallion Award, for Degrees of Guilt and God Made Me; Romantic Times Pick of the Month designation, for Love Rules; American Library Association Best Books for Young Readers nomination, 2006, and Ohioana Award finalist, 2007, both for Eva Underground; Distinguished Alumna Award, University of Missouri, 2006.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

The Best Christmas Ever, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1986.

A Secret Birthday Gift, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1987.

A Super Friend, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1987.

Me First, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1987.

Allyson J. Cat, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1989.

Allyson J. Cat Coloring Book, with cassette, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1989.

The Christmas Gifts That Didn't Need Wrapping, illustrated by Dawn Mathers, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1990.

It's Only Ali Cat, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1990.

An Ali Cat Christmas, illustrated by Kathryn Hutton, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1991.

Kay's Birthday Surprise, illustrated by Dawn Mathers, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1992.

A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

No Biz like Show Biz, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

Millionaire Astro, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

Home Sweet Jellystone, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

Seasons, Landoll's, 1995.

Baby Animals, Landoll's, 1995.

Secret Night, Landoll's, 1995.

Who's a Goblin?, Landoll's, 1995.

The Halloween Secret, Landoll's, 1995.

Circus Counting, Landoll's, 1995.

ABC's of Lunch, Landoll's, 1995.

Things That Go, Landoll's, 1995.

Bugs and Butterflies, Landoll's, 1995.

Under the Water, Landoll's, 1995.

Santa's Toy Shop, Landoll's, 1995.

Scooby Doo and Scrappy in 1.2.3, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Pebbles and Bamm Bamm in a Colorful Game, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Jetsons in Shape, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Yogi and Boo Boo ABC's, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Picture Me at Walt Disney World's 25th Anniversary, Disney (New York, NY), 1997.

Christmas Buttons, illustrated by Bryan Fyffe, Playhouse Publishing, 1997.

Halloween Buttons, illustrated by Bryan Fyffe, Playhouse Publishing, 1997.

Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul, Batgirl, 1998.

Joseph, King of Dreams (movie adaptation), Dreamworks, 1998.

Easter Adventure, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

(Compiler) Why I Believe in God: And Other Reflections by Children, Prima Publishing (Rocklin, CA), 1999.

Portrait of Lies, created by Terry Brown, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Off to Bethlehem!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

No, No Noah!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

The Don't Cry, Lion, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Little Lost Donkey, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Go, Go Fish!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Moses, Pharaoh, and the Snake, Broadman (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Silent Dreams, illustrated by Karen A. Jerome, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

(Compiler) What Children Know about Angels, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.

(Compiler) 101 Things Kids Wonder, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.

(Compiler) Kids' Rules for Life: A Guide to Life's Journey from Those Just Starting Out, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.

Until the Christ Child Came, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2002.

Off to Bethlehem!, illustrated by R.W. Alley, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2002.

Off to Plymouth Rock!, illustrated by Gene Barretta, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002, issued with CD, 2005.

It Must Be Halloween, illustrated by Barry Gott, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2002.

Love and Kisses, Bunny (board book), illustrated by Hala Wittwer, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2003.

First Day, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Who'll Light the Chanukah Candles?, illustrated by Keiko Motoyama, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2003.

Are We There Yet?, illustrated by Shannon McNeill, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.

A Tree for Christmas, illustrated by Dominic Catalano, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2004.

Merry Creature Christmas!, illustrated by Gene Barretta, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2004, issued with CD, 2005.

Journey, Journey, Jesus, illustrated by Gene Barretta, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2004.

A Friend from Galilee, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Made for a Purpose, illustrated by Glin Dibley, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

My Happy Easter Morning, illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

My Christmas Gift to Jesus (board book), illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

My Big Birthday (board book), illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

My Secret Valentine (board book), illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

Jesus in Me, illustrated by Jenny B. Harris, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

In the Beginning, illustrated by James Kandt, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2005.

I'm His Lamb, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Jesus Said, "Go Tell the World," so I've Got a Job to Do, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

The Legend of Ohio, illustrated by Greg LaFever, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2005.

God Blesses Me, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

The Best Thing Is Love, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Praying Jesus' Way, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

This Is the Lunch That Jesus Served, illustrated by Benrei Huang, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

The Shepherd's Christmas Story, illustrated by Dominic Catalano, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2005.

The Golden Rule, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Three Wise Women of Christmas, illustrated by Diana Magnuson, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2006.

God Shows the Way, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

The Armor of God, illustrated by Jenny B. Harris, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

Seeing Stars, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

I Love You, Mommy, illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

I Love You, Daddy, illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

God Made Me, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

A Glorious Angel Show, illustrated by Susan Mitchell, Integrity Publishers 2006.

Treetops Are Whispering, illustrated by Vincent Nguyen, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression-Era Story, illustrated by Chris Ellison, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2007.

Easter Is for Me, illustrated by Anton Petrov, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2007.

For God So Loved the World: My First John 3:16 Book, illustrated by Elena Selivanova, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2007.

Make Me a Blessing, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

The Blanket Show!, illustrated by David Hohn, WaterBrook/Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

A Gaggle of Geese and a Clutter of Cats, WaterBrook/Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving, illustrated by Guy Porfirio, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

Christmas Light, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2007.

The Wonder of Christmas, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2008.

The Legend of the Christmas Cookie: An Inspirational Story of Sharing, illustrated by Deborah Chabrian Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.

The Legend of the Easter Robin, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.

It Was Not Such a Silent Night, Dutton (New York, NY), 2008.

A Girl Named Dan, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2008.

The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love, illustrated by Edward Gazsi, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2009.

The Legend of Christmas Holly, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2009.

Also author of pop-up books Daniel and the Lion's Den, Noah's Ark, and Jonah and the Whale, all 1995; author of The Princess and the Pea, Town and Country Mouse, and "My First Book" series. Author of coloring books, under pseudonym Dandi. Contributor to books, including Christmas Programs for Organizations, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1986. Contributor to periodicals, including Guidepost, Moody Monthly, Christianity Today, Power for Living, Christian Parenting, and Today's Christian Woman. Author of humor column in an Iowa newspaper, 1984-86.

Author's works have been translated into over a dozen languages.

"LITTLE BLESSINGS" PICTURE BOOKS

Blessings Everywhere, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

God Makes Nighttime Too!, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

Rain or Shine, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

Birthday Blessings, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

Count Your Blessings, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

ABC's, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Many-Colored Blessings, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

Blessings Come in Shapes, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

"FIRST THINGS FIRST" BOARD-BOOK SERIES

Things I Do, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

Rainbow Party, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

The Lost Sheep, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

Made by God, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

"IMAGINATION" PICTURE-BOOK SERIES

The Shape of Things, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Color My World, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Cloud Counting, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Animal Babies, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

"READY, SET, READ!" BEGINNING-READER SERIES

God Made Me, illustrated by Michelle Neavill, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1992.

Jesus Loves Me, illustrated by Kathy Rogers, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

So I Can Read, illustrated by Deborah A. Kirkeeide, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

COMPILER; "KIDS SAY" SERIES

Kids Say the Cutest Things about Mom!, Trade Life Books (Tulsa, OK), 1996.

Kids Say the Cutest Things about Dad!, Trade Life Books (Tulsa, OK), 1997.

Kids Say the Cutest Things about Love, Trade Life Books (Tulsa, OK), 1998.

"PICTURE ME" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM DANDI

Picture Me as Goldilocks, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me as Jack and the Beanstalk, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me as Little Red Riding Hood, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Jonah, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Noah, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Moses, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Jesus, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

"PUZZLE CLUB" MYSTERY SERIES

The Puzzle Club Christmas Mystery, illustrated by Mike Young Productions, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Puzzle Club Activity Book, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Puzzle Club Picture Book, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Mystery of Great Price, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Puzzle Club Case of the Kidnapped Kid, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Puzzle Club Poison-Pen Mystery, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Puzzle Club Musical Mystery, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Puzzle Club Meets the Jigsaw Kids, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1999.

Also author of The Counterfeit Caper, The Case of the Missing Memory, and The Petnapping Mystery, 1997-2000.

MIDDLE-GRADE AND YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

Kyra's Story: Degrees of Guilt, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2003.

Sierra's Story: Degrees of Betrayal, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

Love Rules, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

Eva Underground, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.

Maggie's Story, Tyndale House (Carol Stream, IL), 2006.

Larger-than-Life Lara, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

Crazy in Love, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

"CINNAMON LAKE" MYSTERY SERIES

The Secret Society of the Left Hand, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1996.

The Case of the Disappearing Dirt, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1996.

The Cinnamon Lake Meow Mystery, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

Don't Bug Me Molly!, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

Of Spies and Spider Webs, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Cinnamon Lake-ness Monster, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

Soup Kitchen Suspicion, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Presidential Mystery, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1999.

"HORSEFEATHERS!" SERIES; YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

Horsefeathers!, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Horse Cents, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

A Horse of a Different Color, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Horse Whispers in the Air, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Horse Angels, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Home Is Where Your Horse Is, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

"WINNIE THE HORSE GENTLER" NOVEL SERIES

Bold Beauty, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Midnight Mystery, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Unhappy Appy, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Wild Thing, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Eager Star, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Gift Horse, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2003.

Friendly Foal, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

Buckshot Bandit, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

"BLOG ON" YOUNG-ADULT NOVEL SERIES

Grace Notes, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Love, Annie, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Just Jazz, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Storm Rising, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Grace under Pressure, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

Jazz Off Key, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

Storm Warning, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

"STARLIGHT ANIMAL RESCUE" NOVEL SERIES

Runaway, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

Mad Dog, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

Kat Shrink, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

Fur Ball, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

FOR ADULTS

The Blessing Is in the Doing, Broadman (Nashville, TN), 1983.

A Spiritual Handbook for Women, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1984.

Remembering …, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1985.

When the Answer Is No, Broadman (Nashville, TN), 1985.

Splitting Up: When Your Friend Gets a Divorce, Harold Shaw (Wheaton, IL), 1988.

Just One of Me, Harold Shaw (Wheaton, IL), 1989.

Kindred Sisters: New Testament Women Speak to Us Today; A Book of Meditation and Reflection, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

101 Ways to Talk to God, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2000.

OTHER

(Compiler) Kids Are Still Saying the Darndest Things, Prima Publishing (Rocklin, CA), 1993.

(Compiler) Kids Say the Greatest Things about God: A Kid's-Eye View of Life's Biggest Subject, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1995.

Problem Solving (nonfiction), Ferguson (Chicago, IL), 1998, 2nd edition, 2004.

Teamwork Skills (nonfiction), Ferguson (New York, NY), 1998, 2nd edition, 2004.

Self-Development (nonfiction), Ferguson (Chicago, IL), 1998, 2nd edition published as Professional Ethics and Etiquette, 2004.

Portrait of Lies, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2001.

Please Reply!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.

Kids Say the Best Things about Life: Devotions and Conversations for Families on the Go, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

Kids Say the Best Things about God: Devotions and Conversations for Families on the Go, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

Adaptations

Three titles in the "Puzzle Club" mystery series were adapted as animated television programs. Kindred Sisters has been adapted as an audiobook.

Sidelights

A prolific writer whose work has been published in over twenty countries, Dandi Daley Mackall has hundreds of books to her credit, the majority of which reflect her Christian faith. Mackall's works range from picture books and novels for children and young adults to historical fiction and nonfiction for a variety of ages. Mackall finds the seeds of stories everywhere, especially in her own life and her experiences raising her three children. For example, the writer's lifelong love of horses is reflected in her "Winnie the Horse Gentler" novel series, about a twelve year old who is able to communicate with horses. The time-honored mantra of the American family road trip inspired her picture book Are We There Yet?, while another picture book, First Day, reflects universally shared worries as the first day of school approaches. Mackall's young-adult novel Eva Underground is based on memories of her eighteen-month venture into Poland in the 1970s, where she experienced life behind the iron curtain prior to the end of the cold war. Readers of Eva Underground are treated to a "distinctive human portrayal of a troubling time and place," according to School Library Journal reviewer Suzanne Gordon, while a Kirkus Reviews contributor stated that "modern Communism is rarely depicted in children's literature, and never before this well." In Booklist Stephanie Zvirin dubbed First Day "cheerful" and "encouraging." Are We There Yet?, featuring what a Publishers Weekly contributor described as a "cleverly rhymed" text, also benefits from illustrations by Shannon McNeill that the reviewer praised as "chock full of detail."

Taking place in 1978, Eva Underground introduces Eva Lott, a Chicago high school senior. While still grieving her mother's death, Eva finds her secure suburban world further disrupted when her father, a college teacher, decides to put his energy into fighting as part of the Polish anti-communist underground. Making the dangerous border crossing, Eva begins to understand the plight of the Polish people. While her father helps organize an underground press, the American teen becomes involved with one of the underground's young radicals, and ultimately learns the cost of freedom. "Mackall effectively conveys the harsh realities of living under a Communist regime," noted Booklist reviewer Ed Sullivan, the critic adding that Eve's story also reflects the optimism of the Polish people following the election of Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul. Also reviewing Eva Underground, Claire Rosser wrote in Kliatt that "the romance and adventure" Mackall weaves into her fast-moving plot will sweep along most YA readers," while a Kirkus Reviews writer commented that Eva's narration "draws the reader inexorably into the story."

Geared for upper elementary-grade readers, Larger-than-Life Lara introduces Laney Grafton, a friendly fourth grader who sets down on paper the experiences of the new girl in school, carefully and consciously framing her tale in the multi-part structure her language arts teacher has taught her. Laney's subject, grossly overweight, ten-year-old Lara Phelps, has problems at her new school, where she quickly takes Laney's place as the subject of many schoolyard jokes. Through it all, Lara wins Laney's admiration due to her upbeat atti- tude, compassion, and ready smile, but ultimately something happens that breaks even Lara's buoyant spirit. "Thoroughly enjoyable and unexpectedly wry," Larger-than-Life Lara "… is as intelligent as it is succinct," noted School Library Journal contributor Elizabeth Bird, while in Booklist Carolyn Phelan commented that Mackall's story includes "touching moments and offers food for thought" for younger readers.

Mackall once told SATA: "I love to write! I even love to rewrite and revise. When I was a ten-year-old tomboy, I won my first contest with fifty words on ‘why I want to be bat boy for the Kansas City A's.’ But the team wouldn't let a girl be bat boy—my first taste of rejection! I've amassed drawerfuls of rejections since, but along the way I've hung in there and have seen hundreds of my books into print.

"Although I began writing books for grownups—humor, how-to's, inspirationals—when my children were born, I added children's books to the mix. Beginning with board books and baby books when my children were infants, I progressed through picture books and chapter books, middle-grade fiction and nonfiction, never dropping an age group, but simply adding another one. With our teens all in high school, I started a new series of young-adult fiction, ‘Horsefeathers!’ I grew up with horses, backyard horses: the kind you keep as friends in your own backyard. It's been great to draw on my earlier horse-loving days to build my main character in the series, a teenaged, female horse whisperer.

"I'm blessed with a husband who is also a writer and understands why the beds aren't made and there's nothing on the table at dinner time, and I'm blessed with children who offer encouragement and a never-ending supply of stories. I believe that God has stories already created for us if we're listening and looking and willing to work like crazy to make those stories the best they can be. I suppose that's really why I write."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 1993, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Kids Are Still Saying the Darndest Things, p. p. 500; August, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of First Day, p. 1994; March 1, 2006, Ed Sullivan, review of Eva Underground, p. 81; May 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Seeing Stars, p. 86; August 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Larger-than-Life Lara, p. 78.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2002, review of Off to Bethlehem!, p. 67; May, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of Eva Underground, p. 413; October, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Larger-than-Life Lara, p. 82.

Christian Parenting Today, summer, 2002, review of "Winnie the Horse Gentler" series, p. 62.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of Off to Bethlehem!, p. 1621; February 15, 2006, review of Eva Underground, p. 186.

Kliatt, March, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Eva Underground, p. 15.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 2002, review of Until the Christ Child Came …, p. 36; May 5, 2003, review of Are We There Yet?, p. 209; August 25, 2003, review of First Day, p. 62; September 22, 2003, review of Who'll Light the Chanukah Candles?, p. 68; December 15, 2003, review of Love and Kisses, Bunny, p. 76; March 22, 2004, review of Kids Say the Best Things about Life: Devotions and Conversations for Families on the Go, p. 16.

School Library Journal, October, 1997, Jane Marino, review of The Puzzle Club Christmas Mystery, p. 44; October, 2002, Eva Mitnick, review of Off to Bethlehem!, p. 61; January, 2003, review of Rainbow Party, p. 106; April, 2003, Laurie von Mehren, review of Silent Dreams, p. 134; September, 2003, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of First Day, p. 184; January, 2004, Olga R. Kuharets, review of Cloud Counting, p. 102; January, 2005, Cass Kvenild, review of Professional Ethics, p. 144; June, 2006, Suzanne Gordon, review of Eva Underground, p. 161; September, 2006, Elizabeth Bird, review of Larger-than-Life Lara, p. 212.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1998, pp. 223-224; December, 2000, review of "Horsefeathers!" series, p. 343; February, 2007, Vikki Terrile, review of Crazy in Love, p. 528.

ONLINE

Cynsations Blog,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (April 20, 2006), Cynthia Leitich-Smith, interview with Mackall.

Dandi Daley Mackall Home Page,http://www.dandibooks.com (July 27, 2007).

Winnie the Horse Gentler Web site,http://winniethehorsegentler.com/ (July 27, 2007).

Autobiography Feature

Dandi Daley Mackall

Dandi Daley Mackall contributed the following autobiographical essay to SATA:

What's In a Name?

With a name like "Dandi Daley," what else could I become? I had to be a children's writer. I used to think I'd own my own newspaper and call it The Dandi Daily. That goal changed, but I don't remember a time when I didn't want to write and tell stories. Most nights before I could read myself, my mom read fairy tales to me. Then my dad would come in, and he'd make up stories. The best part was that I got to help.

When I was very young, the stories went like this:

"Once upon a time, there were four horses on a high hill. Their colors were …" Here, I'd get to fill in the blank: "Black, white, brown, and green." Then Dad would take over again: "And their names were …" Back to me: "Blackie, Whitey, Brownie, and Greenie."

When I got a bit older, Dad began a story series with a larger-than-life character called "Big-Foot Dan." I couldn't wait for the next adventure of this amazing character, who could out-race Superman, out-fight Mighty Mouse, and outrun Speedy Gonzalez. And I got to determine the winner of each race, who, of course, was always Big-Foot Dan. I was in college before I made the wry connection between my childhood hero, Big-Foot Dan, and my own rather large feet.

Stories and their Tellers

I was blessed with two great storytellers for parents. Mom's stories came from real life and held me as captivated as Big-Foot Dan had. My mother grew up in a family of eleven kids during the Great Depression. The first girl in her house to go to college, she became a nurse. When World War II broke out and her brothers all went off to war, so did she, as an army nurse. During her training, she met and fell in love with an army doctor, who would become my story-telling father. Only a couple of weeks after they met, they were married. A couple of weeks later, Mom was shipped out to France and Dad to Germany. Mom's stories of shivering in the French winds and Dad's AWOL escapades to meet his bride in foreign cities made me feel as if I'd lived through those days, too.

When I was in elementary school, my two favorite words were "'Member when …?" Twice a year, my parents drove my sister, Maureen, and me from our little town of Hamilton, Missouri, to the even-littler town of Cissna Park, Illinois. In that magical place, dozens and dozens of my cousins convened at my grandparents' house, the same house my mom grew up in. The grown-ups would shove all of us kids to long tables in the kitchen, while they settled in around an even longer table in the dining room. Between the two was a swinging door. I received one black eye and half a dozen nose punches from that door as I leaned against it, waiting to hear those mystical words: "'Member when …?"

"'Member when Helen"—my mother!—"played basketball for Cissna Park? She was a foot shorter than anyone on the court, but she could steal and dribble and sink that ball better than any of 'em"

My dinner growing colder, I'd stay at my station by the swinging door and wait until someone succeeded in getting my grandmother to tell the story about crossing the ocean from Germany to America in hopes of finding a new life here.

Some of my favorite stories starred my mom's cousin Norman, who broke every rule and led the troops into unimaginable mischief. What I loved most was the way each of the "Norman" stories ended. The teller of the tale would grow quiet, the smile fading like melted wax. Then the words would come: "I really miss Norman." Norman died long before I was born, but he had a profound influence on me. Later, when I'd get into my own mischief, I'd remember the ending to the Norman stories, proof that he was loved. There's a power in story, an enduring truth, a kind of magic that lives on.

The Beginnings of Writing

By the time I entered first grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer of stories. The only problem was that I couldn't write. Miss Tomlin had us practice printing letters on graph paper. The plan was to make that letter fit in that box. Mine rarely fit. And the worst letter, the scurviest letter in the alphabet, was S. Not only did it have to fit in the box, but it had to be fat in the right place, skinny in the right place, and curve in the right direction. I re- member one day, as I struggled to make that letter work for me, Miss Tomlin walked by, examined my pitiful Ss, and commented, "Make them fit in the box, Dandi." I was already trying as hard as I could. Then she turned to the girl next to me (later to be known as "Perfect-S-Susie") and exclaimed, "Now there's a proper S! Dandi, make yours like Susie's."

How was I ever going to be a writer when I couldn't even make the letter S stay in the box? And then I made a wonderful discovery. My dad had a manual typewriter that he always left in the hallway outside his office, which was in the home of my other grandparents. My granddad had been the only medical doctor in our county, and when he had a heart attack, my dad had come back to Hamilton to help. Dad ended up practicing medicine there for over forty years.

For a few years, some of my cousins lived in the big Daley house, and we entertained ourselves by writing stories together. We kept a sheet of paper in the typewriter, and anyone was free to type a sentence or paragraph between fierce games of softball and capture the flag. Our stories had more turns and twists than Alfred Hitchcock's. But what I realized was this. Standing at the typewriter, I hit the round S key. And just like that, on the sheet of paper, there appeared a perfect S—fat in the right place, skinny in the right place, turning just like an S is supposed to turn. And today, as I sit at my computer, with one swift movement of my ring finger, magic! I produce a perfect S! There's always a way to make your dream happen.

Dreams

I admit that I had another, very short-term, dream in the first grade. In the town where I grew up, population 1,701 before the shoe factory closed, there wasn't much to do. So when Miss Tomlin announced, "Class, you are going to put on the Christmas play!" it was a major event. I realize that today kids might even groan at that announcement, but not us. "Yea!" we screamed. "A Christmas play! … What's a Christmas play?" (We didn't get out much.)

Miss Tomlin went on to explain that there would be a lead role, the part of the little girl who would visit Wonderland and meet Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. And that's when I knew—I wanted that part more than anything in the whole world. Next day, as soon as I stepped into class, I shouted, "Miss Tomlin! Miss Tomlin! Who gets the part of the little girl who gets to skip to Wonderland and meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus and sing and dance on stage by herself?" Miss Tomlin smiled. "I haven't decided yet, Dandi."

Next day, I started, "Miss Tomlin! Miss Tomlin! Who gets the part of the little girl …?" My teacher interrupted: "Haven't decided yet, Dandi." By the end of the week, she was waiting at the window as I walked up to the school. "Haven't decided yet, Dandi!" she hollered down.

But the day came when she sat us all down and announced, "Everyone will get a part in our play. And the lead role," the moment I'd been waiting for, "the part of the little girl who gets to visit Wonderland," this was it … fingers crossed, "goes to … Susie!" I couldn't believe it. Perfect-S-Susie got the part. And as for me? I was a Christmas gift. My mom had to wrap a big box with Christmas wrapping paper for my costume, and I had to wear a stupid red bow on top of my head.

The night of the performance, Susie was singing in front of the curtain. Backstage, I sat with my friends, who were trees, snowflakes, stars. And I told them stories, something I'd started doing when we arrived early on school mornings. I landed onto one story about how the whole town of Hamilton was putting on a play for the whole world to see, and everybody wanted the part of the beautiful princess. At one point, I looked up and saw that every kid in my class had joined us. They were all listening to me and my story. Not bad, I thought. And when I came to the part in my story where the director said, "I'm sorry that only one person can have the lead role of the beautiful princess. But that part, of course, goes to … Dandi!," it was magic. In my story, I could make things turn out any way I wanted. The way they were supposed to. For Perfect-SSusie, I bestowed the role of understudy for the Wicked Witch of the West End. Stories have such power.

I was remembering that night of my Hamilton Christmas play when I wrote the play production scenes in Larger-than-Life Lara.

When I was eight years old, our family took its first real vacation (that didn't end up at Grandma's in Illinois), and Dad drove us from Missouri to New York City. When we got there, we checked into our tiny hotel room, jumped on the beds, then headed out. Mom and my older sister, Maureen, wanted to shop. Not me. I went with Dad on an exploration. Nothing could have been farther removed from my farming community than this noisy, busy city, filled with skyscrapers and taxis.

I guess I must have wandered ahead of my dad because all of a sudden I found myself on a street corner, next to the most amazing sight I'd ever seen. There, leaning against a shopping cart filled with old sacks of who-knew-what, stood an old woman, her face shriveled like a rotten potato. She wore gloves with no fingers, a crumpled hat with a broken brim, and layers of dirty, holey clothes. And she was smoking a cigar.

I guess I must have been staring too hard to suit her because she leaned down, her face so close I could see specks in her eyes, and she blew smoke in my face.

Coughing, scared of this strange cigar-smoking woman, I heard my dad's footsteps coming up behind me. Good! I thought. Dad's going to rescue me.

Instead, my dad did the coolest thing. He didn't pick me up and rush me to safety. Instead, he said, "Dandi, don't stare. That's rude. Introduce yourself."

Feeling betrayed, I turned back to the bag lady. "I'm …," cough, cough, "… Dandi," I managed.

"Well," said the lady, "I'm Boxcar Betty, and I ride the rails." She stuck out her hand—dirtiest hand I'd ever seen. I shook it.

I asked her what she meant by "ride the rails." And she told me. She launched into stories about hopping freights and being a hobo, about living on the streets of New York City, in a box, or under the bridge with her buddies, like "Fast-Fingers Freddy." "Pickpockets can be kind as kind can be," she assured me. She told me about the "Jugman," who played the shell game on 42nd Street, and about "Toots," a "working girl" I could only catch on Tuesdays.

Dusk fell, and Dad said we had to get back to the hotel. I would have stayed the entire three days on that corner, listening to the stories and dreams of Boxcar Betty. As Dad and I walked back, I saw a different city. Instead of the taxis and fancy store windows, I noticed a man who had no feet, selling newspapers on the corner. I caught a glimpse of the Jugman, moving his walnut shells on a tiny table down the alley on 42nd Street. I grew a heart for the homeless.

Those "characters" lived for years in my head, until one day they popped out in a picture book set on the streets of New York City, where the Jugman, Fast-Fingers Freddy, a man who had no feet, and Boxcar Betty walked again in Silent Dreams. Several years later, Boxcar Betty forced her way into my story of a hobo during the Great Depression, a picture book called Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

When I wasn't reading or writing, I had two outdoor passions, playing baseball and riding horses. Horses were like family. We always had at least a couple, and I rode every day, usually bareback. Knowing and loving horses gave me the background I needed to write three series of horse fiction. (And I'll come back to the horse books in a bit.)

But it was my passion for baseball that taught me my next lesson about writing. Every recess during elementary school, and most weekends, I played softball. By the fifth grade, I was the only girl still playing with the guys, but I could hit better than any of them, except a kid named Roger and maybe my buddy Ray on a good day.

Then one Saturday I showed up for a game of pick-up ball, and Roger met me at the third-base line. "You can't play, Dandi," he said.

"How come?" I asked. "Field wet?"

He shook his head. "Nope. This game is for boys only."

And that was that. They wouldn't let me play because I was a girl. It felt like the universe was collapsing on me.

About that time, the Kansas City Star ran a contest put on by Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City A's, the city's professional baseball team. It was a "Batboy Contest," and all you had to do was write in fifty words or less why you wanted to be batboy for the Kansas City A's. I couldn't imagine anything more exciting than handing those batters bats. I wanted to be batboy.

So the next Saturday, Ray came over so I could help him write his essay. We sat outside with our Big Chief tablets and wrote. I remember the smell of the wheat field across the road and fresh-cut grass, the neighbor's dog barking far away, how hot the sidewalk was where we sat to write our essays. I wrote then a lot like I write now, getting down a sentence, hating it, crossing it out, trying again. Good writing comes in the revising and rewriting.

After what seemed like minutes, Ray announced, "I'm done!"

"Read it," I demanded, hoping it wouldn't be good.

He read: "I really, really, really, really, really, really want to be batboy for the Kansas City A's because they are so very, very, very, very … good."

Relieved that his was so horrible, I let out a laugh.

"Oh yeah?" Ray snapped. "Well, you can't even be in the contest." He threw the entry from the newspaper at me and stormed off.

I read the contest form. There in small letters at the bottom were the words: "For boys only."

The next week I spent every spare minute working on my essay until I had the exact fifty words I wanted. Before I hiked to the mailbox, I thought about the way my dad always called me "Dan" when we played ball: "Here comes one high and on the outside corner, the way you like it, Dan." Or "Nice hit, Dan!" So I signed that contest entry "Dan Daley."

I won. But when the Kansas City officials discovered I was a girl, they wouldn't let me be batboy. They mailed me an A's hat and an A's jacket (which I kicked into my closet because I had suddenly become a St. Louis Cardinal fan). But I didn't get to hand players their bats.

What I did get was the hint that maybe I could actually write. Plus, I got my first taste of rejection, something every writer will have to learn to deal with. I've published over four hundred books, which means I've gotten over four hundred acceptances. But I've probably raked in at least twice that number of rejections. It's part of the process. And the entire story is now in a picture book called A Girl Named Dan.

My best friend growing up was named Sugar, and she weighed about a thousand pounds. Did I mention Sugar was my horse? Many mornings I'd take my pinto mare out on the country roads, then gallop back home to get ready for school. I talked to that horse, convinced she understood as nobody else did. Then one day I went down to the pasture, and my horse was lying on her side. Not breathing. Dead.

I didn't think I could handle it. How could I keep going without our early morning rides, our talks, her horse smell, the way her soft coat grew thick in the winter and her breath came out in white clouds? I came from a family filled with love, but we were tough, too tough to cry. So every time I felt I couldn't stand the longing for my horse, I'd run back to my bedroom and pull out my notebooks. And I'd write. At first, I wrote down all the great things Sugar and I had done together—how she ran away, with me clinging to her neck; how I tried, and failed, to get her to pull a cart; how she slipped on the ice once, and I fell off and slid underneath her, sprawled between her four hooves, but she refused to move.

When I ran out of real stories, I made them up. I had stories about "Sugar the Wonder Horse" and "Sugar the Super Horse." And somehow, when I wrote about Sugar, the pain of missing her faded. It was as if a piece of my horse was still there. I'm still writing about Sugar. You meet her, and many other horses I've known, in my "Winnie the Horse Gentler" series and "Horsefeathers!" series and "Starlight Animal Rescue" series. Stories have that power.

The Risk of Publishing

My reading picked up. The town's tiny library was only open two afternoons a week, but I managed to read every horse book they had, then every Agatha Christie mystery and every detective story I could get my hands on. I bought my own copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone with the Wind. I dreamed of writing books like that, making other kids feel the way those books made me feel.

In junior high, I taught myself to type, which earned me a shot at volunteering in the principal's office instead of sitting in study hall. My job was to type up the announcements for the day and run them off on this strange mimeograph machine that smelled like the color purple, if purple had a smell. Since we didn't have a PA system or intercoms, I'd deliver a copy of the announcements to each classroom, to be read by every teacher to the students.

My first day on the job, though, the temptation was too great. As I typed the soon-to-be-published page, I couldn't help taking ownership. First, I added a quote for the day. Nobody objected. A couple of teachers offered ideas for future quotes. But my sense of ownership grew as I typed each paper. This was, after all, my paper. So one morning as I typed the heading The Daily Bulletin, it struck me. This was the beginning of owning my own newspaper. It should be called The Daley Bulletin, spelled my way. And so I did.

I waited for the wrath I was sure would come. But nobody noticed. Nobody except Ray, who'd read The Daley Bulletin posted on the hall bulletin board. I might have continued all year like this if I'd been left it at that. But the next day, I typed The Dandi Daley Bulletin. And that ended my short career as a newspaper publisher.

Yet, my newspaper writing career was about to begin. I started writing letters to various publications, and my letters were almost always published in the Letters to the Editor section of newspapers and magazines. It's still a great way to break into print. In fact, it's how I published my first poem.

During high school summers, I worked at our brand-new swimming pool. But the days dragged on long and boring, and evenings were even worse. We whistle-twirling lifeguards wished for rain, resorting to primitive rain dances that would set us free from the torment of watching other people's kids. There were always a few of the same kids who never went home. Their parents left them at the pool until closing, huddled into towels on cold nights, turning us into glorified babysitters. We, on the other hand, were quick to close the pool if those kids took a dinner break. One week, the mother of one of our pool kids wrote a letter of complaint to the town's weekly paper, alleging that the lifeguards closed the pool before closing time and her little darlings didn't get to swim.

And so, on just such a night, while I sat in my lifeguard tower, I wrote:

Ode to a Lifeguard

O woe is the life of a lifeguard, who sits on her stand
all day.
Noble is she who sits and stares while all around her
play.
On her throne of steel and wood, she sits to gaze
away
At life below. Her sweating brow makes sure it stays
that way.
And woe is the life of a basketgirl.* Orders, she gets
plenty.
Two said "Thank-you." One said "Please."
That's out of a hundred and twenty.
It hurts my heart when'er I hear that someone is not
pleased.
Unfair claims of "closing early" bring me to my knees.
I have sat wrapped in my towel on many a chilly
night,
Pitying children mother left to get them out of sight.
I could complain of words I heard, words that make
me bitter.
I'm a philosopher and noble guard, not a babysitter.

*With no lockers in the changing room, swimmers were given baskets that were turned in to a "basket girl," to be returned when they left the pool.

I was so proud when my hometown newspaper ran my poem on the front page … that is, until my mom started receiving calls from offended parents.

I kept writing letters and experiencing a thrill every time my words appeared in print. The Vietnam "Conflict" was just starting to get media attention, and it irritated me the way the Kansas City Star, among others, reported deaths as "casualties," as if there were anything "casual" about being killed in the jungles of Vietnam. The words were almost always the same: "The Viet Cong" suffered heavy losses. Our casualties were light." And so I wrote a "Ballad of Vietnam." I've lost the poem, but the first lines are still in my head:

"The casualties were light," the paper read.
In jungles deep, a sniper added one.
"And many of the enemy lay dead."
For him, the end of life had just begun.

I remember that the rest of the ballad pictured a young bride receiving word that her husband had been killed, but not to worry because "the casualties were light."

Again, we got some angry calls after the article appeared. The country's opinion about that war hadn't turned yet. I was learning that writers take risks putting thoughts into words.

I wrote a letter to President Johnson and suggested we give money and build hospitals in Vietnam instead of sending more soldiers and guns there. I even said "please." In return, I received a letter from the FBI, saying that they were keeping my letter on file. I was fourteen. I framed the letter.

Language

Sometimes I look back at the education I received from my small-town school, where I graduated valedictorian of my class of forty-nine students, most of whom had started kindergarten with me. I'm grateful for the good, old-fashioned English writing tools I picked up there. English teachers were big on diagramming sentences, knowing a dangling participle from a split infinitive, a direct object from a predicate nominative. Pretty boring stuff, but I left with an understanding of language that's helped in creative writing and gotten me editing jobs when I needed them.

We didn't write creatively in school—no stories, no flights of fancy. Our tests were fill-in-the-blank and don't-forget-the-dates. When a social studies teacher fresh out of college tried to give us an essay test, the whole school rebelled. I nailed two questions and loved the essay form, gladly giving up those fill-in-the-blank tests. I found I could take the little knowledge I had and make it sound like more. No way I could pull that off when all they wanted was the right word or date. The only problem was that there were ten questions to that social studies essay test, and I only made it through two of them before the bell rang. It was the one and only essay test I had in high school.

After high school, I got a scholarship to attend the University of Missouri, a terrific journalism school and just the place to expand the horizons of The Dandi Daley. The first day I strolled into my honors English class our instructor skipped introductions and said, "I'd like everyone to write a description of an unusual building for the rest of the hour." I couldn't decide on a building, so I made one up, haunted as I recall. I used proper sentences no one could fault, double-checked the use of my commas, making sure no sentence fragment or run-on sentences were in my paper. When I handed it in, I felt pretty good about my first college writing masterpiece. After all, I'd gotten A pluses in English in high school.

Imagine the pain, the humiliation, when our instructor passed back our papers at the beginning of the following class and mine had a D scrawled on it. Frantically, I turned the pages of my essay, looking for the errors I must have missed. But they weren't there—no red-pencil corrections of grammar or sentence structure, no inserted commas or deleted words. Just a big fat D. I stayed after class and gathered courage to ask the instructor, "Would you please help me understand why I got such a low grade when I didn't make any mistakes?"

She grinned as if she'd already read my mind. "You made up that old house, didn't you?"

"I thought that was okay," I said, defending myself.

"Nothing wrong with fiction," she responded. "But if you're going to make up a building, or a setting, it better sound so real that the reader won't be able to tell. Use your senses and paint the details until we feel what you feel about this place."

Before the semester was over, I'd "painted" my way to an A in her class. And more importantly, I'd learned another secret about the power of a good story. It can make the reader share emotion with the author.

At the University of Missouri, I made one false start toward journalism. It didn't take me long to figure out I wasn't a good fit in the land of "just the facts, Ma'am." Journalism profs wanted us to stick to the facts, even when we could have made those facts into something much more fun, or much more interesting. Every student in arts and sciences had to take a language, so I started my freshman year with French. I'd taken two years of German in high school and loved figuring out another language. Nothing teaches the intricacies of your own language like taking a different language.

French wasn't only intriguing, it sounded beautiful. I was hooked, and I piled on more and more French classes, using up all my electives. I wanted to sound like native speakers, so I talked the dean into letting me use my scholarship money to attend the Université d'Aix-Marseilles in Aix-en-Provence, France, during my junior year. I lived in a dorm, on the foreign-student floor, with dorm mates from Madagascar, Venezuela, Peru, and all over the world. I met people who would become minor characters in my books over the next twenty years.

When I got back to Missouri to finish my degree, my university advisor informed me that if I wanted to graduate on time, I'd better major in a foreign language. And besides, he continued, people just didn't make a living by writing. I could always write as a hobby. With no idea how I'd eventually make my living, I tackled Italian, Spanish, and more French and graduated in foreign languages.

Meanwhile, I began playing with article writing, mostly just to see if I could actually sell something. I wrote about all kinds of things and sold articles to Reader's Digest, Western Horseman, Family Circle, Woman's Day, Worldwide Challenge, and others. I can still remember the thrill of seeing "By Dandi Daley" on those articles.

A Change of Plans

Steeped in foreign languages and convinced I could never make a living as a writer, I applied for grad school and won a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University. Only something had happened to me while I was still at Mizzou, and my plans changed dramatically. Although I'd gone to church with my parents when I'd lived in Hamilton, my university years were a time of questioning whether there was a God, and if so, so what? War raged in Vietnam, and we staged sit-ins and protests at home. I wanted peace inside, in spite of what was going on in the world. I began reading the stories of Jesus for myself, amazing stories. Eventually, I found that peace, not in religion, but in a personal relationship with Jesus, and this relationship has carried me through a lot of life since then, kept me relatively sane, and helped me realize my dreams.

And so my poor parents, still elated from the news of their daughter getting a full-ride scholarship for a Ph.D. at Stanford, had to hear my latest news: "Mom, Dad, about that scholarship, I'm passing on it. Instead, I'm going to become a missionary and go behind the Iron Curtain and live with twenty Polish university students so I can teach them the Bible and teach them how to write so they can defy their communist government, using an illegal printing press, of course, and report what's really going on behind the Berlin Wall. Love ya—Bye."

Now that I'm a parent, I appreciate the fact that Mom and Dad didn't lock me in my old room. They were very cool about it, mustering all of their resources to try to let me make my own decisions. The next time I went home, we didn't bring up the subject. But my dad had plastered my old bedroom with newspaper articles he'd cut out about Eastern Europe: No Food in Poland. Riots Erupt. Communist Leaders Vow to Stamp out the Church! No Freedom of the Press in Warsaw—Three Students Shot.

I spent a year and half on the border of Czechoslovakia and Poland, living in a house with twenty Poles and no hot water, my tiny room so cold the snow stayed on my boots all night. It was one of the best times of my life. I learned so much more than I taught, got much more than I gave. And I wrote my first book.

My First Book

For the first three months in Poland, I was trying to survive the cold in a house that was heated only when the basement wood stove was fired up for meals. Since most of our meals consisted of bread with something cold and weird on it, the house was generally freezing. I never saw meat the whole time I lived in Poland. Even when soup or cabbage got cooked, the oven heat had to rise through a single stovepipe to the floors above. I lived on the top floor. But my Polish friends had plucked the feathers from consenting geese and made me a down comforter. After supper, I'd race for the warmth of that comforter and read in bed. I read every novel Charles Dickens wrote (smuggled in from the West), mysteries in French, War and Peace.

And then I decided it was time to write. With pen and a notebook, I began a humorous book for grown-ups, questioning what we're supposed to do when nothing goes right and things don't turn out our way. I can still remember closing that notebook, convinced I'd just written a blockbuster, my first book, penned "undercover" in Poland. The book, When the Answer Is No, had nothing to do with my experiences undercover in a communist country. The Poles I worked with asked me to wait ten years to write about them and their underground movement, Oasis, so they wouldn't be in danger from their government. In fact, even more years would go by before I wrote up those experiences in a young-adult novel titled Eva Underground. By that time, the story had become "historical fiction," but for me, the memories had deepened and the images intensified with time.

When I got back to the States, I thought the hard part of writing was done. All I had to do was type in my handwritten book and let those publishers fight for it. When I finished typing, I couldn't believe I only had ninety-nine typed pages. Even I knew that wasn't long enough for a humorous book for grown-ups. So I gave it a title page, then applied Wite-Out to the page numbers, inserted each page into my electric typewriter, and bumped up each page's number. I ended up with one hundred pages. Much better.

As it turned out, When the Answer Is No got "no" for an answer. I'd made a dozen photocopies of my masterpiece and mailed one to every publisher I could. My selection process consisted of looking in the back of books I owned and sending a copy to the publisher if they'd listed their full address and zip code.

Half a dozen publishers didn't bother to return the manuscript. A few sent cards informing me they didn't publish this kind of book. Two editors took the time to write personal notes. One editor's note was so critical that I wadded up the letter and stuffed it into my desk. The other editor suggested I attend a writer's conference and learn how to submit a manuscript. I took that advice. And in the course of one Saturday, I learned twenty-seven things I had done wrong in submitting my one hundred pages. I hadn't researched publishers to find out the kinds of books they needed or if they only wanted three chapters and an outline instead of the whole book. I hadn't included return postage and a self-addressed, stamped mailer for the manuscript's likely return. I hadn't written a cover letter, introducing myself and briefly giving the point of the book and indicating why I'd selected them.

Once I got over my humiliation, I rewrote and resubmitted to both editors who had taken the time to give me a personal rejection on the manuscript, even the highly critical editor whose letter I'd stuffed in my desk. I had to dig out that crumpled-up letter and respond to all the points in my rewrite. It was that publisher who finally sent me my first letter of acceptance for a book. I called everyone I knew and announced, "I'm a real live author!"

As I waited for the development and production of When the Answer Is No, I started the next book. A year later, the critical publisher backed out on the contract, and the company folded. But it was too late. I thought I was an author. And my second book had been accepted by a different publisher, my third by still another publisher. My first seven books were adult nonfiction, humor, and inspirationals: How Not to Procrastinate, Remembering, Just One of Me, and A Spiritual Handbook for Women.

Love, Mystery, and Children's Books

I was writing part-time and teaching part-time, while picking up a master's degree in English and creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma when I met, fell in love with, and married Joe Mackall. We introduced ourselves in late January, married in July. My parents wryly asked why we waited so long.

Joe had been working at the Washington Post and had even covered the police beat. But he'd decided he wanted to do more of his own writing. Joe tells this

story better than I do, but according to him, he spotted me in the hallway and turned into a detective. By the next day when I came out of my How to Write Murder Mysteries class, he had gathered a notebook full of information on me. He waited until I came out of class, handed me a coffee—no sugar, light cream—and asked, "So what's your favorite way to kill people?" He had me.

Our next move was to Ohio, where we both taught part-time at Ashland University and wrote part-time at opposite ends of our house. It wasn't until I had children that I discovered children's books. During days, I'd teach, then write my nonfiction books and articles. But I looked forward to daughter Jenny's bedtime, when I could read her children's books with her. I couldn't believe how fun and lyrical picture books were. It amazed me that so much story and character could be compressed into a book for young readers.

One night, after I'd been laboring over a book on worry, trying to make it funny, I collapsed onto Jenny's bed with Dr. Seuss's The Foot Book. When we finished the book, and caught our breaths from laughing so hard, I said, "Jenny, your books are so much more fun than mine." Jenny, age five, replied, "So write children's books."

I couldn't get to sleep that night. And the next day, I wrote a first draft of "Jenny's Christmas," which became my first children's book, The Best Christmas Ever. Since then, I've written books for every age, nonfiction, fiction, rhyming, series books, board books, early chapter books, chapter books, middle-grade and young-adult/adult novels.

When we adopted two-week-old Katy, I put together a unique baby book, the kind moms and dads start as soon as they know a baby is on the way. Remembering has places for parents to write their own stories, where they grew up, went to school, how they met, the stories that they'd want their children to know and remember.

Katy got a little older, and I wrote board books, including the "Little Blessings" series, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, who created the Care Bears. But I didn't just want to do older books as my kids grew older, leaving younger books behind. So I wrote another classic baby book, for that baby still in the womb. This one was called God Made Me. I've kept this practice of adding age groups and genres, without letting go of the former type of book. I want to write everything!

I love writing rhyme, and I got a good break when a publisher's child happened to have claimed some of my rhyming board books as his favorite. As a result, I was asked to write a dozen rhyming fairy tales, but to spin them in funny ways. I came through on the assignment and was given another, to write concept books: numbers, letters, shapes, colors. Then I wrote a number of nature books, including one called Under the Sea, which is my only coauthored book. My daughter Jen had been fascinated by weird creatures that lived underwater, and she had gathered books from the library on the subject. So Jen did the research, I wrote the text, and we shared the byline: "By Jen and Dandi Mackall."

Those early books got me noticed by a few bigger companies, like Hanna-Barbera, producers of the television programs Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo. They hired me to write some concept board books using their characters. "Sounds like fun!" I replied over the phone, still wondering if somebody might be playing a trick on me. "Would you like all of them to rhyme?" I asked. "We don't do rhyming books," said the bigwig on the other end of the line.

I hung up and got started on Scooby-Doo and Scrappy in 1,2,3. But I knew right away that the story should rhyme. Little kids love rhyme, and it helps them learn. It was the same problem when I began writing Yogi and Boo Boo ABC's, Pebbles and Bamm Bamm in a Colorful Game, and Jetsons in Shape. Not wanting to blow a big chance, I wrote all four books in prose. Then I wrote four more in rhyme. I sent all eight manuscripts to Hanna-Barbera and got a call at the end of the week. "Okay," said the bigwig, "so I guess we now do rhyme." They bought all four rhyming texts, then hired me to write a bunch of pictures books based on their characters, like Scooby Doo in A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts.

I wrote for Warner Brothers for a while after that and was flown to their Los Angeles studios to brainstorm with their writers and animators to come up with one hundred titles for future books about Tweety Bird, Taz, Bugs Bunny, and the gang. I can still remember feeling like the country mouse in the big city as I sat in a boardroom, surrounded by men in suits with briefcases and writing credits longer than my hair. Jokes and ideas flew around that table faster than the speed of light. At the break, I was exhausted. All I wanted was to go outside and breathe in fresh air. Instead, they wheeled in a TV. We watched cartoons during the break, and those men laughed harder than my kids would have.

Later, I got to write books to accompany the DreamWorks movie Joseph, King of Dreams.

Son Dan was into mysteries and baseball books. A story had to keep moving to get Danny to sit still and finish the book. So I tackled writing mystery and adventure. The day we first drove to our home in Cinnamon Lake, Ohio, I took one look around at the twisted trees, pitch dark night, and bumpy roads and told my husband, "There are mysteries out here."

"Cinnamon Lake Mysteries" was my first series, combining quirky characters, twisty plots, and nature. In the end, mysteries were solved because the kids knew nature and picked up on clues connected with that knowledge. Quentin, Molly, Dirt (the toughest first grader in the world), and the Cinnamon Lakers became members of our household. My kids would hop off the school bus and race inside to find out what Molly had been up to that day, or if Quentin and Dirt were still mad at each other.

Illustration

Although I'd painted in oils from time to time, just for fun, I'd given up on any thoughts of illustrating my own books. But I suppose the dream lingered. After I turned in the first "Cinnamon Lake Mysteries" title, called The Secret Society of the Left Hand, my editor called and asked if I could just sketch out the layout of Cinnamon Lake: the location of the lake, the Lakers' treehouse, a house with no tree, and the clubhouse of the Vultures. Then our illustrator could make a map to go in all the books.

I did my best, a ribbon-circle for the lake, triangle trees, rough shapes for clubhouses.

A few days later, I got a call from my editor. She was laughing so hard that I could barely understand her.

"Dandi, guess what? We're going to use your drawing as the map to go into each book."

I could barely believe it. They'd chosen my drawings to put in the front of every book? I was finally going to be an illustrator. "This is so great!" I managed.

"Yeah." More laughter from my editor on the other end of the line. "We were in our publishing meeting, and the head of the company studied your drawing. Then he said, ‘Hey! Let's use this one. It looks like a little kid drew it.’"

That was the beginning, and the end, of my life as an illustrator. It was a great outcome, as it turns out. I've had so many wonderful, talented illustrators since then, like Elena Selivanova for For God So Loved the World; Susan Mitchell for A Glorious Angel Show; Vincent Nguyen for The Treetops Are Whispering; Gene Barretta for Off to Plymouth Rock!, Merry Creature Christmas, and Journey Easter, Journey!; Diana Magnuson for The Three Wise Women of Christmas; Karen Lee Schmidt for I Love You, Daddy and I Love You, Mommy; James Kandt for In the Beginning; Greg LaFever for The Legend of Ohio; Dominic Catalano for The Shepherd's Christmas Story; Claudine Gèvry for Seeing Stars; Glin Dibley for Made for a Purpose; Jan Spivey Gilchrist for A Friend from Galilee; Hala Wittwer for

Love and Kisses, Bunny; Barry Gott for It Must Be Halloween; Keiko Motoyama for Who'll Light the Chanukah Candles?; Tiphanie Beeke for First Day; Shannon McNeill for Are We There Yet?; Karen A. Jerome for Silent Dreams; R.W. Alley for Off to Bethlehem!; Sally Wern Comport for Until the Christ Child Came; Chris Ellison for Rudy Rides the Rails; and Elena Kucharik, Jill Newton, Megan Halsey, Hiroe Nakata, Jenny Harris, Jane Dippold, Kay Salem, and others.

Family Reading and Characters

It's been fun to watch our three kids develop such different tastes in reading. I've learned from all of them. As the kids got a little older, we looked forward to each summer's family vacation as a time when we could rein them back in and experience things together, as a family. My goal for vacation spots has always been to find a remote cabin or lodge or house to rent in a town nobody has ever heard of and no sane tourist would care to see.

One summer we vacationed on Beals Island, Maine, renting a resident's house, while she was on vacation. There were no hotels or motels, no theaters or fast-food joints on the island. Only three hundred lobster fishermen and the odd new family. We loved it. Everywhere we walked, people greeted us with, "Ah, you're the outsiders, aren't you?" We hiked by day and read by night. I carry with me the mental image from one particular night when I looked up from my Ann Tyler novel to see Jen reading a medieval fantasy in a rocking chair; Katy perched on a bunk bed, reading Lottery Rose; Dan lost in a crime story he'd picked up in a gas station the day before; and Joe sitting next to me, cracking open a new Scott Russell Sanders book.

Our three kids have supplied me with endless characters and plot lines, dialogue, and dilemmas. Sometimes I think our children must have come from different planets. Jen, no longer Jenny, would have fit best in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. She doesn't like TV, has no interest in computers, and would be content to spin wool and read in the drawing room of some Victorian estate. She's loved reading about ancient history her whole life. When I need help with historical facts for a novel, Jen is my go-to gal.

Dan, on the other hand, is thoroughly immersed in whatever is barely starting to sweep the nation. To write a contemporary teen novel, all I have to do is tune in to Dan and his friends, their language sprinkled with the latest cool expressions and rhythms. One vacation, in an obscure little town in Rhode Island, I began writing Degrees of Guilt: Kyra's Story. I knew I was onto something when Dan let me read my rough draft of chapter one to him. Then he got up each morning with me so I could read the new installment from the day before. The young adult novel is a murder mystery, and Dan nagged me all the way back home to tell him who did it.

Daughter Katy is our special gift from God to make us better people. She suffers from a chronic and rare disorder called Alport's Syndrome, as well as from hereditary nephritis, or kidney failure. Since age three, when Katy woke up and couldn't hear because she had overnight lost forty percent of her hearing, she has struggled with hearing, speech, comprehension, learning skills, and general health. She's been in special-needs classes and multihandicapped classes her whole school life. Yet she is the happiest person I know. Nobody meets Katy and walks away unchanged. When she's well enough, she competes in Special Olympics swimming, bowling, and even basketball. Everybody in the world should be forced to attend at least one Special Olympics game, where parents and players cheer for everybody, even opposing players.

Katy inhabits many of my books in various forms. I never realized this until a fan wrote and asked me, "Mrs. Mackall, why do you have so many special-needs kids show up in your books?" My first reaction was, "Do not!" Then I thought about some of my books. True, there had been a girl with a speech problem in my first children's book, Jenny's Christmas, but it was just a bit part. Then there was the little sister in Portrait of Lies; the autistic boy in Winnie the Horse Gentler; a pivotal, wonderful girl named Sandy, sister to the main character in Crazy in Love; not to mention the theme of bullying in Larger-than-Life Lara.

Stories bring out those things that are closest to our hearts, whether we realize this as we write, or not.

Write, Write, Write

When Katy started having serious medical problems, and serious hospital bills, we knew our lifestyle had to change. We needed better medical insurance, and one of us needed to be home at all times. So my husband and I made a pact: the first one to make more money writing than teaching got to quit teaching, and the other one would go back to school and get a Ph.D. in order to teach full-time at the university and get medical benefits for the family.

A few months later, I won. So Joe went back to school, kept teaching part-time, and wrote, picking up that Ph.D. in record time. The teaching schedule works well for him, giving him the structure to schedule in writing time. He's published amazing essays, started an award-winning literary journal, River Teeth: A Journal of Non-fiction Narrative, and published chapters in anthologies, such as Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction. And Joe has managed to write two critically acclaimed books, The Last Street before Cleveland: An Accidental Pilgrimage and Plain Secrets: An Outsider among the Amish.

For me, having the whole day to write works perfectly. I get up early, between five and six, and write every minute that I'm not getting other family members to wherever they're going that day. I write all day, until someone makes me stop, usually Katy wondering if we have anything to eat for dinner. With two writers in the house, our children have grown up not asking "What's for dinner?" but "Is there dinner?"

Normally, I use the mornings for "fresh" writing, those feisty first drafts I like to spill from my head before Editor Dandi gets in the way and blocks the wild, but sometimes best, ideas. Around noon, I'll take my mini-tape player and walk five miles around our lake, talking scenes or ideas or dialogue into my tape player. Neighbors think I'm talking to myself and keep their distance.

Afternoons, I prefer to revise and rewrite, maybe working on a different manuscript. I love the rewrite stage, knowing that I can only make this story better. I love searching for the right image, the precise word that will sear the scene into the reader's brain forever. My rough drafts are usually twice as long as I want the finished manuscript, and I like to cut, cut, cut, making the prose tighter and tighter.

At any given time, I might have four stories brewing, four contracts I'm writing on, four deadlines. I can only work on one long fiction at a time because I want that voice to be stronger and stronger. But I can easily "change channels" in my head and write on several shorter pieces at the same time—a rhyming board book, a literary prose picture book, materials for the public relations people. I've been described as having "ADD" of writers. In a normal year, I may have from ten to twenty-two new books published, with four to six publishers. Each title will be completely different in style and content, many geared for different audiences.

The Sound of Story

Books "come" in many different ways, although mine can usually be traced to something in my life, even if I hadn't realized it as I was writing. Sometimes, I hear a lyrical text in my head and know it's a picture book. As I write this, I have just finished a Christmas picture book called Not Such a Silent Night, for future release with Dutton/Penguin. Each verse relates the classic and traditional Christmas story, with onomatopoeia for sounds that must have been present on that first Christmas. I had the rhythm of that book before I'd typed a single word of text, and I can still "hear" the melody of the lines. I could sing the story to you, but I'm afraid my singing falls into the same category as my illustrating.

I've had many picture books that began with a word or phrase that stuck with me. "Splashing, crashing, flashing" played in my brain until I could see the Mayflower ship on that dangerous trip in Off to Plymouth Rock!

I love to play with words and rhythm and give each book its own melody, but I'm a stickler when it comes to rhyme and the regularity of rhythm. No off-rhyme for me. "Sack" and "backed" don't rhyme, and neither do "gain" and "again," or a host of other not-quite combinations we authors are tempted to use to make the line work for us. I scan all of my verse the way my ancient English teachers forced us to do in poetry classes, marking poetic feet into series of accented and unaccented syllables. It's the most rigid thing I do as a writer, and I think it's essential for verse. We can always read our own rhyming verses aloud and make them sound just right, pausing an extra beat or speeding up two syllables to make them sound like one. But my readers won't know when to do that. The only way to be sure any reader can pick up my rhyming picture book and read it right the first time is to scan.

The Legend of Ohio doesn't rhyme, but it has its own music. The story is based on an Iroquois oral tradition given to me by a "Keeper of Old Things" for the Algonquin tribe. It's a wonderful story about Chief Tarachiwagon, "The Man Who Held Up the Sky," leading his people into what is now America when "The Moving White Stone Mountain," or the glaciers, forced the people of the North to flee with the animals toward "The Grandfather Mountains," the Appalachians. The story had never been written down, and I wanted desperately to get it right. So I read scores of Native American legends and learned all I could about oral traditions. I knew the sound of the story was as important as the story itself.

Writing from Life

I had published over a hundred books and given dozens of author visits, encouraging students to write what they know, to take advantage of the world they have around them and use those details as inroads to their best fiction, when it occurred to me that I wasn't taking my own advice. I'd never written a horse book, even though I know more about horses than I do about anything, with the possible exception of writing. So I dug into my memories of Sugar, Rocket, Misty, Towaco, Angel, Lancer, Cindy Loo, and the other horses of my past. I drew from our experiences with our own horses, Cheyenne and Moby. Out of this came my first horse series, "Horsefeathers!," eight novels for young adults. The setting was based on my old hometown in Missouri.

Later, I developed a horse series for middle-grade readers, "Winnie the Horse Gentler," and set the story in my neck of the woods in Ohio, using Ashland Middle School as part of the setting. Daughter Katy is my first reader on all animal books. Her specific job is to keep the animal genders straight, making sure I haven't slipped and written "his" mane when I'm referring to a mare, or "her" tail when writing about a male dog.

I added to my experience with horses by reading training manuals and how-to-gentle books, gathering facts and methods I tried out on our own horses. Whenever I felt the story sagging, I headed out to the pasture and went for a long ride. The perfect mix of life and art.

I can't seem to make myself extend my series fiction beyond eight books. I'll still be going strong at number eight, but it just feels that if I go past that, my characters can't keep growing. So I begin another project that's grabbed my attention. I stopped after eight books in "Cinnamon Lake Mysteries," "TodaysGirls.com," "Horsefeathers!," "Winnie the Horse Gentler," and "Blog On!," the last a middle-grade series about four extremely different characters who come together to build a Web site and do positive blogging. In the case of "Winnie," we got so much fan mail demanding more that I've written a spin-off series, "Starlight Animal Rescue." The only exception to my series rule was "Puzzle Club Mysteries," a fast-paced detective series that ended up being animated for television.

Some books take years to come to the surface. Though I lived in Poland behind the "Iron Curtain" from 1978 to 1979, ideas simmered until the setting, plot, voice, and tone came together as historical fiction in Eva Underground, published by Harcourt and nominated for ALA Best Book for Young Adults in 2007 and the Ohioana Award. I'd toyed with a novel about those years in Poland and even had a few false starts: an

adult novel, a memoir, a contemporary novel that flashed back to the communist era, and a novel written solely in Eva's point of view. But the book came together as soon as I realized I needed to tell Tomek's story, too, to show Poland's struggle through the eyes of a young Polish man, alternating viewpoints with Eva, the young American girl torn from her life in Chicago.

When you read Eva Underground, don't forget that most of the events that happen to Eva—from picking plums to moving the printing press after waiting for the bent man in a big black hat—happened to me first. Unlike Eva, I didn't go with my father or leave a boyfriend back home, but the details came from my own experiences. I dedicated the book to my Polish friend, now living in Russia, Gosia Muchowiecka.

Once in a great while, a book comes as if by magic, unraveling itself on the computer screen as my fingers move like frightened spiders across the keys, trying to keep up with the images in my head. Laney Grafton woke me up at 3:00 a.m. to tell me her story, or rather not to tell me her story. The words that ran through my head sounded like a tough, angry girl was spitting them at me: "This isn't about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up."

I crawled out of bed, crossed the hall to my office, wrote down those words, and went back to sleep. Truth is, I've written down lots of things in the middle of dark nights. Usually, in the light of day, nothing makes sense. But this time it was different.

Next morning I sat at my computer, typed in the words, and then kept typing, without any idea where I was headed. Most of the time when I write, I have the whole story in my head before I begin. I'll have fleshed out character studies for main characters, built my setting, nailed the climax, and gotten down at least a rough outline.

Not this time. I was flying blind. But Laney didn't let me down. She kept narrating the story, denying it was about her.

This book surprised me during the whole writing process. At the end of day one, I stopped when Laney and her entire class turned to look at someone, or some- thing, that had appeared in their classroom doorway. I could see every face, drop-jawed and wide-eyed, staring at whatever was in that doorway, but I had no idea who or what it was. I stopped writing, walked around the lake, tried to cook up possibilities. An odd substitute teacher? A stray dog? Something delivered to the classroom? A squirrelly kid like one in my fourth-grade class? The next day I sat down and started typing, and there she was, "Larger-than-Life Lara."

Laney talked me through that whole story. But she did more than that. She talked about story. As the action unfolds, the reader learns all about how to write fiction, how to build characters, what a climax is. The story picks up speed all the way to the end, with chapter titles, like "Details," "Dialogue," "Suspense," "Minor Characters," "Setting," "Climax," "Resolution." In many ways, I think this book, my four hundredth, is the best thing I've written.

Crazy in Love, a young adult novel, began the same way Larger-than-Life Lara had, with a strong voice calling me to her story. My main character, Mary Jane, is a senior in high school, who admits in her first sentence that she does hear voices. But she rushes on to assure us that the voices are all hers and she needs them desperately because she has fallen mad crazy in love with a girlfriend's boyfriend. I had a good idea where the story was taking me, but "MJ" kept me laughing out loud in the privacy of my office for months.

I write for many reasons, including laughter, mine and, hopefully, my readers' laughter. I write because, all advice to the contrary, I make a nice living writing. I write because sometimes life with a chronically ill daughter would consume every waking moment if I didn't disappear into the book I'm writing, the voices I'm hearing. I write because I believe I have things to say, and I trust they'll come out in words that never sound preachy or teachy but will connect one human to another. I write because what else would I do with all of these voices and stories swirling through my head? And I'm grateful for every one of them, for the power of a story that can reach inside.

I write because I love the fans who write to me their honest thoughts, like this one from a young girl in the East:

Dear Mrs. Mackall, I love your books so much! I want to read every book you write because they are so real that I feel like I'm there. I feel like I'm one of the characters in your book. I read your books over and over. And besides, since my guinea pig died, I have nothing else to do.

Each of us has a story of birth, first words, first friend, first day of school, first love. Life is a series of these moments, these stories we live and tell. We all share in the magic of story.

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"Mackall, Dandi Daley 1949- (Dandi)." Something About the Author. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 30 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Mackall, Dandi Daley 1949-

Mackall, Dandi Daley 1949-

(Dandi)

Personal

Born Dorothy Ann Daley, March 24, 1949, in Kansas City, MO; daughter of F.R. (a physician) and Helen (a nurse) Daley; married Joseph S. Mackall (a professor and writer); children: Jennifer, Katy, Dan. Education: University of Missouri—Columbia, B.A., 1971; University of Central Oklahoma, M.A., 1989; also attended Institute of Biblical Studies (Arrowhead, CA) and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Horseback riding, tennis, walking, painting.

Addresses

Home and office—1254 Tupelo Lane, West Salem, OH 44287. E-mail—dandi@dandibooks.com.

Career

Author, educator, and lecturer. Freelance manuscript reviewer and editor, 1978-86; University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, lecturer in writing for children, 1986-89; freelance writer and public speaker, 1989—. Southwest Community College, Creston, IA, instructor, 1984-86; Southern Nazarene University, instructor, 1986-89; Ashland University, instructor, 1990-94; Institute of Children's Literature, instructor. Speaker at conferences; guest on television and radio programs.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (religious coordinator, 1990-94), PEN International, Phi Beta Kappa.

Awards, Honors

Silver Medallion Award, for Degrees of Guilt and God Made Me; Romantic Times Pick of the Month designation, for Love Rules; American Library Association Best Books for Young Readers nomination, 2006, and Ohioana Award finalist, 2007, both for Eva Underground; Distinguished Alumna Award, University of Missouri, 2006.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

The Best Christmas Ever, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1986.

A Secret Birthday Gift, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1987.

A Super Friend, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1987.

Me First, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1987.

Allyson J. Cat, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1989.

Allyson J. Cat Coloring Book, with cassette, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1989.

The Christmas Gifts That Didn't Need Wrapping, illustrated by Dawn Mathers, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1990.

It's Only Ali Cat, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1990.

An Ali Cat Christmas, illustrated by Kathryn Hutton, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1991.

Kay's Birthday Surprise, illustrated by Dawn Mathers, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1992.

A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

No Biz like Show Biz, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

Millionaire Astro, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

Home Sweet Jellystone, Hanna Barbera, 1995.

Seasons, Landoll's, 1995.

Baby Animals, Landoll's, 1995.

Secret Night, Landoll's, 1995.

Who's a Goblin?, Landoll's, 1995.

The Halloween Secret, Landoll's, 1995.

Circus Counting, Landoll's, 1995.

ABC's of Lunch, Landoll's, 1995.

Things That Go, Landoll's, 1995.

Bugs and Butterflies, Landoll's, 1995.

Under the Water, Landoll's, 1995.

Santa's Toy Shop, Landoll's, 1995.

Scooby Doo and Scrappy in 1.2.3, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Pebbles and Bamm Bamm in a Colorful Game, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Jetsons in Shapes, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Yogi and Boo Boo ABC's, Hanna Barbera, 1996.

Picture Me at Walt Disney World's 25th Anniversary, Disney (New York, NY), 1997.

Christmas Buttons, illustrated by Bryan Fyffe, Playhouse Publishing, 1997.

Halloween Buttons, illustrated by Bryan Fyffe, Playhouse Publishing, 1997.

Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul, Batgirl, 1998.

Joseph, King of Dreams (movie adaptation), Dreamworks, 1998.

Easter Adventure, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

(Compiler) Why I Believe in God: And Other Reflections by Children, Prima Publishing (Rocklin, CA), 1999.

Portrait of Lies, created by Terry Brown, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Off to Bethlehem!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

No, No Noah!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

The Don't Cry, Lion, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Little Lost Donkey, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Go, Go Fish!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Moses, Pharaoh, and the Snake, Broadman (Nashville, TN), 2000.

Silent Dreams, illustrated by Karen A. Jerome, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

(Compiler) What Children Know about Angels, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.

(Compiler) 101 Things Kids Wonder, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.

(Compiler) Kids' Rules for Life: A Guide to Life's Journey from Those Just Starting Out, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.

Until the Christ Child Came, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2002.

Off to Bethlehem!, illustrated by R.W. Alley, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2002.

Off to Plymouth Rock!, illustrated by Gene Barretta, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002, issued with CD, 2005.

It Must Be Halloween, illustrated by Barry Gott, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2002.

Love and Kisses, Bunny (board book), illustrated by Hala Wittwer, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2003.

First Day, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Who'll Light the Chanukah Candles?, illustrated by Keiko Motoyama, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2003.

Are We There Yet?, illustrated by Shannon McNeill, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.

A Tree for Christmas, illustrated by Dominic Catalano, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2004.

Merry Creature Christmas!, illustrated by Gene Barretta, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2004, issued with CD, 2005.

Journey, Journey, Jesus, illustrated by Gene Barretta, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2004.

A Friend from Galilee, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Made for a Purpose, illustrated by Glin Dibley, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

My Happy Easter Morning, illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

My Christmas Gift to Jesus (board book), illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

My Big Birthday (board book), illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

My Secret Valentine (board book), illustrated by Rachel O'Neill, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

Jesus in Me, illustrated by Jenny B. Harris, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

In the Beginning, illustrated by James Kandt, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2005.

I'm His Lamb, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Jesus Said, "Go Tell the World," so I've Got a Job to Do, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

The Legend of Ohio, illustrated by Greg LaFever, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2005.

God Blesses Me, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

The Best Thing Is Love, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Praying Jesus' Way, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

This Is the Lunch That Jesus Served, illustrated by Benrei Huang, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

The Shepherd's Christmas Story, illustrated by Dominic Catalano, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2005.

The Golden Rule, illustrated by Jane Dippold, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2005.

Three Wise Women of Christmas, illustrated by Diana Magnuson, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2006.

God Shows the Way, illustrated by Claudine Gèvry, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

The Armor of God, illustrated by Jenny B. Harris, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

Seeing Stars, illustrated by Claudien Gevry, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

I Love You, Mommy, illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

I Love You, Daddy, illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

God Made Me, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

A Glorious Angel Show, illustrated by Susan Mitchell, Integrity Publishers 2006.

Treetops Are Whispering, illustrated by Vincent Nguyen, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression-Era Story, illustrated by Chris Ellison, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2007.

Easter Is for Me, illustrated by Anton Petrov, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2007.

For God So Loved the World: My First John 3:16 Book, illustrated by Elena Selivanova, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2007.

Make Me a Blessing, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

The Blanket Show!, illustrated by David Hohn, WaterBrook/Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

A Gaggle of Geese and a Clutter of Cats, WaterBrook/Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving, illustrated by Guy Porfirio, Zonderkids (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

Christmas Light, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2007.

The Wonder of Christmas, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2008.

The Legend of the Christmas Cookie: An Inspirational Story of Sharing, illustrated by Deborah Chabrian Zonderkids (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.

The Legend of the Easter Robin, Zonderkids (Grand Rapids, MI), 2008.

It Was Not Such a Silent Night, Dutton (New York, NY), 2008.

A Girl Named Dan, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2008.

The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love, illustrated by Edward Gazsi, Zonderkids (Grand Rapids, MI), 2009.

The Legend of Christmas Holly, Zonderkids (Grand Rapids, MI), 2009.

Also author of pop-up books Daniel and the Lion's Den, Noah's Ark, and Jonah and the Whale, all 1995; author of The Princess and the Pea, Town and Country Mouse, and "My First Book" series. Author of coloring books, under pseudonym Dandi. Contributor to books, including Christmas Programs for Organizations, Standard Publishing (Cincinnati, OH), 1986. Contributor to periodicals, including Guidepost, Moody Monthly, Christianity Today, Power for Living, Christian Parenting, and Today's Christian Woman. Author of humor column in an Iowa newspaper, 1984-86.

Author's works have been translated into over a dozen languages.

"LITTLE BLESSINGS" PICTURE BOOKS

Blessings Everywhere, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

God Makes Nighttime Too!, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

Rain or Shine, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2000.

Birthday Blessings, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2001.

Count Your Blessings, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

ABC's, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Many-Colored Blessings, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

Blessings Come in Shapes, illustrated by Elena Kucharik, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

"FIRST THINGS FIRST" BOARD-BOOK SERIES

Things I Do, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

Rainbow Party, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

The Lost Sheep, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

Made by God, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

"IMAGINATION" PICTURE-BOOK SERIES

The Shape of Things, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Color My World, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Cloud Counting, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Animal Babies, illustrated by Jill Newton, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

"READY, SET, READ!" BEGINNING-READER SERIES

God Made Me, illustrated by Michelle Neavill, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1992.

Jesus Loves Me, illustrated by Kathy Rogers, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

So I Can Read, illustrated by Deborah A. Kirkeeide, Augsburg-Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

COMPILER; "KIDS SAY" SERIES

Kids Say the Cutest Things about Mom!, Trade Life Books (Tulsa, OK), 1996.

Kids Say the Cutest Things about Dad!, Trade Life Books (Tulsa, OK), 1997.

Kids Say the Cutest Things about Love, Trade Life Books (Tulsa, OK), 1998.

"PICTURE ME" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM DANDI

Picture Me as Goldilocks, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me as Jack and the Beanstalk, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me as Little Red Riding Hood, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Jonah, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Noah, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Moses, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

Picture Me with Jesus, Picture Me Books (Akron, OH), 1997.

"PUZZLE CLUB" MYSTERY SERIES

The Puzzle Club Christmas Mystery, illustrated by Mike Young Productions, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Puzzle Club Activity Book, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Puzzle Club Picture Book, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Mystery of Great Price, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Puzzle Club Case of the Kidnapped Kid, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Puzzle Club Poison-Pen Mystery, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Puzzle Club Musical Mystery, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Puzzle Club Meets the Jigsaw Kids, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1999.

Also author of The Counterfeit Caper, The Case of the Missing Memory, and The Petnapping Mystery, 1997-2000.

MIDDLE-GRADE AND YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

Kyra's Story: Degrees of Guilt, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2003.

Sierra's Story: Degrees of Betrayal, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

Love Rules, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2005.

Eva Underground, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.

Maggie's Story, Tyndale House (Carol Stream, IL), 2006.

Larger-than-Life Lara, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

Crazy in Love, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

"CINNAMON LAKE" MYSTERY SERIES

The Secret Society of the Left Hand, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1996.

The Case of the Disappearing Dirt, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1996.

The Cinnamon Lake Meow Mystery, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

Don't Bug Me Molly!, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

Of Spies and Spider Webs, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

The Cinnamon Lake-ness Monster, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1997.

Soup Kitchen Suspicion, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1998.

The Presidential Mystery, illustrated by Kay Salem, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 1999.

"HORSEFEATHERS!" SERIES; YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

Horsefeathers!, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Horse Cents, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

A Horse of a Different Color, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Horse Whispers in the Air, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Horse Angels, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

Home Is Where Your Horse Is, Concordia (St. Louis, MO), 2000.

"WINNIE THE HORSE GENTLER" NOVEL SERIES

Bold Beauty, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Midnight Mystery, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Unhappy Appy, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Wild Thing, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Eager Star, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002.

Gift Horse, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2003.

Friendly Foal, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

Buckshot Bandit, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2004.

"BLOG ON" YOUNG-ADULT NOVEL SERIES

Grace Notes, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Love, Annie, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Just Jazz, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Storm Rising, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Grace under Pressure, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

Jazz Off Key, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

Storm Warning, Zonderkidz (Grand Rapids, MI), 2007.

"STARLIGHT ANIMAL RESCUE" NOVEL SERIES

Runaway, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

Mad Dog, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

Kat Shrink, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

Fur Ball, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2008.

FOR ADULTS

The Blessing Is in the Doing, Broadman (Nashville, TN), 1983.

A Spiritual Handbook for Women, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1984.

Remembering …, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1985.

When the Answer Is No, Broadman (Nashville, TN), 1985.

Splitting Up: When Your Friend Gets a Divorce, Harold Shaw (Wheaton, IL), 1988.

Just One of Me, Harold Shaw (Wheaton, IL), 1989.

Kindred Sisters: New Testament Women Speak to Us Today; A Book of Meditation and Reflection, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

101 Ways to Talk to God, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2000.

OTHER

(Compiler) Kids Are Still Saying the Darndest Things, Prima Publishing (Rocklin, CA), 1993.

(Compiler) Kids Say the Greatest Things about God: A Kid's-Eye View of Life's Biggest Subject, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 1995.

Problem Solving (nonfiction), Ferguson (Chicago, IL), 1998, 2nd edition, 2004.

Teamwork Skills (nonfiction), Ferguson (New York, NY), 1998, 2nd edition, 2004.

Self-Development (nonfiction), Ferguson (Chicago, IL), 1998, 2nd edition published as Professional Ethics and Etiquette, 2004.

Portrait of Lies, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2001.

Please Reply!, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.

Kids Say the Best Things about Life: Devotions and Conversations for Families on the Go, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

Kids Say the Best Things about God: Devotions and Conversations for Families on the Go, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

Adaptations

Three titles in the "Puzzle Club" mystery series were adapted as animated television programs. Kindred Sisters has been adapted as an audiobook.

Sidelights

A prolific writer whose work has been published in over twenty countries, Dandi Daley Mackall has hundreds of books to her credit, the majority of which reflect her Christian faith. Mackall's works range from picture books and novels for children and young adults to historical fiction and nonfiction for a variety of ages. Mackall finds the seeds of stories everywhere, especially in her own life and her experiences raising her three children. For example, the writer's lifelong love of horses is reflected in her "Winnie the Horse Gentler" novel series, about a twelve year old who is able to communicate with horses. The time-honored mantra of the American family road trip inspired her picture book

Are We There Yet?, while another picture book, First Day, reflects universally shared worries as the first day of school approaches. Mackall's young-adult novel Eva Underground is based on memories of her eighteen-month venture into Poland in the 1970s, where she experienced life behind the iron curtain prior to the end of the cold war. Readers of Eva Underground are treated to a "distinctive human portrayal of a troubling time and place," according to School Library Journal reviewer Suzanne Gordon, while a Kirkus Reviews contributor stated that "modern Communism is rarely depicted in children's literature, and never before this well." In Booklist Stephanie Zvirin dubbed First Day "cheerful" and "encouraging." Are We There Yet?, featuring what a Publishers Weekly contributor described as a "cleverly rhymed" text, also benefits from illustrations by Shannon McNeill that the reviewer praised as "chock full of detail."

Taking place in 1978, Eva Underground introduces Eva Lott, a Chicago high school senior. While still grieving her mother's death, Eva finds her secure suburban world further disrupted when her father, a college teacher, decides to put his energy into fighting as part of the Polish anti-communist underground. Making the dangerous border crossing, Eva begins to understand the plight of the Polish people. While her father helps organize an underground press, the American teen becomes involved with one of the underground's young radicals, and ultimately learns the cost of freedom. "Mackall effectively conveys the harsh realities of living under a Communist regime," noted Booklist reviewer Ed Sullivan, the critic adding that Eve's story also reflects the optimism of the Polish people following the election of Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul. Also reviewing Eva Underground, Claire Rosser wrote in Kliatt that "the romance and adventure" Mackall weaves into her fast-moving plot will sweep along most YA readers," while a Kirkus Reviews writer commented that Eva's narration "draws the reader inexorably into the story."

Geared for upper elementary-grade readers, Larger-than-Life Lara introduces Laney Grafton, a friendly fourth grader who sets down on paper the experiences of the new girl in school, carefully and consciously framing her tale in the multi-part structure her language arts teacher has taught her. Laney's subject, grossly overweight, ten-year-old Lara Phelps, has problems at her new school, where she quickly takes Laney's place as the subject of many schoolyard jokes. Through it all, Lara wins Laney's admiration due to her upbeat attitude, compassion, and ready smile, but ultimately something happens that breaks even Lara's buoyant spirit. "Thoroughly enjoyable and unexpectedly wry," Larger-

than-Life Lara "… is as intelligent as it is succinct," noted School Library Journal contributor Elizabeth Bird, while in Booklist Carolyn Phelan commented that Mackall's story includes "touching moments and offers food for thought" for younger readers.

Mackall once told SATA: "I love to write! I even love to rewrite and revise. When I was a ten-year-old tomboy, I won my first contest with fifty words on ‘why I want to be bat boy for the Kansas City A's.’ But the team wouldn't let a girl be bat boy—my first taste of rejection! I've amassed drawerfuls of rejections since, but along the way I've hung in there and have seen hundreds of my books into print.

"Although I began writing books for grownups—humor, how-to's, inspirationals—when my children were born, I added children's books to the mix. Beginning with board books and baby books when my children were infants, I progressed through picture books and chapter books, middle-grade fiction and nonfiction, never dropping an age group, but simply adding another one. With our teens all in high school, I started a new series of young-adult fiction, ‘Horsefeathers!’ I grew up with horses, backyard horses: the kind you keep as friends in your own backyard. It's been great to draw on my earlier horse-loving days to build my main character in the series, a teenaged, female horse whisperer.

"I'm blessed with a husband who is also a writer and understands why the beds aren't made and there's nothing on the table at dinner time, and I'm blessed with children who offer encouragement and a never-ending supply of stories. I believe that God has stories already created for us if we're listening and looking and willing to work like crazy to make those stories the best they can be. I suppose that's really why I write."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 1993, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Kids Are Still Saying the Darndest Things, p. p. 500; August, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of First Day, p. 1994; March 1, 2006, Ed Sullivan, review of Eva Underground, p. 81; May 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Seeing Stars, p. 86; August 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Larger-than-Life Lara, p. 78.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2002, review of Off to Bethlehem!, p. 67; May, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of Eva Underground, p. 413; October, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Larger-than-Life Lara, p. 82.

Christian Parenting Today, summer, 2002, review of "Winnie the Horse Gentler" series, p. 62.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of Off to Bethlehem!, p. 1621; February 15, 2006, review of Eva Underground, p. 186.

Kliatt, March, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Eva Underground, p. 15.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 2002, review of Until the Christ Child Came …, p. 36; May 5, 2003, review of Are We There Yet?, p. 209; August 25, 2003, review of First Day, p. 62; September 22, 2003, review of Who'll Light the Chanukah Candles?, p. 68; December 15, 2003, review of Love and Kisses, Bunny, p. 76; March 22, 2004, review of Kids Say the Best Things about Life: Devotions and Conversations for Families on the Go, p. 16.

School Library Journal, October, 1997, Jane Marino, review of The Puzzle Club Christmas Mystery, p. 44; October, 2002, Eva Mitnick, review of Off to Bethlehem!, p. 61; January, 2003, review of Rainbow Party, p. 106; April, 2003, Laurie von Mehren, review of Silent Dreams, p. 134; September, 2003, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of First Day, p. 184; January, 2004, Olga R. Kuharets, review of Cloud Counting, p. 102; January, 2005, Cass Kvenild, review of Professional Ethics, p. 144; June, 2006, Suzanne Gordon, review of Eva Underground, p. 161; September, 2006, Elizabeth Bird, review of Larger-than-Life Lara, p. 212.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1998, pp. 223-224; December, 2000, review of "Horsefeathers!" series, p. 343; February, 2007, Vikki Terrile, review of Crazy in Love, p. 528.

ONLINE

Dandi E. Mackall Home Page,http://www.dandibooks.com (March 18, 2007).

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