amy young Children's book author and illustrator
school visits

Amy Answers Some Questions

Did you ever want to be a ballerina?

No. I took a dance class when I was about seven or eight, but I wasn’t all that good at it, and I didn't like performing in front of an audience. I did take ballet for two years when I was writing the Belinda books. It was really fun, but I don’t think my knees liked it (it made them hurt sometimes).

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come from all kinds of places. My stories usually start with a character who sticks in my mind, and who finds himself or herself in a peculiar situation. It is kind of magical, though, because I don’t invent my characters: they seem to exist already. I just have to find them and then listen to them.

Belinda the Ballerina, my first book, just popped into my head one evening. I started to tell my husband the idea, and then I grabbed a pencil and wrote and drew it as I talked, so I wouldn’t forget. The story wrote itself.

The Mud Fairy was inspired by a little girl I know, and by the natural world right outside our house.

You might want to check out Behind the Scenes which explores how I make a book in more depth. The section on THE MUD FAIRY talks about inspiration and ideas.

Do you know Spike and Cubby
for real?

Yes! Spike was my dog before I had Sophie Rose. He was a lab mix who was just as exuberant and joyful as he is in Spike and Cubby’s Ice Cream Island Adventure. He loved swimming and ice cream, and he really, REALLY hated thunder. He died at the ripe old age of 16 (that is about 112 in dog years). Cubby is a Welsh Corgi who belongs to author Heather Sellers. He is a very dignified little chap, and he is a worrier, just like in the book. Spike came from a dog pound in Princeton, NJ; Heather got Cubby from a rescue group.

I want to write and/or illustrate for children. What is the best way to get published?

Everybody’s path is different, but I would recommend several things. First, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Attend their conferences and get to know other aspiring writers and illustrators.

Second, read books on the subject. There are a lot of good ones out there. I like How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published, edited by Treld Pelkey Bicknell and Felicity Trottman; The Children’s Picture Book: How to Write It, How to Sell It, by Ellen E. M. Roberts, and the current edition of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.

Finally, read as many children’s books you can. Read the new ones. Read the old ones. Read the good ones. Read the bad ones. Read them aloud. Read them to children. Read them to your goldfish. Develop that ear! Listen for the rhythm, the pacing, the syntax, the drama. Read!


about Amy L. Young
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts. From as early as I can remember I wanted to be an artist. I drew all the time. I was pretty good at writing and other academic subjects, but art was my favorite by far.

After high school I went to lots of different schools. I went to:

The Cleveland Institute of Art,
Yale University (BA),
Indiana University (MFA in painting), and
Harvard Law School (JD)

That’s a lot of schools and a lot of degrees! What was I thinking?!

After law school I practiced law for seven years. It was a great career, but for someone else, not for me. I missed art more than I ever thought I would. I "retired" in 1995 to illustrate full-time.

belindaDuring and between all those years of schooling I had a lot of different jobs. I have been a waitress, a kitchen worker, a construction worker, a farm hand and a teaching assistant. My least favorite job was waitressing. My best boss ever was Danny, the foreman of my construction crew.

Once I became a full time illustrator,
I worked in as many areas as I could. You can see samples of my work in the different sections of this website.

I wanted to illustrate a children's book for years before I got the chance to actually do it. My first picture book, which I wrote as well as illustrated, is Belinda the Ballerina; it was published by Viking in 2003. I have written and
illustrated lots of books since then.




I live in Spring Lake, Michigan with my charming husband Paul, my darling dog Sophie Rose and Xena the cat. I have a great studio, which has a beautiful view of the marsh behind our house. I love animals, children and chocolate. For fun, I like to play the fiddle, read, swim and take walks with Sophie. I also like to spend time with my friends.


sophie and zena