I grew up in rural Connecticut with three older brothers and a younger sister. We loved exploring the nearby woods. I also loved to tinker and build. I made skateboards with wheels from old roller skates. I made a unicycle with a wheel from my sister's tricycle. I made stilts from sticks I found in the woods. Hours flew by as I tried out my creations until my arms were sore and my fingers calloused. As my projects came to life, so did my imagination. They were not always successful but I learned how the world works, how to solve problems, overcome disappointment, and think creatively on my own.
The encouragement I received from my parents and teachers helped me understand the value of my talent in a way I rarely got from report cards. When I do talks in schools I challenge students to solve puzzles. The teacher is often surprised to see how certain kids whiz through the puzzle in front of the whole assembly.When that kid swaggers back to his or her seat with high fives all the way, I think of the recognition I got for my talent when I was young for learning how to solve problems and think creatively on my own. It's my mission to stimulate that kind of learning with my books and these projects.