Jeff Brumbeau grew up in New York City, where he lived with his mother and sister in his widowed grandmother's house. His mother worked hard to support her family, who struggled to get by. Jeff has had a variety of jobs befitting a degree in English, he says, including pumping gas, carpentry, painting, working in a mail room, car wash, factory, and candy store, on an oil rig in Wyoming and in advertising.
It was his exposure to independent, self-sufficient women early on, Jeff believes, that later inspired him to write children's books, The Man-In-The-Moon in Love and The Quiltmaker's Gift. The Quiltmaker is independent, and she has scruples. Ultimately, it is her clarity, determination, and vision that overcome the resitance and the greed of the king, and help him discover a more joyful way of living through giving.
The same is true with Miss Hunnicutt's Hat. In this tale, however, the woman starts out as timid and unsure of herself when she decides to put on a new and very unusual hat. As the day passes, though, and she continues to stand up to the townspeople, who object to her chicken hat, she becomes stronger and more sure of herself. At last she proclaims, “I have the right to wear what I like.”
Growing up, Jeff was interested in tales with a strong moral base, especially those found in eighteenth and nineteenth century children's literature. In his stories, he wanted to create the same vibrancy and ethical values that are found in the classic tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm Brothers. For The Quiltmaker's Gift, he selected the quilt as a symbol for the theme of giving and sharing, because a quuilt represents the ultimate gift. It offers both practical warmth and artistic beauty.
He lives in Chicago and Taos with Marcia, his wife; Samantha, the opera-singing Persian cat; and Louis, the daredevil alley cat.