When Cynthia Lord sat down to write her first children's book, she knew it would be a middle-grade novel. As she recalls, "I grew up next to a lake in New Hampshire and I remember being ten years old, lying on our pier, listening to the seagulls calling, and daydreaming about Borrowers and Chocolate Factories and Secret Gardens." In her debut novel Rules, twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life, which is near impossible with a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. Filled with humor and warmth, Rules takes a candid and sensitive look at feeling different and finding acceptance—beyond the rules. In Cynthia's second novel, Touch Blue, eleven-year-old Tess is faced with a new foster brother and the threat of losing the island home that she loves. Set among the lobster boats and rocky coast of Maine, Touch Blue is a thoughtful, funny look at what it means to belong—and how lucky we feel when we do. The idea for her first picture book, Hot Rod Hamster, came from the experience of reading to her daughter. "She would cuddle close to me," says Cynthia, "and whenever she saw an array of fun things in the illustrations, she'd stop me from turning that page. 'What would you pick, Mama?' she'd ask. Then with great joy and purpose, she'd point to something else on the page. It was always a special moment between us, and I wanted to recreate that for other families." In Hot Rod Hamster, the reader helps a little hamster make his big racing dreams come true. A former teacher and bookseller, Cynthia still enjoys lying on a pier, reading a good book. And she hears plenty of seagulls at her home near the ocean in Maine, where she lives with her husband and their two children. Visit Cynthia Lord's website.