Rachel Vail is the author of many beloved picture books and novels, including Righty and Lefty, Jibberwillies at Night, Sometimes I'm Bombaloo, the Mama Rex & T series, Lucky, and You Maybe.
"When I began writing novels, I promised myself I would be completely honest about how it really feels - to each of my characters - to live through a particular crisis point in growing up," says Rachel. "I used all the acting training I'd had to get into each character: to know how her body moved, to understand the secret he kept from everyone, to feel her shame or pride or hope or humiliation as I walked, in her character, in my imagination, through the halls of middle school. Now that I am also writing books for younger readers, I find that the process remains pretty much the same - I try to learn everything about every character, and I ask myself lots of 'what if' questions... What if a highly anticipated playdate with a best friend goes horribly? What if a really good kid has a total meltdown?"
Rachel loves talking with kids - hearing their stories and reactions, discussing their hopes and their worries. "I get many of my ideas from the letters I receive and the schools I visit, from my own memories and from daily life with my two children," she explains. "I had never planned to be a writer; I wanted to be a spy or a lobbyist or a teacher or maybe something to do with theater. I wanted to do something difficult and important. But I asked myself, as I ask each of my characters, what do you like most in the world? The answer was (and is): I like stories, I like books, I like to hear people laugh and watch them think, I like to sip milky tea while wearing comfy clothes, I like sentences. And so here I sit, in a little room by myself, day after day, making things up until they feel real."
Rachel grew up in New Rochelle, NY, in a suburban house with her mother, father, brother, sometimes a dog, and usually a bird. "I went to Georgetown University in Washington DC in hopes of pursuing a career as a spy," says Rachel. "but quickly opted instead for a major in English and theater. I worked as a tutor, a babysitter, a terrible waitress, a bookstore clerk, and backstage at a theater, before quitting everything to write my first book (Wonder) and haven't had a real job since. I am married to one of my best friends in the world, a guy who grew up down the street from me, and we have two terrific sons, Zachary and Liam. We live in New York City."