Deborah Hodge - Author

Deborah Hodge is the award-winning author of more than 20 books for children. They include picture books, Canadian history, wildlife, science and nature books.

Deborah is the the creator of the Who Lives Here? series. She specializes in writing for young children and loves the interplay between text and images. She also enjoys the challenge of using few words to explain big concepts.

Her books have been published in Canada, United States, Spain, Mexico and Indonesia and translated into French, Indonesian and Spanish.

Before becoming an author, Deborah was a primary school teacher, then a curriculum writer, editor and instructional designer for the British Columbia Ministry of Education.

Today, she works as a full-time writer and as a speaker at conferences and schools. She says, "Although I'm not teaching any more, I still feel like I'm talking to my students whenever I write a book. I love the challenge of trying to create something that young readers will find interesting."

Deborah lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and family.

Birthplace?
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Birthday?
November 6th.

Where do you live now?
Vancouver, British Columbia.

When did you start writing?
When I was a young girl, I wrote a book of poems for my dad (who is also a writer). In school, I loved English class because I got to write all sorts of things: stories, essays and poems. I also enjoyed writing long letters to my friends. People always told me I was a good writer, but I never imagined I would end up being an author. That came as a complete surprise!

How did you get involved with children's books?
When I was a teacher, I often taught children how to read. Once my students learned to read, they wanted to read books on their own. But, a lot of the time, they couldn't find interesting books that were easy enough to read. So, I thought I'd try to write one.

What is your favorite book?
I love picture books by William Steig, especially Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Brave Irene, Doctor De Soto and the Zabajaba Jungle. I read these books over and over to my students and my own children, who adored them.

Do you have any pets?
I have a big, furry dog named Blaze, who is very energetic! He is a mix of German Shepherd, Husky and Rottweiler. Blaze sleeps under my desk while I work and lets me know when it's time to go for a walk.

What is your favorite food?
Food from around the world: sushi from Japan, curry from India, enchiladas from Mexico, souvlaki from Greece, tapas from Spain and seafood from anywhere!

What was your training or schooling?
I hadn't planned to be a writer. I went to university, got a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and thought I might become a psychologist. But my life took a different path; I enrolled in Teacher's Training and became an elementary school teacher instead.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
I think the best writers are people who love to read. If you want to be a writer, you should read many, many books. While you are enjoying the stories, you are also learning ways to put words together. And never give up! Writing can be hard work, but it is worth it to see your words on a page.

What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
Although I'm not teaching any more, I still feel like I'm talking to my students whenever I write a book. I love the challenge of trying to write books that young readers will enjoy and be interested in.

Where do you work?
I have an office in my home, near the kitchen. My family says they know when I'm starting a book because my office is neat and organized. They also know when I'm finishing a book because my office is a huge mess, with piles of paper and stacks of books everywhere!

How do you research or create your stories?
I spend a lot of time thinking about a new book before I start writing. I imagine everything about it (the words, pictures, look of the pages and everything else) before I ever sit down at my computer. This is one of my favorite parts of creating a book.I also do a lot of research. I read many books, talk to scientists and other experts, go to museums or wildlife sanctuaries, visit archives, search the Internet, interview people and simply observe things. Doing research is so much fun. It's like going on a treasure hunt --- I uncover something wonderful every time!

Where do you get your ideas?
I'm always thinking about new books and what kids might like to read about. I get ideas from talking to people, reading newspapers and books, remembering the students I taught, and playing with my five-year old-niece. Writers spend a lot of time imagining and dreaming about books they might write. It's a wonderful way to get ideas.

Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
Whenever I'm writing a book, I can hear the voices of my former students inside my head. I imagine them talking to each other and reading out loud. I remember what they were interested in. This always helps me decide what to write and how to express my ideas in a way that kids will like.

Bears

1998 - Best Books for Children, Science Books & Films, Winner
1997 - Pick of the Lists, American Bookseller, Winner
1997 - Parents' Choice Approved, Winner

Beavers

2001 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner
2001 - Red Cedar Book Award, Short-listed

Deer, Moose, Elk and Caribou

1999 - Best Books for Children, Science Books & Films, Winner

Eagles

2003 - Red Cedar Book Award, Short-listed
2001 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Salmon

2003 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Simple Machines

1998 - A Parents' Choice Approved, Winner
1998 - Parents' Guide to Children's Media Award, Winner

The Kids Book of Canada's Railway

2003 - Red Cedar Book Award, Short-listed
2001 - Information Book Award, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada, Winner
2001 - Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association, Short-listed
2001 - Book Design Award, Alcuin Society, Commended
2001 - Our Choice - Starred Selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration

2007 - International Book Award, The Society of School Librarians International, Winner
2007 - Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize, Short-listed
2007 - Information Book Award, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada, Winner

Up We Grow!

2011 - Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize, BC Book Prizes, Short-listed
2011 - Information Book Award, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada, Short-listed
2011 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Watch Me Grow!

2012 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner
2012 - Green Earth Award, Newton Marasco Foundation, Short-listed

Who Lives Here? Desert Animals

2009 - Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Who Lives Here? Polar Animals

2009 - Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Who Lives Here? Rain Forest Animals

2009 - Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Who Lives Here? Savanna Animals

2010 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Who Lives Here? Wetland Animals

2009 - Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Wild Cats

1997 - Pick of the Lists, American Bookseller, Winner
1997 - Parents' Choice Approved Winner, Winner

Wild Dogs

1997 - Pick of the Lists, American Bookseller, Winner
1997 - Parents' Choice Approved Winner, Winner