Robert Heidbreder - Author
Robert Heidbreder was born on the wet, muddy banks of the Mississippi River in 1947 and in 1970 he moved to the wet, misty skies of Vancouver, British Columbia, to pursue his degree in Classical Languages.
In 1975 he became a Canadian citizen, and in the same year he completed his teaching degree at the University of British Columbia. Soon after he started teaching primary children in Vancouver, he began writing because he wanted the children in his class introduced to a liveliness of language that matched their natural bounce, energy, imagination and playfulness.
His first book was Don't Eat Spiders, published in 1985, and his newest book is Lickety-Split, published in the fall of 2007.
In 2002 he won the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, and in 2005 he retired from teaching after 30 years. His presentations to children in the schools and at festivals help keep the child within him alive, awake, laughing and rhyming away.
Where do you live now?
Vancouver, British Columbia.
Do you have any pets?
I don't have any pets, but I love watching the antics of the many city crows (every evening scores fly over our house to the night roost) and relaxing with the many cats that visit our garden.
What are your hobbies?
I love to garden and make all sorts of flowers bloom wildly and happily. I love to read and drift about on my bicycle. Traveling is fun, too.
When did you start writing?
As a child, I loved to play, run around, leap about and roam the streets of our small town. All the time I was making stories up and rhymes in my head and endlessly spelling “Mississippi” with its serpent sounds and bear-foot beat. I first started writing seriously and for my own pleasure in high school. Writing for children grew out of this early childhood play and also from rediscovering the playful part of me when I started teaching primary school children in 1975.
What was your schooling or training?
I went to Grinnell College in Iowa and to the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I majored in Greek and Latin.
How did you get involved with children's books?
Children led me back to writing and to children's books. Teaching young children let me see language in a fresher, brighter light, and this renewed joy in language led me to writing.
What is the thing that you like the most about creating children's books?
I love the feeling when I write of having made something all my own, and what's equally rewarding is sharing it with others through having the books published.
How do you research your writing?
My research is field research. In other words, my ideas and my energy for writing stems from the children I teach daily.
Do you have any tips for young creators?
When you write there are three things that I find are good to keep in mind: yourself and your experiences, your audience and their experiences and language that is alive and alert.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My grandma and grandpa had a farm a few miles from the town where I lived. I loved hopping on my bike on hot summer days, pedaling out to the farm to play in the barn and in the fields, and climbing the mulberry trees. Eating the mulberries high up in the trees was great, too.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be all sorts of people when I grew up --- a farmer, a veterinarian, a fireman, a dog trainer, a toy store owner and a writer.
What is the weirdest or most interesting job that you have ever had?
The weirdest and I should say most fascinating job I've ever had is the one I have now --- teaching young children. It is full of energy, laughter, excitement and more wacky weirdness than you can imagine when you take 25 children, one adult, mix and stir and put them in a classroom to learn.