My name is Judith Caseley. I write and illustrate stories about the feelings that I experienced as a child; loneliness, love, jealousy, fear, joy. I watch my own children grow and change, and they inspire me, too! Painting the pictures to go with these stories is like the icing on the cake. If a child takes a bite and enjoys it, I'm happy!

I was born in the small town of Winfield, New Jersey, a converted army development. All of the houses were painted white. My mother compensated by decorating my bedroom with paintings by Matisse, Rousseau, and Van Gogh. Later I added the German Expressionists. I remember my wall of flaming reds and banana yellows and jungle greens.  I've loved color ever since.
I went to Syracuse University and majored in English, but felt I'd never get all of the reading done because I worked in the cafeteria. I switched into art in my sophomore year. During my four years in college, I never took a single course in illustration or writing. Ten years later, from greeting cards to gallery work, I was an author and illustrator of children's books. I worked part-time as a receptionist for years until I could support myself.

Much of my work is semi-autobiographical. I take small events from my life or from the lives of my children, and fictionalize them. "Field Day Friday" was based on my son Michael's field day, when his new sneaker fell off in the middle of the race. "Mickey's Class Play" dealt with his kindergarten play, in which he played a duck. "Mama, Coming and Going" was written about my actual mishaps as a mother.  I accidentally locked my (then infant) daughter Jenna in the car, and took her to a birthday party on the wrong day, and thanked Aunt Mary for a gift that she never sent. Currently, Jenna is 20 and Michael is 16. I tend to follow their curriculum, choosing nuggets from their day and spinning them into stories. I try to limit how much material I steal nowadays, but it's difficult.

I wrote "Praying to A.L." a few years ago, while my father was dying of Alzheimer's Disease. It is a book that is close to my heart. It deals with loss, death, and rebirth, and I was able to read all about Abraham Lincoln in researching the book. I really did have a framed picture of Lincoln on my wall, and my sister and I really did have an A.L. Club, where we told him all our problems! "Bully" came next, and I used a handful of stories from Michael, Jenna, and my nephew John about bullies they had dealt with. My father was a bully when he was little, and liked to tell us about the time another child's mother called him a rat, when he used to be a mouse.

Both of my parents died in the year 2000, and I was afraid that my work might become much too weighted down with sorrow.  However, in that same year, "On the Town: A Community Adventure" was created. Painting the pictures for it was a release and a pleasure.

Judith Caseley © 2006. All Rights Reserved
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