• When I was growing up...
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  • Overly Long Unofficial Bio
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When I was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago:

I searched for sea glass at the Maple Street beach with my dad

I had a best friend named Sue with a scary older brother and a housekeeper named Marteja who made thin Swedish pancakes we ate with cinnamon sugar and maple syrup

I got stung by a wasp by the Harpers’ sandbox and went into anaphylactic shock. I survived, clearly

I collected horse chestnuts, little bears, Oz books, and cats (at one point we had eleven)

I played hide and seek with Sue at a nearby cemetery after dark, which was brilliantly scary

I loved banana flavored bubblegum cigars from The Sweet Shop

I fainted in the Community House movie theater during “Johnny Tremain” when I saw his burned and mangled hand, and yes, my friend Lindsay did utter the immortal words, “Is Ede dead?”

I cried on the front stoop of our house with the red door when my mom told me my dad had left and they were getting a divorce

I acted out the movie The Parent Trap over and over, hoping if I did it often enough it might come true

I ate Spaghettios and drank grape juice with Sue, pretending it was pasta and wine and we were in the French Resistance

I learned the encoded dirty meanings to Rolling Stones songs from Sue’s scary older brother
Official (i.e., boring) Bio

Edith Pattou is the author of Ghosting, a contemporary novel for young adults, told in free verse. She also wrote three award-winning fantasy novels for young adults – East, a retelling of the Norwegian folk tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and the two Songs of Eirren, Hero’s Song and Fire Arrow. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling picture book, Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden.

She was born in Evanston, Illinois, grew up in Winnetka, and was a teenager in the city of Chicago where she attended Francis W. Parker School. She completed her B.A. at Scripps College in Claremont, California where she won the Crombie Allen Award for creative writing. She later completed a Masters degree in English Literature at Claremont Graduate School followed by a Masters of Library and Information Science at UCLA.

She has worked for a medical association, a clothing boutique, a recording studio, the Playboy Foundation, a public television station, a school library, two public libraries, two advertising agencies, and two bookstores.

She has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Durham, NC, Cambridge, England, Stockholm, Sweden, and currently resides with her husband, Charles, in Columbus, Ohio.
Overly Long Unofficial Bio

Edith Pattou was born in Evanston, Illinois at 5 am, just as the sun rose. Her mother reports that it was the happiest moment of her life. Things went sharply downhill after that due to colic, near constant screaming and a lack of interest in things like sleep and baby formula. Fortunately for her parents Edith quieted down considerably when she discovered books.

Her first favorite book was Babar. Her next favorite book wasn’t a book at all but stories that her father would tell her about a series of interesting bears such as Bruce Bear and James Bear (a debonair spy). When she grew up her father confessed that he had leaned heavily on such literary sources as Rudyard Kipling, Ian Fleming, and William Shakespeare to construct his bear stories which explained the comforting feeling of familiarity Edith felt when she saw her first James Bond movie “Dr. No”.

She loved fairy tales which she read over and over in Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books (red, blue, lavender, green, yellow) and she loved to write stories, poems, song lyrics. This is her first poem, written in 3rd grade, which earned her an A+ and great acclaim from her teacher Mrs. Mackenzie.

She and her best friend Sue, inspired by their mutual love of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the Beatles, formed an organization called I.S. (or International Spy). It required a blood oath, the ability to rewrite Beatles lyrics, and a talent for shadowing suspected Russian spies. Edith still wears her I.S. dogtag on occasion.

Her parents divorced when she was in fifth grade and she moved abruptly from the suburbs to the city of Chicago. Her first day at her new school was the day after Halloween and all the kids were handing in their Unicef boxes. She didn’t know what a Unicef box was. However, her new school, Francis W. Parker, was wonderful, especially when it came to cultivating creativity. She still remembers fondly the multimedia project she did on the movie Bonnie and Clyde for her “Medium is the Message” class, though the machine gun sound effects didn’t quite go as planned.

As a teenager she aspired to be a hippie and was proud to describe how her eyes stung from the pepper spray the policemen used on demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention, even though she was twenty blocks away from the actual melee. She was friends with a talented aspiring rock band and got to hang out backstage when The Association and Three Dog Night came to play The Auditorium. She was thrilled with the one-verse song her sort-of boyfriend wrote for her and she was of course crushed when they all moved to Los Angeles to make it in the recording industry. She still has the one vinyl record they made.

During high school she spent a summer living in Ireland and fell in love with many things. (1) She loved the Gorbys, the family she lived with. (2) Loved the cute Irish boys with their cute Irish accents. (3) Loved the songs about uprisings and gypsy rovers and drinking whiskey. (4) Especially loved the fairy tales, which sowed the seeds for her Songs of Eirren books.

She went to college in California where the weather was a lot better than in Chicago. She learned to surf, sort of, though the California boys liked to make fun of her. She majored in literature because reading books was still her favorite thing in the universe (next to boys). The novels of Charles Dickens were a revelation and she couldn’t get enough of them. Fortunately he was prolific.

She graduated from college with a B.A. in English Literature and absolutely no clue what to do with her life. Her father stepped in and helped her get a job as an editorial assistant for a medical journal. Her favorite part of the job was collecting character names for stories (e.g., Marluce Bibbo, Christian Smeesters) and because her boss had a penchant for 3 martini lunches she was able to sneak in a fair amount of work on fiction writing, producing a mediocre murder mystery set on-board an ocean liner (with characters named Marluce Bibbo and Christian Smeesters).

After her boss was fired, she fled back to school, getting successive masters degrees in English Literature (very fun except for a sadistic Chaucer professor) and Library Science (not as fun, but practical and she really wanted to be a children’s librarian). Her first job, however, was as a librarian in an advertising agency in Los Angeles and she had a big (for her) salary and wore tight skirts and high heels. That’s when she met her husband-to-be, Charles, who still says that he was hoodwinked by the salary, tight skirts and high heels, since she eventually quit and became a children’s librarian, wearing cardigans and sensible shoes (She likes to think they were cute cardigans, stylish flats and at least she had a salary.)

After they got married, Edith and her husband lived in Denver, Colorado where she worked as a children’s librarian in the Denver Public Library, and then they moved to Durham, North Carolina where there were no children’s librarian jobs so she got a job in a wonderful bookstore in a converted tobacco warehouse and began work on her first YA novel, Hero’s Song. Daughter, Vita, was born the year before Hero’s Song was published. Fire Arrow followed a few years after and then Charles’ career as a professor took them to Columbus, Ohio where they’ve lived ever since.

Vita at book signing,1998

Vita in Wisconsin, 2009

Her third book, Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden, was inspired by her daughter’s amazing kindergarten teacher whose name in fact was Mrs. Spitzer and one of the high points of Edith’s career occurred when she got to ride on the Tremont Elementary School 4th of July float.

Tremont School 4th of July Float, 2002

Things I love:

England – went on two solo walking trips there; tried very hard to concentrate on Grasmere Lake when I was in labor

English pubs – my two favorites are The Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden and a lovely pub on the Thames with twinkly lights in the trees where I had a memorable discussion about the movie Mrs. Miniver

Guacamole and chips

Movies, Love Actually (Bill Nighy is my hero), Chinatown, Galaxy Quest, North by Northwest, Moonstruck, Princess Bride, Diner, The Squid and the Whale, Room with a View, Saving Mr. Banks, My Brilliant Career, and pretty much any disaster movie, but especially Independence Day (“Welcome to Earth”)

The Beatles and the Rolling Stones (never could decide which I love more)

John Lennon and Keith Richards

Agatha Christie mysteries

Coconut – coconut cake, almond joys, and especially coconut body lotion


Broadway musicals, especially Wicked and Cabaret

Things I hate:


Liver, and any other entree that involves internal organs like brains or kidneys

Banning books

Homophobia (actually, most kinds of phobias, including hemophobia which is the fear of blood, though I like to think I’ve made my peace with it)

Things I love that I used to hate:

Olives and pickles

Egg salad sandwiches, sushi

The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Reality TV shows, at least some of them (e.g. Project Runway, Top Chef and American Idol.)

Things I collect:

Polar bears


Images of old typewriters

Strings of lights, especially Halloween

Cardigan sweaters