TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

I grew up in Rowayton,Connecticut. I liked finding sea glass at the beach, ice skating, playing with dolls or my dinosaur set, riding bikes, going sledding when it snowed, playing hide and seek with our dog Timmy, and reading.

I was a very quiet child. I liked listening more than talking, which I still do. My family said, "All Nancy needs is a peanut butter sandwich, a box of crayons, and some paper to be happy."

In second grade, I wrote a lot of stories, poems, and songs. I was also a member of the Blue Diamond Club. We built a clubhouse in my friend's yard out of scrap lumber and blue paint. We rode around the neighborhood on imaginary horses. Once we camped out in a tent and told really scary ghost stories, so scary that once it got really, really dark, I ran home and slept under the living room table with Timmy.

My parents always stressed the importance of getting an education and having a career. I studied Sociology, Psychology, and Art History at the University ofConnecticut, then got a Master of Arts in Child Development. I was very interested in nonverbal communication (body language) and the importance of play.

My first real job was a Child Life Specialist at Yale-New Haven Hospital. I worked with hospitalized children using art, creative writing, music, medical play, sand, water, and even snow to help children express their thoughts, feelings, and fears about being in this scary place. I also prepared children for surgery, medical tests, and having casts put on.

I've been married to my wonderful husband, Peter Banks, for over 25 years. He teaches high school physics and was the captain of a 91-foot schooner used for environmental education. When we're not renovating our old house, we're both outdoors: hiking, cross-country skiing, riding bikes, camping. (I'm not afraid of ghost stories anymore.) We love movies, plays, and art museums, and we love adventures.

Peter and I lived and worked in England for two years. I team-taught pre-kindergarten and developed a memory game that was published!  From England, we traveled all over Europe, and to Malta, Turkey, and Thailand.

So how did I get started writing and illustrating children's books? I had stopped working at the hospital and was thinking about what to do next. I took a three-session Scherenschnitte (traditional paper cutting) class. At the same time, I took a ten-session children's book writing course, but the emphasis was on illustration. Everyone in the class was an artist!  I thought, "Okay, I'll try cutting paper illustrations."  After submitting some assignments, the instructor said, "You've found your medium."

And so I have.