Barbara’s books have won 5 New York Times Best Books awards, a New York Times Notable Book citation, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor award, and numerous other awards, recommended/best book lists, and starred reviews.
She was born and spent her early years growing up in Clinton, NJ. By the time Barbara was seven, she decided to be an artist when she grew up. Attending Jamestown College in North Dakota, Barbara refined her drawing skills by copying pictures in art books she checked out of the college library.
After a short phone call with Maurice Sendak on how to become an illustrator, Barbara flew to New York to begin her art career at the age of 20. She sketched paintings and drawings in museums in New York City, as well as London, Paris, St. Louis, Vienna, and Lisbon. She is essentially a self-taught artist/illustrator, and thanks the public library system for a free education.
Inspiration for stories come from her childhood, family and friends. DAHLIA was her doll, Bruno was her bear and Charlotte’s house was her grandmother’s.
In 2005, Barbara and illustrator David Johnson moved to a Georgian-style brick house built in 1815 in rural Connecticut. Her studio looks out over the ever-expanding rose garden cultivated by David. She ‘travels’ in time and imagination, to China, France, and her own back yard for inspiration and settings for her books.