As soon as I could, I began reading my way through the Children’s Room shelves at our local library in St. Louis, Missouri. I halfway felt that I lived in the worlds created by Hugh Lofting in his Dr. Doolittle books, and by Mary Norton in The Borrowers. I loved comic books, too, and Mad Magazine. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “A reader.”

A Young Kate McMullan

Kate McMullan reading to her young daughter

After college and graduate school, I taught fourth grade in a inner-city Los Angeles school and on an American Air Force base in Germany. I read to my students every day after lunch, and in time, started to wonder if I could write books for kids. I tried, but after a day of teaching, I had very little energy left for writing, so I moved to New York City, where I’d heard that writers lived, and took a job in publishing, which was much less tiring than teaching.

James McMullan, Illustrator



Kate McMullan, author

I edited by day and wrote by night. Well, not every night. Some nights I went out on the town with Jim McMullan, a wonderful illustrator. On our first date, he looked through my book shelves and pulled out three books with Jim McMullan covers. I was hooked. In 1979, we were married.

I kept reading. When our daughter was born, I read to her endlessly. One hot summer in Sag Harbor, we kept cool curled up on an old couch on the porch with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter.

And I kept writing. After a decade of my badgering him, Jim finally agreed to illustrate one of my stories. We found that we loved collaborating. Our book, I STINK!, is a monologue by a garbage truck. I’m happy to report that, among other awards, our trashy book was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2002, and a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Book.

We followed I STINK! with

· I’M MIGHTY!, the tale of a small but mighty tugboat,
· I’M DIRTY!, about a backhoe loader,
· I’M BAD!, a T-Rex tell-all,
· I’M BIG!, a day in the life of a monster 80-ton Sauropod,
· I’M FAST!, the story of a race between a fully-loaded freight-train and a speedy red car,
· I’M BRAVE!, a fire-engine tale
· I’M COOL!, starring an ice-cleaning Zamboni machine.

Next up? A book about a big yellow school bus: I’M SMART

Kids always ask me how many books I’ve written. I think it’s about one hundred now, which is surprising for someone who set out to be a reader.

Click here to find your favorite characters.

Library Media Connection

Read Kate’s interview in the October 2012
Library Media Connection.

Kate loves to hear from her readers! She always writes back, but because she gets so many letters, she is able to respond only by e-mail. If you write her a letter, please include an e-mail address where Kate can write you back.

Letters can be sent to Kate at 241 Central Park West, Apt 16H, New York City, NY 10024

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