Did you always know you would be a writer?
When I was growing up, I never imagined that I would become a children’s book author. And I certainly never thought I would write about jumping 1.000 counts on my pogo stick. For many years before becoming a writer, I created all kinds of fun stuff for children and their families- mostly things that you could play with on your computer at home, or in a museum or at school. I even had a chance to work at Sesame Workshop, where you never know when you might run into Big Bird in the elevator! I have also produced lots of things for adults, for serious topics like history and science. But I have found that what I love most is writing for kids.
Where did the story came from?
I guess it started with being a kid. I loved to jump when I was young, and I have almost never met a child who didn’t like to jump. I have also almost never met a kid who wasn’t passionate about something, even silly things like backhoes, backflips or backgammon (usually adult kids). But often kids (and adults) don’t get a lot of encouragement to pursue their passions, especially when it seems like they get in people’s way. So I wanted Jenny to really go for the thing she loved most, even if her jumping was not popular.
How did you know Jenny would be able to jump 1,000 jumps on a pogo stick?
Well, I was that kid, though I have to admit that I did it for no great cause other than for the joy of jumping and to prove to myself that I could. My old pogo stick is still around today and I will try to take a picture of it for the website. Although I just got a new one in honor of the book, and I’m getting used it. I must say, it was much easier to do when I was younger!
Did you know what would happen in the book when you first starting writing it?
Well, the book has gone through many changes. Your teachers have probably started to talk to you about editing and revising your work. Well, at first, the book was about a little girl who decided to jump 1,000 because a bully dared her to do it. and ended up changing her whole town. In an early version, at the end of the book, the people of the Jenny’s town began to use pogo sticks instead of bicycles and the town became the center of all things jumping, including a training center for Olympic jumpers. But at the time, a very wise editor said it would be much nicer to have Jenny jump for something good, rather than being bullied into it. My daughter’s school was raising money for their sister school in Uganda, so I thought why not have Jenny raise money for that charity.
Did your daughter’s school do a jumpathon?
No. Jenny’s jumpathon was my own creation, but there are programs now that use physical programs to raise money for good causes. Both Jenny’s jumpathon and the African fair are entirely fictitious. But one of the things my daughter’s school did to raise money was have a talent show- which is another example of how children can use the things they’re good at to help others.