Eileen Spinelli is a beloved author whose enchanting stories have captivated the hearts of readers young and old. With her gift for crafting relatable characters and weaving heartwarming narratives, Spinelli has become a cherished name in children’s literature. Her tales are imbued with themes of kindness, friendship, and the joy of everyday moments, inviting readers to find magic in the ordinary. From picture books to novels, Spinelli’s works have touched countless lives, leaving a lasting impact on both children and adults. With her gentle storytelling and lyrical prose, Eileen Spinelli continues to inspire imaginations and remind us of the power of stories to illuminate the world around us.

EBYR: What made you decide to write books?

Eileen Spinelli (ES): When I was six years old, a wonderful librarian introduced me to the world of words and books. It was because of her I dared believe that someday I might become a writer.

EBYR: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

ES: It used to be getting rejections. In the early days those were quite discouraging. I still get them. But they no longer discourage me.

Now the hardest part of writing is making the time. We have a big family and I have many interests. It takes a lot of  discipline to sit in my writing chair for at least one hour each day.

Illustration by Giuliano Ferri from Jonah’s Whale

EBYR: Where do you find your inspiration for new stories and characters?

ES: From my own childhood, from my children and grandchildren, from friends, from the newspaper or a magazine, from the seasons changing, from the wildlife outside our door, from music and art. And from the gift of a sudden, unexpected tug at my heart.

EBYR: Do you each have a favorite moment in the book?

ES: My favorite moment is the very first poem: feathery when Birdie speaks about wanting to be a bird when she grows up. I love how she bird-sang her words and flapped her arms like wings when she walked.

EBYR: When you look back on your successful career, is there anything you

would’ve done differently?

ES: I probably would have kept my manuscripts, records, and office more organized!

EBYR: What are your goals for the future?

When I was very young, I thought of “writing” as something I was. It felt like such a big piece of my identity. Now, I think of writing as something I do—among many other equally wonderful things. So… some goals are: to go on a whale watch, to plant sunflowers in our back yard this spring, to learn more about hummingbirds, to knit scarves for our grandkids, to get better at mah-jongg, to watch more sunsets, to read at least four books a month.

As for a writing goal—I’ve been trying my hand at essays. That’s been challenging but also fun.

EBYR: Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?

I once rode a camel.

A Few Books by Eileen Spinelli