I live with my husband, Dave, two kitties, and a little green parrot. We share a red house together in the middle of a New Hampshire wood. In winter we snowshoe and chop lots of wood. In summer we garden, hike and canoe, and in every season, I make art and write stories.
Early each morning I listen to the birds sing as they welcome the new day, play with my kitties and parrot, kiss Dave good morning, then walk into my studio to fulfill my life long dream of creating children’s books.
When I’m not working in my studio I’m traveling with my sketchbook in hand, painting on location and searching for new ideas.
But to back up, I was born on a little island in Alaska. My dad was a soil scientist and we spent a lot of the time flying to other remote islands. We lived in a tent and had bears and other critters for neighbors. Here I learned a love of nature, animals, and wild places that inspire my books today.
As I grew up, my family moved a lot throughout the West, but I spent my summers with my grandparents in Wisconsin. They were biologists and studied birds. They lived in an old farmhouse without running water, but shared their home with eagles, owls, hawks and other wildlife. I learned to band marsh hawks, raise kestrel chicks, feed owls, and take care of many different animals.
My grandmother wrote books, flew eagles and traveled the world into her 90s. She is my greatest inspiration.
Before I knew I wanted to be an author and illustrator, I thought I wanted to be a paleontologist. As a kid, I was crazy about dinosaurs! So crazy, when I turned 14, I wrote dozens of letters to museums asking if I could volunteer on a dinosaur dig. And that’s what I did. The summer I turned 15, I worked for the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in the badlands of Canada, digging up dinosaur fossils. I returned every summer until I went to college to study geology. My interest in dinosaurs has inspired many of my books too.
I met my future husband, Dave, and together we rode our bicycles across the country. Covering 3300 miles in 30 days, we rode like the wind! We carried everything we needed on our bikes up mountain passes and through head winds, but the trip didn’t seem that hard, mostly because we were falling in love. We still love riding together!
As a kid I imagined a life where I would live in a little red house in the middle of New England with animals to love and stories to write. And that’s what I’m doing. The reality is every bit as fun as the dream!
Today my critters are my greatest inspiration. Both the ones that live indoors with me and the ones who live on my land: the deer born outside my studio window, the bear who snitches seed from the bird feeder, the bobcat who slinks quietly by, and more. Even a few from the neighbor’s farm keep me inspired.
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Lita Judge is the author and illustrator of 24 fiction and nonfiction books including, Mary’s Monster, One Thousand Tracings, Born in the Wild, Red Sled, and Hoot and Peep. Her book, Flight School, has recently been adapted into an off-Broadway musical which is currently showing in New York City and China. Awards for her books include the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, an ALA Notable, NCTE Notable Book, a Kirkus Best Book, and the Jane Addams Honor. Before she created art and books, Lita was a geologist and worked on dinosaur digs. But a trip to Venice Italy inspired her to quit her job and pursue a lifelong passion for creating art. Now, when not in her studio, she can be found backpacking through Europe with her sketchbook and easel in hand. Painting in the streets of Italy, France, Sweden, Russia and many other places have inspired her many of her books. The novel, Mary’s Monster, was inspired through reading Mary Shelley’s journals while exploring places she had traveled. This book created a rich opportunity to explore working in a completely new form, that of combining free verse with full page illustrations in novel form. Lita was drawn to capturing the interior world of Mary Shelley’s mind, as well as the realistic images of her life. Creating this book was a journey in itself and took five years to complete. Lita lives in New Hampshire.