I want my readers to care as much about the outcome of historical events as if they were reading today's headlines. I want my readers to be aware that history is an ever-rolling stream and that the past can't be separated from the present. Above all, I want the people in my books to come alive for my readers the way they come alive for me.
Judith St. George was born and raised in Westfield, NJ. Following her graduation from Smith College, she married and lived for a year in the historic Longfellow House in Cambridge, MA, the headquarters of George Washington during the first year of the American Revolution. Ms. St. George attributes much of her interest in history, about which she writes with authority and enthusiasm, to this experience. With that special connection, I couldn't resist having George Washington turn up in several of my historical fiction and nonfiction books. From then on, I began to note all sorts of trivial facts about other presidents, too.
People seem impressed by the amount of research needed to write a nonfiction book, Ms. St. George says, but it's the research that's fun! Relying not only on libraries for her research, she also visits the settings of her books. She recalls her research into the workings of the Panama Canal: The day that we made a transit on a cargo ship from the Pacific to the Atlantic was one of the great experiences of my life, as I operated every valve, gate, and lock. Although I hadn't countedon having to board a cargo ship, which was underway, by climbing up a 30 foot rope ladder in the pitch dark from a launch that was also moving!
I never planned to write So You Want to be President? It just happened that one day I began to think about how, when I was growing up, being president was the ultimate ambition. Was that true any more? What did it take to be president? How come so many different personalities and characters have ended up in the White House? Ms. St George thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing So You Want to be President? and took special delight at seeing David Small's wonderful and insightfulartwork for the first time.
But as she points out, So You Want to be president? isn't meant just to be funny. I felt it was important to let kids know that presidents have two sides. In one sense, they are larger than life, but in another sense, they are also very human. And although our Presidents haveranged from terrible to fair to great, for the most part they have tried to do their best in the world's most demanding job. Critical as we Americans have always been of our presidents, in the end we really can't ask for anything more than that.
While writing more than 20 books, ranging from mysteries to histories, Ms. St. George also has taught workshops and run story hours and reading programs for children. She represented the state of New Jersey as a delegate to the White House Conference on Library and Informational Servicesand to the Council of State Libraries in the Northeast. Due to her expert knowledge, she served as a member of the Brooklyn Bridge Centennial Commission, and as chairperson of its Educational Committee, she was responsible for compiling information about the bridge for New York City schoolchildren.
Ms. St. George's nonfiction books have earned a number of awards, includingan American Book Award Honor Book in 1983, the New York Academy of SciencesAward, a Christopher Award in 1985, and the Golden Kite Award in 1990.
Ms. St. George is the mother of four grown children and grandmother to five.She and her husband reside in Old Lyme, CT, but love to travel and visit family in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Chile. She also visits schools and libraries across the country. I really enjoy speaking to school groups and keeping in touch with what is going on in young people's lives, she says. I especially enjoy the challenge of trying to entice the back row kids into exploring new worlds through books.