DEAR READER, when I wrote about a girl and the scab on her knee, I was transported back to the painful moments in my own childhood when I fell off my bike or tripped in the schoolyard. I knew this happened to everyone, but somehow I believed my cuts and scrapes were the worst
in the world. My blood? The bloodiest! My scabs? The ugliest. I wished for the day I would finally stop falling and hurting myself.
I still have many of those same scars.
As I have watched my own daughters grow, these moments flooded back, and the story of Pepper and Me came rushing out. My little childhood traumas were painful memories, but how intriguing: they also offered me an opportunity to write a story about growing and change.
We grow when we learn to live with–and even to love–what bothers us most. I have
always believed that a shift in thinking is a crucial aspect of growing up. Later, when I
chose a scab as that object of love and hate, I discovered that Pepper and Me was also
about the imaginary friendships only children construct in their heads. That sweet madness they have has always fascinated me. For several years now, my six-year old daughter has had an imaginary friend, an elephant named Zebulino. “Until I die,” she told me, “he will be with me.”
It’s a wonderful characteristic of children that they have great love and unexplained feelings for things adults find absurd. For them, what might seem unreal is just simple reality.
At the end of the book, the little girl looks out the window and wonders if Pepper, who was lost and then found and placed in a flower bed is okay. Even then, after the scab is gone, Pepper is real to her. Their relationship was close, and even though the little girl now has the dog she always wanted, she still remembers
Pepper—the ugly scab she hated . . . with love.
I hope you will enjoy getting to know my newest book. Thank you to the American Booksellers Association for choosing Pepper and Me as a January/February 2024 Kids’ Indie Next Pick!