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Jane St. Anthony grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota. The author of three middle-grade books, Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart, Grace Above All and The Summer Sherman Loved Me, she lives in Minneapolis with her husband.

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My first and only field trip in grade school was Hosmer Library, where each first grader solemnly printed his or her name on a library card. I had books at home, but the library was a holy building, guarded by two granite lions. The children’s room was the sanctuary.

Two years later, an optometrist dilated my pupils as part of an eye exam. I was forbidden to read for the rest of the day. But I couldn’t wait that long to finish my library book, The Boxcar Children. So I read in secret, ever conscious of my parents’ whereabouts.

During the summers before my friend Anne and I could ride bikes, we pulled a Radio Flyer to the library and loaded up. When we mastered two-wheelers, we piled books in the wire baskets mounted on the handlebars. Our destination: her porch or mine. And we read.

Writing was an outgrowth of reading. I wrote stories in my head while on the backyard swing. To amuse ourselves, Anne and I wrote tales that featured our classmates. As seventh graders, we were chosen to write the rhyming prophesies for the eighth-grade graduates—all 145 of them.

At my eighth-grade graduation, I was awarded second place in the diocesan writing competition on the topic, “What I Will Do with My Religious Vocation.” My classmate Martin Ferris took first place; I believe he became a priest.

Ultimately I discovered that I wanted to write about nuns rather than be one. I’ve also written about a squirrel, a chain-smoking and indifferent mother, baseball great Jimmy Piersall, a vampire cat and more.

Through reading and writing, I’ve inhabited many worlds and imagined many lives. I never knew that a library card would take me so far.

Jane St. Antony at the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library
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