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Jean Marzollo

Born: United States of America

Current Home: United States of America

Jean Marzollo

When I was young, I liked to sew, play baseball, and read. I was drawn to poetry early in life. I loved to read, and one of my favorite books as a child was A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Also, my mother had several small poetry books on her bookshelf. With their leather covers and gold titles, they were treasures to me. I liked to hold them and peek through the pages.

All of the riddles in the I Spy books are written in rhythm and rhyme. Walter Wick, the photographer for the I Spy books, is a visual poet. He makes and photographs the sets for I Spy in his studio in Connecticut. I can't write the riddles ahead of time without restricting his artistic freedom. So I write them while he is constructing his visually stunning sets. I suggest ideas for the pictures and objects that fit the rhyme of the riddles. The process is collaborative. The final riddles are written when the photos are done.

Kids of all ages love I Spy because they like to use, to the fullest extent, their excellent powers of visual discrimination. Children and grown-ups can play on the same playing field; they are all good at I Spy. (Actually sometimes children are better than grown-ups.)

For children ages four and under, I wrote new, simpler rhymes for board books (now available as square paperbacks) called: I Spy Little Books, I Spy Little Animals, I Spy Little Wheels, I Spy Little Numbers, and I Spy Little Christmas. I enjoyed testing these books with young children. I also enjoy consulting on the I Spy games and puzzles available from Briarpatch, on the I Spy CD-Roms, and on the I Spy interactive products available from Scholastic Media.

Verbal Music
Rhyme to me is verbal music, and many of my picture books are illustrated poems: Help Me Learn Addition, photographs by Chad Phillips; Home Sweet Home illustrated by Ashley Wolff; Pierre the Penguin, illustrated by Laura Regan; Pretend You're a Cat, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; Close Your Eyes, illustrated by Susan Jeffers; In 1492, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman; Christmas Cats, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm; Do You Know New?, illustrated by Mari Takabayashi; and Mama Mama/Papa Papa, illustrated by Laura Regan.

Different Kinds of Books
I write different kinds of books so that I don't get bored. I have written science books, game books, story books, and chapter books. I have written fiction and non-fiction. I have written prose and poetry. I love all kinds of writing."

I grew up in Connecticut in a family that loved sports. Now I live in New York State so I root for New York teams. When my sons were young, I wrote sports stories for them: Soccer Sam, Soccer Cousins, Cannonball Chris, Pizza Pie Slugger, and Slam Dunk Saturday. When they grew up, they helped me write Football Friends, Basketball Buddies, Hockey Hero, and Baseball Brothers.

Additional Resources

Visit Jean Marzollo's website and the on-line home of I SPY

Poetry Writing with Jean Marzollo

Writing I Spy Riddle Rhymes with Jean Marzollo