Soooo many parents at the American Girl store asked me why I chose Cambridge as Lanie’s home. It was important to me to have an urban area because I wanted to show the ways that kids everywhere–even in a city–can help save animals. (Just as orangutans need trees, monarch caterpillars need milkweed to survive…and, believe it or not, it wasn’t until I talked to a couple puttering around their charming garden in Cambridge that I truly GOT the connection between plants and insects and birds and realized what a big difference it makes that we choose well about the plants we plant in our gardens.)
My travels have taken me to Boston at least once a year for the past ten years or so…an annual writing retreat, a fabulous group of parents who’ve adopted Ethiopian kids, and my sweetie author friend Nancy Werlin who has pretty much always lived in Boston and always been happy to let me camp out in her place. When I was just starting to work on Lanie’s story, Jim and Nancy took me to the Mount Auburn cemetery to see all the birds and native plants. Nancy and I wandered around the neighborhoods near the cemetery, including in and out of open houses so I could imagine a family living in a pretty crowded area. Then Nancy put me in touch with Cambridge librarian Karen Kosko, who hooked me up with two students–Stella and Ursula–who answered all kinds of questions.
In this post, you can see Nancy celebrating Lanie, the Cambridge girl (whose foot I’m signing in the other picture). It was so satisfying for me to show Nancy and Karen and Jim and all what came of all their hard work helping me imagine a Boston world.