My twin sister (left) and me.
When I grew older and went to college, I studied fine arts and early education so that I could become a teacher. I went on to teach second grade and kindergarten. It was the parents of my students, along with family and friends, who encouraged me to pursue illustration.
I found a job in Boston illustrating teacher's guides, and later worked freelance illustrating textbooks. I did that for eight years. When I moved to Western Massachusetts, I met Jane Yolen at a writers' workshop that she conducted, and she encouraged me to take my portfolio to New York City to show to children's book publishers. My first published book was Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
These days, I'm still inspired by the books of my childhood, and the dress-up clothes in that wardrobe. I still love creating imaginary worlds, both through my illustrations, and by creating dolls and animals that I design clothes for. You can learn more about me, and see my recent creations, by visiting my blog, janedyerbooks.blogspot.com.
I didn't always know that I would be an illustrator. As a shy child, I enjoyed drawing, but didn't think of myself as an artist. What I loved most was creating imaginary worlds. My twin sister and I had an old wardrobe in our basement filled with clothes that my mother saved from her childhood, and one of my favorite activities was to to play dress-up with them. My mother—who sewed our matching clothes—could also sew any outfit we designed. I loved to dress up our cat and dog and imagine I was a schoolteacher, teaching the animals how to read and write.
Me (right) with my cat in a dress and hat, and my twin sister.
Some early drawings: "Sleep Mr. Bear", and my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Erber
Me, about 20 months.
My mother reading to me (right) and my twin sister