This past weekend I had the honor of meeting Arizona author Byrd Baylor down in Tucson. Ms. Baylor has written numerous children's books, some of which have been awarded a Caldecott Honor. Pictured above is her very first book, Amigo, a heartwarming tale of a friendship that develops between a boy named Francisco and a prairie dog that he names Amigo. Illustrated by Garth Williams, Byrd explained that it was common practice for publishers to pair an unknown writer with a well-known illustrator. Her later books were illustrated by Peter Parnall, whom she felt was a better fit for her work.
Many of her books are set in the Southwest and focuses on the relationship between the people who live there and the natural landscape and its animals. It is an environment that Byrd is familiar with herself, living in Arivaca in a location only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles. She lives in a house without electricity, and no heat, and no hot water -- she has water in her kitchen, but it is cold. She doesn't own a computer, only a few typewriters. She likes to write on yellow legal pads.
Now in her late 80's, she truly embodies a certain pioneer spirit and feistiness, yet is a very generous and giving person as well. As you can see from the bumper stickers on her truck, she isn't shy about letting her views being known! She is currently working on a book of essays. A truly inspirational person.