My first memories are of Sarasota, Florida in the winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers' Circus. I was one year old and remember it vividly. My father, an art student, was making extra income by repainting circus murals.
Spanish became my second language.
The people in the circus were my friends. I was bounced on the knee of the tallest man in the world and rocked in the arms of the fat lady who could not stand up. My first baby-sitters were a family of little people who lived in a trailer next to ours. They told me stories about the animals they worked with: Chi Chi the Chimpanzee, an elephant named Elder, and Gargantua the Gorilla.
My mother says I was a fast learner, always ahead of my age. My father taught me to swim before I could walk. I walked at seven months and climbed over a seven foot chain link fence when I was one year old. Everyone in the circus thought I was going to be a trapeze artist.
When I was two, I traveled with my parents to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where they studied art. Spanish became my second language. Because my mother read to me every day, I fell in love with books and was reading by age three.
My parents had two more girls, which made me the oldest sister. All of us were trained in the arts: music, dance, painting, and drama. We had a miniature stage in our basement, complete with light-bulb floodlights and a dusty red velvet curtain. Admission for the plays we produced was a bargain--twenty-five cents.
When I was in the first grade, I wanted to grow up to be an artist like my father. Then, in the fourth grade, I decided I'd like to be a children's book author. As an adult who writes and illustrates children's books, I have realized both my childhood ambitions.
I got in trouble in school once for crossing out my favorite author's name and putting in mine--Audrey Brewer instead of Dr. Seuss! My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all professional artists. Since I am also a professional artist, there are four consecutive generations of artists in our family. However, I am the only female artist.
On our honeymoon, I read my new husband Don Wood the classic children's book entitled At the Back of the North Wind. Seven years later, we teamed up to create our first picture book together.
The people in the circus were my friends.
When our son Bruce Robert was two years old, I began to read picture books to him. He helped to remind me of my childhood ambitions. That's when I began to write children's books seriously.
For much more detailed information about Audrey Wood, go to your public library reference desk and ask the attendant for volume fifty of Something About the Author.