Waking up on this side of the East River that first morning we knew we had done the right thing. Within a week I found myself feeling sorry for Manhattanites---stuck in over-priced charmless shoe boxes. You could be yourself in Brooklyn---with a bathtub in your front yard if you so desired, or Victorian wallpaper on the ceiling. The neighborhood was designed for human habitation, not unlike neighborhoods I had grown up in in London. But here in Brooklyn you could also be a nonconformist--- and eat on the front stoop or hoist a rainbow flag ---without raising an eyebrow. Pushing a stroller didn't make a person feel like a salmon swimming upstream the way I had on the crowded streets near Wall Street.
Years went by, and a funny thing happened: It didn't occur to me to move again. I had always moved---- even as a child. I didn't even know it was possible to stay in one place. But that's what we did, and of course that didn't stop things from changing.The child that was in my belly when we came here recently celebrated his nineteenth birthday on our deck overlooking a patchwork of Park Slope back yards. His sister who used to hold my hand to cross streets is behind the wheel of a car now and other little children are holding their parents hands to be sure she doesn't knock them down. I am no longer married to my children's father, and I no longer write articles for magazines. As I closed doors to familiar rooms new ones opened up.
It was a wonderful surprise to find myself emerging as a children's author and illustrator. The work combines so many of my interests in storytelling, and picture-making and children. It might have been a lonely life, except that I happen to find myself in a neighborhood awash in writers and illustrators. Even my editor lives here; and the book designer is a few blocks away. More than once readers (who have reached me through my website) have been shocked to find out that I live near their other favorite authors. Obviously I didn't become a writer because I live here, but perhaps moving here all those years ago, I somehow intuited there were rooms that might be locked for a while, that I would one day like to open up. And now I have. If there is a place more conducive to writing---as well as living--- I can't imagine what it is.
Barbara Ensor's two children's books, Cinderella (As If You Didn't Already Know the Story) and Thumbelina, Tiny Runaway Bride have been praised in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and elsewhere. Both are published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Thumbelina Tiny Runaway Bride was recently chosen as a 2008 Book Sense Summer Picks List. (Ensor also occasionally offers classes in stop motion clay animation through the LittleSchoolofMovingPictures.com. For information on upcoming readings and art exhibits go to BarbaraEnsor.com.