While Carolyn Crimi’s first-grade classmates were still learning to read, she was already making plans to write her first novel.
“She wrote her first book when she was 5 years old for her grandmother,” says Mike Crimi, Carolyn’s father. “By the time she was 8 or 9, she had written little stories about everyone in the family.”
The youngest of five children growing up in New York on Long Island, Crimi dreamed of putting her ideas down on paper.
“I was always off in my own imaginary world,” she says. “I always told people I wanted to be a children’s book author. For a while, I wanted to be a movie star, of course.”
Now 44, Crimi is a star to kids all over Illinois.
Crimi’s six books include the recently released Borris and Bella, a story about compromise between two odd-couple friends, and Don’t Need Friends, a book that highlights friendship. Three more new books are in the works.
She says her ideas come from her own life experiences and anything that makes her laugh.
With an affinity for unfrosted blueberry Pop Tarts and old monster movies, she says she often gives in to her own “silly streak.”
“It really forces me to look at my own childhood and write the kind of books I know I wanted to read as a kid,” she says. “Rather than write about kids, I write about me—for me.
“Most of my books, instead of trying to improve kids, I try to tell them they are just great,” she says.
When Crimi isn’t writing from the Evanston home she shares with her husband, she is teaching other adults about writing children’s books or sitting in a too-small chair, reading her books to elementary school children.
“You’re like a rock star for a day,” she says. “It’s my favorite part. We’re all laughing together and the kids hug me.”
And Crimi doesn’t plan to move to the grown-up chair anytime soon. “I’ll be in the grave and still coming up with ideas,” she says. “I really hope I’m still doing it when I’m 90.”
Kelsey Kirkpatrick is a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and writes for the Medill News Service.