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AJ Irving, author. I spent my childhood in Boise, Idaho, catching grasshoppers and writing stories. My biggest dream in the whole world was to be a writer. My first published work, a poem about my mom, appeared in Writing Without Walls when I was in elementary school. My mom still has a framed copy of the poem in the living room.

In junior high school, I played sports and wrote for the school newspaper. When I grew up, I wanted to move to the Big Apple and write for the New York Times. So my grandpa and I took a trip back east to meet the New York Times Sports Editor. I shook his hand and told him I would be back in ten years for a job.

My determination to be a writer continued in high school when I contributed to my A.J.school newspaper as a photographer, reporter, and editor. My mom is so proud of all the newspaper awards that I won in high school . . . they are still on display in my old bedroom.

 I decided New York City was too far away from my family, so I enrolled in the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon. My desire for a more creative writing style led me to consider a different path: magazine writing. After I graduated, my first magazine article was published in Midwifery Today.

I received a B.A. in journalism and women's and gender studies from the University of Oregon. My entire family was very excited when I earned membership into Kappa Tau Alpha─a college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication. 
 
In 2008, my husband and I started a family. I put down my pen and focused on reading books to our son. The excitement in his eyes inspired me to start writing children’s books. Now I can’t stop. When I’m not writing, I enjoy catching grasshoppers with my husband and our two children in our big backyard in Idaho.

A.J.

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Rick Thomson, illustrator. My dad was in the army while I was growing up, so we moved around a lot. I fell in love with art at a young age and started sketching anything and everything.

After I graduated from high school in Columbus, Georgia, I worked as a graphic designer at Randall Company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

I moved to Boise, Idaho, to be closer to my family. In 1984, I started taking illustration and design courses at Boise State University. In 1985, I got a job as a painter/designer for Idaho Outdoor Advertising where I hand painted large format billboards and designed outdoor advertising for local and national clients for three years.

Over the next ten years, I was a freelance illustrator and muralist. As an illustrator, I worked with a broad spectrum of styles and techniques. I received honorable mention from the Society of Illustrators for my work on an Ore-Ida Foods campaign.

As a muralist, I worked on numerous small murals for homes and businesses as well as a few large commission projects. I painted murals for Treasure Valley Pediatrics, Micron Technologies Health Facility, Dawson Taylor Coffee Shop, theRick Thomson Idaho Youth Ranch, Holy Rosary Medical Center, and the Boise City Arts Commission.

One of my favorite projects as a freelance illustrator is designing logos. I have designed logos for Failla Drums, Loon Outdoors, Dream Chocolate, EJI Consulting, Gross Brothers Drums, Grind Flex, Lunatic Cycles, Drum Central, and AJ's Children's Books, LLC.

I have always liked children's books. After my son was born, bedtime stories became a nightly routine for many years. Reading with my son is one of my fondest memories. I have always wanted to illustrate a children's book, so I am grateful that the opportunity finally came with Mama's Purse.

When I'm not drawing, painting, designing logos, or making chalk art creations, I enjoy riding my bike and teaching African drumming lessons. I have played the djembe and dunun for years, but now I'm learning more music theory so I can better play the African balaphone and the African kora.

Rick Thom son

 
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