Linda Oatman High, PA

Senior Writer

Linda is an author of books for children and teens who loves reaching into the wonders of childhood in order to mine and craft stories. She’s published more than 30 books, including One Amazing Elephant, a middle-grade novel published by HarperCollins. Linda is also a journalist who loves to ask questions and to listen, as well as a songwriter, poet, and playwright. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College, and she teaches creative writing both nationally and internationally.

As a StoryTerrace writer, Linda interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

Why I Love Mary Poppins and My Aunt Mary

There was no kindergarten in our area when I was five, which disappointed me greatly. I could not wait to go to school—to learn, to read.

Then, when I was six, I started first grade in a one-room school. California School had just one shelf of books and a row for each grade. We went sledding on the hill behind the school and drank icy water from the spring across the road. The schoolhouse smelled like a coal stove in the winter, and Mr. Overly, our teacher, was gentle and soft-spoken. We ate our metal-lunchbox-packed lunches on the bridge, and sometimes I dropped my bologna sandwiches into the creek water, accidentally on purpose, watching the bread get soaked fat and slow. I always ate my bananas and my snack cakes.

The brand-new school in Churchtown, Pennsylvania, was built by the time I was seven. Churchtown had lots of churches . . . and now it had a school too. The library was Heaven. I still dream of it, and I’m reaching up for a pink book: Mary Poppins.

That brand-new school was demolished a few years ago when building inspectors said that the structure was too old and it had asbestos and other dangerous materials. But before it went down, the library had a book sale. I bought Mary Poppins.

***

My dad told me about a famous writer named John Updike who had grown up near my house in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. He told me about how Mr. Updike mentioned our local area in his books, and he bought me Updike’s famous novel Rabbit Run.

My parents provided plenty of books for me: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, and The Bobbsey Twins. They subscribed to magazines, and I always got books from the Scholastic Book Club order forms at school. I collected Archie comic books, Dog Fancy, Tiger Beat, Highlights, MAD Magazine, and Little Richie Rich and Little Lulu.

Because I devoured books like air or chocolate, my dad’s sister—Aunt Mary—brought me new reading from the Bookmobile each week. I was always so excited to see the books Aunt Mary chose, hidden enticingly inside brown paper bags.

Aunt Mary just turned 95, and she loves to read. Now, though, I’m the one who is bringing books to her.

Get in touch today to work with Linda!