One of the coolest parts of illustrating a book is that my favorite stuffed animal, Fred, gets to make a cameo appearance! I won my very first poster contest in first grade. It was for J.J. Hill Days (in Wayzata, MN). My prize was getting to choose a toy from the toy store in the Wayzata Bay Center. I picked a Breyer model horse, and on the way out of the store, saw Fred. You can imagine my heartbreak, as he is clearly a toy superior to all others.... My parents surprised me with Fred on my birthday, and he remains my all-time favorite birthday gift! Hope everyone had a nice weekend!