What marks the start of the holiday season for you?
The first Christmas or Hanukkah card that comes in the mail—usually around December 1st. My favorites are from artists I admire and the photo portraits of families—animals and all.

Does your family have one very special holiday tradition?
We trim the tree sipping homemade eggnog made from my chickens' fresh eggs, listening to the recording, "Calypso Christmas," which has been in the family for 50 years, and holiday recordings of my husband Joe's uncles and grandfather singing.

What are you most looking forward to during the holiday season?
The smell of wood smoke and evergreens—more delightful than the most expensive fragrance.

Why do books make the best gifts?
They have the stamp of the giver. It's the one gift I always think very hard about matching with the receiver.

What books are you planning to give to friends and family?
For my outdoorsy nieces, nephews and son, Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. For my running coach and all my wildlife loving friends, Grayson by Lynne Cox. For my daughter, son-in-law and Marine friends, Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton. For my chicken friends, The Fairest Fowl by Tamara Staples and Extraordinary Chickens by Stephen Green-Armytage. The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling for my grandsons. For my yet-to-be-born granddaughter, Tomie DePaola's Mother Goose, plus my 20th Anniversary Edition of The Mitten and my Snowy Treasury.

What was the best book you read this year?
The Wild Trees by Richard Preston

What’s your number one resolution for 2010?
Answer my email, return phone calls, and catch up on thank you notes. Also write and illustrate my best book ever—Home for Christmas, about a wayward troll.

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