Who is Miss Bindergarten

(and why is she a dog)?



by Megan 1st grade at KDBS san Francisco, CA

by Grace 1st grade at KDBS San Francisco, CA

I first met Miss Bindergarten on Halloween day, 1993. She was introduced to me in a letter by her creator, Joseph Slate. He wrote:

    Originally, I thought it was enough for children to see that Miss Bindergarten was just as ordinary as they; there is nothing mysterious or fearful about being a teacher. Last week I had a breakthrough. Why not make her as awkward and nervous as the children themselves? It would be more amusing, and they would feel a bit superior and far more willing to attend school with a not-so-perfect woman who keeps a cat and rescues a hamster.
Clearly, Joseph Slate did not envision Miss Bindergarten as a dog.

sBut as I read and reread his enclosed manuscript, I began to see my border collie, Pumpkin, in the role of Miss Bindergarten, with a classroom full of alphabetical animals. After surprisingly few adjustments to the manuscript, made jointly by Joseph, Donna Brooks, our editor at E.P. Dutton and myself, Miss Bindergarten became a dog!

Pumpkin has had a long career as a model in my books. She made her debut, carved in linoleum, in my first book, A Year of Birds. I've tried to include her, like a lucky talisman, in every book since. There are a few where Pumpkin just didn't fit in, and several where she has only a cameo role. In Come With Me, Pumpkin appears as both the main character of the puppy and as the mother dog.

Pumpkin had her first starring role in A Garden Alphabet, by Isabel Wilner. Again the character was originally meant to be human, but Pumpkin insisted that if the gardener's best friend was going to be a frog, only she was right for the part of the gardener.

Now Pumpkin has won the part of Miss Bindergarten.
She sees her new job as her most important challenge to date, and hopes that all her experiences with children will help her succeed.



What kinds of animals are Quentin, Ursula and Xavier?




Quentin Wend is a quokka. A quokka is a marsupial from Australia. He is a relative of the wallaby and the kangaroo.

Ursula Crewe is a Uakari monkey. Uakaris live in the treetops in South America. They like to eat fruit and and really have this bright red hair and pink skin.

Xavier Roe is a xenosaurus. He is also from South America. He is a nocturnal lizard who eats insects and lives beneath the roots of trees.


All text and images copyright© 2005 Ashley Wolff. Email Ashley at ashley@ashleywolff.com