Ideas are everywhere, but it’s always fun spotting them and turning them into stories.

Take Gotcha! It’s a story with spiders and storms and swinging vines in the series with Itchy Richard, It Goes Eeeeeeeeeeeee!, Bug in a Rug, and Chess! I Love It I Love It I Love It!

I decided to write it after seeing a banner at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History: “NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE, YOU ARE NEVER MORE THAN FOUR FEET AWAY FROM A SPIDER.” I couldn’t believe it. So I called Petra Sierwald, Adjunct Curator of Insects at the museum, the Spider Lady. “Well,” she said, hedging. “It’s not strictly true.” I knew it. “It’s more like three feet.” Aaaarg, I thought.

Then I went on a spider hunt with some second graders at Central School in Wilmette, where I live. It’s where my children went to school and they often let me come to visit classes and take notes. I watched their teacher reel in a spider and put it in a jar. They “caught” a spider web by spraying it with starch and paint. Lots of things I saw I used in Gotcha!

This is the way my books grow. I watch what kids are doing and write stories based on what I see.