About Me

Author-Illustrator of Children’s Books

Email: mcleffler@aol.com
Phone: (207) 245-2332mailto:mcleffler@aol.comshapeimage_1_link_0

Random FACTS:

Member of:

Society of Children’s Book Authors & Illustrators

BFA Illustration -

Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Resident of The coast of Maine.

Favorite food:

Chocolate & Potatoes (not together)

Favorite place to visit: Italy.

Favorite Seasons:

Summer in Maine. Autumn (Until the leaves fall)

View a 2011
WMUR ChronicleTV interview 
to see my studio & work process.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1y2bK2ixR4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1y2bK2ixR4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1y2bK2ixR4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1y2bK2ixR4shapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1shapeimage_5_link_2
I grew up on a bus route in Everett, Massachusetts in an Italian family, where dinnertime was always a major feast. Many days you could find my mother, Rose, in the kitchen, rolling meatballs or my father Ted, in his garden, picking tomatoes. There were 5 kids in the family. I have three brothers and one sister. I am the second oldest.

As a kid, I liked to play school, listen to the Beatles, draw and paint. I remember doodling and painting on anything...notebooks, rocks, and even clamshells. By the time I was in fourth grade I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I remember my 4th grade teacher, Sr. Isabel Thomas, gave me my very first set of pastels. (I still have them!). In Jr. high, I continued to paint on anything and everything! My doodles got bigger... I painted a mural on our garage door that looked like a country road...(I still can't believe my parents let me do that!)

Somehow, my artwork (including the garage door and lots of other stuff from High School art class) got me into the Massachusetts College of Art, where I majored in illustration. I cleaned out a small corner of my parents' dark cellar and turned the space into my very first studio...(I painted a mural on the oil tank to brighten it up a bit!). 
And there I worked, for 4 years, with dreams of someday illustrating children's books.

My dream came true in when I illustrated my first book, Eileen Spinelli's Thanksgiving at the Tappletons. Soon after, I married Eric Leffler and moved to Saugus, Massachusetts. Since then, we created two daughters, Janine and Kristin, an I created over fifty books for children. There were many things that inspired me along the way…

Some of my books where inspired by my own childhood; 
Bus Route to Boston is about me as a little girl, living in Everett and taking the bus into Boston, where I experienced it's sights and sounds in places such as the North End, Filenes Basement and the famous Baileys Ice Cream Shop. In Wednesday is Spaghetti Day I show my love for Italian food.Clams All Year is based on one summer in Hull, Massachusetts, when a big storm brought in lots of clams... everyone went clam digging with Grandpa. And you guessed it...we ate Clams ALL Year!

I learned in first grade that lies can grow after I told my classmates that my father owned the Coca-Cola Company (he didn’t).   That memory sparked the idea behind Princess K.I.M and the Lie that Grew and its sequel, Princess Kim and Too Much Truth. These two books
where the inspiration for my play 
Princess K.I.M. The Musical which is 
now represented by StageRights in LA
to bring it National.
    Many of my books where inspired by my children. Missing One Stuffed Rabbit was based on an experience my daughter, Janine, had in first grade. The idea for the tie-loving character in, Mr.Tanen's Ties, and Mr. Tanen's Tie Trouble was sparked after meeting Mr. Tanen, principal of my daughters' former elementary school. 

My daughter Kristin’s departure to college led to a book about separation and loving from a distance called 
A Vacation for Pooch.

My Dad Theodore became the inspiration behind the character in THEO’S MOOD, in which Theo and his class discover how they are feeling.

JANINE and JANINE and the Field Day Finish are based on my daughter Janine who gave me permission to tell her story as a child with disabilities. We developed a corresponding website, Janine’s Party  in hopes of spreading the message of respect, inclusion and acceptance. 

I haven’t changed much since I was a kid... except I got older! I still think like an eight-year-old, which really helps when you write for children. I still love Italian food and paint an occasional mural. I now live in Maine with my husband Eric where I work in a BRIGHT studio, (no more cellars for me!) Our two daughters are off on their own discovering their own paths...but they still give me some good ideas! 
When I’m not in my studio working on a new book, you may find me digging in my flower garden or visiting a school near you!


If you are interested in hosting a workshop, please contact me directly at