Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in several states.
I always wanted to be a writer, but it took me a long time to believe that I could actually become one. I started writing at the age of seven when my mother handed me a little spiral notebook and told me to keep a journal of our trip to California. I liked the fact that I could record something in my journal and then read it later. My favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh because Harriet was a terrific journal keeper.
I love to write. Not all writers enjoy writing, believe it or not. I especially love to write books for children. I think that’s because I needed books when I was a kid. I turned to books when I was lonely or sad or confused or bored. It is extremely fun to think that kids are reading my books.
I love to play music and write songs. I perform in the Maryland-Washington, D.C. area. I was a dancer and choreographer for many years and still work from time to time in the theater. Currently, I collaborate on ballets with my sister who was my inspiration to dance and is a ballet teacher and choreographer. I was also the co-founder of Firefly Shadow Theater, designed and made many puppets, and directed many shows.
In graduate school, I studied fiction writing and poetry at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. As an undergraduate, I studied special education and dance at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Books I’ve written
- Guitar Notes (Egmont USA, 2012)
- Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook (Holiday House, 2010), a mystery for ages 7-10
- Invisible Lines (Egmont USA, 2009), a novel for ages 10 and up
- The Chicken of the Family (Putnam, 2008), a picture book for ages 4 and up
- Please Write in this Book (Holiday House, 2006), a chapter book for ages 6-10
- The Naked Mole-Rat Letters (Holiday House, 2005), a novel for ages 9-12
- The Word Eater (Holiday House, 2000), a novel for ages 8-12
The Riot Brothers series of chapter books for ages 6-10
- Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers are on a Roll (Holiday House, 2009)
- Stinky and Successful: The Riot Brothers Never Stop! (Holiday House, 2007)
- Drooling and Dangerous: The Riot Brothers Return! (Holiday House, 2006)
- Snarf Attack, Underfoodle, and the Secret of Life: The Riot Brothers Tell All (Holiday House, 2004)
- The Chicken of the Family
Book, lyrics and music by Mary Amato and Richard Washer
- The Riot Brothers
- Numerous shadow-theater plays
I’ve also written lots of articles, essays, and poems for magazines and newspapers, including Muse, Cicada, The Washington Post, Parenting and Mothering.
Awards and honors
The Buckeye Children’s Book Award; Fellowship for Children’s Novel-in-Progress, The Heekin Foundation; Grant for Work-in-Progress, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI); SCBWI National Magazine Merit Award; AZLA Young Readers’ Award; Arts in Education Grant, Target; Grant in the Arts, The Washington Post; Visiting Artist Grants, Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland; Keisler Prize for Poetry, Indiana University.
Volunteer Service and Memberships
Mary is the host of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Arts Salon, a monthly gathering of interdisciplinary artists. She is a member of SCBWI and the Songwriters Association of Washington. She occasionally works with Pyramid Atlantic and with Passion for Learning, Inc., on education-related projects.
- The Chicken of the Family