I grew up in Queens, New York in a red brick apartment building. When I was a little girl my two big brothers babysat for me every day after school while our mother was at her job. My brothers were busy teenagers and never had time to play with me. So I watched television and made up stories for my dolls. One day I got under the coffee table in the living room and started to draw, but I didn’t use paper. I drew on the bottom of the table. Uh oh! My mother wasn’t very happy when she discovered my masterpiece. But she wanted me to keep drawing so she agreed to bring home pads of paper and pencils from her office each week. 

When I was a little older I took art lessons from the mother of one of my best friends. She had a studio in her attic and I loved to spend Saturday afternoons there. Sometimes she took us to a nearby park to draw. We also went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be an artist.

I also spent a lot of time at a library that was only three blocks away from my apartment building. I started writing and illustrating a weekly newspaper for my family and also writing short stories. I loved books and I loved art. By the time I graduated from Mount Holyoke College I had decided I wanted to make picture books.

The first jobs I got were illustrating for magazines and newspapers. I did many small drawings and several covers for The New Yorker magazine. I took my sketchbook everywhere and drew all the time." The first books I illustrated were cookbooks. I learned how to draw yummy things like squid and broccoli!

After showing my portfolio to many children’s book editors and art directors all over New York City, I finally sold my first picture book. I wrote the story about my son, Sam, lining up his toys. It is called The Line Up Book and now, over 20 years later, the book is still in print and is even translated into Japanese and Korean! Since then I have created over 22 other books and also illustrated a number of books for other authors.

My three children, Hannah, Sam, and Ben have inspired many of my stories. They are all grown now.  I live with my husband, Whitney, and our two big dogs. When I’m not writing or painting I enjoy volunteering for an animation program in the public schools, gardening, dancing, reading lots of books, and laughing with Whitney. 

All artwork © 1995-2008 Marsabina Russo. . All Rights Reserved. Do not duplicate in any form without permission.