Tony Johnston 1942-

"I write because I'd rather not iron (and also because I love to)".
    Tony Leslie was born January 30, 1942 in Los Angeles, California. She was named for the cowboy Tom Mix's horse. She grew up in San Marino, CA as an avid reader and book lover, who was influenced by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.
    Johnston graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in History in 1963 and a M. Ed in 1964. She taught fourth grade in Altadena, CA public school from 1964-1966. She married Roger Johnston, a banker, June 25, 1966. Once married, they moved to New York City, NY, where she began working for McGraw Hill Publishers. She was an editing supervisor from 1966-1968. Then she became a copy editor for children's books for Harper & Row in 1969. Working at Harper & Row afforded her the opportunity to work as the private secretary to editor Ursula Nordstrom. Johnston learned much about the industry working under Nordstrom's high quality standards. "It was a wild and woolly time. That's where I learned everything about writing for children" (Bolle, 2007).
    Johnston's husband was transferred to Mexico City. They lived in Mexico for the next 15 years.  Johnston's first book, The Adventures of Mole and Troll was published in 1972 by Putnam. She was greatly influenced by Mexico. She wrote books in Spanish and had stories commissioned by the Mexican government. The Johnston family traveled throughout Mexico. They collected hundreds of hand-woven Indian belts, creating one of the largest collections in the world. As each belt was collected, Johnston wrote notes about the history, construction of the belt, stories, and anecdotes, which became the inspiration for her book of poems, My Mexico-Mexico mio.  
    In 1985, the Johnston's moved back to San Marino, CA with their 3 daughters, Jenny, Samantha, and Ashley. Johnston has written over 120 books for children. Her collection of work represents fiction, nonfiction, picture books, poetry, early readers, young adult, and older reader titles. Some of her hobbies and interests include archaeology, collecting Latin American textiles (Indian belts), children's books and book art, and western history (especially California). She adopted Del Rey School in King City, CA in 1999 in order to provide books for classrooms and the library. She is also a member of Friends of the Adobes, a San Miguel based volunteer organization dedicated to restoring and preserving ancient adobe structures in the region.
    Tony Johnston has worked in a children's bookstore, taught a course on picture book writing at UCLA, and studied poetry writing with Myra Cohn Livingston on top of writing and being a parent. While living in Mexico, Johnston was able to focus on her family and spend time with them, "Writing for me was a gift that came along. But I wouldn't choose work over family. I would give up writing in a minute if it were a choice between the kids and that" (Bolle, 2007). Her poetry and prose are written to entertain, "...if I manage to stir up a little love of language or make someone laugh or feel good about himself or go back to the library for another book along the way, well, that's all pink frosting on the cake" (Kumar, 2007).