One Sunday in January, Josh Schneider was watching a football match between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots when he received a phone call with an unusual area code. While the New England Patriots went on to win the game, Schenider learned of a victory of his own.
The 31-year-old earned the 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for “Tales for Very Picky Eaters." The annual award named for Theodor Geisel (also known as Dr. Suess) is awarded to the best American book for beginning readers in English.
"It wasn’t until my second book started to do okay that I started to think, 'I am a professional writer or illustrator.' I hadn’t really felt that way," Schneider said. "I was an attorney with a book published."
For more than a year, Schneider has worked as a criminal appeals attorney in the office of the Illinois Attorney General.
"The two professions are a lot different. I'd much rather draw in my free time than write legal briefs," he said. "But I do like oral arguments, I like getting to spend time with adults in the office. I like them differently."
Schneider, who grew up in Winnetka and attended public school through high school, said he began writing books out of a passion for illustrating. At Washington University, he earned double-degrees in art and in history. During pauses between a history masters degree and a law degree, Schneider wrote his first book, "You'll Be Sorry."
Clarion Books published his second book, “Tales for Very Picky Eaters," in 2011.
"The book is about a little boy who is a very picky eater and who doesn’t want to eat for all sorts of reasons," said Schneider. "The father has to come up with ways for him to eat it. I myself was a very picky eater, which I’m sure had some role in that."
Schneider considers himself a reformed picky eater, one who no longer shies away from pasta.
"I didn't like pasta because of its slipperiness; I found it very off-putting," he said.
And yet, he acknowledged one food habit that has remained.
"I’ve always had a well developed palette for dessert," he said.
The author plans to sign copies of his second book at The Book Stall in Winnetka on March 31.
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