Meet Blue Balliett
Family: Lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, Bill Klein; three children, the youngest of whom is 19.
Pets: "Only one, Pummie the cat -- but he's the size of three pets."
Best birthday present: "When I was 12 I was given 'From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.' I have never forgotten that book."
Favorite pizza topping: "Pepperoni. I like life to be spicy."
Best subject in school: "I always loved reading and writing. I enjoyed playing with language in my head, like Petra."
Worst subject: "I always thought that I hated math. It wasn't until I started teaching that I met someone who talked about math as a search for beauty and patterns. It gave me a whole new handle on it."
Worst trouble you got into as a kid: "We lived on the sixth floor of a building in Manhattan. My friend and I decided to throw [a] superball out the window and hit the street. It did this fantastic bounce -- went about three stories. . . . That's when the janitor from the building saw us. I do remember the moment of being caught."