Pam Munoz Ryan grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California and now lives with her family near San Diego. She based this story on the experiences of her maternal grandmother, whose privileged life in Mexico was altered dramatically when she immigrated to the United States and went to work in a company-owned farm labor camp. Ryan's maternal grandfather also worked in the fields, as did other relatives on both sides of her family, from Mexico and Oklahoma. Ryan is also the author of the novel Riding Freedom, with drawings by Brian Selznick, and numerous picture books, including Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride and When Marian Sang, both also illustrated by Brian Selznick, and Mice and Beans, illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Becoming Naomi Leon, Ryan's upcoming novel, will be published in fall 2004 by Scholastic Press. Her inspiration for writing it began while reading about Oaxacan wood carving. She says, "I came across a one-line reference to the Night of the Radishes. The event sounded so magical I had to see it. In 1997, on the 100th Anniversary of La Noche de los Rabanos, I visited the romantic and mysterious Oaxaca City, a feast of colors, tastes, pageantry, and festivals. When I began writing Naomi's story and she evolved into a soap carver, my imagination rushed me back to Oaxaca. Or was it Oaxaca's spell that first mesmerized me, and inspired the lioness Naomi Leon?" For a sneak peek turn the page. Happy reading!