This year illustrator and author Nancy Carlson published her 44th children's book. Her specialty is teaching kids to feel good about themselves and others.Kids, parents, teachers and even book critics think she does a great job. That's because she is never out of touch with the kid spirit inside herself. Her brightly colored pencil drawings perfectly capture the happy-go-lucky characters that fill her clever and funny books. There is a life lesson to be learned from each story.Nancy decided at age five to be an artist. As a child, Nancy would sit on her bed and draw for hours. "I began creating characters and telling stories through my drawings," Nancy said. "I always had the need to communicate something through my art." Her early love of comic books influenced her style of drawing and use of color.A graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art, Nancy has kept alive a youthful zest for life. Readers and book reviewers alike are charmed by her jazzy yet childlike drawings done with bright colored pencils. In all 42 books and four stage plays, she uses well-placed humor in words and pictures to tickle the funny bone of children and their parents.Humorous childhood experiences from her own life growing up in Minneapolis and from the escapades of her three children provide themes for stories. Most of her books feature animal characters that show the funny side of people. Nancy's two dogs, cat and a guinea pig are a source of inspiration.Nancy Carson lives in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. She and her husband, Barry McCool, have three children, two dogs, and a cat. Nancy loves nature and spends as much time outdoors as possible, running, biking and birdwatching. Besides writing and illustrating children's books, she designs posters, t-shirts, caps, greeting cards and other specialty items, which are marketed across the country through McCool Unlimited, Inc. and available though Nancy's on-line catalogue.Readers say they recognize themselves and their friends in the characters who triumph over everyday situations.Each story helps young readers deal with life's little problems, while teaching the basic values of honesty, determination and self-confidence.