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About the Author

When Maria saw the photograph of a baby gorilla nestled in the arms of his adoptive mom, she was captivated by the sheer joy on their faces. An adoptive mom herself, Maria knew she had to write a story about this resilient gorilla, and A Mom for Umande was born.

Maria's love for books began at her Austrian mother's knee while listening to Grimm's fairy tales. Growing up in San Francisco, she wrote poems and stories but never dreamed she could be a writer.

Instead, after receiving a BA from Stanford University and an MA in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Colorado, she took a different career path, teaching high school English and counseling emotionally disturbed teens.

One day, she wrote and sold a story about a gymnast whose goal was to compete in the Olympics. She was hooked.

Since then, she's been published in magazines, journals, newspapers and anthologies for children and adults.

Her first children's book Arianna and the Strawberry Tea, was promoted on national morning talk show, named a shelf talker for Barnes and Noble and selected for a state-wide literacy program.

A Mom for Umande has received numerous accolades, including a starred review in Kirkus, and mention in the New York Times and USA Today.

Maria loves cooking, prowling coffee houses and bookstores, and roaming the world - from the moors of Yorkshire to the crooked streets of San Francisco, always looking for more stories.

She lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.