Vicki Oransky Wittenstein

Vicki Wittenstein grew up in Maplewood, N.J., and has lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. with her husband and two children for many years. She received her BA in American Civilization and Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and her JD from Cornell Law School. After prosecuting criminal cases as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, she began writing articles for children’s magazines, including Highlights For Children, Odyssey, and the Best of the Children’s Market. She has also been an advocate for children and families. Recently, she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths (Boyds Mills Press 2010), received the 2011 Science Communications Award from the American Institute of Physics. For The Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation (Twenty-First Century Books) will be published in the fall of 2013.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I was a voracious reader as a child and loved biographies of courageous and historical figures like Amelia Earhart, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Paul Revere. Some of my happiest times have been spent reading to my children such classics as Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, Roald Dahl’s The BFG, and E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.‘
’You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’”
(From E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.)

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Fiction: Roald Dahl, E. B. White, and Katherine Paterson. Nonfiction: Ellen Levine, Steve Jenkins, and Steve Sheinkin.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

The books that have influenced me most are the books I read as a child. In a similar way, I hope that my writing can open young people’s eyes to new ideas and dreams.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Read a lot—and then read some more! And the same goes for writing. The more you write, the more you will hone your skills. Explore lots of opportunities, be open to new experiences, and keep current with world events. Knowledge of people and places will add depth and creativity to your writing.