Thank you! Thank you! Because you and your friends, cats, dogs, and cubicle mates voted for Zoe yesterday, she appears to be sitting in third place in the contest to win a spot in a million boxes of Cheerios. The contest goes to the end of the month, so I’m going to blog about the writing process of the book every day.

Where did the idea for Zoe come from?

My family room.

I have one daughter, Stephanie, who was born with lovely red hair. I have another daughter, Meredith, who has a rather energetic personality.

Out of a strange melding of these two girls came the idea for ZOE: a child born with a quarter acre of crazy red hair that had a personality of its own.

In the early drafts, the story wasn’t quite a story. It turned out that just having cool hair was not enough. This explained the rejections I received for the book in the mid 1990’s. (The story was VERY DIFFERENT from its current form!) When a rejection would come in, I’d pout, and keep tinkering with it.

Both of my girls went off to kindergarten and then first grade. Meredith’s exuberant personality was not appreciated by all of her teachers. When Meredith was identified as ADHD, we were confused. It didn’t feel right to force our child into something she was not made to be. But clearly she had to learn to adapt to a classroom setting. What to do?

With this personal drama unfolding in the background, I continued to edit and rewrite Zoe’s story. I added the somewhat intimidating character of Ms. Trisk and clarified the conflict: Zoe has to learn to follow the rules of first grade. But that makes her sad.

My daughter Meredith, meanwhile, was growing up. She was blessed with a couple OF teachers who really valued her qualities and personality. Meredith learned how to adapt to a school setting. The school learned to adapt to her. And I finally figured out how to write Zoe.

An editor I sent it to loved it, but said that too many "hair books" had just come out, and he wanted to hold on to it for a bit. About five years later, he called me up and said the time had come. The world was waiting for Zoe.

And my daughter?

She was so inspired by the teachers who respected who she was and helped her figure out her own leaning style, that she became an education major in college. She graduated in May and is now an 8th grade science teacher working near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border.

THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL is dedicated to my daughter Meredith.


1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October.



  1. Bravo for giving your daughter the support she needed to excel in the classroom, and it’s great to hear she’s teaching. Eighth-grade science is a blast.

  2. I didn’t know how long you’d been working on this book, Laurie. What a great “lesson” to give to writers–perseverance and letting the story emerge as it must, even if it takes years. I know how proud you are of Meredith, and I was there for some of the worries, so yeah! What a great way to celebrate. Now I have to go cast my daily vote.

  3. I haven’t read Zoe, and I wasn’t going to vote because of that fact. But upon reading this, I have no choice. That story is so eerily similar to my own (down to the ADHD and becoming a teacher), that I think I understand the book without having read it. And now I want to share that with the world of Cheerios eaters. And myself. Thanks for sharing that, and go Zoe!


  4. Thank you for sharing

    When my 7-year-old daughter “Marshall” and I read this book together, she kept commenting that she knew how Zoe felt. And, very much like Zoe, Marshall has volumes of beautiful, impossibly thick curly strawberry-blond hair. I kept it long until last summer (down to her waist), when I finally relented to letting her get it cut to shoulder-length (and my mother-in-law hacked away at it – but that’s another story). She, too, has trouble staying focused in 1st grade, and was worried about how she would be able to contain her “joy” as she calls it. She’s been blessed with an awesome teacher this year, and is blossoming. I’ll probably buy a copy of your book for her for Christmas. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.