Both Cynthia Rylant and Mary Oliver grew up under difficult circumstances and sought comfort in nature and their beloved pets. Cynthia Rylant's parents divorced early, and she was estranged from her father. Nonetheless, she spent several happy years living with her grandparents in West Virginia where she came to appreciate country ways as illustrated in her story book When I Was Young in the Mountains. Cynthia has published many beloved children's books including the Henry and Mudge series and Mr. Putter and Tabby books.
Mary Oliver states that her childhood was not nice and suggests that parental neglect caused her to escape for long walks in the woods outside of Cleveland, Ohio. On these walks, she carried a notebook and began experimenting with poetry. As an adult, she has maintained this practice over the years and is said to have stowed away pencils in the woods lest she should forget to bring one and not be able to jot down her thoughts. Much of her writer's inspiration as an adult has come from her life in Provincetown, Massachusetts, although she has now moved to southern Florida. Mary has received numerous awards for her poetry, notably the Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive.