_I'm Barb Odanaka — children's book author, world traveler, journalist and skateboarder. I also have an alter ego: Skateboard Cow, the star of my latest book, A Crazy Day At the Critter Cafe.
Once upon a time, I was a sports reporter at the Los Angeles Times (byline was "Barbie Ludovise"). I left daily journalism in 1994 to backpack around the world for a year with my husband, Paul, and write children's books. In our travels, we huddled with mountain gorillas in Zaire, analyzed penguin poop in New Zealand, and scuba dived with sharks and other fabulous creatures in Borneo and Fiji. We backpacked through the Himalayas, motorcycled through parts of Vietnam, and sampled turkey laap for Thanksgiving in Laos. Seventeen countries in twelve months... and all on $30 a day.
After becoming a mom in 1996, I founded the International Society of Skateboarding Moms. Today, Skateboard Moms Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to empower women and girls through skateboarding. We also do a little something called Rolling4Reading, a literacy program that puts new and gently-used children's books into the hands of kids in need. Distribution is done on skateboard.