Author of the Month
Authors by their birthday month: January -- February -- March -- April -- May -- June -- July -- August -- September -- October -- November -- December
Born on September 4, 1924, in Rye, Sussex, England, Joan was the daughter of famed American writer, Conrad Aiken. She decided to be a writer when she was five years old and kept writing to the end of her days.
Growing up in a house filled with art and literature, she thoroughly enjoyed being homeschooled during her early years. When she was 12, she was sent to boarding school at the improbably named Wychwood near Oxford, England.
Jim Arnosky may have been born in New York City, but he has spent much of the rest of his life living in wild places. He uses his storytelling skills—both words and art—to bring kids closer to nature.
Born September 1, 1946, Jim grew up in the Pennsylvania countryside. He knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a cartoonist! He realized that ambition, but along the way he joined the Navy. After his service, he started drawing for Ranger Rick magazine. Wisely, he took the advice of a more experienced artist who told him to keep a journal alongside of his drawings.
"Avi!" that was the nickname his twin sister called him when they were small. That was enough of a name for Avi (pronounced Ah-Vee) Wortis then, and it's still the name that he writes under today.
Avi came from a family who were passionate about radical politics and the arts. Family members in New York and Boston argued all the time, but in a loving way, so any dinner table discussion might turn into a free-for-all of exciting ideas.
When he was a very young boy, Andrew Clements loved A.A. Milne's House at Pooh Corner and Margaret Wise Brown's The Five Little Firemen. By the time he started school, he already loved reading. He read so much he surprised his teachers. Once he checked out a big book of Greek myths from the school library. The next day, he brought it back. The librarian said if it had been too hard for him he was welcome to get another book. Andrew wanted another book all right. Another thick book. He had finished the Greek myths in one day and was ready for more good stuff.
The author of Hans Brinker, a famous book about poor children who lived in Holland, grew up rather rich and never visited Europe. She was a New York City girl, born on January 26, 1831, to a well-off family who helped her on the way to becoming a beloved children's writer and magazine editor. This writer had an unusual and privileged background. Miss Mary Mapes did not go to school with everyone else. She was taught at home by tutors and governesses. There she studied French, Latin, music, drawing, and literature. Her family's circle of friends included some very intelligent people. Horace Greeley, a hugely important newspaper publisher, and the famous poet-journalist William Cullen Bryant were often hosted at the Mapes home.
Eleanor Ruth Rosenfeld (Estes) loved to tell stories to children. She began by working as a children's assistant in her hometown library, but when she became sick with tuberculosis, she spent the quiet days of her recovery writing down her childhood memories as a series of stories for young readers.
In The Moffats, a terrific family, growing up during tough times in Cranbury, Connecticut in the 1910s, face calamity when the landlord puts a "For Sale" sign on their beloved yellow house. Janey's widowed mother works as a seamstress every day to put food on the table, coal in the grate, and clothes on their backs, but there isn't enough money left to buy a home. Week after week, month after month, the kids--fifteen-year-old Sylvie, twelve-year-old Joey, nine-year-old Janey, and five-year-old Rufus--expect the worst: that someone will buy their house, and then what will happen?
Paula Danziger sometimes said she wished she had had her own books to read when she was growing up. As the nerdy, clueless daughter in a family where Dad yelled and Mom just tried to make Dad happy, life was not fun. When her dad said mean things to her, Paula would tell herself that someday she would put it in a book. And she did.
"One of the most important things is to laugh with your children and to let them see you think they're being funny when they're trying to be. It gives children enormous pleasure to think they've made you laugh. They feel they've reached one of the nicest parts in you.... As a picture book artist, I don't think one can be too much on the side of the child."*
Helen Oxenbury understands babies. She knows that they are messy, cranky, and wonderful. She knows that few things fascinate a baby like, well, another baby. In the world of board books, those sturdy first books that are impervious to drool and can survive a few tasty chews, Helen Oxenbury reigns supreme.