Skip to main content
Select Source:

Gorman, Carol 1952–

Gorman, Carol 1952–

(Jane Ballard)

Personal

Born 1952, in Iowa City, IA; daughter of a pediatrician and a homemaker; married Ed Gorman (a writer); children: Ben. Education: University of Iowa, B.A.

Addresses

Home—IA. Agent—c/o Susan Cohen, Writers House, Inc., 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—carol@carolgorman.com.

Career

Middle-school teacher in Cedar Rapids, IA, until 1984; writer, 1984—. Presenter at writing workshops and at elementary and middle schools; part-time instructor, Coe College.

Awards, Honors

Best Books for the Teen Age citation, New York Public Library, 1987, for America's Farm Crisis; Outstanding Book citation, American Library Association, and Ethical Culture Book Award, both 1987, both for Chelsey and the Green-haired Kid; Children's Choice designation, International Reading Association, 1994, for Die for Me, and 1995, for Graveyard Moon; Missouri Mark Twain Award, Sequoyah Children's and Young-Adult Book Award, South Carolina Children's, Junior, and Young-Adult Book Award, Washington State Children's Choice Picture Book designation and Sasquatch Reading Award, and West Virginia Children's Book Award, all 2002, all for Dork in Disguise; Outstanding Book Award honorable mention, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights, 2005, Patterson Prize, 2006, and Iowa Teen Award nomination, 2007, all for Stumptown Kid.

Writings

America's Farm Crisis, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1987.

Chelsey and the Green-haired Kid, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987.

Pornography, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1988.

T.J. and the Pirate Who Wouldn't Go Home, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

The Biggest Bully in Brookdale, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1992.

It's Not Fair, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1992.

Die for Me, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Graveyard Moon, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1993.

The Great Director, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Skin Deep, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Nobody's Friend, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

The Richest Kid in the World, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Brian's Footsteps, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

The Taming of Roberta Parsley, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

Million-Dollar Winner, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

The Rumor, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.

Back from the Dead, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Dork in Disguise, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor with husband, Ed Gorman) Felonious Felines, Five Star Press (Unity, ME), 2000.

Dork on the Run, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

A Midsummer Night's Dork, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Ron J. Findley) Stumptown Kid, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2005.

Games: A Tale of Two Bullies, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of adult books under pseudonym Jane Ballard; ghostwriter for mystery series books.

Sidelights

Carol Gorman did not plan to become a professional writer. Trained as an actor and a teacher, she took up writing for children because her husband, novelist Ed Gorman, encouraged her to try. Gorman's willingness to experiment has paid off in a selection of novels for middle-school and upper-elementary-grade readers that includes mysteries, comic adventures, and humorous tales of budding adolescence. She is best known for her recurring characters such as Jerry Flack the "dork" and Lizard Flanagan the tomboy, who learn to celebrate their uniqueness in a middle-school culture that encourages conformity.

The daughter of a pediatrician and a homemaker, Gorman grew up in Iowa. As a student she gravitated to the stage and won leading roles in college dramas such as West Side Story and Peter Pan. After graduation, she settled in Iowa and taught seventh grade. In the meantime, her husband was having success as an author of adult mysteries, and he suggested she try writing for children. "I probably would never have started writing if I hadn't married a writer," Gorman said in an interview with Book Report.

After writing two nonfiction books for middle-school readers, Gorman moved into fiction. One of her early successes was Chelsey and the Green-haired Kid, in which wheelchair-bound Chelsey and her green-haired friend become detectives after Chelsey witnesses a suspicious accident. Part of the plot revolves around Chelsey's disability and how she lives with it, a theme that brought Gorman awards and national attention for the title. Other mysteries by Gorman, such as Die for Me and Graveyard Moon, have also received citations as best books for younger or struggling readers.

Jerry Flack is the hero of several novels, including Dork in Disguise, Dork on the Run, and A Midsummer Night's Dork. Jerry wears glasses and loves science. Can he survive in middle school, or should he try to change his image? In Dork in Disguise, he tries looking and acting "cool" in hopes of winning the interest of the popular crowd in general and a girl named Cinnamon in particular. Instead he discovers the friendship of Brenda, a female dork who recognizes Jerry as one of her own. In Dork on the Run, Jerry decides to run for class president even though his opponent is a popular kid who will stop at nothing to scare, embarrass, and humiliate Jerry. Success comes when Jerry uses dorkiness as a selling strategy for the campaign. "If there was ever a quintessential book on dealing with bullies, this is it," wrote Tina Zubak in her School Library Journal review of Dork on the Run. Zubak also called the book "a thoughtful read and a discussion starter," while Horn Book reviewer Peter D. Sieruta praised the novel for featuring a "fast-paced story that will appeal to the dork in us all."

In A Midsummer Night's Dork, Jerry's previous goals have been successful: he has largely gotten the bullies to leave him alone and has become class president. When the student council decides to stage an Elizabethan Faire which ties into the Shakespeare they are studying in class, it seems like a fun project. However, when Jerry discovers that former bully Craig Fox is abusing a small dog, he promises to do anything to get Craig to give the puppy up, including dressing in a skirt for the faire. "Gorman nails the complex social structures of the sixth-grade world," wrote Todd Morning in Booklist. Leigh Ann Morlock, appraising A Midsummer Night's Dork for School Library Journal, concluded that Gorman's "honest portrayal of preteen socialization will entertain and enlighten."

During school visits, Gorman is sometimes asked if she ever knew a dork like Jerry Flack. Then she admits it: She was once a dork herself. More to the point, she thinks most preteens suffer moments when they feel like dorks or are convinced that they look like a dork. "I think everyone can identify with how Jerry Flack feels," she said in an interview for the Des Moines Register. Gorman has endowed Jerry and his sidekick Brenda with believable personalities and moments of quiet triumph and self-satisfaction.

Another Gorman creation, fictional heroine Lizard Flanagan, got her nickname when her brother could not pronounce "Elizabeth." In The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan and Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel? the preteen struggles with the transition from a rough-and-tumble tomboy to an adolescent sportswoman also interested in makeup and boys. Helping Lizard make this transition is Zach, an old friend who becomes a boyfriend over the course of the two novels, and Lizard's twin brother, Sam, who helps to keep her grounded. In her Booklist review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, Kay Weisman concluded that Gorman covers adolescent issues "with a refreshing sense and good humor that will appeal to middle-grade readers everywhere." Reviewing Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel? for School Library Journal, Connie Tyrrell Burns wrote that "in the face of those stereotypical dual preoccupations of sixth-grade girls—boys and bodies—Lizard is a refreshing character."

Gorman teamed up with baseball player Ron J. Findley to write Stumptown Kid, a novel set in rural Iowa in 1972. Charlie's father died in the Korean War, and the eleven-year-old boy still mourns for him. Looking for a role model beyond his mother's prejudiced new boyfriend, he becomes attached to Luther Peale, who was a pitcher in Negro League baseball. Charlie eventually convinces Luther to coach his own ball team, and townspeople must struggle against racism in order to accept Luther. "Readers will enjoy this winning mix of sports, suspense, and heroism," wrote Gerry Larson in School Library Journal. Stumptown Kid received an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.

Games: A Tale of Two Bullies is based on a problem-solving technique Gorman learned from the principal at a Sioux City, Iowa school. "The principal told me that when two students are caught in a fistfight, she requires them to play games until they can figure out how to get along," Gorman explained on her home page. From that spark, Gorman created middle schoolers Mick and Boot, whose constant pressures from home spill into their school lives and cause them to get into frequent fist fights. As in real life, the principal in the novel orders the two boys to play board games until they can stop fighting. The enforced games competition escalates to dares outside the classroom, which both boys ultimately come to regret. "The plot is taut and compelling, with deft, sympathetic characterization, memorable scenes, and right-on description of the middle-school culture," wrote Marie Orlando in School Library Journal. "Full of heartbreak and betrayal, this realistic tale will give middle-school readers something to ponder," concluded a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, while in Booklist Todd Morning concluded that in Games "Gorman effectively and memorably captures the elusive middle-school mind-set."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 1816; October 15, 1994, Kay Weisman, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 426; November 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, p. 590; September 1, 1999, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 133; July, 2000, Jenny McLarin, review of Felonious Felines, p. 2012; June 1, 2002, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Dork on the Run, p. 1722; February 1, 2004, Todd Morning, review of A Midsummer Night's Dork, p. 976; April 1, 2005, John Peters, review of Stumptown Kid, p. 1360; January 1, 2007, Todd Morning, review of Games: A Tale of Two Bullies, p. 100.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1994, Deborah Stevenson, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 287; September, 1999, Fern Kory, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 12; April, 2007, Karen Coats, review of Games, p. 328.

Des Moines Register (Des Moines, IA), May 7, 2002, Joanne Boeckman, "Kids, Adults Identify with ‘Dork,’" p. 3.

Horn Book, spring, 1995, Christine Hepperman, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 76; spring, 1999, Erica L. Stahler, review of Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, p. 66; January, 2000, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 75; September-October, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Dork on the Run, p. 572.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1994, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 845; December 15, 2006, review of Games, p. 1268.

Kliatt, January, 2007, Paula Rohrlick, review of Games, p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, March 13, 1987, review of Chelsey and the Green-haired Kid, p. 86; June 6, 1994, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 66; September 27, 1999, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 106.

Reading Teacher, October, 1995, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 155.

School Library Journal, June-July, 1987, Judy Greenfield, review of Chelsey and the Green-haired Kid, p. 95; November, 1987, Eldon Younce, review of America's Farm Crisis, p. 118; November, 1988, Judie Porter, review of Pornography, p. 136; June, 1994, Jana R. Fine, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 128; October, 1994, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 426; October, 1998, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, p. 135; September, 1999, Susan L. Rogers, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 225; June, 2002, Tina Zubak, review of Dork on the Run, p. 138; March, 2004, Leigh Ann Morlock, review of A Midsummer Night's Dork, p. 212; May, 2005, Gerry Larson, review of Stumptown Kid, p. 127; January, 2007, Marie Orlando, review of Games, p. 128.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2007, C.J. Bott, review of Games, p. 525.

ONLINE

Carol Gorman Home Page,http://www.carolgorman.com (February 1, 2008).

Institute for Children's Literature Web site, http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/ (August 12, 1999), interview with Gorman.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gorman, Carol 1952–." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gorman, Carol 1952–." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/gorman-carol-1952

"Gorman, Carol 1952–." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/gorman-carol-1952

Gorman, Carol

GORMAN, Carol

(Jane Ballard, a pseudonym)

Personal

Born in Iowa City, IA; daughter of a pediatrician and a homemaker; married Ed Gorman (a writer); children: Ben. Education: University of Iowa, B.A.

Addresses

Agent c/o author correspondence HarperCollins, Inc., 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022.

Career

Middle school teacher in Cedar Rapids, IA, prior to 1984; writer, 1984. Conducts writing workshops and makes presentations in elementary and middle schools; part-time instructor, Coe College.

Awards, Honors

Best books for the teen age citation, New York Public Library, 1987, for America's Farm Crisis; outstanding book citation, American Library Association and Ethical Culture Book Award, both 1987, both for Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid; children's choice list, International Reading Association, 1994, for Die for Me, and 1995, for Graveyard Moon; Missouri Mark Twain Award, Sequoyah Children's and Young Adult Book Award, South Carolina Children's, Junior, and Young Adult Book Award, Washington Children's Choice Picture Book and Sasquatch Reading Award, and West Virginia Children's Book Award, all 2002, all for Dork in Disguise.

Writings

America's Farm Crisis, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1987.

Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987.

Pornography, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1988.

T. J. and the Pirate Who Wouldn't Go Home, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

The Biggest Bully in Brookdale, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1992.

It's Not Fair, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1992.

Die for Me, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Graveyard Moon, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1993.

The Great Director, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Skin Deep, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Nobody's Friend, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

The Richest Kid in the World, illustrated by Rudy Nappi, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Brian's Footsteps, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

The Taming of Roberta Parsley, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

Million Dollar Winner, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

The Rumor, illustrated by Ed Koehler, Concordia Publishing House (St. Louis, MO), 1994.

The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.

Back from the Dead, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Dork in Disguise, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor with husband, Ed Gorman) Felonious Felines, Five Star Press (Unity, ME), 2000.

Dork on the Run, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

A Midsummer Night's Dork, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Also author of adult books under pseudonym Jane Ballard; ghostwriter for mystery series books.

Sidelights

Carol Gorman did not plan to become a professional writer. Trained as an actress and a teacher, Gorman took up writing for children because her husband, novelist Ed Gorman, encouraged her to try. Gorman's willingness to experiment has paid off in a selection of novels for middle school and upper elementary grade readers, including straight mysteries, comic adventures, and humorous tales of budding adolescence. Gorman is best known for her recurring characters, including Jerry Flack the "dork" and Lizard Flanagan the tomboy, who learn to celebrate their uniqueness in a middle-school culture that encourages conformity.

The daughter of a pediatrician and a homemaker, Gorman grew up in Iowa. As a student she gravitated to the stage and won leading roles in college dramas, including West Side Story and Peter Pan. After graduating from college, she settled in Iowa and taught seventh grade. In the meantime, her husband was having success as an author of adult mysteries, and he suggested she try writing for children. "I probably would never have started writing if I hadn't married a writer," Gorman said in an interview with Book Report.

After writing two nonfiction books for middle-school readers, Gorman moved into fiction. One of her early successes was Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid. Wheelchair-bound Chelsey and her green-haired friend become detectives after Chelsey witnesses a suspicious accident. Part of the plot revolves around Chelsey's disability and how she lives with it, a theme that brought Gorman awards and national attention for the title. Other Gorman mysteries such as Die for Me and Graveyard Moon also received citations as best books for younger or struggling readers.

Jerry Flack is the hero of several Gorman novels, including Dork in Disguise, Dork on the Run, and A Midsummer Night's Dork. Jerry wears glasses and loves science. Can he survive in middle school, or should he try to change his image? In Dork in Disguise, Jerry tries looking and acting "cool" in hopes of winning the interest of the popular crowd in general and a girl named Cinnamon in particular. Instead he discovers the friendship of Brenda, a female dork who recognizes one of her own. In Dork on the Run, Jerry decides to run for class president even though his opponent is a popular kid who will stop at nothing to scare, embarrass, and humiliate Jerry. Success comes when Jerry uses his own dorkiness as a selling strategy for the campaign. "If there was ever a quintessential book on dealing with bullies, this is it," wrote Tina Zubak in her School Library Journal review of Dork on the Run. Zubak also called the book "a thoughtful read and a discussion starter." Horn Book reviewer Peter D. Sieruta praised Dork on the Run as a "fast-paced story that will appeal to the dork in us all."

Lizard Flanagan got her nickname when her brother couldn't pronounce "Elizabeth." As the heroine of two books, The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan and Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel? she struggles with the transition from a rough-and-tumble tomboy to an adolescent sportswoman who is also interested in makeup and boys. Helping Lizard make this transition

is Zach, an old friend who becomes a boyfriend over the course of the two novels, and Lizard's twin brother, Sam, who helps to keep her grounded. In her Booklist review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, Kay Weisman concluded that Gorman covers adolescent issues "with a refreshing sense and good humor that will appeal to middle-grade readers everywhere." Reviewing Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel? in the School Library Journal, Connie Tyrrell Burns wrote: "In the face of those stereotypical dual preoccupations of sixth-grade girlsboys and bodiesLizard is a refreshing character."

Sometimes during her school visits, Gorman will be asked if she ever knew a dork like Jerry Flack. Then she admits it: She was once a dork herself. More to the point, she thinks most preteens suffer moments when they feel like dorks or are convinced that they look like a dork. "I think everyone can identify with how Jerry Flack feels," she said in an interview with the Des Moines Register. Gorman has endowed Jerry and his sidekick Brenda with believable personalities and moments of quiet triumph and self-satisfaction.

Biographical and Critical Sources

periodicals

Booklist, June 1, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 1816; October 15, 1994, Kay Weisman, review of The Miraculous Make-over of Lizard Flanagan, p. 426; November 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, p. 590; September 1, 1999, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 133; July, 2000, Jenny McLarin, review of Felonious Felines, p. 2012; June 1, 2002, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Dork on the Run, p. 1722.

Book Report, March/April, 1996, Sharron McElmeel, "Carol Gorman," p. 22.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1994, Deborah Stevenson, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 287; September, 1999, Fern Kory, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 12.

Des Moines Register (Des Moines, IA), May 7, 2002, Joanne Boeckman, "Kids, Adults Identify with 'Dork,'" p. 3.

Horn Book, spring, 1995, Christine Hepperman, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 76; spring, 1999, Erica L. Stahler, review of Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel? p. 66; January, 2000, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 75; September-October, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Dork on the Run, p. 572.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1994, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 845.

Publishers Weekly, March 13, 1987, Diane Roback, review of Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid, p. 86; June 6, 1994, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 66; September 27, 1999, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 106.

Reading Teacher, October, 1995, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 155.

School Library Journal, June-July, 1987, Judy Greenfield, review of Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid, p. 95; November, 1987, Eldon Younce, review of America's Farm Crisis, p. 118; November, 1988, Judie Porter, review of Pornography, p. 136; June, 1994, Jana R. Fine, review of Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing, p. 128; October, 1994, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan, p. 426; October, 1998, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Lizard Flanagan, Supermodel?, p. 135; September, 1999, Susan L. Rogers, review of Dork in Disguise, p. 225; June, 2002, Tina Zubak, review of Dork on the Run, p. 138.

online

Carol Gorman's Web site http://www.carolgorman.com/ (September 17, 2003), author's home page.

Institute for Children's Literature, http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/ (September 17, 2003), "Rx for Writers: 'Humor in Fiction' with Carol Gorman."*

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gorman, Carol." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gorman, Carol." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/gorman-carol

"Gorman, Carol." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/gorman-carol