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Spinelli, Eileen 1942–

Spinelli, Eileen 1942–

Personal

Born August 16, 1942, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Joseph Patrick (an engineer) and Angela Marie Mesi; married Jerry Spinelli (a writer), May 21, 1977; children: six children. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, herb gardening, old movies, anything to do with tea: tea parties, afternoon tea, collecting teapots.

Addresses

Home—PA. E-mail—eileen@eileenspinelli.com.

Career

Writer, 1960—. Creative writing teacher. Formerly worked as a secretary, a waitress, and as a telephone receptionist.

Member

Authors Guild, Authors League, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Awards, Honors

Christopher Award, 1990, for Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 1999, for When Mama Comes Home Tonight; North Carolina Children's Book Award nomination, 2001, for Lizzie Logan, Second Banana; Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year award, 2001, for In My New Yellow Shirt, 2003, for Here Comes the Year; Storytelling World Award, Horn Book, 2002, for Sophie's Masterpiece; CCBC Choice designation, 2003, for Wanda's Monster; Carolyn Field Award, 2004, for Do You Have a Hat?

Writings

The Giggle and Cry Book, illustrated by Lisa Atherton, Stemmer House (Owings Mills, MD), 1981.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons', illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1982, new edition illustrated by Megan Lloyd, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Animals of the North, illustrated by Laura D'Argo, New Seasons, 1990.

Teddy Bear and His Friends, illustrated by Mike Muir, New Seasons, 1990.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1991, reprinted, 2006.

Boy, Can He Dance!, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1993.

If You Want to Find Golden, illustrated by Stacey Schuett, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1993.

Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

Naptime, Laptime, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Cartwheel Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Where Is the Night Train Going?: Bedtime Poems, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1996.

Lizzie Logan Gets Married, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

Lizzie Logan, Second Banana, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Sadie Plays House: A Really Messy Sticker Book!, illustrated by Margeaux Lucas, Little Simon (New York, NY), 1998.

When Mama Comes Home Tonight, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Coming through the Blizzard: A Christmas Story, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor, illustrated by Karen Dugan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1999.

Night Shift Daddy, illustrated by Melissa Iwai, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2000.

Song for the Whooping Crane, illustrated by Elsa Warnick, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2000.

Six Hogs on a Scooter, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2000.

In My New Yellow Shirt, illustrated by Hideko Takahashi, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

A Safe Place Called Home, illustrated by Christy Hale, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2001.

Kittycat Lullaby, illustrated by Anne Mortimer, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2001.

Summerbath, Winterbath, illustrated by Elsa Warnick, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

Summerhouse Time, illustrated by Emily Lisker, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

Here Comes the Year, illustrated by Keiko Narahashi, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

Inside Out Day, illustrated by Michael Chesworth, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Rise the Moon, illustrated by Raúl Colón, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Wanda's Monster, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi, Albert Whitman (New York, NY), 2002.

Bath Time, illustrated by Janet Pederson, Cavendish Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Perfect Thanksgiving, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.

Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, illustrated by Linda Bronson, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2003.

What Do Angels Wear?, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Three Pebbles and a Song, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2003.

City Angel, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Feathers: Poems about Birds, illustrated by Lisa McCue, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

I Know It's Autumn, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

In Our Backyard Garden, illustrated by Marcy Ramsey, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

Something to Tell the Grandcows, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

While You Were Away, illustrated by Renée Graef, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2004.

Do You Have a Hat?, illustrated by Geraldo Valério, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

Now It Is Winter, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

The Best Time of the Day, illustrated by Bryan Langdo, Harcourt, Brace (Orlando, FL), 2005.

When You Are Happy, illustrated by Geraldo Valério, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

When Christmas Came, illustrated by Wayne Parmenter, Ideals Children's (Nashville, TN), 2006.

I Like Noisy, Mom Likes Quiet, illustrated by Lydia Halverson, Ideals Children's (Nashville, TN), 2006.

Hero Cat, illustrated by Jo Ellen McAllister Stammen, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2006.

Where I Live, illustrated by Matt Phelan, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandex, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2007.

Heat Wave, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2007.

Callie Cat, Ice Skater, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2007.

Baby Loves You So Much!, illustrated by David Wenzel, Ideals Children's (Nashville, TN), 2007.

Hug a Bug, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

The Best Story, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Poetry included in anthology Animal Friends, edited by Michael Hague, Holt (New York, NY), 2007. Contributor of hundreds of poems to periodicals.

Author's works have been translated into Spanish.

Sidelights

A poet and teacher of creative writing, Eileen Spinelli has produced numerous books for young children that combine the author's love of rhyme with her understanding of how young people view the world. The mother of six children and an experienced bedtime-story reader, Spinelli has a good sense of what works and what does not work in the arena of children's pic-

ture books. Among her own picture-book contributions are Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, The Perfect Thanksgiving, Boy, Can He Dance!, and Summerhouse Time, as well as poetry collections such as The Giggle and Cry Book, Where Is the Night Train Going?: Bedtime Poems, City Angel, and Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North, the last a collection of two dozen verses that introduces children to the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic region. Described by Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson as a "reassuring urban lullaby," City Angel was written in response to the September 11, 2001 tragedy and celebrates a human ecosystem: the many cultures and traditions that coexist within New York City. Brought to life in paintings by Kyrsten Brooker, Spinelli's text for City Angel personifies the compassion and caring of city residents in the form of a winged black woman clad in white who "offer[s] … quiet acts of kindness in the form of smiles, hugs or an unseen helping hand," as a Publishers Weekly observed.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1942, Spinelli was raised in Secane, a nearby suburb. Always an enthusiastic reader, she counted among her favorite authors Marguerite de Angeli. Publishing her first work of poetry in 1950 when she was eighteen, Spinelli continued to write poetry for adults during her few free hours while raising her six children. "Teachers and our public library played a big part in my growing interest in books and writing," Spinelli once told SATA.

Spinelli began writing for a younger audience in 1979, after her children had grown old enough to allow her some free time. Her first book, a rhyming list book titled The Giggle and Cry Book, was published two years later. The Giggle and Cry Book would be followed by two other books of poetry: Naptime, Laptime and Where Is the Night Train Going? In Naptime, Laptime Spinelli portrays a variety of animals indulging in a mid-day snooze, from field mice to Arctic seals to a young child's own stuffed animal. In Booklist, contributor Carolyn Phelan praised Spinelli's text for being "simple enough to suit a toddler's attention span" while also containing enough humor to keep older listeners interested. School Library Journal critic Rosanne Cerny dubbed the book a "poetic paean to the perfect spot" to take an afternoon nap. Sleep also serves as the focus of Where Is the Night Train Going?, in which Spinelli collects poems about dozing. Calling the author's verse "consistently sweet and gentle, rather than distinguished or splashy," Liza Bliss commented in her School Library Journal review of Where Is the Night Train Going? that the book's words and pictures are perfectly matched in their expression of "a mild sense of humor" and ability to recognize "young children's sensibilities."

Spinelli's first prose work for children, Thanksgiving at the Tappletons', reached bookstore shelves in 1982. In an offbeat portrayal of the uniquely American tradition, the Tappletons start the day hungry and watch as, one by one, each courses of their evening meal sidesteps the dining-room table. The salad has been fed to the school rabbits; the baker is out of pies by the time Mr. Tappleton has a chance to stop by, and the Thanksgiving turkey winds up floating in a pond in the backyard. "For a Thanksgiving book without pilgrims and Indians, this one just might ‘talk turkey,’" quipped School Library Journal contributor Betty Craig Campbell of Spinelli's humorous story, while Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper deemed it "appetizing fare." Thanksgiving at the Tappletons' was re-issued with new illustrations by Megan Lloyd that depict the Tappletons as a family of wolves, and Spinelli revisited the holiday in a second picture book, The Perfect Thanksgiving, in which two families share the perfect holiday feast in very different ways, one with a formal, well-mannered feast and another with a relaxing and casual dinner. "The jovial celebration of a national feast day" in The Perfect Thanksgiving "highlights the common thread of loving kinship" woven through Spinelli's story, according to a Kirkus Reviews writer.

Spinelli's output of picture books has been nothing less than prolific. Her books range widely in theme, from humorous stories such as Something to Tell the Grandcows, that are based on animal characters, to rhyming bedtime lullabies that are able to soothe the most fractious youngster. Featuring an all-critter cast, Three Pebbles and a Song re-tells the traditional "ant and grasshopper" fable but finds mice in the title roles. Although he is encouraged to help his family gather food and nesting materials for the coming winter, Moses the mouse decides to sing and dance instead. During the colder winter months that follow, Moses profits from his family's industry, and they, in turn, are entertained by his singing and dancing. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Spinelli's story celebrates "art's power to invigorate and to sustain."

Cats frequently appear as central characters in Spinelli's books. In Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, for example, Moe enjoys prowling the city streets until the cold weather sends him in search of a warm home. Adopted by a friendly human, the cat enjoys a cozy home in an apartment during the winter, but when spring rolls around Moe must chose between returning to his street life or losing his new friend. Another wild cat is the focus of Hero Cat, in which a mother cat finds a safe, cozy spot in an abandoned building, and there gives birth to five kittens. When the building is devastated by fire, she manages to save her litter, helped by some caring firemen. Callie Cat, Ice Skater introduces a young kitten who pursues her passion although it is not shared by her two best friends, and In Booklist Kathleen Odean called Moe McTooth "a special treat

for cat lovers," while Carolyn Phelan wrote in the same periodical that Callie Cat, Ice Skater is "a rewarding picture book" with a "gently delivered message." "Spinelli's simple, short sentences" bring to life the drama of Hero Cat, noted Gillian Engberg, the Booklist critic adding that younger children concerned over the tiny kittens "will be reassured by the story of a parent's fiercely protective unconditional love."

Some of Spinelli's books are designed for bedtime sharing. In When Mama Comes Home Tonight a toddler anticipates reunion with his or her working mom, and all the fun they will have in the hours they will spend between dinner and bedtime. Inevitably, of course, the rhyming book ends with lullabies. Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin called the title "tender" and "the perfect book for lap sharing." Night Shift Daddy puts a new spin on the bedtime story. The dad in this rhyming tale tucks his daughter in and then goes out the door to work. In the morning he returns and listens to his bedtime story before the girl leaves home for a day of activities. In Rise the Moon, poems celebrate people and creatures who welcome the soothing light of the moon as it rises and bathes the world in its own special glow. A Publishers Weekly critic praised the work as a "poetic tribute to the moon and the many magical and mysterious ways it influences and inspires." In her Booklist review of Rise the Moon, Engberg deemed Spinelli's story "a beautiful, reassuring celebration of night."

Other picture books by Spinelli include Heat Wave, which opens a nostalgic window on to how people survived the heat of summer in the days before air conditioning, as well as Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. In Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch a retiring bachelor seems to lead a monotonous life until he receives a Valentine box filled with candy from a mysterious admirer. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called the picture book "charming," adding that it contains "a real plot" and an "amiable tone" that should appeal to young listeners. In If You Want to Find Golden a young boy and his mother spend a day together in the city where they live and discover a rainbow of color mixed in with their everyday activities. "From the white sugar-frosted doughnut at the diner to plump purple grapes at the grocery store … young readers will enjoy this dawn to dusk catalogue of colors," claimed Lisa Dennis in a School Library Journal review.

In addition to her picture books for younger children, Spinelli has also authored a series of books for older readers that features a spunky young protagonist named Lizzie Logan. Lizzie is introduced to readers in the middle-grade novel Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses. A ten year old with a formidable imagination, Lizzie proves to be a loyal friend to neighborhood newcomer Heather, despite the incredible lies she sometimes tells. While noting that Spinelli's chapter book is not a true-to-life portrait of young people, a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that the story "buoyantly addresses

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the ‘problem’ of a great imagination in someone who is sensitive." In her Horn Book review, Nancy Vasilakis predicted that the book will "provide newly fluent readers with plenty of chuckles and a few anxious moments." Spinelli continues Lizzie's imaginative adventures in two more books, Lizzie Logan Gets Married and Lizzie Logan, Second Banana.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 1982, Ilene Cooper, review of Thanksgiving at the Tappletons', p. 569; December 1, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of Naptime, Laptime, p. 641; July, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of When Mama Comes Home Tonight, p. 1879; January 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Rise the Moon, p. 88; April 15, 2003, Kathleen Odean, review of Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, p. 1479; September 15, 2003, Kay Weisman, review of Three Pebbles and a Song, p. 249; November 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of What Do Angels Wear?, p. 506; March 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of In Our Backyard Garden, p. 1186; April 1, 2004, Terry Glover, review of Something to Tell the Grandcows, p. 1370; August, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of I Know It's Autumn, p. 1944; October 15, 2004, Julie Cummins, review of Now It Is Winter, p. 411; January 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of City Angel, p. 875; October 15, 2005, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The Best Time of Day, p. 60; March 1, 2006, Julie Cummins, review of When You Are Happy, p. 101; March 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Hero Cat, p. 101; April 15, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North, p. 48; May 1, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Heat Wave, p. 101; October 15, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Callie Cat, Ice Skater, p. 50.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2003, review of Moe McTooth, p. 423; November, 2003, Karen Coats, review of The Perfect Thanksgiving, p. 125; March, 2004, Deborah Stevenson, review of Something to Tell the Grandcows, p. 296.

Horn Book, September-October, 1995, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, p. 605; November-December, 2007, Nell Beram, review of Heat Wave, p. 668.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 1991, review of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, p. 1985; June 1, 1995, review of Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, p. 787; August 15, 2003, review of The Perfect Thanksgiving, p. 1079; January 1, 2004, review of Something to Tell the Grandcows, p. 41; March 1, 2004, review of While You Are Away, p. 230; August 15, 2004, review of Now It Is Winter, p. 813; September 15, 2005, review of The Best Time of Day, p. 1034; March 15, 2006, review of When You Are Happy, p. 301; February 15, 2007, review of Polar Bear, Arctic Hare; May 1, 2007, review of Summerhouse Time; May 15, 2007, review of Where I Live; June 15, 2007, review of Heat Wave; September 15, 2007, review of Callie Cat, Ice Skater.

Publishers Weekly, May 8, 2000, review of Night Shift Daddy, p. 221; December 16, 2002, review of Rise the Moon, p. 66; August 23, 2003, review of Three Pebbles and a Song, p. 63; September 22, 2003, review of The Perfect Thanksgiving, p. 65; January 17, 2005, review of City Angle, p. 55; July 9, 2007, review of Heat Wave, p. 52.

School Library Journal, March, 1983, Betty Craig Campbell, review of Thanksgiving at the Tappletons', p. 167; January, 1994, Lisa Dennis, review of If You Want to Find Golden, pp. 99-100; February, 1996, Rosanne Cerny, review of Naptime, Laptime, p. 90; April, 1996, Liza Bliss, review of Where Is the Night Train Going?, pp. 130-131; April, 2003, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Moe McTooth, p. 138; September, 2004, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Now It Is Winter, p. 181; February, 2005, Martha Topol, review of City Angel, p. 110; January, 2006, Lisa S. Schindler, review of The Best Time of Day, p. 114; April, 2006, Carol L. MacKay, review of Hero Cat, p. 118; May, 2007, Teresa Pfeifer, review of Polar Bear, Arctic Hare, p. 125; Nancy Brown, review of Summerhouse Time, p. 144; June, 2007, Judy Chichinski, review of Heat Wave, p. 125; July, 2007, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Where I Live, p. 85.

ONLINE

Eileen Spinelli Home Page,http://www.eileenspinelli.com (January 10, 2008).

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Spinelli, Eileen 1942-

SPINELLI, Eileen 1942-

Personal

Born August 16, 1942, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Joseph Patrick (an engineer) and Angela Marie Mesi; married Jerry Spinelli (a writer), May 21, 1977; children: Kevin, Barbara, Lana, Jeffrey, Molly, Sean, Ben. Education: Attended high school in Rose Valley, PA. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: "I love country things: flea markets, garage sales, and gardening. I collect old items including teapots, kitchen utensils, crockery, teddy bears, and toys. I have traveled though New England, which I love, especially Maine."

Addresses

Home Phoenixville, PA. Agent c/o Author Correspondence, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

Career

Writer, 1960. Creative writing teacher. Also worked as a secretary.

Member

Children's Reading Roundtable, Philadelphia Writers Organization, Writers Club of Delaware County.

Writings

The Giggle and Cry Book, illustrated by Lisa Atherton, Stemmer House (Owings Mills, MD), 1981.

Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's, illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1982, new edition illustrated by Megan Lloyd, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Animals of the North, illustrated by Laura D'Argo, New Seasons, 1990.

Teddy Bear and His Friends, illustrated by Mike Muir, New Seasons, 1990.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Boy, Can He Dance!, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1993.

If You Want to Find Golden, illustrated by Stacey Schuett, A. Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1993.

Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

Naptime, Laptime, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Cartwheel Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Where Is the Night Train Going?: Bedtime Poems, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1996.

Lizzie Logan Gets Married, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

Lizzie Logan, Second Banana, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Sadie Plays House: A Really Messy Sticker Book!, illustrated by Margeaux Lucas, Little Simon (New York, NY), 1998.

When Mama Comes Home Tonight, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Coming through the Blizzard: A Christmas Story, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.

Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor, illustrated by Karen Dugan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1999.

Night Shift Daddy, illustrated by Melissa Iwai, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2000.

Song for the Whooping Crane, illustrated by Elsa Warnick, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2000.

Six Hogs on a Scooter, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2000.

In My New Yellow Shirt, illustrated by Hideko Takahashi, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

A Safe Place Called Home, illustrated by Christy Hale, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2001.

Kittycat Lullaby, illustrated by Anne Mortimer, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2001.

Summerbath, Winterbath, illustrated by Elsa Warnick, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

Summerhouse Time, illustrated by Emily Lisker, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

Here Comes the Year, illustrated by Keiko Narahashi, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

Inside Out Day, illustrated by Michael Chesworth, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Rise the Moon, illustrated by Raúl Colón, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Wanda's Monster, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi, Albert Whitman (New York, NY), 2002.

Bath Time, illustrated by Janet Pederson, Cavendish Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Perfect Thanksgiving, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.

Polar Bears and Arctic Hares, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2003.

Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, illustrated by Linda Bronson, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2003.

What Do Angels Wear?, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Three Pebbles and a Song, illustrated by S. D. Schindler, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2003.

City Angel, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Feathers: Poems about Birds, illustrated by Lisa McCue, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

I Know It's Autumn, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 2004.

In Our Backyard Garden, illustrated by Marcy Ramsey, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

Something to Tell the Grandcows, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

While You Were Away, illustrated by Renée Graef, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2004.

Do You Have a Hat?, illustrated by Geraldo Valerio, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

Now It Is Winter, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

The Best Time of the Day, illustrated by Bryan Langdo, Harcourt, Brace (Orlando, FL), 2005.

Contributor of more than three hundred poems to magazines and newspapers. Some of Spinelli's work has been translated into Spanish.

Work in Progress

Children's books and poetry.

Sidelights

A poet and teacher of creative writing, Eileen Spinelli has produced numerous books for young children that combine the author's love of rhyme with her understanding of how children view the world. The mother of seven children and an experienced bedtime story reader, Spinelli has a good idea of what works and what doesn't in children's picture books. Among her own picture book contributions are Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, Boy, Can He Dance! and poetry collections that include The Giggle and Cry Book, The Perfect Thanksgiving, Rise the Moon, Here Comes the Year, and Where Is the Night Train Going? Spinelli has also authored a series of books for older readers featuring a spunky young protagonist named Lizzie Logan.

Born in Philadelphia in 1942, Spinelli was raised in nearby Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. Always an enthusiastic reader, she counts among her favorite authors Marguerite de Angeli. Publishing her first work of poetry in 1950 when she was eighteen, she would continue writing poetry for adults during the few free hours she could find while raising her seven children. "Teachers and our public library played a big part in my growing interest in books and writing," Spinelli once told SATA.

Spinelli began writing for a younger audience in 1979, after her children had grown old enough to allow her some free time. Her first book, a rhyming list book titled The Giggle and Cry Book, was published two years later. The Giggle and Cry Book would be followed by two other books of poetryNaptime, Laptime and Where Is the Night Train Going? In Naptime, Lap-time, Spinelli portrays a variety of animals indulging in a mid-day snoozefrom field mice to Arctic seals to a young child's own stuffed animal. In Booklist, contributor Carolyn Phelan praised Spinelli's text for being "simple enough to suit a toddler's attention span" while also containing enough humor to keep older listeners interested. School Library Journal critic Rosanne Cerny dubbed the book a "poetic paean to the perfect spot" for an afternoon nap. Sleep also serves as the focus of Where Is the Night Train Going?, as Spinelli collects poems about sleeping. Calling the author's verse "consistently sweet and gentle, rather than distinguished or splashy," Liza Bliss commented in her School Library Journal review that the volume's words and pictures are perfectly matched in their expression of "a mild sense of humor" and ability to recognize "young children's sensibilities."

Spinelli's first prose work for children, Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's, reached bookstore shelves in 1982. In an offbeat portrayal of the Turkey Day tradition, the Tappletons start the day hungry and watch as, one by one, the courses of their evening meal sidestep the dining room table. The salad has been fed to the school rabbits; the baker is out of pies by the time Mr. Tappleton has a chance to stop by, and the Thanksgiving turkey winds up floating in a pond in the backyard. "For a Thanksgiving book without pilgrims and Indians, this one just might 'talk turkey,'" quipped School Library Journal contributor Betty Craig Campbell of Spinelli's humorous story, while Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper deemed it "appetizing fare." Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's has since been re-issued with new illustrations, depicting the Tappleton family as wolves who are no less baffled than the former human Tappletons when their meal goes awry.

Other picture books by Spinelli include Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, the story of a retiring bachelor who seems to lead a monotonous life until he receives a mysterious packagea Valentine box filled with candy from a mysterious admirer. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called the picture book "charming," containing "a real plot" and an "amiable tone" that should appeal to young listeners. "Children will recognize the Mr. Hatch in themselves," maintained Horn Book reviewer Nancy Vasilakis, "and will appreciate his tentative forays into society as well as the happy result." In another book by Spinelli, If You Want to Find Golden, a young boy and his mother spend a day together in the city where they liveand find a rainbow of color mixed in with their everyday activities. "From the white sugar-frosted doughnut at the diner to plump purple grapes at the grocery store young readers will enjoy this dawn to dusk catalogue of colors," claimed Lisa Dennis in a School Library Journal review.

Lizzie Logan is introduced to readers in Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses. A ten-year-old with a formidable imagination, Lizzie proves to be a loyal friend to neighborhood newcomer Heather, despite the incredible lies she sometimes tells. While noting that the novel is not a true-to-life portrait of young people, a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that Spinelli's debut novel "buoyantly addresses the 'problem' of a great imagination in someone who is sensitive." Horn Book critic Vasilakis noted that the book would "provide newly fluent readers with plenty of chuckles and a few anxious moments." Spinelli furthers Lizzie Logan's imaginative adventures in two more books, Lizzie Logan Gets Married and Lizzie Logan, Second Banana.

Since 1998 Spinelli's output of picture books has been nothing less than prolific. She has released as many as four titles a year some years, books ranging widely in theme from humorous stories based on animal characters to rhyming bedtime lullabies meant to soothe the most fractious youngster. Spinelli earned warm reviews for her animal tales, including Three Pebbles and a Song, a re-telling of the old "ant and grasshopper" fable, using mice in the title roles. Moses the mouse is encouraged to help his family gather food and nesting materials for the coming winter. Instead he sings and dances. During the colder winter months, he profits from his family's industryand they, in turn, are entertained by his singing and dancing. A Publishers Weekly reviewer liked the way the story celebrates "art's power to invigorate and to sustain." In Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, Moe enjoys prowling the city streetsuntil the cold weather sends him in search of a warm home. Adopted into an apartment by a friendly human, he is happy for the winter. When spring rolls around, he wants to resume his street life, but not at the expense of losing his new friend. Booklist correspondent Kathleen Odean called the tale "a special treat for cat lovers."

Some of Spinelli's books are meant to be read at bedtime. In When Mama Comes Home Tonight, a toddler anticipates reunion with his or her working mom, and all the fun they will have in the hours they will spend between dinner and bedtime. Inevitably, of course, the rhyming book ends with lullabies. Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin called the title "tender" and " the perfect book for lap sharing." Night Shift Daddy puts a new spin on the bedtime story. The dad in this rhyming tale tucks his daughter in and then goes out the door to work. In the morning he returns and listens to his bedtime story before the girl goes off for a day of activities. In Rise the Moon, poems celebrate people and creatures who welcome the soothing light of the moon as it rises and bathes the world in its own special glow. A Publishers Weekly critic praised the work as a "poetic tribute to the moon and the many magical and mysterious ways it influences and inspires." In her Booklist review of Rise the Moon, Gillian Engberg concluded by calling it "a beautiful, reassuring celebration of night."

In addition to writing, Spinelli enjoys conducting workshops for children and adults interested in fine-tuning their own writing. Through her speaking engagements to groups of students, she also tries to spark interest in reading and writing among young people. "My husband, who is also a writer, is very supportive, as are my children," Spinelli told SATA. "Our house is overflowing with books and papers and manuscripts and typewriters."

Biographical and Critical Sources

periodicals

Booklist, December 15, 1982, Ilene Cooper, review of Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's, p. 569; December 1, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of Naptime, Laptime, p. 641; July, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of When Mama Comes Home Tonight, p. 1879; January 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Rise the Moon, p. 88; April 15, 2003, Kathleen Odean, review of Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, p. 1479; November 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of What Do Angels Wear?, p. 506.

Horn Book, September-October, 1995, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, p. 605.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 1991, review of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, p. 1985; June 1, 1995, review of Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses, p. 787.

Publishers Weekly, May 8, 2000, review of Night Shift Daddy, p. 221; December 16, 2002, review of Rise the Moon, p. 66; August 23, 2003, review of Three Pebbles and a Song, p. 63.

School Library Journal, March, 1983, Betty Craig Campbell, review of Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's, p. 167; January, 1994, Lisa Dennis, review of If You Want to Find Golden, pp. 99-100; February, 1996, Rosanne Cerny, review of Naptime, Laptime, p. 90; April, 1996, Liza Bliss, review of Where Is the Night Train Going?, pp. 130-31; April, 2003, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Moe McTooth: An Alley Cat's Tale, p. 138.*

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