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O'Connor, Jane 1947–

O'Connor, Jane 1947–

Personal

Born December 30, 1947, in New York, NY; daughter of Norman and Dovie Abramson; married Jim O'Connor, December 9, 1973; children: Robert, Teddy. Education: Smith College, B.A., 1969.

Addresses

Home—New York, NY. Office—Penguin USA, 345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

Career

Hastings House Publishers, New York, NY, editorial staff member, beginning 1971; Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY, editor, 1977-83; Random House, New York, NY, 1983-89, became editor-in-chief of children's books; Penguin Putnam, Books for Young Readers, New York, NY, president of mass market division, 1989-99; Penguin USA Books for Young Readers, editor-at-large, 1999—.

Writings

JUVENILE NOVELS

Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby, illustrated by Margot Apple, Hastings House (New York, NY), 1979.

Just Good Friends, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Joyce Milton) The Dandee Diamond Mystery, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Joyce Milton) The Amazing Bubble Gum Caper, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984.

(With husband, Jim O'Connor) The Magic Top Mystery, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984.

BEGINNING READERS

Lulu and the Witch Baby, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1986.

(Reteller) The Teeny Tiny Woman, illustrated by R.W. Alley, Random House (New York, NY), 1986, reprinted, 2003.

Lulu Goes to Witch School, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1987.

Sir Small and the Dragonfly, illustrated by John O'Brien, Random House (New York, NY), 1988, reprinted, 2003.

(With Jim O'Connor) The Ghost in Tent Nineteen, illustrated by Charles Robinson, Random House (New York, NY), 1988.

Molly the Brave and Me, illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka, Random House (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, 2003.

(With Jim O'Connor) Slime Time, illustrated by Pat Porter, Random House (New York, NY), 1990.

(With son, Robert O'Connor) Super Cluck, illustrated by Megan Lloyd, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

Eek! Stories to Make You Shriek, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1992.

Nina, Nina Ballerina, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Splat!, illustrated by Marilyn Mets, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1994.

Kate Skates, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1995.

The Bad-Luck Penny, illustrated by Horatio Elena, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1996.

Dragon Breath, illustrated by Jeff Spackman, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1997.

Benny's Big Bubble, illustrated by Tomie De Paola, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.

Nina, Nina, Star Ballerina, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1997.

Nina, Nina and the Copycat Ballerina, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2000.

Snail City, illustrated by Rick Brown, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2001.

Dear Tooth Fairy, illustrated by Joy Allen, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Jessie Hartland) The Perfect Puppy for Me!, illustrated by Jessie Hartland, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Sir Small and the Sea Monster, illustrated by John O'Brien, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

The Snow Globe Family, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.

Ready, Set, Skip!, illustrated by Ann James, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

"HERE COME THE BROWNIES" SERIES

Corrie's Secret Pal, illustrated by Laurie Struck Long, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Sarah's Incredible Idea, illustrated by Laurie Struck Long, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Make up Your Mind, Marsha!, illustrated by Laurie Struck Long, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Amy's (Not So) Great Camp-out, illustrated by Laurie Struck Long, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Think, Corrie, Think!, illustrated by Laurie Struck Long, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1994.

Lauren and the New Baby, illustrated by Laurie Struck Long, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1994.

"FANCY NANCY" SERIES

Fancy Nancy, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Fancy Nancy at the Museum, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Fancy Nancy's Collection of Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Fancy Nancy and the Boy from Paris, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

NONFICTION

(With Katy Hall) Magic in the Movies: The Story of Special Effects, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980.

The Care Bears' Party Cookbook, illustrated by Pat Sustendal, Random House (New York, NY), 1985.

The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, illustrated by Jessie Hartland, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2002.

Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures, illustrated by Jennifer Kalis, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2003.

If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House, illustrated by Gary Hoving, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

FOR ADULTS

Dangerous Admissions: Secrets of a Closet Sleuth (novel), Avon Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Sidelights

In addition to her work as editor at New York City publisher Penguin Books for Young Readers, Jane O'Connor has written a number of works of fiction for children. Specializing in beginning readers with imaginative plots—reflected in such titles as Lulu and the Witch

Baby, The Ghost in Tent Nineteen, and Snail City—O'Connor encourages students in the early primary grades to build their reading confidence and find reading fun. In addition to her novels, which include several installments in the "Here Come the Brownies" series about a fictitious Girl Scout troop, O'Connor has penned several titles in her bestselling "Fancy Nancy" series of picture books, has contributed works about artists Henri Matisse and Mary Cassatt to the "Smart about Art" series, and has written an award-winning book about the first emperor of China titled The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China.

Born in New York City in 1947, O'Connor attended Smith College, graduating in 1969. Two years later she got her first job in publishing, working in the editorial department of Hastings House Publishers. From 1977 to 1983, O'Connor was an editor at Scholastic, Inc.; then she moved to Random House, where she became editor-in-chief of children's books. In 1989 she moved to Grosset & Dunlap (now a division of Penguin USA). O'Connor wrote her debut novel, Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby, in 1979. The book's success with readers was an encouragement, and O'Connor has since turned writing children's books into a second occupation, one she sometimes engages in with the help of family members. Her younger son, Teddy, wrote his own book, A New Brain for Igor, published by Random House in 2001.

Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby is one of a group of middle-grade novels O'Connor authored early in her writing career. Taking place during a torturous two months at Pinecrest overnight summer camp, the novel introduces Merle and Abby, who have been longtime best friends. When Merle's parents opt to send their teen daughter to camp rather than on a far-more-exciting family vacation, Abby works out a way whereby her parents can send her too. Unfortunately, Merle breaks her leg during a dancing class just before the start of camp and winds up confined at home, leaving Abby to suffer camp on her own. Fortunately, the trials of camp life—difficulties with cabin mates and less-than-sympathetic camp counselors, participating in sports at which one is hopelessly bad, catching poison ivy, and the like—become easy to endure with the help of new best friend Roberta. Abby solves the dilemma of reconciling Merle and Roberta as co-best friends by the end of the novel. A Publishers Weekly critic praised O'Connor's "fluent, sunny [prose] style," while School Library Journal contributor Liza Graybill Bliss added that the author's tone "is funny" and "relaxed." "Readers feel the pain of each setback and the pride of each accomplishment," added Bliss, as the heroine moves "toward self-confidence."

In addition to consistent praise from reviewers, Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby won the Nebraska Golden Sower award in 1982, encouraging O'Connor to continue her writing. Her Just Good Friends, published in 1983, finds thirteen-year-old Joss frustrated over her blossoming figure, which is proving to be more than either she or her platonic friend Fletcher can handle. Besides dealing with Fletcher's unwanted, immature sexual advances, Joss must also come to terms with her suspicion that her college lecturer father is having an extra-marital affair with an attractive college coed. Meanwhile, her mother, who has returned to school to complete her degree after raising her children, seems increasingly preoccupied and withdrawn. There is a bright spot for Joss, however, when the boy she has a crush on shows signs that he returns her feelings. Reviewing the novel, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviewer Zena Sutherland commented that Just Good Friends "has good flow and pace" and characters who are "vividly real." The lesson that "we cannot always predict people's qualities and roles is imparted by the author with a subtle capability," in the opinion of School Library Journal contributor Catherine VanSonnenberg. In her appraisal of Just Good Friends for Growing Point, Margery Fisher wrote that "there are moments of disarming humour and of warm sympathy in this account of a family whose members are all trying to reconcile their own needs with their responsibilities for one another."

Lulu, a spunky young witch, is one of many characters O'Connor has invented to populate her beginning readers. In Lulu and the Witch Baby, as well as the follow-up Lulu Goes to Witch School, the fed-up young witch gets tired of her baby sister, who she hates "more than eating lizard liver" because the tiny witchling gets far more attention and never seems to get scolded for all the trouble she causes. To solve her problem, Lulu mixes up bat's blood, fly legs, swamp water, and cat hair into a spell designed to make her sister disappear. When it works she is glad for a while, but then compassion sets in. Worried that the little witch will feel alone and scared being invisible, Lulu undoes her spell, and her small sister returns to view. Unknown to Lulu—but known to the reader—it was actually the girl's mother who caused the infant to disappear, by taking baby sister away for a bath. "Kids will identify immediately with the authenticity of Lulu's feelings," noted a reviewer for School Library Journal. In Lulu Goes to Witch School, Lulu's spell-making abilities come under the scrutiny of the warty-nosed Miss Slime. Calling O'Connor's story "an absurd and fun idea," a Publishers Weekly critic praised it for being "funny and full of the ‘gross’ details kids love," while in Booklist, Ilene Cooper commented that Lulu Goes to Witch School "packs plenty of child appeal with its everyday situations, witchy ambience," and easy-to-grasp vocabulary.

O'Connor has contributed to several beginning reader series for a variety of publishers. Her contributions to the "All Aboard Reading" series include Nina, Nina Ballerina and Kate Skates, both of which feature young, likeable protagonists. In Nina, Nina Ballerina, which School Library Journal contributor Sharron McElmeel called a "gentle, appealing title for emerging readers," a hard-working young dance student worries that her mother will not be able to spot her in the crowd of similarly costumed dancing butterflies at an upcoming dance recital, until she is reassured by both her mother and her instructor. When Kate's younger sister Jen inherits Kate's old double-bladed ice skates after she receives new ones as a birthday gift in Kate Skates, Jen seems to be a natural. She quickly learns to get around on the ice without falling, and falling becomes Kate's job, as she clumsily tries to get used to her new, larger single-blade skates. Eventually, with practice, Kate learns to maneuver in her new skates. When bullies knock her sister down the following week, she is able to help in a story that "gives a little nod to what it means to be a good big sister," according to Stephanie Zvirin in her Booklist review.

Other books written by O'Connor with beginning readers in mind include several volumes in the "Eek! Sto-

ries to Make You Shriek" series, including The Bad-Luck Penny and Dragon Breath. Her two installments in the "Step into Reading" series were also well received by critics. The Teeny Tiny Woman, an adaptation of a folktale O'Connor first published in 1986, contains a repetitive text that is "perfect for a beginning reader," according to School Library Review contributor Nancy Palmer. In Sir Small and the Dragonfly, published in 1988, O'Connor creates a tale of brave miniature knights who ride ants, loyal peasants no taller than toothpicks, and a beautiful but diminutive maiden abducted by a dragonfly from her home in the town of Pee Wee. Gale W. Sherman noted in School Library Journal that O'Connor's tale is "simple but clearly crafted," and praised the author for a "delightful story" of the rescue of a damsel in distress. Phillis Wilson agreed in her Booklist appraisal, dubbing Sir Small and the Dragonfly "a hit" containing "an engagingly humorous story line" with a vocabulary that practicing readers will not find too daunting. O'Connor also penned a sequel titled Sir Small and the Sea Monster.

Several of O'Connor's books have been collaborations with family members such as husband Jim O'Connor. In addition, O'Connor's older son, Robert, has also worked with his mother. While a sixth grader, Robert O'Connor collaborated on Super Cluck, the story of a chicken from outer space. Adopted by kind-hearted Mrs. Cluck, given the name Chuck, and raised as one of her own, the alien chicken is soon attracting attention due to his size, strength, and his ability to fly long distances. While such differences set him apart and cause the other chicks to poke fun at him, Chuck eventually saves the day and gains everyone's admiration after he rescues the barnyard from an egg-hungry rat and saves a number of young chicks. Noting that Super Cluck could serve as a "role model" for would-be writers, a School Library Journal contributor felt that the story would have special appeal to children in the early elementary grades who are "attracted to ‘Super Hero’ characters."

Young readers can learn more about famous artists through O'Connor's contributions to the "Smart about Art" series: Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors and Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures. Both books take an innovative approach to the artists in question, by presenting the books as projects being produced by students. In Mary Cassatt, Claire becomes interested in the American painter after seeing Cassatt's work on a postcard, then the Internet, and then during a family trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Woven into Claire's discovery are tidbits of information on Cassatt's life and painting techniques. School Library Journal reviewer Toniann Scime praised the "exuberant introduction to Cassatt's life and art." Henri Matisse begins with an "assignment" from a schoolteacher and continues as Keesia Johnson fulfills that assignment by learning about the latter stages of Matisse's artistic career. In School Library Journal, Augusta R. Malvagno called Henri Matisse "a creative way to instill an appreciation of art in children."

Another early reader, Snail City, subtly introduces the concept of individuality by exploring the adventures of Gail, a snail who gets teased for being speedy. Only after Gail's quick actions save a baby snail do her more sedate playmates understand her special talents. In the picture book The Perfect Puppy for Me!, a young narrator does his homework in anticipation of getting his very first puppy. He meets many different breeds of dogs and learns the differences in their appearance and personality. In the end his choice is a hybrid, a "Labradoodle," a mix between a Labrador and a poodle. "This book wins Best in Show," enthused a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who added that A Perfect Puppy for Me! is "a wonderful starting point for kids who want a dog."

The Snow Globe Family, called an "enticing, snappily written tale-within-a-tale" by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, centers on the parallel lives of two Victorian families. While the members of one family live in a sprawling house atop a large hill, a miniature family resides behind the curved walls of their glass home, which sits idly upon a mantle in the large mansion. When a snowstorm sends the big family out to play, one youngster stays behind and manages to topple the snow globe, creating a long-awaited blizzard for its inhabitants. According to Booklist critic Gillian Engberg, "kids will like the notion of a tiny, unseen world within our own," and a contributor in Kirkus Reviews described The Snow Globe Family as "a small and gentle foray into imagination."

In Ready, Set, Skip!, a work told in verse, a small girl hopes to learn to skip as well as she can whistle, skate, and somersault. With the help of her understanding mother, the youngster soon masters a new skill. "O'Connor's deft turns of phrase masterfully capture the initial glumness and ensuing buoyancy," remarked a critic in Kirkus Reviews, and Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "keeps the text moving lightly along and the focus centered on the child's concern."

In 2006 O'Connor introduced her popular heroine Nancy, the perky, precocious, and fashion-conscious protagonist of Fancy Nancy, "a book sure to appeal to girls' inner princesses—and inspire new ensembles and décor," wrote Shelle Rosenfeld in Booklist. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, the work follows Nancy as she attempts to enrich the lives of her less-than-flamboyant family members. "The message here is welcome—fanciness (unlike physical beauty) is available to anyone with a can-do spirit—and the writing is adorable," remarked New York Times Book Review critic Emily Jenkins. "Nancy's joy is infectious, and her over-the-top elegant vocabulary pays off in a warm twist."

O'Connor continues the exploits of the imaginative youngster in such titles as Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy and Fancy Nancy at the Museum. "I think as an adult I am quite understated—which is a fancy word for plain," O'Connor told Publishers Weekly contributor

Sally Lodge. "But as a child, whenever my grandma and other relatives would arrive for a Sunday visit, I was all ready for them in my tutu and cape, galumphing around the house. And I think that is in every little girl. Sometimes as a kid it's hard to get noticed, and for little girls it's fun to dress up in things that glitter. There is definitely a part of me in Nancy."

Turning to older elementary-grade readers, O'Connor has written The Emperor's Silent Army. This nonfiction account introduces readers to the discovery and excavation of the 1,000-year-old army of life-sized terracotta figures, commissioned by an emperor of China to accompany his tomb. "This book provides an intriguing glimpse at one of China's greatest treasures and at one of its most famous emperors," wrote Barbara Scotto in School Library Journal. In Booklist, Cooper called the title "an enticing example of nonfiction; it leads children into unfamiliar, exciting places."

In If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House O'Connor presents a variety of facts about the forty-three men who have served as president of the United States. She notes, among other things, that Martin Van Buren sold off unattractive furniture, Warren Harding lost a set of china during a poker game, and John F. Kennedy had a tired-looking White House lawn dyed green for visitors. The author "compiles much entertaining and amusing information, sure to send aspiring historians off to seek more," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor. If the Walls Could Talk "should appeal both to schoolchildren and to their parents," observed Cokie Roberts in the New York Times Book Review.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1987, Ilene Cooper, review of Lulu Goes to Witch School, p. 326; March 1, 1989, Phillis Wilson, review of Sir Small and the Dragonfly, p. 1199; January 1-15, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Kate Skates, p. 850; April 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China, p. 1398; May 15, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of The Perfect Puppy for Me!, p. 1672; August, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House, p. 1939; January 1, 2006, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Fancy Nancy, p. 118; October 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of The Snow Globe Family, p. 60; April 15, 2007, Gillian Engberg, "An Inconvenient Truth," p. 44; July 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Ready, Set, Skip!, p. 66.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1983, Zean Sutherland, review of Just Good Friends, p. 133.

Growing Point, December, 1984, Margery Fisher, review of Just Good Friends, p. 4313.

Horn Book, November-December, 2006, Martha V. Parravano, review of The Snow Globe Family, p. 702; May-June, 2007, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Ready, Set, Skip!, p. 271.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2004, review of If the Walls Could Talk, p. 747; September 1, 2006, review of The Snow Globe Family, p. 910; April 15, 2007, review of Ready, Set, Skip!

Miami Herald, January 11, 2006, Sue Corbett, "‘Fancy Nancy's’ Creator Comes with Frills Attached."

New York Times Book Review, October 17, 2004, Cokie Roberts, review of If the Walls Could Talk, p. 20; March 12, 2006, Emily Jenkins, review of Fancy Nancy, p. 24; December 17, 2006, Julie Just, review of The Snow Globe Family, p. 19; August 19, 2007, Chelsea Cain, review of Dangerous Admissions: Secrets of a Closet Sleuth, p. 11.

Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1980, review of Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby, p. 109; September 25, 1987, review of Lulu Goes to Witch School, p. 107; April 21, 2003, review of The Perfect Puppy for Me!, p. 61; September 13, 2004, review of If the Walls Could Talk, p. 78; January 9, 2006, review of Fancy Nancy, p. 53; October 23, 2006, review of The Snow Globe Family, p. 50; March 19, 2007, review of Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy, p. 63; May 7, 2007, review of Ready, Set, Skip!, p. 59; June 4, 2007, review of Dangerous Admissions, p. 29.

School Library Journal, December, 1979, Liza Graybill Bliss, review of Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby, p. 103; January, 1984, Catherine VanSonnenberg, review of Just Good Friends, p. 88; December, 1986, review of Lulu and the Witch Baby, p. 124; December, 1988, Nancy Palmer, review of The Teeny Tiny Woman, pp. 122-123; February, 1989, Gale W. Sherman, review of Sir Small and the Dragonfly, pp. 74-75; April, 1991, review of Super Cluck, pp. 100-101; August, 1993, Sharron McElmeel, review of Nina, Nina Ballerina, pp. 148-149; August, 2001, Maura Bresnahan, review of Snail City, p. 156; April, 2002, Barbara Scotto, review of The Emperor's Silent Army, p. 179; July, 2002, Augusta R. Malvagno, review of Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, p. 110; July, 2003, Toniann Scime, review of Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures, p. 115; September, 2004, Donna Cardon, review of If the Walls Could Talk, p. 191; February, 2006, Kathleen Whalin, review of Fancy Nancy, p. 108; December, 2006, Amy Lilien-Harper, review of The Snow Globe Family, p. 112; July, 2007, Judith Constantinides, review of Ready, Set, Skip!, p. 82.

ONLINE

Fancy Nancy Web site, http://www.fancynancybooks.com (December 20, 2007).

Publishers Weekly Online,http://www.publishersweekly.com/ (February 1, 2007), Sally Lodge, "From Sparkles to Sales, Nancy Is Fancy Indeed."

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O'Connor, Jane 1947-

O'CONNOR, Jane 1947-

Personal

Born December 30, 1947, in New York, NY; daughter of Norman and Dovie (Brandt) Abramson; married Jim O'Connor, December 9, 1973; children: Robert, Teddy. Education: Smith College, B.A., 1969.

Addresses

Home New York, NY. Agent c/o Author Correspondence, Penguin USA, 345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

Career

Hastings House Publishers, New York, NY, editorial staff member, beginning 1971; Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY, editor, 1977-83; Random House, New York, NY, 1983-89, became editor-in-chief of children's books; Penguin Putnam, Books for Young Readers, New York, NY, president of mass market division, 1989-99; Penguin USA Books for Young Readers, editor-at-large, 1999.

Awards, Honors

New York Academy of Sciences Honor book, 1981, for Magic in the Movies: The Story of Special Effects, with Katy Hall; Golden Sower Award, Nebraska Library Association, 1982, for Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby; Children's Choice designation, International Reading Association, 1989, for The Ghost in Tent Nineteen; "nonfiction book for 2002" citation, Booklist, and Orbis Honor Book, both 2002, both for The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China.

Writings

juvenile novels

Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby, illustrated by Margot Apple, Hastings House (New York, NY), 1979.

Just Good Friends, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Joyce Milton) The Dandee Diamond Mystery, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Joyce Milton) The Amazing Bubble Gum Caper, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984.

(With husband, Jim O'Connor) The Magic Top Mystery, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984.

beginning readers

Lulu and the Witch Baby, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1986.

(Reteller) The Teeny Tiny Woman, illustrated by R. W. Alley, Random House (New York, NY), 1986, reprinted, 2003.

Lulu Goes to Witch School, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1987.

Sir Small and the Dragonfly, illustrated by John O'Brien, Random House (New York, NY), 1988, reprinted, 2003.

(With husband, Jim O'Connor) The Ghost in Tent Nineteen, illustrated by Charles Robinson, Random House (New York, NY), 1988.

Molly the Brave and Me, illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka, Random House (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, 2003.

(With husband, Jim O'Connor) Slime Time, illustrated by Pat Porter, Random House (New York, NY), 1990.

(With son, Robert O'Connor) Super Cluck, illustrated by Megan Lloyd, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

Eek! Stories to Make You Shriek, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1992.

Nina, Nina Ballerina, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Splat!, illustrated by Marilyn Mets, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1994.

Kate Skates, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1995.

The Bad-Luck Penny, illustrated by Horatio Elena, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1996.

Dragon Breath, illustrated by Jeff Spackman, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1997.

Benny's Big Bubble, illustrated by Tomie De Paola, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.

Nina, Nina, Star Ballerina, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1997.

Nina, Nina and the Copycat Ballerina, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2000.

Snail City, illustrated by Rick Brown, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2001.

Dear Tooth Fairy, illustrated by Joy Allen, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2002.

The Perfect Puppy for Me! (picture book), illustrated by Jessie Hartland, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Sir Small and the Sea Monster, illustrated by John O'Brien, Random House (New York, NY), in press.

"here come the brownies" series; illustrated by laurie struck long

Corrie's Secret Pal, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Sarah's Incredible Idea, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Make up Your Mind, Marsha!, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Amy's (Not So) Great Camp-out, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1993.

Think, Corrie, Think!, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1994.

Lauren and the New Baby, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1994.

nonfiction

(With Katy Hall) Magic in the Movies: The Story of Special Effects, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980.

The Care Bears' Party Cookbook, illustrated by Pat Sustendal, Random House (New York, NY), 1985.

The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, illustrated by Jessie Hartland, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2002.

Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures, illustrated by Jennifer Kalis, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2003.

If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House, illustrated by Gary Hoving, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

Work in Progress

Picture books for HarperCollins, Viking, and Putnam; an adult novel.

Sidelights

In addition to her work as editor at large for Penguin Books for Young Readers, Jane O'Connor has written a number of works of fiction of her own for children. Specializing in beginning readers with imaginative plotsreflected in such titles as Lulu and the Witch Baby, The Ghost in Tent Nineteen, Nina, Nina, Star Ballerina, Slime Time, and Snail City O'Connor encourages students in the early grades to build their reading confidence and learn that reading is fun. In addition to her novels, which include several installments in the "Here Come the Brownies" about a fictitious Girl Scout troop, O'Connor has co-authored the award-winning nonfiction work Magic in the Movies: The Story of Special Effects, has contributed books about Henri Matisse and Mary Cassatt to the "Smart about Art" series, and has written an award-winning book about the first emperor of ChinaThe Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China.

Born in New York City in 1947, O'Connor attended Smith College in southern Massachusetts, graduating in 1969. In 1971 she got her first job in publishing, working in the editorial department of Hastings House Publishers. From 1977 to 1983, O'Connor was an editor at Scholastic, Inc.; then she moved to Random House, where she became editor-in-chief of children's books. In 1989 she moved to Grosset & Dunlap (now a division of Penguin USA). Married in 1973, O'Connor wrote her debut novel, Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby, in 1979. The book's success with readers was an encouragement, and O'Connor has since turned writing children's books into a second occupation, one she sometimes engages in with the help of either her husband, Jim O'Connor, or her older son, Robert. Her younger son, Teddy, wrote his own book, A New Brain for Igor, published by Random House in 2001.

Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby, is one of a group of middle grade novels O'Connor authored early in her writing career. Taking place during a torturous two months at Pinecrest overnight summer camp, the novel introduces Merle and Abby, who have been longtime best friends. When Merle's parents opt to send their teen daughter to camp rather than on a far-more-exciting family vacation, Abby works out a way whereby her parents can send her too. Unfortunately, Merle breaks her leg during a dancing class just before the start of camp and winds up confined at home, leaving Abby to suffer camp on her own. Fortunately, the trials of camp lifedifficulties with cabin mates and less-than-sympathetic camp counselors, participating in sports at which one is hopelessly bad, catching poison ivy, and the likebecome easy to endure with the help of new best friend Roberta. Abby solves the dilemma of reconciling Merle and Roberta as co-best friends by the end of the novel. A Publishers Weekly critic praised O'Connor's "fluent, sunny style" of writing, while School Library Journal contributor Liza Graybill Bliss added that the author's tone "is funny" and "relaxed." "Readers feel the pain of each setback and the pride of each accomplishment," added Bliss, as the heroine moves "toward self-confidence."

In addition to consistent praise from reviewers, Yours Till Niagara Falls won the Nebraska Golden Sower award in 1982, encouraging O'Connor to continue her writing. Her Just Good Friends, published in 1983, finds thirteen-year-old Joss frustrated over her blossoming figure, which is proving to be more than either she or her platonic friend Fletcher can handle. Besides dealing with Fletcher's unwanted, immature sexual advances, Joss must also come to terms with her suspicion that her college lecturer father is having an extramarital affair with an attractive college coed, while her mother, who has returned to school to complete her degree after raising her children, seems increasingly preoccupied and withdrawn. There is a bright spot for Joss, however, when the boy she has a crush on shows signs that he returns her feelings, in a novel that Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviewer Zena Sutherland commented "has good flow and pace" and characters who are "vividly real." The lesson that "we cannot always predict people's qualities and roles is imparted by the author with a subtle capability," in the opinion of School Library Journal contributor Catherine VanSonnenberg. In her appraisal of Just Good Friends for Growing Point, Margery Fisher wrote that "there are moments of disarming humour and of warm sympathy in this account of a family whose members are all trying to reconcile their own needs with their responsibilities for one another."

Lulu, a spunky young witch, is one of many characters that O'Connor has invented to people her beginning readers. In Lulu and the Witch Baby, as well as the follow-up Lulu Goes to Witch School, the fed-up young witch gets tired of her baby sister, who she hates "more than eating lizard liver" because the tiny witchling gets far more attention and never seems to get scolded for all the trouble she causes. To solve her problem, Lulu mixes up bat's blood, fly legs, swamp water, and cat hair into a spell designed to make her sister disappear. When it works she is glad for a while, but then compassion sets in. Worried that the little witch will feel alone and scared being invisible, Lulu undoes her spell, and her small sister returns to view. Unknown to Lulu but known to the readerit was actually the girl's mother who caused the baby to disappear by taking baby sister away for a bath, not Lulu's spell that caused the little witch to disappear in the first place. "Kids will identify immediately with the authenticity of Lulu's feelings," noted a reviewer for School Library Journal. In Lulu Goes to Witch School, Lulu's spell-making abilities come under the scrutiny of the warty-nosed Miss Slime. Calling O'Connor's story "an absurd and fun idea," a Publishers Weekly critic praised it for being "funny and full of the 'gross' details kids love," while in Booklist, reviewer Ilene Cooper commented that Lulu Goes to Witch School "packs plenty of child appeal with its everyday situations, witchy ambience," and easy-to-grasp vocabulary.

O'Connor has contributed to several beginning reader series for a variety of publishers. Her contributions to the "All Aboard Reading" series include Nina, Nina Ballerina and Kate Skates, both of which feature young, likeable protagonists. In Nina, which School Library Journal contributor Sharron McElmeel called a "gentle, appealing title for emerging readers," a hard-working young dance student worries that her mother will not be able to spot her in the crowd of similarly costumed dancing butterflies at an upcoming dance recital, until she is reassured by both her mother and her instructor. When Kate's younger sister Jen inherits Kate's old double-bladed ice skates after she receives new ones as a birthday gift in Kate Skates, Jen seems to be a natural. She quickly learns to get around on the ice without falling, and falling becomes Kate's job, as she clumsily tries to get used to her new, larger single-blade skates. Eventually, with practice, Kate learns to maneuver in her new skates. When bullies knock her sister down the following week, she is able to help in a story that "gives a little nod to what it means to be a good big sister," according to Stephanie Zvirin in her Booklist review.

Other books written by O'Connor with beginning readers in mind include several volumes in the "Eek! Stories to Make You Shriek" series, including The Bad-Luck Penny and Dragon Breath. Her two installments in the "Step into Reading" series were also well received by critics. The Teeny Tiny Woman, an adaptation of a folktale that O'Connor first published in 1986, contains repetitive text that is "perfect for a beginning reader," according to School Library Review contributor Nancy Palmer. In Sir Small and the Dragonfly, published in 1988, O'Connor creates a tale of brave miniature knights who ride ants, loyal peasants no taller than toothpicks, and a beautiful but diminutive maiden abducted by a dragonfly from her home in the town of Pee Wee. Gale W. Sherman noted in School Library Journal that O'Connor's tale is "simple but clearly crafted," and praised the author for a "delightful story" of the rescue of a damsel in distress. Phillis Wilson agreed in her Booklist appraisal, dubbing Sir Small and the Dragonfly "a hit" containing "an engagingly humorous story line" with a vocabulary that practicing readers will not find too daunting. O'Connor wrote a sequel called Sir Small and the Sea Monster.

Several of O'Connor's books have been written as family projects, often with her husband, Jim O'Connor. But in addition, O'Connor's older son, Robert, has also worked with his mother. While a sixth grader, Robert O'Connor collaborated with his mom on Super Cluck, the story of a chicken from outer space. Adopted by kind-hearted Mrs. Cluck, given the name Chuck, and raised as one of her own, the alien chicken is soon attracting attention due to his size, strength, and his ability to fly long distances. While such differences set him apart and cause the other chicks to poke fun at him, Chuck eventually saves the day and gains everyone's admiration after he rescues the barnyard from an egg-hungry rat and saves a number of young chicks. Noting that Super Cluck could serve as a "role model" for would-be writers, a School Library Journal contributor felt that the story would have special appeal to children in the early elementary grades who are "attracted to 'Super Hero' characters."

Young readers can learn more about famous artists through O'Connor's contributions to the "Smart about Art" series, Matisse: Drawing with Scissors and Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures. Both books take an innovative approach to the artists in question, by presenting the books as projects being produced by students. In Mary Cassatt, Claire becomes interested in the painter from seeing her work on a postcard, then the Internet, and then during a family trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Woven into Claire's discovery are tidbits of information on Cassatt's life and painting techniques. Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors begins with an "assignment" from a schoolteacher and continues as Keesia Johnson fulfills that assignment by learning about the latter stages of Matisse's artistic career. In School Library Journal, Augusta R. Malvagno called Henri Matisse "a creative way to instill an appreciation of art in children."

O'Connor continues to reap warm remarks for her early readers. Snail City subtly introduces the concept of individuality by exploring the adventures of Gail, a snail who gets teased for being speedy. Only after Gail's quick actions save a baby snail do her more sedate playmates understand her special talents. In the picture book The Perfect Puppy for Me!, a young narrator does his homework in anticipation of getting his very first puppy. He meets many different breeds of dogs and learns the differences in their appearance and personality. In the end his choice is a hybrid, a "Labra-doodle," a mix between a Labrador and a poodle. "This book wins Best in Show," enthused a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who added that A Perfect Puppy for Me! is "a wonderful starting point for kids who want a dog."

For older readers O'Connor has written The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China. The nonfiction account introduces readers to the discovery and excavation of a 1,000-year-old army of life-sized terracotta figures, commissioned by an emperor of China to accompany his tomb. "This book provides an intriguing glimpse at one of China's greatest treasures and at one of its most famous emperors," wrote Barbara Scotto in School Library Journal. In Booklist, Ilene Cooper called the title "an enticing example of nonfiction; it leads children into unfamiliar, exciting places."

Biographical and Critical Sources

periodicals

Booklist, October 1, 1987, Ilene Cooper, review of Lulu Goes to Witch School, p. 326; March 1, 1989, Phillis Wilson, review of Sir Small and the Dragonfly, p. 1199; January 1-15, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Kate Skates, p. 850; April 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China, p. 1398; May 15, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of The Perfect Puppy for Me!, p. 1672.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1983, Zean Sutherland, review of Just Good Friends, p. 133.

Growing Point, December, 1984, Margery Fisher, review of Just Good Friends, p. 4313.

Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1980, review of Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby, p. 109; September 25, 1987, review of Lulu Goes to Witch School, p. 107; April 21, 2003, review of The Perfect Puppy for Me!, p. 61.

School Library Journal, December, 1979, Liza Graybill Bliss, review of Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby, p. 103; January, 1984, Catherine VanSonnenberg, review of Just Good Friends, p. 88; December, 1986, review of Lulu and the Witch Baby, p. 124; December, 1988, Nancy Palmer, review of The Teeny Tiny Woman, pp. 122-123; February, 1989, Gale W. Sherman, review of Sir Small and the Dragonfly, pp. 74-75; April, 1991, review of Super Cluck, pp. 100-101; August, 1993, Sharron McElmeel, review of Nina, Nina Ballerina, pp. 148-149; August, 2001, Maura Bresnahan, review of Snail City, p. 156; April, 2002, Barbara Scotto, review of The Emperor's Silent Army, p. 179; July, 2002, Augusta R. Malvagno, review of Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, p. 110; July, 2003, Toniann Scime, review of Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures, p. 115.

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