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Umansky, Kaye 1946-

Umansky, Kaye 1946-

Personal

Born December 6, 1946, in Plymouth, England; married; husband's name Moe; children: Ella; (stepchildren) Dave, Dan, Zoe. Education: Attended teachers' training college. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, reading, music.

Addresses

Home—Crouch End, North London, England.

Career

Writer, actor, musician, and educator. Teacher of music and drama in London, England.

Awards, Honors

Nottinghamshire Book Award, 1993, for Pongwiffy and the Spell of the Year; Times Educational Supplement Junior Music Book Award, 1999, for Three Rapping Rats.

Writings

Bandybones, illustrated by Maggie Read, Macmillan Education (Basingstoke, England), 1986.

Little Sister, illustrated by David Dowland and Joyce Smith, Macmillan Education (Basingstoke, England), 1986.

The Toymaker's Birthday, illustrated by Ken Morton, Macmillan Educational (Basingstoke, England), 1986.

Big Iggy, illustrated by Katie Thomas, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1987, reprinted, 2004.

Litterbugs (play), Macmillan Educational (Basingstoke, England), 1987.

Phantasmagoria: Thirty-three Songs, Story Lines, and Sound Adventures (song book), music by Andy Jackson, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1988.

Witches in Stitches, illustrated by Judy Brown, Puffin (London, England), 1988.

The Fwog Pwince, illustrated by Gwyneth Williamson, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1989.

King Keith and the Nasty Case of Dragonitis, illustrated by Ainslie Macleod, Viking (London, England), 1990.

Tin Can Hero, illustrated by John Dyke, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1990.

Tiger and Me, illustrated by Susie Jenkin-Pearce, Red Fox (London, England), 1991.

Trash Hits, illustrated by Judy Brown, Puffin (London, England), 1991.

King Keith and the Jolly Lodger, illustrated by Ainslie Macleod, Viking (London, England), 1991.

Sir Quinton Quest Hunts the Yeti, illustrated by Judy Brown, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1992.

The Misfortunes of Captain Cadaverous, illustrated by Judy Brown, BBC Books (London, England), 1992.

Pass the Jam, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Red Fox (London, England), 1993.

Do Not Open before Christmas Day!, illustrated by Garry Davies, Puffin (London, England), 1993.

Sir Quinton Quest Hunts the Jewel, illustrated by Judy Brown, Young Lions (London, England), 1994.

Three Singing Pigs: Making Music with Traditional Stories, illustrated by Michael Evans, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1994.

(Author of text) Annabel Collis, Dobbin, Bodley Head (London, England), 1994.

Sophie and Abigail, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2004.

A Ruby, a Rug, and a Prince Called Doug, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Young Lions (London, England), 1995.

The Empty Suit of Armour, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1995.

Sophie in Charge, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2005.

Sophie and the Mother's Day Card, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2005.

Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2004.

The Night I Was Chased by a Vampire, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1995.

Cinderella (play), illustrated by Caroline Crossland, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1996.

The Jealous Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1997.

Noah's Ark (play), illustrated by Tessa Richardson-Jones, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1997.

The Emperor's New Clothes (play), illustrated by Caroline Crossland, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1997.

The Romantic Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Puffin (London, England), 1997.

The Spooks Step Out, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1997.

The Bogey Men and the Trolls Next Door, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Beyond the Beanstalk, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1997.

Hammy House of Horror, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1998.

You Can Swim, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Bodley Head (London, England), 1998.

Three Rapping Rats: Making Music with Traditional Stories, illustrated by Stephen Chadwick and Katie Buchanan, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1998.

Never Meddle with Magic Mirrors, illustrated by Stella Voce, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1998.

Tickle My Nose, and Other Action Rhymes, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Puffin (New York, NY), 1999.

Donkey Ride to Disaster, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1999.

Madness in the Mountains, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1999.

Nonsense Counting Rhymes, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1999.

Need a Trim, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Bodley Head (London, England), 1999.

Moon Adventure, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Longman (Harlow, England), 2000.

Strange Days at Sea, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2000.

Sleeping Beauty (play), illustrated by Caroline Crossland, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2000.

Three Tapping Teddies: Musical Stories and Chants for the Very Young, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2000.

The Rubbish Monster, illustrated by Ken Stott, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

I Am Miss Cherry, illustrated by Tom Clayton, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

The Carnival, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Rope That Cow!, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

What a Mess! (play), illustrated by Tom Clayton and Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Poor Sam (play), illustrated by Tom Clayton, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Pirates Ahoy!, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Wilma's Wicked Revenge, illustrated by Tony Blundell, Puffin (London, England), 2000.

No More Master Niceguy, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2000.

Beyond Strange Street, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Soup with Obby, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Down the Rushing River, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Wizard Wagoo, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Up the Dizzy Mountain, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Gong!, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Nonsense Animal Rhymes, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2001.

Big Iggy, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2001.

The Dressed-up Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Penguin (London, England), 2001.

Three Days with Jim, illustrated by Judy Brown, Red Fox (London, England), 2001.

Prince Dandypants and the Masked Avenger, illustrated by Trevor Dunton, Puffin (London, England), 2001.

Cruel Times: A Victorian Play, illustrated by Martin Ursell, Hodder Wayland (London, England), 2002.

Goblinz!, illustrated by Andi Good, Puffin (London, England), 2002.

This Is Jane, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Red Fox (London, England), 2002.

Wiggle My Toes, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Puffin (London, England), 2002.

Wilma's Wicked Spell, illustrated by Tony Blundell, Penguin (London, England), 2002.

Humble Tom's Big Trip (play), illustrated by Chris Mould, Hodder Wayland (London, England), 2003.

Meet the Weirds, illustrated by Chris Mould, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003.

Buster's Big Surprise, illustrated by Leo Broadley, Scholastic (London, England), 2003.

The Big Mix up, Scholastic (London, England), 2003.

The Snow Queen (musical), A. & C. Black (London, England), 2003.

Mick McMenace, Ghost Detective, illustrated by Ian Cunliffe, Puffin (London, England), 2003.

The Romantic Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Barn Owl Books, 2004.

The Jealous Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Barn Owl Books, 2004.

The Night I Was Chased by a Vampire, and Other Stories, illustrated by Chris Mould, Orion (London, England), 2004.

A Chair for Baby Bear, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Barrons Educational (Hauppauge, NY), 2004.

The Time the Play Went Wrong, illustrated by Kelly Waldek, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2004.

My Very First Joke Book, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, Puffin (London, England), 2004, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Goblinz: Detectives, Inc., illustrated by Andi Good, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel, Puffin (London, England), 2004, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Weird Happenings, illustrated by Chris Mould, Barrington Stoke (London, England), 2004.

Horses' Holiday, illustrated by Ainslie Macleod, Collins (London, England), 2005.

I Want a Pet!, illustrated by Sarah Horne, Collins (London, England), 2005.

Goblinz and the Witch, illustrated by Andi Good, Puffin (London, England), 2005.

Wildly Weird, illustrated by Chris Mould, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2006.

I Am a Tree, illustrated by Kate Sheppard, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2006.

I Don't Like Gloria!, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

I Live in a Mad House, illustrated by Kate Sheppard, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2007.

Let's Go to London!, illustrated by Adrienne Salgado, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2007.

Clover Twig and the Incredible Flying Cottage, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2008.

Yo Ho Ho, a Pirating We'll Go, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Puffin (London, England), 2008.

Contributor to books, including Bingo Lingo: Supporting Language Development through Songs, by Helen MacGregor, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1999.

"PONGWIFFY" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

Pongwiffy: A Witch of Dirty Habits, illustrated by Chris Smedley, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1988, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Broomnapped, illustrated by Chris Smedley, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1991.

Pongwiffy, a Witch of Dirty Habits, and the Spell of the Year, illustrated by Chris Smedley, Viking (London, England), 1992.

Pongwiffy and the Goblins' Revenge, illustrated by Chris Smedley, Puffin (London, England), 1992.

Pongwiffy and the Holiday of Doom, illustrated by David Roberts, Puffin (London, England), 1996.

Pongwiffy and the Pantomime, illustrated by Chris Smedley, Puffin (London, England), 1997.

The Spellovision Song Contest, illustrated by David Roberts, Puffin (London, England), 2003.

Adaptations

The "Pongwiffy" books were adapted by Telemagination as television programs airing on British and Aus- tralian television, c. 2004; many of Umansky's books were adapted as audiobooks by Chivers Children's Audio, including the "Pongwiffy" books, which are narrated by Prunella Scales.

Sidelights

A music teacher and actress, Kaye Umansky is also a popular author who has channeled her creativity and quirky humor into a long list of books for younger readers. Her creation of the unkempt witch Pongwiffy, who made her introduction to readers in 1988's Pongwiffy: A Witch of Dirty Habits, has made Umansky well known in her native Great Britain as well as in Australia, while her other humor-filled works have gained her a large following as far away as North America, where many have been published. Reviewing Umansky's picture book A Chair for Baby Bear, a sequel to the story of Goldilocks and the three bears in which the young cub goes shopping for a new chair, School Library Journal critic Catherine Callegari described the author's "lighhearted" story as "just right for … one-on-one sharing." Youngsters left with questions at the close of the traditional tale will find that Umansky and illustrator Chris Fisher do "a nifty job of tying up the loose ends," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. Other picture books featuring Umansky's unique humor include I Don't Like Gloria!, a tale about a disgruntled bulldog whose family has adopted a fluffy Persian cat that is humorously brought to life in Margaret Chamberlain's cartoon art.

Born in Devon, England, in 1946, Umansky started her writing career in the mid-1980s, after she left teaching to stay home and raise her just-about-to-be-born daughter. "I always thought authors must be special people—not ordinary, like me," she explained on the Penguin UK Web site. "In fact, there is no magic to it. You just need to enjoy it and be prepared to work hard." Her advice to beginning writers includes keeping a paper and pencil handy to write down ideas, as well as her number-one suggestion: "Read, read and read again. It is by reading that you learn how to become a good writer."

Since her introduction, the witch called Pongwiffy has reappeared in several books by Umansky, and has proved so popular with British readers that the "Pongwiffy" books were adapted for television. In Pongwiffy and the Spell of the Year the witch is keen to enter a local Spell of the Year contest, and when she locates a highly touted recipe by spellmeister Granny Malodour, Pongwiffy assumes that the win will be hers. However a search for the necessary ingredients—the spell includes wild cat whiskers, quicksand, a vulture's feather, and the hair of a princess, cut during a full moon to ensure maximum potency—proves problematic. Pongwiffy and the Pantomime finds the resilient sorceress penning a play for members of her local coven to perform. However, in typical Umansky fashion, things quickly degenerate into humorous chaos.

As she does in the "Pongwiffy" books, Umansky enjoys creating stories that feature supernatural and ghostly elements, and she makes scary characters comical—and far less scary!—in the process. In Goblinz!, for example, a lone goblin named Shy has aspirations of being part of a gaggle. Unfortunately, coming up with the six other members to make the seven goblins required for official gaggle status is hard when you don't have any friends. However, once Shy decides to take action and find a way to attract members, Tuf, Wheels, and Oggy sign up for his group and thus form the core of the Goblinz.

Having assembled her cast of quirky ghouls, Umansky continues their story in Goblinz: Detectives, Inc., which finds the gaggle all outfitted in super-spy gear and ready to go sleuthing, and Goblinz and the Witch, in which the gruesome gang hit a rough spot with a local witch when they attempt to take their new go-cart for a trial run down Gaspup Hill. She balances such fantastic fictions with down-to-earth stories such as The Carnival and Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, the latter in which a frog and rabbit attempt to create an impressive work of art for presentation at their school. In a School Arts review, Ken Marantz predicted that beginning readers will get a "smiling boost" from Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, and praised the "light-hearted illustrations" created for the book by Anna Currey.

Umansky turns to fantasy in the mock-Victorian melodrama The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow. Solomon is the quintessential foundling: he was discovered on the doorstep of laundress Ma Stubbins teething on the proverbial silver spoon. Raised in the rough-and-tumble Stubbins household, where Mr. Stubbins' drinking keeps things on an uneven keel, Solomon exhibits unusual good manners. When the boy turns ten, he goes in search of his actual parents, helped by loyal friends Prudence Pidy, Freddy the chimney sweep's son, a pet rabbit named Mr. Skippy, and Rosabella, a young prodigy who has escaped from a traveling circus. Readers reunite with the troupe in Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel, as Solomon and Prudence attempt to save Prudence's poacher father from being imprisoned on a convict ship. Divided into short chapters, Umansky's fast-moving plot thickens when the evil Dr. Casimir Calimari enters the picture, involving the travelers in his theft of a huge but cursed ruby. Reviewing The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that the novel features "enough Dickensian moments and clever characters" to capture children's imaginations, and School Library Journal contributor Steven Engelfried cited the story's "quirky characters and funny moments." A Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed Umansky's "over-the-top parody of Oliver Twist-type adventures … a good giggle." In her Booklist review of Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel Kathleen Isaacs praised the sequel's "gently humorous third-person narrative" and "satisfying end." Commending both books as attractive to reluctant readers, Carly B. Wiskoff wrote of Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel that Umansky's "fast-paced read" trades "character development … for some Victorian-tinted atmosphere and humor."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, p. 48; April 15, 2007, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel, p. 45.

Horn Book, January-February, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, p. 90; May-June, 2007, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel, p. 292.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Sophie and the Mother's Day Card, p. 360; October 1, 2005, review of The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, p. 1091; April 1, 2007, review of Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel.

Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1999, review of Tickle My Nose and Other Action Rhymes, p. 73; November 15, 2004, review of A Chair for Baby Bear, p. 58; February 12, 2007, review of I Don't Like Gloria!, p. 84.

School Arts, October, 2004, Ken Marantz, review of Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, p. 66.

School Library Journal, August, 2002, Ronni Krasnow, review of Sleeping Beauty, p. 179; February, 2005, Catherine Callegari, review of A Chair for Baby Bear, p. 110; December, 2005, Steven Engelfried, review of The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, p. 156; July, 2007, Carly B. Wiskoff, review of Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel, p. 86.

ONLINE

Kaye Umansky Home Page,http://kayeumansky.com (March 26, 2008).

Puffin UK Web site,http://www.penguin.co.uk/ (March 26, 2008), "Kaye Umansky."

Story Street Web site,http://www.storystreet.co.uk/ (March 14, 2005), "Kaye Umansky."

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Umansky, Kaye 1946-

UMANSKY, Kaye 1946-

Personal

Born December 6, 1946, in Plymouth, England; married; children: one daughter. Education: Attended teachers' training college.

Addresses

Home Crouch End, North London, England. Agent c/o Author Mail, Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.

Career

Writer, actor, musician, and educator. Teacher of music and drama in London, England.

Awards, Honors

Nottinghamshire book Award, 1993, for Pongwiffy and the Spell of the Year; Times Educational Supplement Junior Music Book Award, 1999, for Three Rapping Rats.

Writings

Bandybones, illustrated by Maggie Read, Macmillan Education (Basingstoke, England), 1986.

Little Sister, illustrated by David Dowland and Joyce Smith, Macmillan Education (Basingstoke, England), 1986.

Big Iggy, illustrated by Katie Thomas, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1987.

The Toymaker's Birthday, illustrated by Ken Morton, Macmillan Educational (Basingstoke, England), 1986.

Litterbugs (play), Macmillan Educational (Basingstoke, England), 1987.

Phantasmagoria: Thirty-three Songs, Story Lines, and Sound Adventures (song book), music by Andy Jackson, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1988.

Witches in Stitches, illustrated by Judy Brown, Puffin (London, England), 1988.

The Fwog Pwince, illustrated by Gwyneth Williamson, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1989.

King Keith and the Nasty Case of Dragonitis, illustrated by Ainslie Macleod, Viking (London, England), 1990.

Tin Can Hero, illustrated by John Dyke, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1990.

Tiger and Me, illustrated by Susie Jenkin-Pearce, Red Fox (London, England), 1991.

Trash Hits, illustrated by Judy Brown, Puffin (London, England), 1991.

King Keith and the Jolly Lodger, illustrated by Ainslie Macleod, Viking (London, England), 1991.

Sir Quinton Quest Hunts the Yeti, illustrated by Judy Brown, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1992.

The Misfortunes of Captain Cadaverous, illustrated by Judy Brown, BBC Books (London, England), 1992.

Pass the Jam, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Red Fox (London, England), 1993.

Do Not Open before Christmas Day!, illustrated by Garry Davies, Puffin (London, England), 1993.

Sir Quinton Quest Hunts the Jewel, illustrated by Judy Brown, Young Lions (London, England), 1994.

Three Singing Pigs: Making Music with Traditional Stories, illustrated by Michael Evans, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1994.

(Author of text) Annabel Collis, Dobbin, Bodley Head (London, England), 1994.

Sophie and Abigail, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2004.

A Ruby, a Rug, and a Prince Called Doug, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Young Lions (London, England), 1995.

The Empty Suit of Armour, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1995.

Sophie in Charge, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2005.

Sophie and the Mother's Day Card, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995.

Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, illustrated by Anna Currey, Gollancz (London, England), 1995, Good Books (Intercourse, PA), 2004.

The Night I Was Chased by a Vampire, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1995.

Cinderella (play), illustrated by Caroline Crossland, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1996.

The Jealous Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1997.

Noah's Ark (play), illustrated by Tessa Richardson-Jones, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1997.

The Emperor's New Clothes (play), illustrated by Caroline Crossland, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1997.

The Romantic Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Puffin (London, England), 1997.

The Spooks Step Out, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1997.

The Bogey Men and the Trolls Next Door, illustrated by Keren Ludlow, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Beyond the Beanstalk, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1997.

Hammy House of Horror, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1998.

You Can Swim, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Bodley Head (London, England), 1998.

Three Rapping Rats: Making Music with Traditional Stories, illustrated by Stephen Chadwick and Katie Buchanan, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1998.

Never Meddle with Magic Mirrors, illustrated by Stella Voce, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1998.

Tickle My Nose and Other Action Rhymes, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Puffin (New York, NY), 1999.

Donkey Ride to Disaster, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1999.

Madness in the Mountains, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 1999.

Nonsense Counting Rhymes, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1999.

Need a Trim, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Bodley Head (London, England), 1999.

Moon Adventure, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Longman (Harlow, England), 2000.

Strange Days at Sea, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2000.

Sleeping Beauty (play), illustrated by Caroline Crossland, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2000.

Three Tapping Teddies: Musical Stories and Chants for the Very Young, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2000.

The Rubbish Monster, illustrated by Ken Stott, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

I Am Miss Cherry, illustrated by Tom Clayton, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

The Carnival, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Rope That Cow!, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

What a Mess! (play), illustrated by Tom Clayton and Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Poor Sam (play), illustrated by Tom Clayton, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Pirates Ahoy!, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2000.

Wilma's Wicked Revenge, illustrated by Tony Blundell, Puffin (London, England), 2000.

No More Master Niceguy, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Hodder Children's (London, England), 2000.

Beyond Strange Street, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Soup with Obby, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Down the Rushing River, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Wizard Wagoo, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Up the Dizzy Mountain, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Gong!, illustrated by Steve Smallman, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.

Nonsense Animal Rhymes, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2001.

Big Iggy, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2001.

The Dressed-up Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Penguin (London, England), 2001.

Three Days with Jim, illustrated by Judy Brown, Red Fox (London, England), 2001.

Prince Dandypants and the Masked Avenger, illustrated by Trevor Dunton, Puffin (London, England), 2001.

Cruel Times: A Victorian Play, Hodder Wayland (London, England), 2002.

Goblinz!, illustrated by Andi Good, Puffin (London, England), 2002.

This Is Jane, Jim, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, Red Fox (London, England), 2002.

Wiggle My Toes, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Puffin (London, England), 2002.

Wilma's Wicked Spell, illustrated by Tony Blundell, Penguin (London, England), 2002.

Humble Tom's Big Trip (play), illustrated by Chris Mould, Hodder Wayland (London, England), 2003.

Meet the Weirds, illustrated by Chris Mould, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003.

Buster's Big Surprise, illustrated by Leo Broadley, Scholastic (London, England), 2003.

The Big Mix up, Scholastic (London, England), 2003.

The Snow Queen (musical), A. & C. Black (London, England), 2003.

Mick McMenace, Ghost Detective, illustrated by Ian Cunliffe, Puffin (London, England), 2003.

The Romantic Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Barn Owl Books, 2004.

The Jealous Giant, illustrated by Doffy Weir, Barn Owl Books, 2004.

The Night I Was Chased by a Vampire, and Other Stories, illustrated by Chris Mould, Orion (London, England), 2004.

A Chair for Baby Bear, illustrated by Chris Fisher, Barrons Educational (Hauppauge, NY), 2004.

The Time the Play Went Wrong, illustrated by Kelly Waldek, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2004.

My Very First Joke Book, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

Goblinz: Detectives, Inc., illustrated by Andi Good, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

Weird Happenings, illustrated by Chris Mould, Barrington Stoke (London, England), 2004.

Horses' Holiday, illustrated by Ainslie Macleod, Collins (London, England), 2005.

I Want a Pet!, illustrated by Sarah Horne, Collins (London, England), 2005.

Goblinz and the Witch, illustrated by Andi Good, Puffin (London, England), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Bingo Lingo: Supporting Language Development through Songs, by Helen MacGregor, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1999.

"PONGWIFFY" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

Pongwiffy: A Witch of Dirty Habits, illustrated by Chris Smedley, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1988, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Broomnapped, illustrated by Chris Smedley, A. & C. Black (London, England), 1991.

Pongwiffy, a Witch of Dirty Habits, and the Spell of the Year, illustrated by Chris Smedley, Viking (London, England), 1992.

Pongwiffy and the Goblins' Revenge, illustrated by Chris Smedley, Puffin (London, England), 1992.

Pongwiffy and the Holiday of Doom, illustrated by David Roberts, Puffin (London, England), 1996.

Pongwiffy and the Pantomime, illustrated by Chris Smedley, Puffin (London, England), 1997.

The Spellovision Song Contest, illustrated by David Roberts, Puffin (London, England), 2003.

Adaptations

The "Pongwiffy" books were adapted as television programs airing on British and Australian television, c. 2004; many of Umansky's books were adapted as audiobooks by Chivers Children's Audio, including the "Pongwiffy" books, which are narrated by Prunella Scales.

Sidelights

A music teacher and actress, Kaye Umansky is also a popular author who has channeled her creativity and quirky humor into a long list of books for younger readers. Her creation of the unkempt witch Pongwiffy, who made her introduction to readers in 1988's Pongwiffy: The Witch of Dirty Habits, has made Umansky well known in both her native Great Britain as well as Australia, while her plays, riddle books, and other humor-filled works have gained her a large following. Reviewing Umansky's picture book A Chair for Baby Bear a sequel to the story of Goldilocks and the three bears in which the young cub goes shopping for a new chair, School Library Journal, Catherine Callegari described the author's "lighhearted" story as "just right for . . . one-on-one sharing." Youngsters who were left with questions by the traditional tale will find that the "British team" of Umansky and illustrator Chris Fisher does "a nifty job of tying up the loose ends," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Born in Devon, England, in 1946, Umansky started her writing career in the mid-1980s, after she left teaching to stay home and raise her just-about-to-be-born daughter. "I always thought authors must be special peoplenot ordinary, like me," she explained on the Penguin UK Web site. "In fact, there is no magic to it you just need to enjoy it and be prepared to work hard." Her advice to beginning writers includes keeping a paper and pencil handy to write down ideas, as well as her number-one suggestion: "Read, read and read again. It is by reading that you learn how to become a good writer."

Since her introduction, the witch called Pongwiffy has reappeared in several books by Umansky, and has proved so popular with British readers that the "Pongwiffy" books have been adapted for television dramatizations. In Pongwiffy and the Spell of the Year the witch is keen to enter a local Spell of the Year contest, and when she locates a highly touted recipe by spellmeister Granny Malodour, Pongwiffy assumes that the win will be hers. However a search for the necessary ingredientsthe spell includes wild cat whiskers, quicksand, a vulture's feather, and the hair of a princess, cut during a full moon to ensure maximum potencyproves problematic. Pongwiffy and the Pantomime finds the resilient sorceress penning a play for members of her local coven to perform. However, in typical Umansky fashion, things quickly degenerate into humorous chaos.

As in the "Pongwiffy" books, Umansky enjoys creating stories that feature supernatural and ghostly elements, and she makes scary characters comicaland far less scary!in the process. In Goblinz, for example, a lone goblin named Shy has aspirations of being part of a gaggle. Unfortunately, coming up with the six other members to make the seven goblins required for official gaggle status is hard when you don't have any friends. Fortunately, once Shy decides to take action Tuf, Wheels, and Oggy soon sign up for his group, forming the core of the Goblinz.

Having assembled her cast of quirky ghouls, Umansky continues their story in Goblinz: Detectives, Inc., which finds the gaggle all outfitted in super-spy gear and ready to go sleuthing, and Goblinz and the Witch, in which the gruesome gang hit a rough spot with a local witch when they attempt to take their new go-cart for a trial run down Gaspup Hill. Umansky balances such fantastic fictions with more down-to-earth stories, such as The Carnival and Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, the last which finds a frog and rabbit attempting to create an impressive work of art for presentation at their school. In School Arts Ken Marantz predicted that beginning readers will get a "smiling boost" from Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, and praised the book's "light-hearted illustrations" by Anna Currey.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1999, review of Tickle My Nose and Other Action Rhymes, p. 73; November 15, 2004, review of A Chair for Baby Bear, p. 58.

School Arts, October, 2004, Ken Marantz, review of Sophie and the Wonderful Picture, p. 66.

School Library Journal, August, 2002, Ronni Krasnow, review of Sleeping Beauty, p. 179; February, 2003, Lynne K. Vanca, review of Donkey Ride to Disaster (audiobook), p. 74; February, 2005, Catherine Callegari, review of A Chair for Baby Bear, p. 110.

ONLINE

Penguin UK Web site, http://www.penguin.co.uk/ (March 14, 2005), "Kaye Umansky."

Story Street Web site, http://www.storystreet.co.uk/ (March 14, 2005), "Kaye Umansky."

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