Aronson, Marc 1948–
Aronson, Marc 1948–
PERSONAL: Born 1948; married Marina Budhos (an author); children: two sons. Education: Earned a Ph.D. in American history.
CAREER: Writer and editor. Editor of books for children and young adults; Harper & Row, New York, NY, and later, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, New York, NY, became senior editor; Carus Publishing, Chicago, IL, editorial director and vice president of nonfiction development, 2000–04; Zooba.com, managing editor, 2001–02; acquisition editor for Candlewick Press and for other publishing houses; writer. Instructor in publishing courses at New York University, Simmons College, and Radcliffe Publishing program.
AWARDS, HONORS: Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and New York Times Notable Book citations, both 1998, both for Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for nonfiction, 2000, Blue Ribbon Award, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 2000, and Robert F. Sibert Award for "most distinguished informational book for children," American Library Association, 2001, all for Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado.
(With Thomas Leonard and Cynthia Crippen) Day by Day: The Seventies, two volumes, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Ellen Meltzer) Day by Day: The Eighties, two volumes, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1995.
Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Exploding the Myths: The Truth about Teenagers and Reading, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2000.
Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with Michael Cart and Marianne Carus) 911: The Book of Help, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.
Beyond the Pale: New Essays for a New Era, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2003.
Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2003.
John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Real Revolution: The Global Story of American Independence, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to The Holocaust in Literature for Youth, edited by Edward T. Sullivan, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 1999. Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times Book Review and Los Angeles Times Book Review.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Prejudice: A History, for Atheneum, publication expected in 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Marc Aronson writes nonfiction titles for young adults that have been praised for the author's engrossing prose style and unique approach to source materials. For example, in Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde, Aronson explains that throughout history avant-garde artists have challenged the world with their personal visions, and that young artists, even adolescents, have often taken the greatest risks to bring their art to the public. "What an exciting invitation to a brisk but rigorous survey that connects Marcel Duchamp, the Russian avant-garde and Mondrian to Charles Ives and the Sex Pistols!" observed a reviewer in the New York Times Book Review. Indeed, it is through such cross-cultural and cross-generic connections that Art Attack manages to offer fresh insights into the history of twentieth-century art despite its brevity, according to reviewers. Throughout the volume, art movements and the work of individual artists are explored in conjunction with the evolution of twentieth-century music. "In fact, what is unique and appealing in Aronson's cultural history is his placing of experimental and popular music within the art world," remarked Shirley Wilton in School Library Journal. Thus, Aronson juxtaposes the artwork of the Dadaists and rap music, Jean-Michel Basquiat's expressive scribbles and the jazz innovations of Philip Glass. The result is "an exceptional resource," Wilton concluded.
Aronson turned to the more distant past in Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, a work for which he was named the first winner of the Robert F. Sibert Award for the "most distinguished informational book for children published in 2000." Ralegh (as the man himself rendered his name) was both an exceptional figure, in his talents, ambition, and willingness to take large risks, and representative of his times, in that his talents, ambition, and willingness to take risks were all pointed towards exploring and conquering the New World. Ralegh's intelligence and drive took him from rural obscurity to courtier in Queen Elizabeth's court to fame and fortune through his journeys to South America. The resulting story of his life is an exciting tale. "Aronson not only details Ralegh's career as soldier, sailor, explorer, writer, and schemer but consistently discusses causes, effects, and the broader significance of events large and small," commented a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews. Aronson's skills as a writer of histories for young people were extolled by reviewers. Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, noted that at just over 200 pages, there is not space enough to discuss every topic presented by the multifaceted life of Sir Walter Ralegh, but added that "the book is beautifully researched, and it is written with wit and passion." A reviewer for the Los Angeles Times praised Aronson's portrait of Ralegh as "both provocative and tantalizing, revealing his subject as a person of canny wit and magnetism with all-too-human shortcomings." In conclusion, Cooper dubbed Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado "sweeping, multilayered nonfiction."
Aronson's experience as a publisher, editor, and critic comes to the fore in Exploding the Myths: The Truth about Teens and Reading, a collection of his speeches and articles that touches on the development of young adult literature as well as its major controversies. In a review for Booklist, Hazel Rochman found the author's style "clear, chatty, and tough" while pointing out that Aronson "shows that teenagers today are often more open to challenge and diversity in narrative and format than their adult guardians are." School Library Journal contributor Vicki Reutter called Exploding the Myths a "thought-provoking collection [that] should be not missed." A related work, Beyond the Pale: New Essays for a New Era, "reveals the wider context of Aronson's particular concerns as a publisher, writer, and reader of young adult literature," wrote Cathryn M. Mercier in Horn Book. Beyond the Pale contains fourteen essays covering such topics as multicultural book prizes and the challenges of reaching teenage male readers. "This excellent book should be required reading for anyone who cares about young adults and their literature," stated Ellen A. Greever in School Library Journal.
In 2002 Aronson coedited 911: The Book of Help, a "highly personal, often affecting roundup of essays, short stories, and poems inspired by the events of September 11th," according to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. The contributors to 911 include award-winning children's and young adult authors such as Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Creech, Naomi Shihab Nye, Margaret Mahy, Russell Freedman, and Marion Dane Bauer. "Some of the best essays put the attacks in historical or autobiographical perspective," Roger Sutton noted in Horn Book. Claire Rosser, reviewing the work in Kliatt, felt that 911 "would be an excellent resource for teachers of writing, helping students realize the power of words to educate, inspire, to express deepest feelings."
In Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials, Aronson examines the events surrounding the infamous series of trials in Massachusetts in 1692. In Witch-Hunt, Aronson dispels misinformation about the trials, and he looks at the contentious social, economic, and religious issues facing the Salem community. According to Andrew Medlar in School Library Journal, the author "actively encourages the rethinking of past notions of the events leading up to the accusations and hearings." A Publishers Weekly contributor stated that Aronson "uses primary source documents and trial records to help tease out the facts of the highly charged court atmosphere," and Booklist critic Stephanie Zvirin remarked that the author produces "a dense, wide-angle view of the tragedy that evaluates causative theories ranging from deceit and outright fraud to spoiled food that caused hallucinations." Aronson also draws parallels to the "counterculture of the 1960s, modern terrorism, and current tensions between western countries and Islamic fundamentalists," a Kirkus Reviews critic noted.
The 2004 work John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise "charts a parallel history between seventeenth-century Great Britain and colonial New England, as represented by emblematic figures Oliver Cromwell and John Winthrop," wrote Horn Book reviewer Peter D. Sieruta. Both Cromwell and Winthrop were influential Puritan leaders: Cromwell deposed King Charles I of England, and Winthrop served as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the work, "Aronson shows how events of the 1630s and '40s have affected political thought ever since," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic. According to Booklist contributor GraceAnne A. DeCandido, Aronson illuminates "the reality of religious faith and the cataclysmic clash of beliefs that created fertile ground for ideas about democracy and equality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde; August, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, p. 2130; March 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Exploding the Myths: The Truth about Teenagers and Reading, p. 1406; November 1, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials, p. 488; June 1, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise, p. 1751.
Horn Book, September-October, 2000, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, p. 593; September-October, 2002, Roger Sutton, review of 911: The Book of Help, pp. 593-594; January-February, 2004, Cathryn M. Mercier, review of Beyond the Pale: New Essays for a New Era, pp. 107-108; July-August, 2004, Peter D. Sieruta, review of John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise, p. 465.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2000, review of Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, p. 710; July 1, 2002, review of 911, p. 950; October 15, 2003, review of Witch-Hunt, p. 1268; May 1, 2004, review of John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise, p. 437.
Kliatt, November, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of 911, p. 29.
Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2000, review of Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, p. 6.
New York Times Book Review, February 14, 1999, review of Art Attack, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2001, Jason Britton, "Marcato/Cricket Books," p. 23; July 29, 2002, review of 911, p. 74; December 1, 2003, review of Witch-Hunt, p. 58; May 24, 2004, "Understanding History," p. 64.
Reading Teacher, March, 2003, review of 911, p. 589.
School Library Journal, June, 1995, Linda Diane Townsend, review of Day by Day: The Eighties, pp. 144-145; July, 1998, Shirley Wilton, review of Art Attack, p. 102; December, 2000, review of Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, p. 52; May, 2001, Vicki Reutter, review of Exploding the Myths, p. 179; September, 2002, Wendy Lukehart, "One Year Later," pp. 44-46, and Joanne K. Cecere, review of 911, pp. 241-242; November, 2003, Ellen A. Greever, review of Beyond the Pale, p. 175; December, 2003, Andrew Medlar, review of Witch-Hunt, pp. 163; April, 2004, Wendy Lukehart, review of Art Attack, p. 64.