Anderson, Joan 1943-

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ANDERSON, Joan 1943-


PERSONAL: Born 1943, in Buffalo, NY; married; husband's name, Robin. Education: Yale University.

ADDRESSES: Home—Box 1314, Harwich, MA 02645. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Journalist and writer.


WRITINGS:


Breaking the TV Habit, Scribner (New York, NY), 1982.

(With Robin Wilkins) Getting Unplugged: TakeControl of Your Family's Television, Video Game, and Computer Habits, John Wiley (New York, NY), 1998.

A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.

An Unfinished Marriage, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2002.


for children


The First Thanksgiving Feast, photographs by George Ancona, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Christmas on the Prairie, photographs by George Ancona, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1985.

The Glorious Fourth at Prairietown, photographs by George Ancona, Morrow (New York, NY), 1986.

Pioneer Children of Appalachia, photographs by George Ancona, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1986.

1787: A Novel, illustrated by Alexander Farquharson, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1987.

Joshua's Westward Journal, photographs by George Ancona, Morrow (New York, NY), 1987.

From Map to Museum: Uncovering Mysteries of thePast, photographs by George Ancona, introduction by David Hurst Thomas, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1988.

A Williamsburg Household, photographs by George Ancona, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Spanish Pioneers of the Southwest, photographs by George Ancona, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.

The American Family Farm: A Photo Essay, photographs by George Ancona, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1989.

Harry's Helicopter, photographs by George Ancona, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1990.

Pioneer Settlers of New France, photographs by George Ancona, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990.

Christopher Columbus: From Vision to Voyage, photographs by George Ancona, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1991.

Earth Keepers, photographs by George Ancona, Harcourt Brace & Co. (San Diego, CA), 1993.

Richie's Rocket, photographs by George Ancona, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

Twins on Toes, photographs by George Ancona, Lodestar Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Sally's Submarine, photographs by George Ancona, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.

Batboy: An Inside Look at Spring Training, photographs by Matthew Cavanaugh, Lodestar Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Cowboys: Roundup on an American Ranch, photographs by George Ancona, Scholastic Inc. (New York, NY), 1996.

Rookie: Tamika Whitmore's First Year in the WNBA, photographs by Michelle V. Agins, forword by Teresa Witherspoon, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.


SIDELIGHTS: A longtime writer of juvenile novels and historical books for children, Joan Anderson gained widespread recognition, especially among women, for her 1999 autobiographical book titled A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of An Unfinished Woman. In it Anderson describes a year in which she and her husband took a "vacation" from their thirty-year marriage, a decision initiated by the author after her youngest son went off to college and her husband announced that they were moving to another state for his new job. Upon hearing the news, Anderson blurted out that she was not going. Instead, she told her husband she was going to spend time at a seaside cottage on Cape Cod on a journey of self-discovery."It was the first real gut reaction I ever let happen," Anderson told Mary Mullett-Flynn for an article in the Buffalo News.

In her article, Mullett-Flynn noted that "Anderson tackles some of women's most profound fears" in the book, including issues concerning midlife crises and the "empty nest" syndrome. Anderson tells her story in a month-by-month chronicle that reveals her fears, joys, successes, and failures. "For the first six weeks at the cottage I was terrified," Anderson told Mullett-Flynn. She went on to say, "I knew I had to stick with the decision I had made and somehow make it work." In addition to swimming with seals and running a marathon, Anderson filled her time by working in a fish market and clamming to make extra money as a supplement to her book royalties. By the end of her memoir, Anderson accepts her husband's plan to retire and move into the cottage with her. Writing in the Library Journal, Joyce Sparrow noted, "Anderson's story reminds readers not to overlook their personal needs when providing for family members." A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book an "accessible memoir" that also contains "vivid and meticulous observations about the natural world."

Although initially rejected by thirty-seven publishers, A Year by the Sea struck a chord with many women seeking to redefine themselves after years of juggling a career, marriage, and raising a family. The experience also led Anderson to begin her "Weekend by the Sea" retreats for women, which include workshops focusing on the needs and goals of the specific attendees. "I started these weekend retreats because so many women have written to me about their need for renewal," Anderson says on a Web page dedicated to the author and her book An Unfinished Marriage. She also told Mullett-Flynn, "Women become renewed at our workshop in such a powerful way." She also noted that the workshops can help wives "come away from this experience bringing a positive force back in to their marriage."

Anderson continued in the autobiographical mode with her sequel to A Year by the Sea, which was published in 2002. In An Unfinished Marriage, Anderson describes the process of how she and her husband rebuilt their marriage the year after they reunited and moved together into the cottage. She also describes their marriage during their early years. Writing in People, Francine Prose remarked that the couples' "ultimate success will hearten fans of Anderson's unpretentious style." Another reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly noted, "Fans of her earlier work will find the same thoughtful reflection and candor in this close-up of a marriage at midlife."

While Anderson's memoirs brought her national attention and appearances on television shows such as Oprah, she has been writing for two decades. In her 1982 book, Breaking the TV Habit, Anderson presents research concerning how television can be destructive to children and sets forth a four-week program for learning how to watch television less frequently and more intelligently. She has also coauthored a similar book with Robin Wilkins called Getting Unplugged: Take Control of Your Family's Television, Video Game, and Computer Habits. Published in 1998, the book also includes a four-week program for getting the family, especially children, "unplugged" so they can enjoy family life once again. Like her previous volume, the book includes a section on research revealing the negative effects of video games, computers, and television on children.

Anderson's most prolific writing has been for a juvenile audience. Her first children's book, The First Thanksgiving Feast, was published in 1984 and retells the story of the first Pilgrims who lived at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The book is heavily illustrated with photographs by George Ancona, and much of the narrative is contained within fictionalized dialogues based on real first-person accounts made by the pilgrims. Writing in Horn Book, reviewer Karen Jameyson noted that, although information about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving "abound," the "unusual, well-illustrated book stands out as a lively, even entertaining volume." The book's success led Anderson and Ancona to collaborate on numerous historical books combining Anderson's text or fictional narratives with Ancona's photographs. As noted by Carolyn Phelan in a review of Christmas on the Prairie for Booklist, Ancona's photographs provide a "feeling of realism to the narrative." Anderson and Ancona achieve this realism by staging many of the photographs at museums dedicated to the topic, like Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and the Conner Prairie Pioneer Settlement in Indiana, both living history museums. In a School Library Journal review of The American Family Farm, for instance, Lee Bock Pulaski called the photo essay of modern American farm families a "compelling, attractive book that informs and entertains, providing readers with new acquaintances and new understandings."

Anderson has also written non-historical fiction such as Harry's Helicopter, a tale about young Harry and his cardboard helicopter that really flies. John Peters, writing in School Library Journal, noted, "Readers may be teased into belief by Ancona's inventive trick photographs of the flight." He also called the book a "happy, cleverly illustrated wish-fulfillment story." Another collaborative effort between Anderson and Ancona is Earth Keepers, which describes three environmental projects, including a cleanup of the Hudson River in New York. Betsy Hearne, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, noted, "As a photodocumentary, this achieves its self-avowedly useful goal through a clean, working complement of text and illustration." Anderson has continued to team up with other photographers for her juvenile books, the two most recent focusing on sports. In Batboy: An Inside Look at Spring Training, Anderson and photographer Matthew Cavanaugh go behind the scenes to provide a look at spring training in baseball through the eyes of a batboy. In Rookie: Tamika Whitmore's First Year in the WNBA Anderson teams up with photographer Michelle V. Agins to provide a close-up look at a young woman's first year in the Women's Professional Basketball Association. Kathleen Odean, writing in Book, called Rookie an "inspiring treat for young WNBA fans."


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


periodicals


Book, January, 2001, Kathleen Odean, review of Rookie: Tamika Whitmore's First Year in the WNBA, p. 83.

Booklist, November 15, 1985, Carolyn Phelan, review of Christmas on the Prairie, p. 490; May 1, 1986, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Glorious Fourth at Prairietown, p. 1307; November 1, 1986, Denise M. Wilms, review of Pioneer Children of Appalachia, p. 404; May 1, 1987, Barbara Ellerman, review of 1787: A Novel, p. 1363; December 15, 1987, Mary Lathrope, review of Joshua's Westward Journal, p. 700; April 15, 1989, Phillis Wilson, review of Spanish Pioneers of the Southwest, p. 1460; September 1, 1990, review of Harry's Helicopter, p. 54; September 1, 1991, Carolyn Phelan, review of Christopher Columbus: From Vision to Voyage, p. 48; October 15, 1993, Chris Sherman, review of Earth Keepers, p. 433; March 15, 1995, Linda Ward-Callaghan, review of Sally's Submarine, p. 1333; March 15, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Cowboys: Roundup on an American Ranch, p. 1261; April 1, 1996, Lauren Peterson, review of Batboy: An Inside Look at Spring Training, p. 1357; July, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Rookie: Tamika Whitmore's First Year in the WNBA, p. 2019.

Buffalo News, March 25, 2002, Mary Mullet-Flynn, "Joan Anderson, Facing Her Fears One Word at a Time."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1985, review of Christmas on the Prairie, p. 41; April, 1986, review of The Glorious Fourth atPrairietown, pp. 142-143; December, 1986, Betsy Hearne, review of Pioneer Children of Appalachia, p. 61; July, 1988, Betsy Hearne, review of A Williamsburg Household, p. 221; November, 1988, Betsy Hearne, review of From Map to Museum, p. 83; December, 1993, Betsy Hearne, review of Earth Keepers, pp. 114-115.

Childhood Education, fall, 1989, review of SpanishPioneers of the Southwest, p. 45.

Horn Book, March, 1985, Karen Jameyson, review of The First Thanksgiving Feast, p. 193; July, 1989, Margaret A. Bush, review of The American Family Farm, p. 121; January, 1990, Margaret A. Bush, review of Pioneer Settlers of New France, p. 221; November-December, 1993, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Twins on Toes: A Ballet Debut, p. 759; November-December, 1993, Margaret A. Bush, review of Earth Keepers, p. 752; May-June, 1996, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Batboy: An Inside Look at Spring Training, p. 346; May-June, 1996, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of Cowboys: Roundup on an American Ranch, p. 347.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1990, review of Harry'sHelicopter, p. 1010.

Library Journal, march 15, 1999, Joyce Sparrow, review of A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, p. 85.

Library Talk, November, 1993, review of Richie'sRocket, p. 54; September, 1995, review of Sally's Submarine, p. 32.

Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2002, Bettijane Levine, "After Pause, a Couple Reconcile Their Aims," pp. E1, E3.

People, April 15, 2002, review of An Unfinished Marriage, p. 43.

Publishers Weekly, March 13, 1987, review of 1787: ANovel, p. 86; February 19, 1996, Cowboys: Roundup on an American Ranch, p. 216; April 22, 1996, review of Batboy: An Inside Look at Spring Training, p. 72; June 22, 1998, review of Getting Unplugged, p. 94; February 8, 1999, review of A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, p. 200; June 26, 2000, review of Rookie: Tamika Whitmore's First Year in the WNBA, p. 76; February 18, 2002, review of An Unfinished Marriage, p. 91.

School Library Journal, May, 1986, Anna Biagioni, review of The Glorious Fourth at Prairietown, p. 87; October, 1987, review of Joshua's Westward Journal, p. 131; September, 1988, Therese Bigelow, review of A Williamsburg Household, p. 154; November, 1988, David N. Pauli, review of FromMap to Museum, p. 115; October, 1989, Lee Bock Pulaski, review of The American Family Farm, p. 122; July, 1990, Nancy E. Curran, review of Pioneer Settlers of New France, p. 80; September, 1990, John Peters, review of Harry's Helicopter, p. 192; September, 1991, Jean H. Zimmerman, review of Christopher Columbus: From Vision to Voyage, p. 261; October, 1993, Cheri Estes, review of Twins on Toes: A Ballet Debut, p. 137; September, 2000, Barb Lawler, review of Rookie: Tamika Whitmore's First Year in the WNBA, p. 240.


online


Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (September 3, 2002).*

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