Ansary, Mir Tamim 1948-

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ANSARY, Mir Tamim 1948-


PERSONAL: Born November 4, 1948, in Kabul, Afghanistan; son of Mir Amanuddin (a university teacher and administrator) and Terttu (a teacher; maiden name, Palm) Ansary; married Deborah Gale Krant (a conference director), 1981; children: Jessamyn, Elina. Ethnicity: "Arab, Mongolian, Finnish." Education: Reed College, B.A. (literature), 1970. Politics: Liberal. Religion: "Secular."

ADDRESSES: Agent—Julie Castiglia, 1155 Camino Del Mar, Ste. 510, Del Mar, CA 92014. E-mail— [email protected]


CAREER: Portland Scribe, Portland, OR, staff writer, 1972-76; The Asia Foundation, San Francisco, CA, assistant editor of Asian Student, 1976-78, became editor of development publications, 1979; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Orlando, FL, school department editor, 1980-89; freelance writer, educational consultant, and columnist, 1990—.


WRITINGS:


Afghanistan: Fighting for Freedom, Dillon Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Matter: Solids, Liquids, and Gases (part of "Science All Around Me" series), Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1996.

Score Booster Handbook: For Reading and LanguageArts, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.

West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan AmericanStory (memoir), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor of chapters on Islamic history to World History: Patterns of Interaction, McDougal Littell, 1999, and fiction and nonfiction selections to reading anthology Reach for Literacy, Rigby, 2002. Development editor of works on reading and geography. Author of column "The Learning Beat" for www.encarta.msn.com.


"caught reading" series


Carmen's Card, Globe Fearon (Paramus, NJ), 1995. The Sea House, Globe Fearon (Paramus, NJ), 1995. Spiders from Outer Space, Globe Fearon (Paramus, NJ), 1995.

The Lost Boy, Globe Fearon (Paramus, NJ), 1995.

"cool collections" series


Model Cars, Rigby Interactive Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 1997.

Stamps, Rigby Interactive Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 1997.

Dolls, Rigby Interactive Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 1997.

Natural Objects, Rigby Interactive Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 1997.

Insects, Rigby Interactive Library (Crystal Lake, IL), 1997.


"super readers" series


Mysterious Places, J. Weston Walch (Portland, ME), 1997.

Creepy Creatures, J. Weston Walch (Portland, ME), 1997.

Unbelievable Beasts, illustrated by Carl M. Brand, J. Weston Walch (Portland, ME), 1998.

Baffling Disappearances, illustrated by Carl M. Brand, J. Weston Walch (Portland, ME), 1998.

Great Crime Busters, illustrated by Carl M. Brand, J. Weston Walch (Portland, ME), 1998.


"holiday histories" series


Veterans Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1999.

Labor Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1999.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1999.

Memorial Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1999.

Columbus Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1999.

Presidents' Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 1999.

Earth Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Thanksgiving Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2001.

Election Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.

Independence Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.

Flag Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.

Arbor Day, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.


"adventures plus" series; educational comic books


Alien Alert, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.

Treasure Hunt, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.

Lost in Time, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.

Runaway Spaceship, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.

That's Some Dog, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.

Case of the Missing Millie, Focused Learning (Austin, TX), 2000.


"native americans" series


Plains Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

California Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Eastern Woodlands Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Southwest Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Northwest Coast Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Great Basin Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Arctic Peoples, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Plateau Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Southeast Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2000.

Subarctic Indians, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.


"state studies: california" series


California History, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.

All around California: Regions and Resources, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.

People of California, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2002.

(With Stephen Feinstein) Uniquely California, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2003.

(With Stephen Feinstein) California Plants and Animals, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2003.

(With Stephen Feinstein) California Native Peoples, Heinemann Library (Des Plaines, IL), 2003.


ADAPTATIONS: West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story was produced as a sound recording, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (Princeton, NJ), 2002.


SIDELIGHTS: After working as an editor for an educational publisher, Mir Tamim Ansary struck out on his own in 1990. For over a decade, he has been writing juvenile nonfiction, including a handful of series for readers in grades one through five. "Writing nonfiction for very young children is like writing poetry, I have found: every word and all its nuances count," Ansary told CA. "It's easy to assume one must sacrifice accuracy to comprehension in order to recount, say, the history of the Industrial Revolution in a book a seven-year-old can read; but to me, that assumption is defeatism. My aim in writing about any given subject has always been to give children a picture that further information will only elaborate and enrich, never falsify."

Born in 1948, Ansary was the son of the first Afghan ever to marry an American woman who was also the first American woman ever to live in Afghanistan as an Afghan. With his father and mother both in education and government administration, Ansary's world was richer in educational opportunities than many of his compatriots. It is thus not surprising that Ansary's love of reading and sharing knowledge came early, as he recalled to CA: "Growing up in Afghanistan where TV didn't exist and movies were extremely rare, I found my earliest sources as a writer in the voices of my elders spinning stories in the dark for us children huddled in groups under blankets; and also in the Book of Knowledge, a profusely illustrated high-interest, English-language encyclopedia my family had—I used to pore through those volumes every day while the others were at school or work; and then again at night pour back out to them the wonderful things I'd learned that day about elephants and stars."

At age sixteen, Ansary immigrated to the United States. After graduating from Reed College in 1970, he traveled throughout the Islamic world and worked for nine years as an educational editor for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. In 1990, he began a new career in publishing, that of a freelance writer. Putting this in perspective, Ansary told CA: "Now I am an elder myself, spinning stories for an audience I can't physically see, and I'm still that kid, too, trying to tell everyone about the astounding things I've discovered while rummaging through some (metaphorical) Book of Knowledge."

Among Ansary's titles for children are his "Holiday Histories" series, which, in picture book format, explains the significance and origin of major American holidays; the "Cool Collections" series, which gives very basic information on starting collections; and the "Native Americans" series, which presents rudimentary knowledge about the various native tribes that have inhabited the United States. Ansary has also written about his native country in Afghanistan: Fighting for Freedom, which includes information that could only be supplied by first-hand experience and the "great warmth" that only a native can bring to the subject, claimed Cynthia Rieben of Voice of Youth Advocates.

Elaborating on his desire to give children information that will enrich their lives, Ansary concluded, "As it turns out, that aim drives all my work now, both for children and adults, both in fiction and nonfiction: to get to the essence and deliver it with clarity in my natural speaking voice."


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


periodicals


Booklist, January 1, 1999, Ilene Cooper, reviews of Labor Day and Veterans Day, p. 880; February 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, reviews of Earth Day and Election Day, p. 942.

School Library Journal, March, 1992, Nancy E. Zuwiyya, review of Afghanistan: Fighting for Freedom, p. 243; July, 1997, Pamela K. Bomboy, reviews of Dolls, Model Cars, and Stamps, p. 80; August, 1997, Karey Wehner, reviews of Insects and Natural Objects, p. 145; February, 1999, Pamela K. Bomboy, reviews of Columbus Day, Labor Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, pp. 94-95; January, 2000, Sue Sherif, reviews of Arctic Peoples and Northwest Coast Indians, pp. 114-115; January, 2000, Darcy Schild, reviews of Great Basin Indians and Southwest Indians, p. 115; November, 2000, Dona J. Helmer, reviews of California Indians and Subarctic Indians, p. 139.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1922, Cynthia Rieben, review of Afghanistan, p. 117.