Arbogast, Joan Marie 1955- (Joan Marie Saxon)

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Arbogast, Joan Marie 1955- (Joan Marie Saxon)


Born August 12, 1955, in Warren, OH. Education: Kent State University, B.S. (magna cum laude), 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, sewing, decorating, photography, card-making, crafting.


Home—Stow, OH. E-mail—[email protected].


Freelance writer.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators of Northern Ohio.


International Reading Association Award, 2005, for Buildings in Disguise: Architecture That Looks Like Animals, Food, and Other Things.


Buildings in Disguise: Architecture That Looks Like Animals, Food, and Other Things (juvenile), Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2004.

The Advent-Christmas Book, illustrated by Virginia Helen Richards, photographs by Mary Emmanuel Alves, Pauline Books and Media (Boston, MA), 2004.

The Lent-Easter Book (craft book), selected crafts contributed by Natividade Pereira Nacimento, illustrated by Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin, photographs by Mary Emmanuel Alves, Pauline Books and Media (Boston, MA), 2005.

Contributor to poetry to Wishing You Well: Prayers and Poems for Comfort, Healing, and Recovery, edited by June Cotner, Loyola Press, 2005. Some writings appeared under name Joan Marie Saxon.


Joan Marie Arbogast told CA: "When writing a nonfiction book, research is as important as the writing. Before I could even begin the writing process for Buildings in Disguise: Architecture That Looks Like Animals, Food, and Other Things, I had to conduct a great deal of research. I began by browsing lots of books to see what had already been published on the topic of mimetic architecture. Much to my surprise, I found several books for adults, but none written especially for children. I read whatever books I could find on the topic, studied their bibliographies, hunted for copies of out-of-print books, dug up old copies of Popular Mechanics and other magazines, and contacted experts in the field.

"One of the experts, a professor at Kent State University's School of Architecture, was especially helpful. He questioned things, suggested things, offered to share photographs from his personal collection, and referred me to an author/architect who could offer additional insights. I contacted others, too—authors, historians, museum curators, and owners of mimetic buildings. I contacted Visitors and Convention Centers in various cities and states to see if they could suggest structures to add to my list. My research required extensive reading, conducting phone interviews, corresponding via e-mails and faxes, and visiting some of the sights.

"Once I felt confident that I had uncovered enough information the writing process began. Since I knew I wanted the book to cover the history of mimetic architecture in the United States, it made sense to open the book with the oldest yet still functioning structure and move toward the youngest. I scribbled a skeletal outline determining the order in which the structures would be presented, both chronologically and categorically. I divided the picture book into mini-chapters to cover certain types of structures, like hotels, restaurants, and office buildings. I also determined that two structures deserved a chapter of their own due to their historic and architectural significance.

"While writing the text, I kept in mind the history of the building, why it was built, what purpose it served, anecdotes, preservation efforts taken, and statistics I wanted to include in sidebars. For each category I wrote everything I wanted to include, then pared it down so there would be plenty of room for photographs and white space. I worked on one category at a time, which conveniently equals a chapter.

"As is true for any good picture book, a theme runs through its pages. In this case, the book opens and closes with the importance of historic preservation. Woven throughout the text is also the thread that ties all the categories together: the playfulness of mimetic structures serves as a powerful tool to get customers through its doors."