Armstrong, Alan 1939-
Armstrong, Alan 1939-
(Alan W. Armstrong)
Born 1939; married; wife's name Martha (a painter).
Home—MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Writer and editor.
Newbery Honor Book, 2006, for Whittington.
Regards, Rodeo: The Mariner Dog of Cassis,illustrated by Martha Armstrong, J.N. Townsend (Exeter, NH), 1999.
(Editor and author of introduction, under name Alan W. Armstrong)"Forget Not Mee & My Garden… ": Selected Letters, 1725-1768, of Peter Collinson, F.R.S., American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia, PA), 2002.
Whittington, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
Raleigh's Page, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
Alan Armstrong grew up around books, and worked in a friend's book store beginning at age eight. As an adult, he has continued in the bookseller's trade, and has also become a writer, with several children's books to his credit. Armstrong's novelWhittington retells the English folktale "Dick Whittingtonand His Cat," by transporting the story across the ocean to the author's native New England.
In Armstrong's version, Whittington is a prowling tomcat who lives in New England. When he happens upon a barn, he is taken in by the barn's owner, Bernie, who habitually adopts stray animals. While getting to know his new animal family, Whittington explains that he is the namesake of Dick Whittington, a distinguished merchant who came into his own with the help of his friends and through old-fashioned hard work. Living in England during the fourteenth century, Dick Whittington the businessman overcame numerous hardships and eventually became mayor of London before leaving much of his fortune to charity. Telling the man's story over a long, harsh New England winter, Whittington the tomcat wins over his new friends and also manages to inspire Bernie's dyslexic grandson Ben to take the classes that will help him overcome his difficulty with reading.
Noting that Whittington combines fantasy with history, Beth Wright wrote in School Library Journal that the book "reads aloud beautifully, and the extended happy ending will leave everyone smiling in delight." A Kirkus Reviewscritic called Armstrong's novel "a lovely paean to the power of story and the words that carry it along," while Ann O'Malley wrote in Booklist that "the story works beautifully, both as historical fiction about medieval street life and commerce and as a witty, engaging tale of barnyard camaraderie and survival." Comparing the book to E.B. White's childhood classic Charlotte's Web, BookPage online contributorDeborah Hopkinson noted that Whittington "is full of homey wisdom and quirky characters, both human and animal."
During a Kidsread.com interview, Armstrong had this advice for young writers: "Make notes when a surprise comes by. Every story starts with two or three words—catch them! Keep a journal. Be susceptible. If a book comes to your hand unbidden, look in it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2005, Anne O'Malley, review ofWhittington, p. 1672.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books,September, 2005, Timnah Card, review of Whittington, p. 5.
Horn Book, July-August, 2005, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Whittington, p. 463.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Whittington, p. 729.
School Library Journal, August, 2005, Beth Wright, review ofWhittington, p. 121.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2005, Lisa Doucet, review of Whittington, p. 141.
KidsReads.com,http://www.kidsreads.com/ (June 6, 2006), interview with Armstrong.