Banish, Roslyn 1942-
BANISH, Roslyn 1942-
PERSONAL: Born 1942. Education: Institute of Design (Chicago, IL), master's degree (photography).
ADDRESSES: Home—San Francisco, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, University of Massachusetts Press, P.O. Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004.
CAREER: Photographer and author. Has taught photography in the United States, England, and Italy.
(And photographer) City Families: Chicago and London, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1976.
(And photographer) I Want to Tell You about My Baby (for children), Wingbow Press (Berkely, CA), 1982, also published as Let Me Tell You about My Baby, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Jennifer Jordan-Wong, and photographer) A Forever Family (for children), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
(And photographer) Focus on Living: Portraits of Americans with HIV and AIDS, introduction by Paul A. Volberding, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Professional photographer Roslyn Banish has published several books that are essentially photo essays capturing particular aspects of people's lives. Her first book, City Families: Chicago and London, collects photographs of working-class families from both sides of the Atlantic, along with essays describing the lives, hopes, and dreams of the families shown. The jusxtaposition of Chicago and London families draws attention to their similarities as well as their differences. Although a Kirkus Reviews contributor found the poses somewhat stiff and unnatural, the critic felt that, for the most part, Banish "largely captured … the discreet charm of the ordinary." A Christian Century writer concluded that this "pleasant idea for a book [is] well-executed."
Banish's next two books, I Want to Tell You about My Baby and A Forever Family, are told from the viewpoints of children. In the former, a young boy looks forward to the birth of his young sibling with some dread. However, a short time after the baby arrives and smiles at him, the boy learns to think of the baby as "his," and not as competition for his mother's attention. Critics complimented Banish for accurately presenting the perspective of a four-year-old boy by using short declarative sentences that reflect the youngster's short attention span and vivid imagination; as Karen Perry wrote in School Library Journal, the author "captured the exact tone and expressions of a pre-schooler." "The wonderfully true-to-life text," added Lucy Young Clem in another School Library Journal review, "fits perfectly with the photographs, which are natural and unposed without being amateurish."
A Forever Family is the story of an eight-year-old girl named Jenny who has been adopted. The photographs and narrative portray an active and generally happy girl who is well adjusted, though she sometimes wonders about her birth parents. Jenny, who remains in touch with the black foster family she once lived with, shows readers "that people need not be parents to be important to a child," explained Deborah Stevenson in a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books review. Several critics noted Banish's subtle handling of multi-ethnic issues; Jenny's birth parents are Caucasian as well as Chinese. "Whether for cultural awareness or a plain good read," concluded Celia A. Huffman in School Library Journal, "this is a first-class choice."
In her 2003 book Focus on Living: Portraits of Americans with HIV and AIDS, Banish addresses a tough issue with her typically direct use of text and photos. Here she allows forty people of different backgrounds to tell their stories about their struggles with a highly stigmatized disease that may eventually kill them. Banish began her interviews in 1997, and updates readers on the status of her interviewees, a number of whom had died by the time the book was published in 2003. Reviewing the work, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "takes care to include people from all walks of life, … further breaking the silence and statistics" that overshadow people coping with these tragic diseases.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
AIDS Book Review Journal, Number 71, 2003, review of Focus on Living: Portraits of Americans with HIV and AIDS.
Booklist, February 15, 1977, review of City Families: Chicago and London, p. 867; March 15, 1992, Kay Weisman, review of A Forever Family, p. 1381.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1982, review of I Want to Tell You about My Baby, p. 162; May, 1992, Deborah Stevenson, review of A Forever Family, p. 230.
Christian Century, January 19, 1977, review of City Families, p. 45.
Horn Book, May-June, 1992, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of A Forever Family, p. 354.
Hudson Review, summer, 1977, Guy Davenport, review of City Families, pp. 319-320.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1976, review of City Families, p. 1320.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Jeffrey Beall, review of Focus on Living, p. 146.
Ms., December, 1982, Ellen Sweet, review of I Want to Tell You about My Baby, p. 94.
Publishers Weekly, January 20, 1992, review of A Forever Family, p. 66; May 12, 2003, review of Focus on Living, p. 61.
San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 1992, Susan Faust, "Finally, a Family," p. REV8.
School Library Journal, October, 1982, Karen Perry, review of I Want to Tell You about My Baby, pp. 137-138; November, 1988, Lucy Young Clem, review of I Want to Tell You about My Baby, pp. 99-100; April, 1992, Celia A. Huffman, review of A Forever Family, p. 102.
Washington Post Book World, May 9, 1982, review of I Want to Tell You about My Baby, p. 12; December 25, 1988, review of Let Me Tell You about My Baby, p. 9.
University of Massachusetts Press Web site, http://www.umass.edu/umpress/ (June 15, 2004).