Beale, Fleur 1945-

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BEALE, Fleur 1945-

PERSONAL: Born 1945, in Inglewood, New Zealand; daughter of Estelle Corney (a writer); children: two daughters. Education: Attended Victoria University and Teachers Training College (Christchurch, New Zealand).

ADDRESSES: Home—Wellington, New Zealand. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion, 77 W. 66th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10023.

CAREER: Young-adult novel and short-story writer and educator. Melville High School, Melville, New Zealand, teacher, 1985–. Dunedin College of Education, writer-in-residence, 1999.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honour Award, New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, 1999, for I Am Not Esther; multiple grants from Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council (now Creative New Zealand).


Red Dog in Bandit Country: A True Story as Told by Bill Redding to Fleur Beale (juvenile biography), Longacre Press (Dunedin, New Zealand), 2003.


The Great Pumpkin Battle, Shortland Publications (Auckland, New Zealand), 1988.

A Surprise for Anna, illustrated by Lyn Kriegler, Murdoch Books (North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1990.

Over the Edge, illustrated by Martin Bailey, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 1994.

The Rich and Famous Body and the Empty Chequebook, illustrated by Judith Trevelyan, Lands End Publishing (Lower Hutt, New Zealand), 1995.

Keep Out, illustrated by Marjorie Scott, Learning Media (Wellington, New Zealand), 1999.

Trucker, Learning Media (Wellington, New Zealand), 2000.

Walking Lightly, illustrated by Michaela Sangl, Mallinson Rendel (Wellington, New Zealand), 2004.


Slide the Corner, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 1993.

Against the Tide, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1993.

Driving a Bargain, illustrated by Lyn Kriegler, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1994.

The Fortune Teller, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1995.

Dear Pop, illustrated by Debe Mansfield, Lands End Publishing (Lower Hutt, New Zealand), 1995.

Fifteen and Screaming, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1995.

Rockman, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1996.

I Am Not Esther, Longacre Press (Dunedin, New Zealand), 1998, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Further Back than Zero, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 1998.

Destination Disaster, illustrated by Shawn Shea, Shortland Publications (Auckland, New Zealand), 1999.

Playing to Win, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 1999.

Deadly Prospect, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 2000.

Ambushed, illustrated by Martin Bailey, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 2001.

Lucky for Some, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 2002.

Lacey and the Drama Queens, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 2004.

My Story: A New Song in the Land—The Writings of Atapo, Paihia, c. 1840, Scholastic (Auckland, New Zealand), 2004.

ADAPTATIONS: Several of Beale's stories have been adapted for broadcast by Radio New Zealand.

SIDELIGHTS: Fleur Beale has published numerous novels for young adults and children in her native New Zealand, but she is probably best known for I Am Not Esther, which is also the first of her books to be released in the United States. This novel follows fourteen-year-old Kirby as her mother—who has never been the most organized and practical of women—gives Kirby two days' notice before leaving the girl with her Uncle Caleb, whom Kirby has never met, while she takes off to work in Africa with an aid agency. Kirby's life now changes more than she could have possibly imagined: Uncle Caleb and his family are members of a fundamentalist religious group, the Fellowship of the Children of the Faith, and they force Kirby to live by their strict interpretation of the Bible. She is renamed Esther, because everyone must have a Biblical name; is forbidden to watch television, read newspapers, listen to the radio, or look at herself in a mirror; and instructed to wear conservative clothing. At first Kirby rebels, but resistance proves futile. She eventually finds a place for herself in her new family, and even begins to enjoy her time there, even though her cousin Daniel and a sympathetic guidance counselor at school encourage her to fight to maintain her identity.

Although Beale clearly means to criticize certain aspect of fundamentalist cults, "the picture is nuanced," Roger Sutton wrote in Horn Book, "with unexpected moments of both generosity and hypocrisy shown throughout." As a Kirkus Reviews contributor explained, "Beale portrays the submission of one's will as offering safety and security to believers, even as she shows the damage and pain" it can cause. I Am Not Esther presents "an uncomfortable picture of the seductive nature of cults from a young person's perspective," Frances Bradburn concluded in Booklist.



Robinson, Roger, and Nelson Wattie, editors, The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, Oxford University Press (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1998.


Booklist, October 15, 2002, Frances Bradburn, review of I Am Not Esther, p. 401.

Horn Book, January-February, 2003, Roger Sutton, review of I Am Not Esther, p. 65.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of I Am Not Esther, p. 1216.

Kliatt, September, 2004, Amanda MacGregor, review of I Am Not Esther, p. 18.

Magpies, November, 2004, Rosemary Tisdall, review of Walking Lightly, p. 7S, November, 2004, Bill Nagelkerke, review of Lacey and the Drama Queens, p. 7S, March, 2005, Trevor Agnew, review of My Story: A New Song in the Land—The Writings of Atapo, Paihia, c. 1840, p. 3.

Publishers Weekly, September 30, 2002, review of I Am Not Esther, p. 72.

School Library Journal, November, 2002, Joel Shoemaker, review of I Am Not Esther, p. 154.


All about Romance Web sites, (May 6, 2005), Rachel Potter, review of I Am Not Esther.