Boland, Janice

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BOLAND, Janice

PERSONAL: Born in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Joseph (a photo engraver) and Lena Marchetti (a school teacher) Marino; married James Boland (in corporate finance and real estate), 1960; children: Robert, John. Education: Fordham University, B.S.; graduate study at Fordham University; also studied visual arts and graphic communication and design. Politics: "Humanitarian." Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Education, herbalism, music, the arts.

ADDRESSES: Home—Box 352, Cross River, NY 10518. Office—Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc., Box 585, Katonah, NY 10536.

CAREER: Writer, illustrator, and graphic artist. Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc., Katonah, NY, director of children's books, 1990—; also worked in editorial, art, and production positions. Former school teacher and adjunct professor of writing and children's book illustration.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, National Teachers Association, National Federation of Teachers, Civil Service Employees Association, American Association of University Women.

AWARDS, HONORS: Pick of the List selection, American Booksellers Association, 1993, for Annabel; Children's Choice selection, International Reading

Association/Children's Book Council, 1996-97, for Annabel Again; Washington Irving Award, 1998, for A Dog Named Sam.


Annabel, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Dial (New York, NY), 1993.

Annabel Again, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Dial (New York, NY), 1994.

A Dog Named Sam, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Dial (New York, NY), 1996.

The Fox, illustrated by Joe Boddy, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1996.

The Strongest Animal, illustrated by Gary Torrisi, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1996.

El Zorro, illustrated by Joe Boddy, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1996.

(And photographer) The Pond, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1997.

Zippers, illustrated by Judith Pfeiffer, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1997.

Breakfast with John, illustrated by Joe Veno, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1997.

Sunflowers, illustrated by Joe Veno, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 1998.

My Dog Fuzzy, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 2001.

So Sleepy, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 2001.

Alley Cat, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), 2002.

Strange Things, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY), in press.

Also author of Mrs. Murphy's Crows, Richard C. Owen Publishers (Katonah, NY).

A Dog Named Sam has been translated into Japanese and German; The Strongest Animal has been translated into Spanish.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A book about carousels; further tales of Sam the dog's adventures; a picture book about a nonmusical child in a musical family; a book about elephants in New York City; producing a series of fine art etchings; creating oil portraits of horses, dogs, and cats.

SIDELIGHTS: Janice Boland once told CA: "Before I could read or write, I was drawing stories. My mother was a schoolteacher and a great advocate of literacy. My father was artistically and musically gifted. Our house was filled with books and drawing material and comic books. I remember understanding the stories in the comic books before I could read, by looking at the pictures. My family loved to tell each other stories about the past and about current happenings and daily home, work, and school experiences. Most of the stories ended in a humorous, dramatic, or memorable way. Every summer my mother, my sister, and I, and our various pets, including a bantam fighting rooster, multiple hamsters, and our big red dog, headed to our country home. There, I explored the outdoors with my dog for company and protection. My mother encouraged my curiosity and fascination with nature and my inclination to encounter it on my own. She fostered in me and my sister a sense of responsibility, independence, inquisitiveness, and wonder.

"My first trade book, Annabel, is really a very brief autobiography. When I was writing it I wasn't aware of that, but after it was published I realized how much Mother Pig is like my mother. She expects Annabel to be adventurous and successful in everything she does, and Annabel is. That's the way we were brought up.

"In college I majored in primary education. I took extra literature, art, and design courses and studied with some very inspiring professors. I taught in the New York City public school system and in New York state and Connecticut public and private schools, as well as university-level courses. I continued taking courses in children's literature, writing, communication, design, and the graphic and visual arts. I knew that I really wanted to create children's books from inception to the printed form.

"When my own children were infants their first gifts were books. They loved books. And I now had the perfect excuse to fill our home with children's literature, art, and poetry books.

"My second book, Annabel Again, was about an adventure I had as a child. My friend and I discovered an old barn on an abandoned road. It was filled with old spooky stuff and a brass-bound chest. While we were trying to unlock the chest, barn swallows looped and swooped over us. We never did get the chest open—but we knew it was filled with a treasure of gold and jewels.

"My third trade book, A Dog Named Sam, is the story of my children's adventures with their yellow Labrador retriever. He was my children's companion and best friend for fifteen years, and did all the silly, endearing things Sam does in my stories.

"In 1990 I began a publishing career, working for Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc., an educational publishing house. We developed a collection of children's author autobiographies and a collection of good literature books with instructional value for children in kindergarten and first and second grades. It started with a vision that Richard Owen had to create an ever-expanding core reading and writing program of books for beginning and fluent readers and aspiring young writers, books that the children could read with success and enjoyment. With his support and encouragement we created a children's book department of which I am the director. My staff and I work with authors, illustrators, and photographers—ninety-five percent of whom are first timers—to develop the manuscripts and art into benchmark books for children at the emergent, early, and fluent stages of literacy.

"My book The Strongest Animal, which is part of our 'Books for Young Learners' collection, was inspired by a friend's visit to the Bronx Zoo while babysitting. The Fox is based on a fox who came each morning to see if the pet ducks and chickens my children were raising had forgotten to sleep in their house. The Pond is the story of the animals I see throughout the seasons at a little pond two miles from my home. Breakfast with John is the story of my little hen, Rose, and her first egg, found by my son John. Zippers is the story of what happened to my suitcase in Boston. The book Sunflowers grew out of my pleasure in cultivating those fun flowers. All of my additional books are inspired by and based on real-life happenings.

"I work on things simultaneously. I like to write two or three different books at the same time. Each stimulates ideas and enthusiasm for the other. I also love to do research for both my art and my stories. And of course I love to read. Lately, many of my choices for leisure reading have been all kinds of nonfiction such as autobiographies and travel memoirs. The travel books by Dervla Murphy are among my favorites.

"As the director of children's books at Richard C. Owen Publishers, I have opportunities to work with wonderful and gifted authors and artists, such as Denice Fleming, Eve Bunting, Paul Goble, Ruth Heller, James Howe, Jean Van Leeuwen, Jane Yolen, Jonathan London, Patricia Polacco, and Frank Asch, to name just a few. Each one has an impact on my creativity and my commitment to children's literature.

"It is not easy to get published. It takes hard work, dedication, perseverance, and enthusiasm. But what a great feeling it is when you see a child reading and enjoying a book you have created. You feel that you have done something worthwhile.

"My advice to aspiring authors and artists is the same advice I gave my students when I taught courses in writing and illustrating children's literature: 'Visit the children's room at your local library. Read all the books you can. Write every day. Hone your craft. And never give up.'"

Recently Boland described her writing process: "I spend a lot of time observing and thinking. When an idea comes I write it in pencil, making adjustments, changes, additions. Often I write the whole story first in a rough draft, then I put it in the computer and begin revising. Sometimes I revise many times, sometimes very little. Then I put the piece aside and go on to other creative work: art, reading, another manuscript. I return to the piece to refine and revise it. I always read my work aloud; if no one is there to hear, I read aloud to myself. When I believe the work is ready to be seen, I send it out for consideration for publication."



Booklist, January 15, 1993, p. 918; April 1, 1996, p. 1375.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1996, p. 223.

School Library Journal, March, 1993, pp. 170-171; August, 1995, p. 115; April, 1996, p. 99.