Bonsall, Joseph S. 1948-

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Bonsall, Joseph S. 1948-


Born May 18, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA; son of Joseph and Lillie Bonsall; married; wife's name Mary Ann, September 23, 1982; children: Sabrina Carver, Jen Stevens. Ethnicity: "White." Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Fishing, boating, tennis, working on his farm.


Office—c/o Kathy Harris, 88 New Shackle Island, Hendersonville, TN 37075. E-mail—[email protected]


Oak Ridge Boys (country music vocal group), member of group, beginning 1973. Also worked as a television host for the Nashville Network and as a motivational speaker. Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation, cofounder.


Molly (juvenile), illustrated by Erin Marie Mauterer, Ideals (Nashville, TN), 1997.

The Home (juvenile), Ideals (Nashville, TN), 1997.

Outside (juvenile), Ideals (Nashville, TN), 1998.

Brewster (juvenile), Ideals (Nashville, TN), 1999.

G.I. Joe & Lillie: Remembering a Life of Love and Loyalty (nonfiction), New Leaf Press (Green Forest, AR), 2003.

An American Journey: Over 30 Years on the Road to Memories, Music & Legend; The Oak Ridge Boys, New Leaf Press (Green Forest, AR), 2004.

An Inconvenient Christmas (fiction), illustrated by Jonathan Taylor, New Leaf Press (Green Forest, AR), 2004.

Also author of Visit, available for reading at Bonsall's Internet Web site.


Although his primary road to fame has been as lead singer in the popular and long-lived country-western group the Oak Ridge Boys, Joseph S. Bonsall won a host of new fans as the author of a series of children's books. His "Molly" stories, featuring engaging feline—and sometimes canine—characters, were inspired by Bonsall's own five cats: Molly, Old Pumpkin, Omaha, Gypsy, and Sally Ann.

The first book in the series, Molly, tells the story of how a young calico kitten was able to find a new home after the rest of her litter was taken to the animal shelter. She eventually finds a loving owner in Mother Mary, a woman who takes Molly in. The youngest of the four cats living at The Home, Molly longs to venture outside, and she learns the ways of the world by asking questions of the older, more experienced cats who share her space. While School Library Journal contributor Sally R. Dow observed that Molly, with its "vaguely religious overtones," contains a moral tone that is perhaps too strong, Bonsall intentionally injects such inspirational elements into his writing.

Subsequent books in the Molly series include The Home, where readers learn more about Molly and her dream of going outside. In Outside the young kitten's wish is granted, and she finds trouble on her tail. However, outside cats Spooker and the Dude teach Molly to be streetwise and avoid the bad-tempered stray known as Red Cat. Brewster features a lovable bulldog that becomes a good friend to Molly despite his somewhat fearsome appearance.

Although Bonsall's touring and performing schedule with the Oak Ridge Boys has kept his free time at a minimum, he still finds time to write, one of his favorite pastimes. "It is amazing how much time on the road there is to use your time positively," he explained to Matthew Carpenter for the Oaksworld Web site. "Motels, airplanes, bus rides. I even write at home." Home for Bonsall is a 400-acre farm located near the heart of country music: Nashville, Tennessee.

The Molly books got their start in a hotel room in Las Vegas, while Bonsall was touring with his band. Armed with encouragement and advice from several friends, Bonsall approached a few publishers with his story, but was turned down because of Molly's moral and religious undertones. Fortunately, when Bonsall returned home to the Nashville area, he found a willing publisher—Ideals—right in his own back yard.

As a means of giving something back to his fans, Bonsall and his wife Mary Ann formed the Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation, an organization that provides scholarship money to send young, aspiring veterinarians and teachers to college. In 1999 he was the keynote speaker at the Literacy Volunteers of America, and he continues to participate in motivational speaking engagements in addition to his many obligations as a musician, author, farmer, and family man. Bonsall's advice to young people—not only aspiring writers but all kids with dreams—is a reflection of his own path to success.



School Library Journal, December, 1997, Sally R. Dow, review of Molly, p. 81.

Scottsdale Tribune, November 3, 1999, Betty Webb, "Oak Ridge Boys Lead Singer Turns Author."


Joseph S. Bonsall Home Page, (July 29, 2006).

Oaksworld, (July 29, 2006).