Bradford, Karleen 1936-
BRADFORD, Karleen 1936-
PERSONAL: Born December 16, 1936, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Karl H. (an accountant) and Eileen (a homemaker; maiden name, Ney) Scott; married James C. Bradford (a foreign service officer), August 22, 1959; children: Donald, Kathleen, Christopher. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1959. Hobbies and other interests: Flying, scuba diving, reading.
ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Writers' Union of Canada, 40 Wellington St. E, 3rd Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1C7, Canada; fax: 519-376-9847. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: T. Eaton Co., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, advertising copywriter, 1959; West Toronto Young Women's Christian Association, Toronto, social worker, 1959-63; writer, 1963—.
MEMBER: International Board on Books for Young People, Writers Union of Canada (curriculum chair, 1984-85; first vice chair, 1997-98), Canadian Authors Association, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, PEN.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grant from Ontario Arts Council, 1977; first prize in juvenile writing, Canadian Authors Association, 1978, for short story "A Wish about Freckles"; CommCept Canadian KiddLit Contest, best children's novel of the year, 1979, for The Other Elizabeth; grants from Canada Council, 1983, 1985, 1996; "Our Choice" Awards, Canadian Children's Book Centre, 1987-88, for The Haunting at Cliff House, The Nine Days Queen, and The Stone in the Meadow, 1990, for Windward Island and Write Now!, 1995-96, for There Will Be Wolves, 1995-96 and 1997-98, for Animal Heroes, More Animal Heroes, and The Thirteenth Child, 1998-99, for Dragonfire, 2000, for Lionheart's Scribe, and 2002, for Whisperings of Magic, and selection as an outstanding book of 1996, for Shadows on a Sword; Max and Greta Ebel Award, 1990, for Windward Island; Young Adult Canadian Book Award, Canadian Library Association, 1992, for There Will Be Wolves; cited among children's books of the year, Child Study Children's Book Committee, 1996, for There Will Be Wolves; Moose Jaw Young Readers' Choice Award, 2001, for Dragonfire; selection as one of 100 best Canadian Books for Today's Children and Teens, Toronto Public Library, for There Will Be Wolves.
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
A Year for Growing, illustrated by Charles Hilder, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1977, revised edition published as Wrong Again, Robbie, 1983.
The Other Elizabeth, illustrated by Deborah Drew-Brook, Gage (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1982.
I Wish There Were Unicorns, illustrated by Greg Ruhl, Gage (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1983.
The Stone in the Meadow, illustrated by Greg Ruhl, Gage (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1984.
The Haunting at Cliff House, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1985.
(Editor) Our Books in the Curriculum, three volumes, Writers' Union of Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985.
The Nine Days Queen, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.
Write Now!, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1988.
Windward Island, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.
There Will Be Wolves, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.
The Thirteenth Child, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.
Shadows on a Sword, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.
Dragonfire, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.
A Different Kind of Champion, Scholastic Canada (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1998.
Lionheart's Scribe, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
Animal Heroes (originally published in mid-1990s), Scholastic Canada (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
With Nothing but Our Courage: The Loyalist Diary of Mary MacDonald, Scholastic Canada (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2002.
You Can't Rush a Cat, Orca Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.
Also author of the book More Animal Heroes. Work represented in anthologies, including Beyond Belief, Clarke, Irwin (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1980. Contributor to newspapers and magazines, including Cricket, Canadian Children's Literature, Jabberwocky, and Instructor. Editor of newsletters.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Angeline, a novel dealing with two survivors of the Children's Crusade.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian children's author Karleen Bradford has combined her experiences living around the world with her interests in both young people and the past to produce a series of award-winning historical novels that profile teens from various times and places in difficult situations. Perhaps her most ambitious historical novels, There Will Be Wolves and its sequels, Shadows on a Sword and Lionheart's Scribe, depict life in the eleventh century, specifically the religious crusades in which Europeans journeyed to the holy lands of the Middle East with the intention of wresting the territory from non-Christians.
Bradford has spent many years "traveling from country to country," which, she once told CA, is "an experience that has proven to be wonderfully stimulating for me both as a person and as a writer." She has lived in Argentina, Southeast Asia, South America, Germany, and England. "During the time we lived [in England] we found that two of our favorite places were Cornwall and Wales, and two of my books take place in those locales: The Stone in the Meadow (Cornwall) and The Haunting at Cliff House (Wales)." Both these books, along with The Other Elizabeth, have what Bradford calls a "back to the past" theme. "In The Stone in the Meadow a young Canadian girl visiting her uncle is magically transported back to 300 BC, a time when Britain was occupied by warring tribes of Celts and their Druid priests," the author noted. "In The Other Elizabeth, a modern-day girl enters an old building in Upper Canada Village—a pioneer village [museum] in Ontario—and suddenly finds herself back in the year 1813, during the war between the United States of America and Canada. The Haunting at Cliff House concerns a Canadian girl who has accompanied her father, a novelist and university professor, on his sabbatical to a small town in Wales. They move into an old house on the coast which he has inherited, and the heroine finds that it is haunted by the ghost of another girl who lived there over a hundred years before." Describing the general theme of the novels, Bradford commented that they are "concerned with events that happened in the past, and the possibility of altering those events in such a way that the future, as well, is altered. It's a theme that has fascinated me for a long time."
In 1983 she traveled to England to research Nine Days Queen, a fictional portrait of Lady Jane Grey. The novel recalls the brief life of fifteen-year-old Queen Jane, from her privileged childhood through her love affair with young King Edward VI, her arranged marriage with Guilford Dudley, the political turmoil that led to her short-lived reign as queen, and the execution of both herself and her husband by order of Queen Mary in 1554. Praising Bradford's ability to present the political facets of Lady Jane's situation clearly, Sara Ellis noted in Canadian Materials that "Karleen Bradford will be a writer to watch as she expands her writing horizons."
Bradford presents her extensive research of the People's Crusade of the eleventh century in a number of her works. Beginning with her novel There Will Be Wolves, she tackled a compelling chapter in European and religious history—the Christian pilgrimage from Cologne, Germany, to the holy city of Jerusalem during which Christian zealots slaughtered many Jews and pillaged their homes under the guise of liberating the holy city from Turkish infidels. The book's protagonist, Ursula, is a young healer living with her ailing father in Cologne when the religious figure Peter the Hermit calls upon Christians to march to Jerusalem. Ursula, who has been harassed by the church for her supposed practice of witchcraft, is allowed to join Peter's followers to cleanse herself of sin in lieu of being burned at the stake. Accompanied by her father, who dies along the way, she is befriended by a young stonecutter named Bruno. Bradford continued the story of Ursula and Bruno in Shadows on a Sword and Lionheart's Scribe, the second and third of four projected novels on the period.
Other novels by Bradford, including A Year for Growing and I Wish There Were Unicorns, take place in present-day Canada and focus on such issues as learning to get along with others and coping with new and trying circumstances. I Wish There Were Unicorns concerns thirteen-year-old Rachel's move from the bustle of urban Toronto to a rural farm in Canada after her parents' divorce. Rachel is at first angry and resentful, but her feelings about her family change after her younger sister runs away in order to protect an abused dog that she has befriended. Although noting that some of the novel's characters are too upbeat to be believable, Frieda Wishinsky observed in Quill and Quire that Bradford is successful "in portraying a young girl's confused feelings without sounding pedantic, which, in itself, is an accomplishment."
Windward Island takes place on the southern coast of Nova Scotia, a world of lighthouse keepers and Atlantic shoreline fishermen. Research began for Bradford four years before the release of the book, in the spring of 1985; she was able to spend several weeks living on a small lighthouse island in the area. "There I found a peace and a strength that I have not found anywhere else, and I want[ed] very much to write about it," she admitted to CA. The novel that resulted is the story of teens Caleb and Loren and their feelings about leaving their island home and moving to the Nova Scotia mainland. Roger Burford Mason, writing in Quill and Quire, appreciated the way that Windward Island presents "the timeless aspirations, fears, jealousies, and problems of young people growing up."
Another of Bradford's stories set in modern times is The Thirteenth Child, a novel for young readers about a girl who lives in a fantasy world in order to avoid the harsh realities of her own life. Kate has watched as her father's alcoholism has destroyed her once-stable family. Writing romantic fantasies is Kate's way of coping with her problems, but fantasy becomes reality when she becomes drawn to Mike, a loner in town who strikes her as both "dangerous" and fascinating. Canadian Materials contributor Margaret Mackey praised the novel's "tight" plot and maintained that "the reactions of the characters are believable for the most part."
With Nothing but Our Courage: A Loyalist Diary of Mary MacDonald follows the fate of the MacDonald family after the American War of Independence. Forced to leave their home in Albany, New York, they make their way north to find a new home in Canada. This story brings to life the hardships the pioneers endured when faced with surviving and cutting a home for themselves out of the dense and inhospitable Canadian bush.
Bradford told CA: "I've often been asked why I write for young people and whether I might one day write a 'real' book. My answer is that books for young people are as real as books can get. It's important that our children and teenagers read about others their own ages who are facing problems, coping with those problems, and growing—moving on in their lives, no matter what happens to them. It is important for them to know that they are not alone, that others have gone through what they are going through, that there is a way out. It doesn't matter whether my books are set in contemporary times, in the past, or in a world of fantasy that I have created. When I write about teenagers who get caught up in the wars of the Middle Ages, I am writing about teenagers who are caught up in the wars that ravage our planet today. When I write in my fantasy novels Dragonfire and Whisperings of Magic about a young man who must fight to regain his birthright, a young girl who must learn to trust, the struggles that I write about are no different from the conflicts young people face today. If I cannot always offer solutions, I try my best to offer hope and, whenever possible, humor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Baker, Deirdre and Ken Setterington, A Guide to Canadian Children's Books, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Buzzeo, Toni and Jane Kurtz, editors, Terrific Connections, Libraries Unlimited (Littleton, CO), 1999.
Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators, Scholastic Canada (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2002.
The Storymakers: Writing Children's Books, Canadian Children's Book Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Writing Stories, Making Pictures, Canadian Children's Book Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.
Books in Canada, November, 1992, p. 38.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Literature, October, 1996, p. 50.
Canadian Author, winter, 1995.
Canadian Children's Literature, Volume 48, 1987, pp. 85-86; Volume 62, 1991, Hilary Turner, review of There Will Be Wolves, p. 110; Volume 73, 1994, p. 71; Volume 77, 1995, pp. 88-89; Volume 83, 1996, pp. 75-77.
Canadian Materials, January, 1988, Sara Ellis, review of Nine Days Queen, p. 5; March, 1990, p. 70; November, 1992, p. 304; September, 1993; November-December, 1994, Margaret Mackey, review of The Thirteenth Child, p. 229.
CANSCAIP Newsletter, summer, 1998.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1996, p. 964.
Ottawa Citizen, December 18, 1994.
Publishers Weekly, June 24, 1996, p. 62.
Quill and Quire, July, 1983, Frieda Wishinsky, review of I Wish There Were Unicorns, p. 60; August, 1985; October, 1989, Roger Burford Mason, review of Windward Island, pp. 14, 16; December, 1992, p. 27; September, 1994, Celia Barker Lottridge, review of The Thirteenth Child, pp. 73-74.
Resource Links, April, 1996.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1997, p. 27.