Brill, Marlene Targ 1945- (Marlee Richards)

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Brill, Marlene Targ 1945- (Marlee Richards)


Born September 27, 1945, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Irving (a pharmacist) and Genevieve Targ (a homemaker); married Richard Brill (owner of a public relations and marketing firm), February 4, 1973; children: Alison Targ. Education: University of Illinois, B.S., 1967; Roosevelt University, M.A., 1973; Loyola University, administrative certificate, 1978.


Office—Marlene Targ Brill Communications, 314 Lawndale, Wilmette, IL 60091. E-mail—[email protected].


Worked as a curriculum specialist, media coordinator, and special education classroom teacher, 1967-80; Marlene Targ Brill Communications, Wilmette, IL, children's book author, speaker about writing, and writer-editor-reviewer, 1980—. Consultant and advocate for special education.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Society of Midland Authors, Authors Guild.


Merit award, Chicago Women in Publishing, 1988, for Hide-and-Seek Safety; "top ten" social studies citation, School of Librarians International, 1993, for Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad, and 1996, for Journey for Peace: The Story of Rigoberta Menchú; Parents' Choice Award, 1994, for Keys to Parenting a Child with Autism; "notable social studies trade book" citation, National Council for the Social Studies and Children's Book Council, 1998, for Diary of a Drummer Boy; "children's choice" selection, Children's Book Council and International Reading As- sociation, 1998, for Tooth Tales from Around the World, and c. 2004, for Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express; "best children's book" selection, Bank Street College, 2002, for Tourette Syndrome.



(With Kathi Checker) Unique Listening/Mainstreaming Stories, Instructional Dynamics, 1980.

John Adams, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1986.

I Can Be a Lawyer, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.

Libya, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.

James Buchanan, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1988.

Hide-and-Seek Safety, World Book (Chicago, IL), 1988.

Rainy Days and Rainbows, World Book (Chicago, IL), 1989.

Algeria, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.

Why Do We Have To?, World Book (Chicago, IL), 1990.

Mongolia, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1992.

Daniel in the Lion's Den, illustrated by Thomas Gianni, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 1992.

David and Goliath, illustrated by Thomas Gianni, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 1992.

Jonah and the Whale, illustrated by Gary Torrisi, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 1992.

Joseph's Coat of Many Colors, illustrated by Gary Torrisi, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 1992.

Noah's Ark, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 1992.

Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad, illustrated by Jamie Lee Porter, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.

(With Harry R. Targ) Guatemala, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

(With Harry R. Targ) Honduras, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

Guyana, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1994.

Trail of Tears: The Journey from Home, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1994.

Let Women Vote, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1996.

Small Paul and the Big Bully, Association for the Care of Children's Health, 1996.

Building the Capital City, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

Illinois, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 1996, 2nd edition, 2006.

Journey for Peace: The Story of Rigoberta Menchú, illustrated by Rubén De Anda, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1996.

Extraordinary Young People, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

Women for Peace, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1997.

Indiana, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, 2006.

Michigan, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 1998, revised edition, 2007.

Diary of a Drummer Boy, illustrated by Michael Garland, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1998.

Tooth Tales from Around the World, illustrated by Katya Krenina, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1998.

Winning Women in Ice Hockey, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 1999.

Winning Women in Soccer, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 1999.

Winning Women in Baseball and Softball, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 2000.

Winning Women in Basketball, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 2000.

Shoes through the Ages, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor, illustrated by Joanne Friar, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2001.

Tourette Syndrome, Twenty-First Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express, illustrated by Craig Orback, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Minnesota, illustrated by Christopher Santoro, Benchmark Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Veterans Day, illustrated by Qi Z. Wang, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Doctors, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Garbage Trucks, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Lung Cancer, Benchmark Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Alzheimer's Disease, Benchmark Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Nurses, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Barack Obama: Working to Make a Difference, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Concrete Mixers, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Down Syndrome, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, (New York, NY), 2007.

Diabetes, Twenty-First Century Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Marshall "Major" Taylor: World Champion Bicyclist, 1899-1901, Twenty-First Century Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Autism, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (Tarrytown, NY), 2008.

Multiple Sclerosis, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (Tarrytown, NY), 2008.

Contributor to books, including The President's World, World Book (Chicago, IL), 1982. Author of "The Important You" column for Career World, 1981.


Project Aware (slide-tape production), Illinois Association for Retarded Citizens, 1980.

Washington, DC, Travel Guide, World Book (Chicago, IL), 1982.

Infertility and You, Budlong Press (Chicago, IL), 1984.

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 1993.

Keys to Parenting a Child with Autism, Barron's Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 1994, revised edition, 2001.

The AMA Guide to Asthma, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Raising Smart Kids for Dummies, Wiley (New York, NY), 2003.


Some of Brill's books have been recorded as audio books.


Marlene Targ Brill writes books for both children and adults. The majority of her books celebrate the accomplishments of women and girls, such as the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú. Journey for Peace: The Story of Rigoberta Menchú introduces young American readers to a courageous Mayan woman who brought world attention to the plight of her people in Guatemala. A Kirkus Reviews critic found the title "an accessible and informative illustrated biography." Women for Peace, published in 1997, was noted by Ilene Cooper in Booklist for its "consistently engaging and reflective" writing.

One of Brill's most successful books is Diary of a Drummer Boy, a fictitious diary based on the true-life Civil War experiences of twelve-year-old Orion Howe. Howe joined the 55th Illinois regiment as a drummer boy in 1861 and served for two years, earning a Congressional Medal of Honor. According to Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, the work "will serve well as a lively, vivid introduction to the Civil War." A Kirkus Reviews critic likewise felt that the book "succeeds as fiction, and will have many uses in the history classroom."

Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad presents the story of a young boy who lived in Ohio in the 1840s and grew up to become a minister and teacher. Before that, though, he and his Quaker family participated in the Underground Railroad that enabled runaway slaves to make their way silently toward Canada and freedom. Brill's book relates eleven-year-old Allen's contribution to the escape of a slave named Henry James. Julius Miller was another young boy who made a personal contribution to American history. Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express is his story—the story of the youngest relay rider of the Pony Express. In 1860, at age eleven, Julius "Bronco Charlie" braved the darkness, bad weather, wild animals, and dangerous terrain to carry the mail to and from the western wilderness in the days before trains and the telegraph connected the frontier to the rest of America.

Brill once told CA: "Some authors are born to write. Although I always hoped to do something in the arts, writing was not my first passion. Over time, however, words became my vehicle of expression, my way of contributing to my community, influencing others, and changing perceptions.

"Many of my book ideas originate from my desire to empower children and write women into history. Even in our supposedly enlightened times, traditional histories still offer a view of the world through men's eyes. Books and periodicals focus almost entirely on men's achievements, lives, and wars. Since much of my writing is for children, I want all my readers—girls and boys—to be able to relate to what they read by finding subjects in books who are like them."

Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor is the true story of a girl who worked as a child laborer at a New England textile mill in the 1800s. Her invention of a fail-safe device for the textile loom—a device that would stop the movement of the shuttle in case of an emergency—was credited with saving lives and preventing injuries. Her early success inspired Knight to devote the rest of her life to the invention of a wide variety of products, from machinery to items as simple as the paper bag, which could improve user safety, save time, or add convenience to daily activities.

Brill continued: "The ‘Sport Success’ series of four titles—Winning Women in Ice Hockey, Winning Women in Baseball and Softball, Winning Women in Soccer, and Winning Women in Basketball—highlights women's contributions to these sports. Each book emphasizes the joys and talents of women athletes from sports that are rarely covered in the media. By providing role models in these sports, young readers learn that active girls and women are involved in all sports, and they can be, too.

"Women for Peace focuses on women's ongoing involvement in creating peaceful communities. More than a book about women, this title seeks to provide an alternative to the many books about war. The Chicago Peace Museum credited Women for Peace as the primary inspiration for its 1999 exhibit, ‘Women's Peace Initiatives: Transforming Community.’ Material from this exhibit, some written by me, became part of Planting Seeds of Peace, the 2000 calendar from the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development. Authors never know where their words will travel and how they will affect readers.

"Another way books contribute to a more peaceful world is to reduce anxiety about people who are different. Since I was a special educator for thirteen years before becoming an author, I write about children who have special needs, such as autism, Down syndrome, and Tourette syndrome. My goal is to break down barriers to getting along with people who are different by helping readers understand these conditions and realize we are all different in our own way and deserve fair treatment.

"Comfort with others also stems from a strong self-image, another goal of my writing. Extraordinary Young People celebrates the accomplishments and special talents of young children and teenagers. The girls and boys profiled in this book acted in ways that were amazing for their young ages, cultures, and times. Several faced harsh parents, poverty, war, or various other handicaps—many of the same issues children face today—and still managed to shine through their everyday accomplishments. My historical stories, including Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad, Diary of a Drummer Boy, Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor, and Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express, involve children who experienced similar hardships, persevered through adversity, and solved their problems independently."

Not all of Brill's historical stories are set in the distant past. When Illinois senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency, his background was already accessible to young readers in Brill's biography, Barack Obama: Working to Make a Difference. Her biography covers the politician's early years as a child of mixed racial and social origins, his early travels and education abroad, and the events that paved his way into public life. Brill based her account on interviews with the people that Obama encountered along the way and illustrated her book with photographs from the man's childhood. Barack Obama presents a relatively balanced account, reported School Library Journal reviewer Melissa Christy Buron, in the story of a young man who had not yet captured the media spotlight as the first African American to secure a major party's nomination as a candidate for the U.S. presidency.

Another book, Marshall "Major" Taylor: World Champion Bicyclist, 1899-1901, is the story of a man who lived before any African American would even dream of becoming president of the United States, but the media spotlight did shine upon him for a brief time in his life. Taylor was a bicycle racer at a time when black men were not often welcome at athletic competitions. He persisted through many harsh times and tribulations until finally, in 1899, he achieved his goal of becoming the official world-champion bicycle racer.

Brill summarized: "Most of all, I try to convey the fun of nonfiction to readers. Writing nonfiction is one of the only jobs that allows someone to investigate drummer boys one day and world peace or the history of the tooth fairy, as in Tooth Tales from Around the World, the next."



Booklist, September 1, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Journey for Peace: The Story of Rigoberta Menchú, p. 120; May 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Women for Peace, p. 1569; March 1, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Diary of a Drummer Boy, p. 1132; July, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Tooth Tales from Around the World, p. 1884; September 15, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor, p. 217; March 1, 2002, Roger Leslie, review of Tourette Syndrome, p. 1101; October 15, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Doctors, p. 426; March 15, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Barack Obama: Working to Make a Difference, p. 45; September 1, 2007, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Marshall "Major" Taylor: World Champion Bicyclist, 1899-1901, p. 134.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1996, review of Journey for Peace; February 1, 1998, review of Diary of a Drummer Boy.

School Library Journal, December, 2001, Carolyn Janssen, review of Margaret Knight, p. 118; April, 2002, Mary F. Hofmann, review of Tourette Syndrome, p. 166; August, 2004, Anne Knickerbocker, review of Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express, p. 106; May, 2005, Christine A. Moesch, review of Alzheimer's Disease, p. 144; November, 2005, Melissa Christy Buron, review of Veterans Day, p. 112; May, 2006, Sharon R. Pearce, review of Illinois, p. 140; August, 2006, Melissa Christy Buron, review of Barack Obama, p. 134; June, 2007, Teresa Wittman, review of Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad, p. 69.

Stone Soup, March-April, 1998, Josephine Wolff, review of Journey for Peace, p. 10.


Hello! I'm Marlene Targ Brill: Welcome to My Corner of the Web, (May 28, 2008).

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Brill, Marlene Targ 1945- (Marlee Richards)

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