Chaconas, D(oris) J. 1938-
CHACONAS, D(oris) J. 1938-
PERSONAL: Born March 11, 1938, in Milwaukee, WI; daughter of Paul (a factory worker) and Kathryn (a homemaker; maiden name, Baratka) Kozak; married Nick Chaconas (in sales), October 12, 1957; children: Stacy DeKeyser, Stephanie Mielke, Michaela, Nicki. Ethnicity: "Slovenian." Religion: Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Needlework.
MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Council for Wisconsin Writers.
AWARDS, HONORS: Archer/Eckblad Children's Picture Book Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers (CWW), 2000, for On a Wintry Morning; Betty Ren Wright Picture Book Award, CWW, 2002, for One Little Mouse.
A Hat for Lily, illustrated by Betsy Warren, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1967.
In a Window on Greenwater Street, illustrated by Carroll Dolezal, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1970.
(As Doris J. Chaconas) The Way the Tiger Walked, illustrated by Frank Bozzo, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1970.
Danger in the Swamp (originally published in Jack and Jill magazine), illustrated by Haris Petie, Lantern Press (Mount Vernon, NY), 1971.
AS DORI CHACONAS
On a Wintry Morning, illustrated by Stephen Johnson, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.
One Little Mouse, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Goodnight, Dewberry Bear, illustrated by Florence S. Davis, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN), 2003.
Momma, Will You?, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
That Blessed Christmas Night, illustrated by Deborah Perez-Stable, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: "Cork and Fuzz" easy-to-read series, illustrated by Lisa McCue, for Viking (New York, NY); Street Horses, illustrated by Ted Lewin, for Peachtree Publishers (Atlanta, GA), due in 2005; Coriander, the Contrary Hen, illustrated by Marsha Gray Carrington, for Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), due in 2005; The Winter Mouseling, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung, for Viking (New York, NY), due in 2005; Dancing with Katrina, for Peachtree Publishers (Atlanta, GA).
SIDELIGHTS: In the 1960s, D. J. Chaconas published several children's books and numerous stories for children in magazines before taking up needlework design and giving up writing for thirty years. Then, inspired by questions from one of her adult daughters, who had become interested in writing for children, Chaconas rediscovered her desire to write. She joined a writers' support group on the Internet and revived her former career.
While cleaning her basement one day, she found the draft for the story that became One Little Mouse, brushed it up a bit, and sold it to a publisher within a month. The second book she sold, On a Wintry Morning, became her first to appear in bookstores after her nearly three-decade hiatus. Like her others, On a Wintry Morning is a simple story told in rhymes that delighted reviewers. Chaconas's lyrics describe a little girl and her father spending a winter morning together. They bundle up to go out in the snow where they sled, hunt for animal tracks, go for a sleigh ride, and buy a puppy at the market. Later they return home to dry off, warm up, and the little girl falls asleep to the sound of her father's humming voice. The story is "by turns exuberant and soothing," School Library Journal critic Jane Marino observed, and "celebrates the small moments that a father and toddler share." Likewise, a contributor to Publishers Weekly noted the quiet, nostalgic tone of the story, which bypasses the drama of plot, "but compensates with a cornucopia of child-pleasing images." This reviewer concluded by calling On a Wintry Morning "as nourishing as hearty winter soup."
One Little Mouse sports a jauntier manner, and is both a counting book and a story told in rhyme about a little mouse who goes out in search of a roomier place to live. In the meadow he encounters two moles, three frogs, and so on, up to ten, finding that he is just not comfortable in the homes of these other creatures. Finally, he makes his way home again, past the homes of all his animal friends, and counting down from ten to one until he makes his way to his own home. The result is "a charming counting book that will appeal especially to the read-aloud set," predicted Cathie E. Bashaw in School Library Journal. Chaconas's facility with telling a story in rhyme was again the subject of praise. When interviewer Julia Durango of the Web site By the Book asked the author: "Do you have any deep, dark secrets for writing such wonderful rhyme?," Chaconas replied: "I think I was born with a small clock ticking in my brain. I've always liked rhythms of any kind . . . music . . . poetry . . . sleet clicking on the window, or whatever. I think I remember every nursery rhyme and song I ever learned as a child, because I loved them so much. I'm lucky to have an ear for rhythms."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of On a Wintry Morning, p. 247; September 1, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of One Little Mouse, p. 136.
Horn Book Guide, spring, 2001, Nell Beram, review of On a Wintry Morning, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, October 23, 2000, review of On a Wintry Morning, p. 74.
School Library Journal, November, 2000, Jane Marino, review of On a Wintry Morning, p. 112; August, 2002, Cathie E. Bashaw, review of One Little Mouse, p. 148.
By the Book,http://www.geocities.com/juliadurango/ (February 13, 2001), Julia Durango, "Dori Chaconas Warms up Winter."
Cynthia Leitich Smith: Children's Literature Resources,http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/ (June 12, 2003), "The Story behind the Story: Dori Chaconas on One Little Mouse" and "The Story behind the Story: Dori Chaconas on On a Wintry Morning."
Kezi Matthews Late Bloomers Page,http://kezimatthews.com/ (June 12, 2003), "Dori Chaconas."