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Collier, Kristi

Collier, Kristi

PERSONAL:

Born in New Castle, IN. Education: Indiana University—Bloomington, B.A., M.S. Hobbies and other interests: Running, cheering her daughter's sports teams, gardening, hunting for unicorns.

ADDRESSES:

Home and office—Louisville, KY. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, educator, and mental-health and school counselor.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Josette Frank Award for Fiction, Best Children's Book of the Year citation, Smithsonian, and International Reading Association/Children's Book Council Notable Book designation, all 2002, all for Jericho Walls.

WRITINGS:

Jericho Walls, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

Throwing Stones, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Becoming a writer was third on the list of career goals for Kristi Collier while growing up. "I desperately wanted to become the Queen of Narnia," the young-adult novelist and educator wrote on her home page, referencing C.S. Lewis's classic "Chronicles of Narnia" novel series. "When it didn't look like that was going to happen, I considered becoming a hobbit. I decided to become a writer as a last resort." Collier wrote a puppet play in fifth grade, and wrote her first novel (unpublished) between fifth and sixth grade. Getting one of her works published soon became her biggest challenge. "I needed a great deal of practice and wrote nine never-to-be-published novels … and many, many freelance magazine articles before starting work on my first book," she explained. That first book, Jericho Walls, earned Collier critical praise as well as the Josette Frank Award for Fiction.

In Jericho Walls, readers are transported to the 1950s, where Josephine struggles to find a place to fit in while conforming to her preacher father's expectations for her. As Josephine encounters the unwritten race rules practiced in her southern community, she decides that there are things more important than fitting in. "Jo's struggle for individualism and her love of adventure will echo readers' own feelings," predicted School Library Journal contributor Susan Cooley, and a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that Jericho Walls "breathes life into an important era in US history." According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Collier creates a compelling narrative voice in Jo Clawson." Though feeling the story could become didactic at times, Anne O'Malley wrote in Booklist that "readers will care about Jo and the tough choices she faces." While Betty Carter noted in Horn Book that Collier's story is somewhat predictable, "Jo's rejection of the weight of racism" illuminates the book's "realistic, but seldom articulated, Southern setting."

Throwing Stones is set in a different era of U.S. history. The year is now 1923, and Andy, a promising high school basketball player, joins his school's varsity team. Andy's place on the team reminds him of his brother, a star basketball player who died while fighting during World War I. While Andy struggles with his grief over losing his brother, he also competes with a fellow team member for the star position as well as the affection of a certain girl. Andy ends up getting sidelined after his effort to impress her results in an accident, but this tragedy proves to be a blessing in disguise when the teen discovers an aptitude for journalism. While noting that plot and subplots in Throwing Stones might cause confusion, Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan felt that "Collier weaves them into an involving novel with a full, varied cast of convincing characters." Also noting the novel's character development, Myrna Marler wrote in Kliatt that "Andy matures from a somewhat flawed protagonist to a more mature, generous hero."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2002, Anne O'Malley, review of Jericho Walls, p. 1318; September 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Throwing Stones, p. 115.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2002, review of Jericho Walls, p. 10.

Horn Book, July-August, 2002, Betty Carter, review of Jericho Walls, p. 456.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Jericho Walls, p. 564; September 15, 2006, review of Throwing Stones, p. 949.

Kliatt, November, 2006, Myrna Marler, review of Throwing Stones, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2002, review of Jericho Walls, p. 65.

School Library Journal, April, 2002, Susan Cooley, review of Jericho Walls, p. 142; November, 2006, M. Heather Campbell, review of Throwing Stones, p. 132.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2002, review of Jericho Walls, p. 115.

ONLINE

Kristi Collier Home Page,http://www.collierbooks.com (August 6, 2007).

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