Born in Springfield, IL; married; husband's name Akila; children: two.
Writer. Has also worked as a housekeeper, sweater designer, and school custodian.
Newbery Honor Book citation, American Library Association, 2000, for Getting Near to Baby.
Just before Daybreak, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Getting Near to Baby, Putnam (New York, NY), 1999.
Say Yes, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Summer's End, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.
The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
Maude March on the Run; or, Trouble Is Her Middle Name, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
Love Me Tender, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.
Audrey Couloumbis is the author of a number of critically acclaimed works for young adults. Her first novel for teens, Getting Near to Baby, was a Newbery Honor Book selection.
Couloumbis developed an early interest in storytelling, often creating "serial stories that I told myself, like a kind of internal radio program complete with different voices and an assortment of subplots," she related to interviewer Teri S. Lesesne in Teacher Librarian. Around the age of twelve, Couloumbis "finally make the connection to putting stories on paper, just in time to thoroughly mortify my mother with uncensored accounts of what life was like at our house. Writing was then forbidden, but it was too late; I'd already discovered the joy of creating and recreating happy endings for anything life threw at me."
Getting Near to Baby, "an exquisitely crafted story of loss, family love, and new beginnings," according to School Library Journal critic Barbara Wysocki, concerns two young girls whose lives are changed by tragedy. After the death of their baby sister and their mother's bout with depression, twelve-year-old Willa Jo and Little Sister reluctantly move in with their loving but controlling Aunt Patty. Events come to a head one day when Patty discovers the girls sitting on her roof, steadfastly refusing to come down. "The author's plainly worded but evocative descriptions give life to the characters and tender poignancy to even simple observations," noted Horn Book contributor Lauren Adams, and a Publishers Weekly critic similarly noted that "the combined strength of this unforgettable cast of characters leaves a lasting and uplifting impression."
A twelve-year-old arrives home from school to find that her stepmother has abandoned her in Say Yes. Broke, frightened, and alone, Casey enlists the aid of Paulie, the son of her apartment's superintendent, who involves her in a burglary. "Rather than drawing clear lines between villains and heroes in this modern-day survival tale, Couloumbis invents realistically complex characters, whose morals are tested by fear and desperation," observed a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.
In Summer's End, Couloumbis examines the effects of the Vietnam War on an American family. When Grace's older brother, Collin, burns his draft card at a sit-in, he enrages his stepfather, who throws him out of the house. Grace's mother, however, supports Collin's decision, creating such a rift that Grace retreats to her grandmother's farm. Paula Rohrlick, writing in Kliatt, stated that Couloumbis "adeptly captures the confusion of the times," and Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg noted that the author "sifts through a family's complex sorrow, anger, and love with incisive clarity and honesty."
A pair of orphaned sisters creates havoc in the Old West in The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse. While heading to Missouri to locate their last remaining relative, eleven-year-old Sallie March and her older sister, Maude, become the object of sensational newspaper stories after they inadvertently steal some horses, rob a bank, and gun down an outlaw. "Sallie's narration is delightful, with understatements that are laugh-out-loud hilarious," remarked Connie Tyrrell Burns in School Library Journal, and a contributor in Kirkus Reviews noted that "adventure and humor add up to great family entertainment."
"Everything you want to know about a person will be in their books," Couloumbis told Lesesne. "Even when the characters and the events resemble nothing of their actual life, you are reading the approach they take to life, their path. Writers bring all that they meet on the road to their work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1999, Michael Cart, review of Getting Near to Baby, p. 515; May 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Say Yes, p. 1518; July, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, p. 1922.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1999, review of Getting Near to Baby, p. 88; January, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, pp. 224-225.
Horn Book, November, 1999, Lauren Adams, review of Getting Near to Baby, p. 736; July-August, 2002, Jennifer Brabander, review of Say Yes, p. 456; July-August, 2005, Lauren Adams, review of Summer's End, p. 468; September-October, 2005, Anita L. Burkam, review of The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, p. 575.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Say Yes, p. 565; April 15, 2005, review of Summer's End, p. 470; September 1, 2005, review of The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, p. 970.
Kliatt, July, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Summer's End, p. 10.
Publishers Weekly, September 13, 1999, review of Getting Near to Baby, p. 85; May 6, 2002, review of Say Yes, p. 59; August 15, 2005, review of The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, pp. 58-59.
School Library Journal, December, 1999, review of Getting Near to Baby, p. 40; August, 2001, Barbara Wysocki, review of Getting Near to Baby (audio book), p. 88; July, 2002, B. Allison Gray, review of Say Yes, p. 118; June, 2005, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Summer's End, p. 153; September, 2005, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of The Misadventures of Maude March; or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, pp. 202-203.
Teacher Librarian, June, 2003, Teri S. Lesesne, "The Long and Twisted Journey of a Writer: An Interview with Audrey Couloumbis," pp. 46-48.
Audrey Couloumbis Home Page,http://www.audreycouloumbis.com (September 1, 2006).