Creel, Ann Howard 1953-

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Creel, Ann Howard 1953-

PERSONAL:

Born July 24, 1953; daughter of a professor and a teacher; children: Brian, Ben, and Scott. Education: University of Texas, graduate; M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Snowshoeing, hiking, boating.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Denver, CO. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Children's author and school nurse.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Colorado Book Award, 1999, for Water at the Blue Earth; Pleasant T. Rowland Prize for Fiction, 1999, for Nowhere, Now Here; Independent Publishers Book Award for Multicultural Fiction, and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People citation, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, both 2006, and Young-Adult Fiction Award finalist, Women Writing the West, all for Under a Stand Still Moon.

WRITINGS:

Water at the Blue Earth, Roberts Rinehart (Boulder, CO), 1998.

A Ceiling of Stars, American Girl (Middleton, WI), 1999.

Nowhere, Now Here, American Girl (Middleton, WI), 2000.

The Magic of Ordinary Days (adult novel), Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Under a Stand Still Moon, Brown Barn Books (Weston, CT), 2005.

Call Me the Canyon, Brown Barn Books (Weston, CT), 2006.

Nicki, illustrated by Doron Ben-Ami, American Girl (Middleton, WI), 2007.

Thanks to Nicki, illustrated by Doron Ben-Ami, American Girl (Middleton, WI), 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Magic of Ordinary Days was adapted as a television film by Hallmark Hall of Fame, 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Award-winning author Ann Howard Creel has written a number of books for children, teens, and adults. In books ranging from her "Nicki" books for the "American Girl" series to her adult novel The Magic of Ordinary Days, Creel's realistic characters inhabit stories that draw readers to a wide range of eras and settings.

Although Creel has been writing since she was a child, she pursued a career in nursing at the University of Texas. However, Creel continued to write in the evenings, and her first novel, Water at the Blue Earth, was published in 1998. The novel was selected for the Colorado Book Award.

Creel's novels often take place in western settings, and her tales range in era from the present day to more than a thousand years in the past. Nowhere, Now Here is a middle-grade novel about Laney, who is angry that her family is moving yet again, leaving behind their comfortable urban Florida home for an alpaca ranch in Colorado. Certain that her parents will change their minds once they discover the hard work their new life will require, Laney refuses to unpack, ready to move back to Florida when her parents come to their senses. Gradually, however, a friendship with a strange neighbor named M.J. the Birdhouse Lady helps Laney begin to accept the changes in her life. "The protagonist's emotions have a realistic ring as she struggles to adapt in this unfamiliar world," wrote Elaine Baran Black in School Library Journal, while Chris Sherman concluded in Booklist that in Nowhere, Now Here "Creel ably and gradually shows [Laney's] transformation."

Set in the distant past, amid an Anasazi community, Under a Stand Still Moon is the story of Echo Song, a girl who was born under a rare lunar position that has destined her to be special. When she saves the life of a child, Echo Song's status in the community increases even further, and instead of being able to marry the boy she loves, she is pledged in marriage to a high priest. When trouble comes to her tribe, Echo finds herself in the position to be able to help, and in Creel's story readers learn one theory that accounts for the mystery of why the Anasazi left Colorado. "This spare and lyrical tale offers readers a peek into what life must have been like" for the Anasazi, wrote Anna M. Nelson in School Library Journal. Robin Vidimos, reviewing Under a Stand Still Moon for the Denver Post, commented that Creel's story allows readers to experience "an immersion into a culture that is far removed from current experience. It's a vivid picture, brought to life" through Echo's voice.

Many of Creel's novels contain an element of romance, and her adult novel The Magic of Ordinary Days, is about an arranged marriage. According to a Publishers Weekly critic, the story Creel tells in this book is "graced by some delicate, perceptive and fine-boned writing" in which the author "gets it all just right." One of Creel's love stories for young adults, Call Me the Canyon, is set in the late 1800s, and tells the story of Madolen, a half-Navajo girl who is raised by her cynical and bitter white father. When she has the chance to live with a Mormon family and learn to read, Madolen eagerly agrees, but tragedy takes this family away from her as well. Ultimately left on her own, the girl meets a young archaeologist, for whom she serves as a guide. The two develop a close relationship, and Madolen must decide what she loves more: her young beau or the canyon that has become her home. "Creel has carefully researched the teen's world, giving faithful descriptions of the history," wrote Donna Cardon in her review of Call Me the Canyon for School Library Journal. In Kliatt, Sherri Forgash deemed the novel "an amazing love story, and Madolen is a character to admire and cherish."

When asked on the Penguin Web site how she plans her writing for her different audiences, Creel replied: "Whether it's a book for children or for adults, when I sit down at the keyboard, the writing process is essentially the same. The same story elements—character, plot, setting, style, voice, etc.—must all be present. The difference comes from finding the voice of a child versus that of an adult. Subject matter may differ, too, however children's books involve serious topics now more than ever before."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2000, Chris Sherman, review of Nowhere, Now Here, p. 239.

Denver Post, November 20, 2005, Robin Vidimos, "An Anasazi Girl's Burden of Power," p. F12.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of Call Me the Canyon, p. 1122.

Kliatt, November, 2006, Sherri Forgash Ginsberg, review of Call Me the Canyon, p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2001, review of The Magic of Ordinary Days, p. 57.

School Library Journal, February, 1999, Mary B. McCarthy, review of Water at the Blue Earth, p. 106; January, 2000, Laura Scott, review of A Ceiling of Stars, p. 128; January, 2001, Elaine Baran Black, review of Nowhere, Now Here, p. 126; November, 2005, Anna M. Nelson, review of Under a Stand Still Moon, p. 131; December, 2006, Donna Cardon, review of Call Me the Canyon, p. 136.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 21, 2002, review of The Magic of Ordinary Days, p. 6.

ONLINE

American Girl Web site,http://www.americangirlpublishing.com/ (December 24, 2007), profile of Creel.

Ann Howard Creel Home Page,http://annhowardcreel.com (December 12, 2007).

Penguin Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (December 24, 2007), interview with Creel.