Danneberg, Julie 1958-
Danneberg, Julie 1958-
Born 1958, in Denver, CO; married; children: one daughter, one son. Education: University of Colorado, Boulder, B.S. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, gardening, biking, traveling, listening to music, sewing.
Home—Denver, CO. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Charlesbridge Publishing, 85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472.
Writer and educator. Special education teacher in Colorado; middle-school teacher in Denver, CO.
Best Children's Book designation, Colorado Center for the Book, 2000, for Margaret's Magnificent Colorado Adventure; Storyteller Award, 2000, for First Day Jitters; Regional Book Award, Mountains and Plains Booksellers, 2003, for Women Artists of the West: Five Portraits in Creativity and Courage.
Margaret's Magnificent Colorado Adventure, Westcliffe Publishers (Englewood, CO), 1999.
First Day Jitters, illustrated by Judy Love, Charlesbridge Publishing (Watertown, MA), 2000.
First Year Letters, illustrated by Judy Love, Charlesbridge Publishing (Watertown, MA), 2003.
Last Day Blues, illustrated by Judy Love, Charlesbridge Publishing (Watertown, MA), 2006.
Cowboy Slim, illustrated by Margot Apple, Charlesbridge Publishing (Watertown, MA), 2006.
Amidst the Gold Dust: Women Who Forged the West, Fulcrum Resources (Golden, CO), 2001.
Women Artists of the West: Five Portraits in Creativity and Courage, Fulcrum Publishing (Golden, CO), 2002.
Women Writers of the West: Five Chroniclers of the Old West, Fulcrum Publishing (Golden, CO), 2003.
Julie Danneberg is the author of a number of well-regarded books for young readers. She draws upon her background as a third-generation resident of Colorado for inspiration, and several of her books profile notable woman who have made a mark on the American West. Danneberg is probably best known, however, for the picture books Margaret's Magnificent Colorado Adventure, First Day Jitters, and First Year Letters, playful stories that offer unconventional approaches to life-altering moments in childhood.
Margaret's Magnificent Colorado Adventure combines the history and geography of Colorado with the tale of a ten-year-old girl who keeps a journal as she travels with her parents and younger brother. Margaret faithfully records real information about the state through which she is traveling, but occasionally her temper frays when she has to deal with her annoying sibling. Danneberg's debut work, Margaret's Magnificent Colorado Adventure won a best children's book citation from the Colorado Center for the Book.
First Day Jitters and First Year Letters both feature Sarah Jane Hartwell. In First Day Jitters Sarah Jane faces an important milestone: It is her first day at school and she does not want to get out of bed, eat her breakfast, or face the principal and the scary students. What sets this picture book apart from so many books about children beginning school is its surprise ending, where readers discover that even adults can be afraid of new beginnings. According to Adele Greenlee in School Library Journal, Danneberg's joke "provides a good laugh and children may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations." Connie Fletcher, writing in Booklist, also found First Day Jitters a "wittily drawn and suspensefully told story. Fletcher concluded that Danneberg's tale is "funny and insightful."
Sarah Jane Hartwell's adventures continue in First Year Letters. Through a classroom mailbox, Mrs. Hartwell receives notes from the students that describe the many amusing—and distressing—incidents that mark a school year. While most of the notes Mrs. Hartwell receives are typed, some are hand-written, and they demonstrate how students learn writing skills over the course of a year. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "both funny and touching," while in School Library Journal Piper L. Nyman maintained that First Year Letters is "easy to read," and that children "will relate to and enjoy this book." Diane Foote concluded in Booklist that students and teachers "will appreciate this unusual take on the ups and downs of a school year."
The final days of school before summer vacation begins serve as the subject of Last Day Blues, another humorous picture book by Danneberg. As the school year draws to a close, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reminisce about the fun they had together, and the children conclude that their teacher will be desperately unhappy over the summer months as she composes lesson plans and mourns their absence. "There's an undertone of irony here, which adults may pick up sooner than children," noted Carolyn Phelan in Booklist. The classmates decide the best way to cheer up their teacher is to select the perfect gift for her, and after numerous debates they settle on a homemade creation that is sure to bring a smile to their teacher's face. "What a perfect end to the school year," remarked a critic in Kirkus Reviews, and Genevieve Gallagher, writing in School Library Journal, called Last Day Blues "a story with both child and teacher appeal."
Danneberg has also written several books about women who lived and worked in the American West. Women Writers of the West: Five Chroniclers of the Old West explores the lives of Jessie Benton Fremont, Louise Clappe, Mary Hallock Foote, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Gertrude Bonnin, each of whom used her writing talents as a means of communicating individuality. According to Kliatt reviewer Edna Boardman, "the overall picture of each woman comes through in a vivid and lively manner." The profiles in Women Artists of the West: Five Portraits in Creativity and Courage include Maria Martinez, Georgia O'Keefe, Laura Gilpin, Dorothea Lange, and Mary-Russell Colton. The artwork under study varies from traditional Pueblo pottery crafted by Martinez to Depression-era photographs snapped by Lange. Carol-Ann Hoyle, reviewing the work in Kliatt, called it "a well-researched and entertaining book that makes for an accessible entry into the world of art history."
Amidst the Gold Dust: Women Who Forged the West offers an historical/fictitious glimpse into the life of women during the gold rush that swept Colorado and California in the nineteenth century. In Book Report, Tena Natale Litherland suggested that the work's characters lacked depth, but nonetheless praised Dannenberg for including "interesting sidebars of historical facts." Patricia Ann Owens, reviewing the book for
School Library Journal, liked the way the character sketches reveal "determination, perseverance, and hard work."
A cowpuncher's skill with words saves the day in Cowboy Slim, "a fun and inventive book," in the words of a Children's Bookwatch contributor. Though Slim arrives at the WJ Ranch determined to be a real cowboy, he proves better at reciting poetry than riding horses and roping cattle. When his fellow cowboys tire of helping the newcomer, they send him to watch the back of the herd during a dusty cattle drive. Just as a discouraged Slim is about to quit, a thunderstorm causes the herd to stampede, and Slim's lyrical verses are the only thing that soothes the cattle. "Danneberg includes lush descriptions that give a poetic feel to the text and provide a nice segue into Cowboy Slim's poetry," observed Catherine Callegari in School Library Journal. A critic in Kirkus Reviews also praised Danneberg's tale, remarking that "the light text lathered liberally with western lingo neatly captures cowboy cadence." Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan added: "Proving that poetic language doesn't have to be flowery, the well-chosen words of the narrative read aloud beautifully."
Though Danneberg never imagined she would become a writer, as a child she often transcribed her thoughts in a series of notebooks. "I do know that I've always loved to write," she commented on her home page. "I've written stories, poems, and journals for as long as I can remember." In addition to her career as an author, Danneberg also teaches middle school. As she once explained, she creates time in her busy schedule to write by waking early every morning. "Sometimes I'm just coming up with ideas, sometimes I'm revising and editing an old story, and sometimes I'm drafting a new story," she remarked. "Whatever I do, working in my writer's notebook is always a peaceful, creative way to start my day." Danneberg also noted that she loves being a writer and enjoys the process of jotting notes as much as the efforts required to create a book that will be acceptable to editors and publishers. "Being a writer has given me the chance to learn all sorts of new things, go new places and meet new people," she said. "Also, being a writer gives me the excuse to read, read, and read some more!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of
First Day Jitters, p. 1386; February 1, 2003, Diane Foote, review of First Year Letters, p. 1000; January 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Last Day Blues, pp. 109-110; February 15, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, "Get along Little Dogies," review of Cowboy Slim, p. 101.
Book Report, September-October, 2001, Tena Natale Litherland, review of Amidst the Gold Dust: Women Who Forged the West, p. 74.
Children's Bookwatch, March, 2006, review of Cowboy Slim.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of First Year Letters, p. 1848; December 15, 2005, review of Cowboy Slim, p. 1320; January 15, 2006, review of Last Day Blues, p. 82.
Kliatt, May, 2003, Carol-Ann Hoyte, review of Women Artists of the West: Five Portraits in Creativity and Courage, p. 41; November, 2003, Edna Boardman, review of Women Writers of the West: Five Chroniclers of the Old West, p. 32.
School Library Journal, May, 2000, Adele Greenlee, review of First Day Jitters, p. 133; June, 2001, Patricia Ann Owens, review of Amidst the Gold Dust, p. 167; April, 2003, Piper L. Nyman, review of First Year Letters, p. 118; July, 2004, Lisa G. Kropp, review of First Day Jitters, p. 42; February, 2006, Catherine Callegari, review of Cowboy Slim, pp. 94-95, and Genevieve Gallagher, review of Last Day Blues, p. 95.
Julie Danneberg Home Page,http://www.juliedanneberg.com (February 7, 2005).