D'Lacey, Chris 1954-
D'LACEY, Chris 1954-
PERSONAL: Born December, 1954, in Valetta, Malta; married; wife's name, Jay. Hobbies and other interests: Playing electric guitar, writing songs.
CAREER: Writer; Leicester University, Leicester, England, began as histologist, 1978, currently confocal microscopist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Carnegie Medal nomination, 1999, for Fly, Cherokee, Fly; Rotherham Children's Book Award, for The Fire Within; honorary doctor of letters, University of Leicester, 2002; Leicester Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2005, for Icefire; Bolton Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2005, for Horace.
A Hole at the Pole, illustrated by Joanna Carey, Heinemann (London, England), 1994.
Juggling with Jeremy, illustrated by Gus Clarke, Heinemann (London, England), 1996.
Henry Spaloosh!, illustrated by Philip Reeve, Little Hippo (London, England), 1997.
Fly, Cherokee, Fly, Corgi (London, England), 1998.
A Break in the Chain, illustrated by Joanna Carey, Mammoth (London, England), 1998, Crabtree (New York, NY), 2002.
The Table Football League, illustrated by Philip Reeve, Little Hippo (London, England), 1998.
Snail Patrol, illustrated by Philip Reeve, Little Hippo (London, England), 1998.
Bubble and Float, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Little Hippo (London, England), 1999.
Riverside United, illustrated by Mick Reid, Corgi (London, England), 1999.
Lofty, illustrated by Anna C. Leplar, Orchard (London, England), 1999.
Dexter's Journey, illustrated by David Roberts, Mammoth (London, England), 2000, Crabtree (New York, NY), 2002.
Scupper Hargreaves, Football Genie!, illustrated by Michael London, Corgi (London, England), 2000.
(With Linda Newbery) From E to You, Scholastic (London, England), 2000.
The Salt Pirates of Skegness, Orchard (London, England), 2001.
Pawnee Warrior, Yearling (London, England), 2002.
Falling 4 Mandy, Corgi (London, England), 2003.
The Prompter, illustrated by Ella Okstad, Young Corgi (London, England), 2003.
Franklin's Bear, illustrated by Thomas Taylor, Egmont (London, England), 2003, Crabtree (New York, NY), 2005.
Horace: A Teddy Bear Story, Corgi (London, England), 2004.
Shrinking Ralph Perfect, Orchard Books (London, England), 2005.
Short stories published in anthologies, including Nice One, Santa: A Football Anthology, Scholastic (London, England), 1998; and On Me 'Ead, Santa, Scholastic (London, England), 1999.
Author's works have been translated into German, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Greek, and Thai.
The Fire Within, Orchard (London, England), 2001, Orchard (New York, NY), 2005.
Icefire, Orchard (London, England), 2003, Orchard (New York, NY), 2005.
Fire Star, Orchard (London, England), 2005.
Series volumes have been published in Japan.
SIDELIGHTS: British writer Chris d'Lacey never intended to become a writer. In fact, as he recalled of his elementary-school experience on his home page, "my English teacher once told me that I didn't have a creative thought in my head." As a teenager, he dreamed of being a rock star, but he focused on science during college and eventually got a job in that field, working with microscopy at Leicester University. It was not until age thirty-two that d'Lacey wrote his first children's story; seven years later, he entered a competition in writing for young people. Although he did not win the prize, his story was accepted by a publisher and became the book A Hole at the Pole. D'Lacey has been writing for children ever since.
Many of d'Lacey's picture books and chapter books for young readers feature animals, although a plea from a young reader prompted him to also focus on human topics. During a visit to a primary school, "a young lad, not noted for his fascination with literature, pointed out forcefully that if only Chris wrote about football, he might just read it," Stewart Peterson explained during an awards presentation speech transcribed on the Leicester University Web site. Noting that all of his books have a humorous slant, d'Lacey commented on the Leicester Writers Club Web site that he writes about "polar bears, pigeons, squirrels, and, erm … snails."
D'Lacey's first novel for young readers is based on his experience rescuing an injured pigeon from a local park. He took the injured creature to a local veterinar-ian and, when the vet said there was no hope for the bird, d'Lacey kept the pigeon anyway, and nursed it back to health. Fly, Cherokee, Fly tells the story of a boy named Darryl, who finds an injured racing pigeon. Darryl wants the bird to get better and hopes he will be able to return it to its rightful owner. However, when the boy discovers that the owner might kill the bird if it is unable to race, he decides to keep the pigeon himself, and consequently finds himself in a peck of trouble. Fly, Cherokee, Fly was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, Britain's most prominent prize for juvenile fiction. Pawnee Warrior continues Darryl's story, and finds the boy determined to protect a baby pigeon.
From E to You, a novel written entirely in e-mail format, is a collaboration between d'Lacey and writer Linda Newbery. In the story Guy and Annabelle are encouraged by their fathers to write to each other, even though they have never met. In a twist from similar boy-girl collaborations, Newbery writes in the voice of teenager Guy while d'Lacey narrates events from the perspective of Annabelle. In the resulting story, despite their initial grumbling, the two teens begin to form a solid friendship and ultimately help each other deal with the struggles in their lives. According to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, the authors "have shaped two very distinct and likable characters and a cleverly composite tale."
Some of d'Lacey's most popular titles are in his "Dragon" series, which begins with The Fire Within. David Rain, a college student, finds lodging with Mrs. Pennykettle, who makes ceramic dragons, and the woman's daughter, Lucy. Though David does not intend to become involved with the family, Lucy convinces the new lodger to aid her in a quest to find and help an injured squirrel. Their quest leads David to some interesting discoveries about the Pennykettle family and about their mysterious pets—dragons! "D'Lacey mixes up a lovely bag of dragons, squirrels, and a strangely appropriate adult protagonist," reported a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.
David's adventures with dragons continue in Icefire, in which he must travel to the Arctic and the local polar-bear population in order to discover an important secret about the dragons and also about the evil sibyl who wishes the creatures harm. The series concludes with Fire Star, in which David and the Pennykettles face the sibyl, hoping to prevent the evil creature from bringing a real dragon to life.
When not writing books or working as a university-based scientist, d'Lacey makes school visits as a way of getting to know his readers. He explained on his Web site, "I think this is one of the best things about being an author. It's really brilliant to see [children in the classes I visit] all getting excited about making up stories. It makes me feel I am doing a good job."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of The Fire Within, p. 537.
Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2001, review of From E to You, p. 73.
Resource Links, April, 2002, review of Dexter's Journey, p. 13; February, 2003, review of A Break in the Chain, p. 21.
School Librarian, summer, 1999, review of The Table Football League, p. 80; spring, 2000, review of Riverside United, p. 23; autumn, 2000, review of From E to You, p. 156; summer, 2002, review of The Fire Within, p. 79, and review of Pawnee Warrior, p. 100; autumn, 2002, review of The Salt Pirates of Skegness, p. 136; autumn, 2003, review of Falling 4 Mandy, p. 154; winter, 2003, review of Icefire, p. 209; summer, 2004, Cliff Moon, review of The Prompter, p. 80; winter, 2004, Nansi Taylor, review of Horace: A Teddy Bear Story, p. 214.
School Library Journal, August, 2002, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Dexter's Journey, p. 146.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2001, review of From E to You, p. 351.
Canadian Review of Materials, http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (November 1, 2002), review of Dexter's Journey.
Chris d'Lacey Home Page, http://www.chris.dlacey.btinternet.co.uk (October 26, 2005).
Egmont Publisher Web site, http://www.egmont.co.uk/ (October 26, 2005).
Leicester Writers' Club Web site, http://www.leicesterwriter.org.uk/ (October 26, 2005).
University of Leicester Web site, http://www.le.ac.uk/ (October 26, 2005), "Chris d'Lacey."