Doyle, Malachy 1954-
Doyle, Malachy 1954-
Born June 30, 1954, in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Northern Ireland; son of Conan (a sales representative) and Eileen Doyle; married Liz Townsend-Rose (an administrator), August 6, 1977; children: Naomi, Hannah, Liam. Education: Bolton Institute of Technology, B.A. (with honors), 1975; earned postgraduate certificate in education from Shenstone New College, 1976. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, cycling, reading, theater, and music.
Home—Aberdyfi, Wales. Agent—Celia Catchpole, 56 Gilpin Ave., East Sheen, London SW148QY, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Rowntree Mackintosh, York, England, media controller, 1976-81; General Foods, Banbury, England, media controller, 1981-84; Highmead Special School, Llanybydder, Wales, care assistant, 1984-91; Aran Hall School, Dolgellau, Wales, deputy head, 1991-94; Coleg Powys, Newtown, Wales, lecturer in sociology and psychology, 1994-96; Coleg Ceredigion, Aberystwyth, Wales, lecturer in sociology, 1994-97; writer of children's books, 1994—. Previously taught in Leeds for a year, followed by six months packing Polo Mints in a factory.
Northern Ireland Literature Award, 1997; White Ravens Award, 2000, for Well, a Crocodile Can!, 2002, for Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!; Parents' Choice Gold Award, 2001; Tir na nOg Award, 2002, for
Georgie; English Association Award, 2002, for Cow; Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award, 2003, for Tales from Old Ireland; Nestle Children's Book Silver Award, 2005, for The Dancing Tiger.
Farewell to Ireland: A Tale of Emigration to America, illustrated by Greg Gormley, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1998.
The Great Hunger: A Tale of Famine in Ireland, illustrated by Greg Gormley, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1998.
Little People, Big People, illustrated by Jac Jones, Faber (London, England), 1998.
The Children of Nuala, illustrated by Amanda Harvey, Faber (London, England), 1998.
The Changeling, illustrated by Jac Jones, Pont (Llandysul, Wales), 1999.
The Great Castle of Marshmangle, illustrated by Paul Hess, Andersen Press (London, England), 1999.
Jody's Beans, illustrated by Judith Allibone, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
12,000 Miles from Home, illustrated by Greg Gormley, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1999.
Well, a Crocodile Can!, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, Frances Lincoln, 1999, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2000.
Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!, illustrated by Paul Hess, Andersen Press (London, England), 2000, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2001.
Owen and the Mountain, illustrated by Giles Green- field, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2000.
Carrot Thompson, Record Breaker, illustrated by Leonard O'Grady, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.
Just-the-Same Jamie, illustrated by Shane O'Meara, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 2000.
Tales from Old Ireland, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
Hero, Toffer, and Wallaby, illustrated by Jan Nesbitt, Pont (Llandysul, Wales), 2000.
Cow, illustrated by Angelo Rinaldi, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Storm Cats, illustrated by Stuart Trotter, Simon @ Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Sleepy Pendoodle, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Joe's Bike Race, illustrated by Michelle Conway, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 2001.
The Bold Boy, illustrated by Jane Ray, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Georgie, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2001.
Baby See, Baby Do!, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Babies Like Me! illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2001.
Billy and the Bees, illustrated by Sandra Elsweiler, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 2002.
The Lake of Shadows, illustrated by Jac Jones, Pont (Llandysul, Wales), 2002.
Riley, Kylie and Smiley, illustrated by Fran Evans, Pont (Llandysul, Wales), 2002.
Who Is Jesse Flood?, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2002.
The Ugly Great Giant, illustrated by David Lucas, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.
Antonio on the Other Side of the World, Getting Smaller, illustrated by Carll Cneut, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
One, Two, Three O'eary, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Una and the Seacloak illustrated by Alison Jay, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2004.
Teddybear Blue, illustrated by Christina Bretschneider, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2004.
Amadans, Orchard Books (London, England), 2004.
Splash, Joshua, Splash!, illustrated by Ken Wilson- Max, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.
The Dancing Tiger, paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2005.
Amadans Alert, Orchard Books (London, England), 2005.
(Reteller) The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Big Pig, illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2005.
When a Zeeder Met a Xyder, illustrated by Joel Stewart, Doubleday (London, England), 2006.
Long Gray Norris, illustrated by Sholto Walker, Crabtree (New York, NY), 2006.
Granny Sarah and the Last Red Kite, illustrated by Petra Brown, Pont (Llandysul, Wales), 2006.
Since launching his career as a children's author in the 1990s, Malachy Doyle has enjoyed success in both England and the United States. His first works are instructive, entertaining presentations of Irish and British colonial history, while many others adapt Irish legends in a fresh retelling. He once commented: "I was born in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, in 1954. My parents had recently moved up from Dublin and named me, their seventh child, after a local saint. We lived in Whitehead, a small town at the mouth of Belfast Lough, all my childhood—my father still lives there. I went to secondary school (St. Malachy's College) in Belfast, and then to Bolton, Lancashire, to take a degree in psychology.
"I taught in Leeds for a year, followed by six months packing Polo Mints. I then worked for seven long years in advertising, firstly for Rowntree Mackintosh in York and later for General Foods in Banbury, before buying a smallholding in West Wales. To feed my wife, Liz, our three young children, Naomi, Hannah, and Liam, and numerous goats, pigs, and chickens, I took a job as a care assistant in a local residential special school. For the next seven years I darned socks, patched jeans, and generally looked after the children there, before being offered the post of deputy head at another special school. We moved to Machynlleth, a small town on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, and three years later I began to write for children. I now write fulltime, apart from visiting schools or escaping into the mountains, and my books are available in twelve different languages.
"It took me forty years to become a writer. Forty years of growing up, selling coffee, teaching, raising children, goats, and pigs. From Ireland, through England, to Wales. I'm finally doing it—writing.
"I didn't know I was a writer. I knew I loved words, loved books. I knew I could tell stories, write the occasional soppy love poem, ramble on in long letters to my Dad back home in Ireland. But I didn't know I was a writer.
"And then, back in 1994, for want of a better way to while away the long Welsh winter, I enrolled in a creative writing evening class. ‘Write about your childhood,’ said Anna. ‘Remember how it felt, how it smelt.’ So I wrote a piece about my mother's button box. I brought it in the next week and read it out loud. Anna seemed to like it.
"‘Okay,’ I thought. ‘That's what I'll do. I'll pack in this teaching lark and become a writer, a writer for children.’ And here I am.
"I write about things that matter to me. About relationships— children, parents, grandparents. About animals. I try to recapture some of the joy, the freedom, the curiosity, imagination and humour of my early childhood. I often draw on folk tale, because it's part of me—I was brought up on it."
In 1998, Doyle's retelling of a classic Irish folk tale appeared,
The Children of Nuala. The story is one of misfortune: a stepfather finds a way to make his wife's children disappear, but then feels remorseful. His wife still loves him and her brood, however, and in the end the children return. "Although this is a melancholy tale it is well-written and contains a strong message without preaching," wrote Annette Dale-Meiklejohn in Magpies.
The 1999 picture book Jody's Beans had a more universal appeal, and appeared in print in North America as well. The work begins with a visit by Jody's grandfather to her home, and together the two plant scarlet runner beans in the garden. Over the summer growing season, the two meet regularly, or speak on the phone about their project. To answer Jody's sometimes anxious inquiries, the grandfather likes to remind her, "Wait and see." Doyle manages to provide basic gardening lessons through this format, and when the beans are harvested, some cooking tips as well. A Publishers Weekly contributor commended the author's "winningly spare narration," and other reviewers remarked upon the nice parallel plot concerning Jody's mother, who is expecting a baby. "The cozy tale of everyday events … is very satisfying," remarked Horn Book contributor Margaret A. Bush.
In Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!, Doyle presents a story in rhyme of a boy asking a goblin-like creature a series of questions about his physical appearance as they careen throughout the house unobserved by the adults. The title of the story comes from one of the goblin's answers. Genevieve Ceraldi, writing in School Library Journal, noted that the creature is extremely scary at times but that the story comes to "a friendly and amiable conclusion."
Doyle retells several favorite Irish stories in Tales from Old Ireland. Most of the stories are geared towards children and are steeped in Celtic myth. The author also talks about the importance of stories in Irish culture in his introduction and includes a pronunciation guide and source notes. A Horn Book contributor called the book "a well-designed addition to folklore collections in general and Irish folklore collections in particular." Writing in Children's Bookwatch, another reviewer referred to the book as an "enthusiastically recommended anthology."
The Bold Boy is a retelling of an original folk tale about a precocious youth who devises a plan to trick his neighbors into giving him their livestock. He starts with a pea he found and leaves with one neighbor whose chicken eats the pea. The boy then claims the chicken belongs to him since it ate the pea. At the next house he leaves the chicken, which is chased off by the people's pig. Claiming the pig, he then leaves the pig at another neighbor's house where it is chased by the donkey. Finally, the neighbors reclaim their belongings and the boy finds another pea, indicating a new cycle of mischief is about to begin. Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg wrote: "A winning read-aloud for story hours and lap sharing alike."
Doyle tells the story of a young girl who finds a puppy in his book Sleepy Pendoodle. The tale revolves around the directions by the girl's uncle to pet the dog and keep repeating, "Open your eyes, Sleepy Pendoodle! Open your eyes, you pup!," a phrasing that the girl just cannot quite seem to get right. Carol Ann Wilson, writing in School Library Journal, noted: "The straightforward story line is leavened by playful language and silly endearments." Booklist contributor Connie Fletcher noted that the story "will delight preschoolers with their ability to remember what the main character cannot."
Young readers get to follow a day in the life of a cow in Doyle's simply titled Cow. They see the cow as it is milked by the farmers early in the day and follow it as it grazes in the fields and even takes a nap. In a review in Booklist, Gillian Engberg noted: "A sly ending adds a touch of humor" to the book. School Library Journal contributor Carolyn Janssen wrote: "In a symbiotic relationship, illustrations and text gently wow the senses."
In his young adult novel Georgie, Doyle recounts a young fourteen-year-old boy's inner turmoil as he struggles with his mother's murder and is sent off to a residential home, where he refuses to speak and spends his days alone in his room. When he is transferred to a new home, he finds help through a gifted teacher and a young girl named Shannon, who has had to face dif- ficulties in her own life. Faith Brautigam, writing in the School Library Journal, commented that "this book is exceptionally well crafted, from its gripping opening to its hopeful conclusion." Booklist contributor Jean Franklin wrote: "Georgie's voice is utterly real, and his recovery is realistically gradual."
Storm Cats is another picture book for children and tells the tale of neighbor cats, one white and one black, who meet while running from a storm and hide together in a storm drain. The disappearance of their pets also leads the two neighbor children to meet and bond as they search for their pet cats. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "The appealing tale warmly counts the many ways pet owners love cats."
In Who Is Jesse Flood?, the title character is a fourteenyear- old who is proud to be an outsider and copes with his parents’ difficult marriage by telling stories that reflect his inner struggles. "Told with humor and selfreflection, Doyle offers a story that is so well crafted readers will laugh both at Jesse … and with him," wrote Stephanie Squicciarini in Kliatt. Anne O'Malley, writing in Booklist, commented: "Jesse's compelling voice radiates throughout with wit and honesty."
Antonio on the Other Side of the World, Getting Smaller is a story for preschoolers and features Antonio, who is vacationing with his grandmother when he starts to shrink. Homesick for his mother, he is sent off on a series of travels as he eventually shrinks down to the size of a mouse. Abby Nolan, writing in Booklist, called the story "diverting." School Library Journal contributor Catherine Threadgill wrote that "the story is all about perspective, and how the world can look pretty big through the eyes of a small child." Another preschool tale by the author, Splash, Joshua, Splash!, tells of Joshua's love of water as he jumps in a fountain, feeds ducks by the river, and even plays in the rain.
Booklist contributor Karin Snelson called the book a "cheerful read-aloud romp."
Doyle retells a classic English folktale in The Great Castle of Marshmangle. Based on the story "Master of All Masters," Doyle's tale revolves around a game played by a boy and his grandfather in which they give nonsensical names to common, everyday things, such as boots and stairs. "Gently funny, this will have young readers talking the language," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. One, Two, Three O'eary is also a children's book in which the author "strings together traditional skipping, ball-bouncing, and counting-out rhymes to create a boisterous bedtime story," according to School Library Journal contributor Wanda Meyers-Hines. The story revolves around ten brothers and sisters bouncing on their beds to various nonsensical rhymes. Writing in Horn Book, Susan Dove Lempke commented: "Children will have a good time picking up some new rhymes."
In the picture book The Dancing Tiger, Doyle recounts in rhyme the story of girl who sees a tiger dancing in the full moon and goes out to join him. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the text and illustrations have an "alchemy [that] is all too rare." In a review in School Library Journal, Grace Oliff wrote that the "rhyming couplets … flow smoothly and contain some evocative imagery."
Doyle retells twelve folktales in The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales. The stories come from Germany, Spain, France, Ukraine, China, and Argentina, and also include Native American and Arabian tales. "Doyle's retellings are swift and lively, and he maintains the original brutality of the stories," wrote Gillian Engberg in Booklist.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Doyle, Malachy, Sleepy Pendoodle, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Booklist, July, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Jody's Beans, p. 1950; December 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of The Bold Boy, p. 739; April 15, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of Sleepy Pendoodle, p. 1407; June 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Cow, p. 1734; September 1, 2002, Jean Franklin, review of Georgie, p. 114; October 1, 2002, Anne O'Malley, review of Who Is Jesse Flood?, p. 312; October 15, 2003, Abby Nolan, review of Antonio on the Other Side of the World, Getting Smaller, p. 417; August, 2004, Karin Snelson, review of Splash, Joshua, Splash!, p. 1941; December 1, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, p. 50.
Bookseller, June 16, 2000, review of Tales from Old Ireland.
Books for Keeps, May, 1999, George Hunt, review of The Great Castle of Marshmangle; September, 1999, Roy Blatchford, review of Jody's Beans, and Elizabeth Schlenther, review of The Changeling.
Books Ireland, September, 2000, review of Carrot Thompson, Record Breaker.
Cambrian News, July 2, 1998, reviews of The Great Hunger and Farewell to Ireland; November 12, 1998, reviews of The Children of Nuala and Little People, Big People; May 20, 1999, review of The Changeling.
Cambriensis, December, 1999, Lynne Walsh, review of The Changeling.
Carousel, September, 1999, Michael Thorn, reviews of
The Great Castle of Marshmangle and Jody's Beans, and Jan Mark, review of The Changeling.
Children's Books in Ireland, June, 1999, Bronagh Naughton, review of Little People, Big People.
Children's Bookseller, March 19, 1999, reviews of The Great Castle of Marshmangle and Jody's Beans; September 8, 2000, review of Tales from Old Ireland.
Children's Bookwatch, August, 2004, review of Tales from Old Ireland, p. 4.
Early Years Educator, November, 1999, review of Well, A Crocodile Can!
Guardian, May 25, 1999, Vivian French, review of Jody's Beans.
Horn Book, March, 1999, Margaret A. Bush, review of Jody's Beans, p. 187; March, 2001, review of Tales from Old Ireland, p. 218; January-February, 2005, Susan Dove Lempke, review of One, Two, Three O'eary, p. 76.
Irish Examiner, June 10, 2000, Brendan Malone, review of Carrot Thompson, Record Breaker.
Irish Times, May 22, 1999, Geraldine Whelan, reviews of The Great Castle of Marshmangle and Jody's Beans.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1999, review of Jody's Beans, p. 449; January 1, 2002, review of Owen and the Mountain, p. 44; October 1, 2002, review of Storm Cats, p. 1467; October 15, 2004, review of The Great Castle of Marshmangle, p. 1004; April 15, 2005, review of The Dancing Tiger, p. 472.
Kliatt, November, 2004, Stephanie Squicciarini, review of Who Is Jesse Flood?, p. 15.
London Parent's Guide (London, England), November, 1999, review of Jody's Beans.
Magpies, February, 1999, John Zahnleiter, review of Jody's Beans; March, 1999, Annette Dale- Meiklejohn, reviews of Little People, Big People and The Children of Nuala, p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1999, review of Jody's Beans, p. 74; January 22, 2001, review of Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!, p. 324; April 22, 2002, review of Baby See, Baby Do!, p. 72; October 21, 2002, review of Storm Cats, p. 74.
School Librarian, June, 1999, Teresa Scragg, review of The Children of Nuala; September, 1999, Carolyn Boyd, review of Jody's Beans; December, 1999, Ann Jenkin, review of The Changeling.
School Library Journal, June, 1999, Carolyn Jenks, review of Jody's Beans, pp. 92-93; March, 2000, Christine A. Moesch, review of Well, a Crocodile Can!, p. 194; July, 2001, Genevieve Ceraldi, review of Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!, p. 74; January, 2002, Debbie Stewart, review of The Bold Boy, p. 97; March, 2002, Carol Ann Wilson, review of Sleepy Pendoodle, p. 176; July, 2002, Faith Brautigam, review of Georgie, p. 119; July, 2002, Carolyn Janssen, review of Cow, p. 88; December, 2003, Catherine Threadgill, review of Antonio on the Other Side of the World, Getting Smaller, p. 112; September, 2004, Maryann H. Owen, review of Splash, Joshua, Splash!, p. 158; November, 2004, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of One, Two, Three O'eary, p. 97; July, 2005, Grace Oliff, review of The Dancing Tiger, p. 88; February, 2006, Miriam Lang Budin, review of The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, p. 116.
South China Morning Post, September 25, 1999, Katherine Forestier, review of Jody's Beans.
Sunday Tribune (Dublin, Ireland), March 28, 1999, Mary Arrigan, review of The Great Castle of Marshmangle; May 2, 1999, M. Arrigan, review of Jody's Beans; August 1, 1999, M. Arrigan, review of Well, a Crocodile Can!
Teacher Librarian, December, 2003, Ruth Cox, review of Georgie, p. 14.
Bloomsbury Web site,http:// www.bloomsbury.com/ (May 19, 2006), profile of author.
Malachy Doyle Home Page,http:// www.malachydoyle.co.uk (May 19, 2006).