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Dunbar, Joyce 1944-

DUNBAR, Joyce 1944-

PERSONAL: Born January 6, 1944, in Scunthorpe, England; daughter of Russell (a steel worker) and Marjorie (a homemaker; maiden name, Reed) Miles; married James Dunbar-Brunton (an illustrator), January 27, 1972 (divorced, 2004); children: Ben, Polly. Education: Goldsmiths College, London University, B.A. (with honors). Politics: Labour. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, theatre, art, traveling, people.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Hilary Delamere, The Agency, 24 Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London WII 4LZ, England.


CAREER: Writer. English teacher, 1968-89, the last ten years in the drama department at the college at Stratford-on-Avon; teacher of creative writing, visitor to schools and literature festivals; member of judging panel for Mother Goose Award, 1996-1999; facilitator in creative writing on Greek Island of Skyros, 1998, 2000-2004.


MEMBER: Society of Authors, Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, East Anglian Society of Authors, International Board on Books for Young People.


AWARDS, HONORS: Guardian Children's Fiction Award runner-up, 1985, for Mundo and the Weather-Child; A Bun for Barney was shortlisted for Parents' Best Books for Babies Award, 1987; This Is the Star was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book, 1996, and a Pick of the Lists by the American Booksellers Association; Before I Go to Sleep was named an Editor's Choice by Bookseller, 1998, and Child Education Best Book, 1999.


WRITINGS:

Jugg, illustrated by James Dunbar, Scolar Press (England), 1980.

The Magic Rose Bough, illustrated by James Dunbar, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1984.

Mundo and the Weather-Child, Heinemann (London, England), 1985, Dell (New York, NY), 1993.

A Bun for Barney, illustrated by Emilie Boon, Orchard Books (New York), 1987.

Software Superslug, illustrated by James Dunbar, Macdonald (London, England), 1987.

The Raggy Taggy Toys, illustrated by P. J. Lynch, Barron's (New York, NY), 1988.

Tomatoes and Potatoes, illustrated by Lynn Breeze, Ginn (London, England), 1988.

Billy and the Brolly Boy, illustrated by Nick Ward, Ginn (London, England), 1988.

Mouse Mad Madeline, illustrated by James Dunbar, Hamish Hamilton (London England), 1988.

One Frosty Friday Morning, illustrated by John Dyke, Ginn (London, England), 1989.

Joanna and the Bean-Bag Beastie, illustrated by Francis Blake, Ginn (London, England), 1989.

Software Superslug and the Great Computer Stupor, illustrated by James Dunbar, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.

Ollie Oddbin's Skylark, illustrated by James Dunbar, Heinemann (London, England), 1989.

I Wish I Liked Rice Pudding, illustrated by Carol Thompson, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.

Software Superslug and the Nutty Novelty Knitting, illustrated by James Dunbar, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

Ten Little Mice, illustrated by Maria Majewska, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1990, 1999.

Five Mice and the Moon, illustrated by James Mayhew, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1990.

The Scarecrow, illustrated by James Dunbar, Collins Educational (London, England), 1991.

Giant Jim and Tiny Tim, illustrated by James Dunbar, Collins Educational (London, England), 1991.

I Want a Blue Banana, illustrated by James Dunbar, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1991.

Why Is the Sky Up?, illustrated by James Dunbar, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1991.

Lollopy, illustrated by Susan Varley, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1991.

Four Fierce Kittens, illustrated by Jakki Wood, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Can Do, illustrated by Carol Thompson, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

Mouse and Mole, illustrated by James Mayhew, Doubleday (London, England), 1993.

Mouse and Mole Have a Party, illustrated by James Mayhew, Doubleday (London, England), 1993.

Seven Sillies, illustrated by Chris Downing, Anderson Press (London, England), 1993.

The Read-Aloud Story Book, illustrated by Colin and Moira Maclean, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1993.

The Spring Rabbit, illustrated by Susan Varley, Anderson Press (London, England), 1993, Artists and Writers Guild Books (New York, NY), 1994.

The Wishing Fish Tree, Ginn (London, England), 1994.

Brown Bear, Snow Bear, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1994.

Little Eight John, illustrated by Rhian Nest-James, Ginn (London, England), 1994.

Doodlecloud, illustrated by James Dunbar, Longman (London, England), 1994, Sundance (Littleton, MA), 1997.

Doodledragon, illustrated by James Dunbar, Longman (London, England), 1994, Sundance (Littleton, MA), 1997.

Doodlemaze, illustrated by James Dunbar, Longman (London, England), 1994, Sundance (Littleton, MA), 1997.

Doodling Daniel, illustrated by James Dunbar, Longman (London, England), 1994, Sundance (Littleton, MA), 1997.

Oops-a-Daisy: And Other Tales for Toddlers, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.

Happy Days for Mouse and Mole, illustrated by James Mayhew, Picture Corgi (London, England), 1996.

A Very Special Mouse and Mole, illustrated by James Mayhew, Picture Corgi (London, England), 1996.

Indigo and the Whale, illustrated by Geoffrey Patterson, BridgeWater Books (Mahwah, NJ), 1996.

This Is the Star, illustrated by Gary Blythe, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1996.

Hansel and Gretel, illustrated by Ian Penney, Hove (England), 1997.

The Selfish Snail, illustrated by Hannah Giffard, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1997.

If You Want to Be a Cat, illustrated by Allan Curless, Hove (England), 1997.

Tell Me Something Happy before I Go to Sleep, illustrated by Debi Gliori, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Baby Bird, illustrated by Russell Ayto, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

Pomegranate Seeds, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

The Secret Friend, illustrated by Helen Craig, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

Gander's Pond, illustrated by Helen Craig, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

Tutti Fruitti, illustrated by Helen Craig, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

Panda's New Toy, illustrated by Helen Craig, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

The Bowl of Fruit, illustrated by Helen Craig, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

The Pig Who Wished, illustrated by Selina Young, DK Publishers (New York, NY), 1999.

Eggday, illustrated by Jane Cabrera, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1999.

The Sand Children, illustrated by Mark Edwards, Crocodile Books (New York, NY), 1999.

The Glass Garden, illustrated by Fiona French, F. Lincoln (London, England), 1999.

The Very Small, illustrated by Debi Gliori, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 2000.

The Ups and Downs of Mouse and Mole, Corgi Pups (London, England), 2000.

Hip-Dip-Dip with Mouse and Mole, Corgi Pups (London, England), 2000.

(Editor) The Kingfisher Read-Aloud Storybook, illustrated by Colin and Moira MacLean, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 2000.

Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big, illustrated by Debi Gliori, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 2001.

Magic Lemonade, illustrated by Jan McCafferty, Crabtree Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.

A Chick Called Saturday, illustrated by Brita Granstrom, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.

The Railway Angel, Corgi Pups (London, England), 2003.

The Love-Me Bird, illustrated by Sophie Fatus, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Boo to the Who in the Dark, illustrated by Sarah Massini, Scholastic, (New York, NY), 2004.

Shoe Baby, illustrated by Polly Dunbar, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.


Also author of many stories for children's educational series; contributor of stories to anthologies, including Tobie and the Face Merchant, edited by Julia Eccleshare, Collins, 1991; The Trick of the Tale, edited by Eccleshare, Viking, 1991; Bedtime Stories for the Very Young, edited by Sally Grindley, Kingfisher, 1991; and Fairy Tales, edited by Sally Grindley, Little, Brown, 1993. Stories have been broadcast on the BBC Radio show Listening Corner, including "Jim Sparrow," 1982, "Sally and the Magic Rattle," 1983, "Doomuch and Doolittle," 1983, and "Shapes and Sounds," 1983 and 1984.


ADAPTATIONS: A Bun for Barney was adapted as an interactive video game by the Multi-Media Corporation of the BBC, 1990, and as a musical play performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company for their children's Christmas Pantomime, 1988 and 1989; Software Superslug was adapted into a musical play performed at the Angel Road School, Norwich, England, 1990.


SIDELIGHTS: Children's author Joyce Dunbar's impressive output has pleased children on both sides of the Atlantic for many years, beginning in the early 1980s. Dunbar's books are written for children as young as toddler age to those in the early grades, and her understanding of this age group has been praised by reviewers, including the Guardian's Lillian French, who wrote of the pink-paged Tutti Fruitti that everything about it "is a total delight."

French also reviewed Tell Me Something Happy before I Go to Sleep, about a small rabbit named Willa, who wears chicken slippers, and her loving big brother, Willoughby. French noted that this book is special because big brothers often get a bad rap. She praised Dunbar for being one of the best children's writers and added that this book "is a wonderful example of her sensitivity, lyrical style, and gentle humour."


School Library Journal's Alison Kastner, who evaluated Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big, said that Dunbar "has captured exactly how children think in this loving dialogue between two siblings." In this story, Willa is frustrated by her inability to perform tasks for which she is too small, like reach the breakfast table. She wakes Willoughby, and what follows is his explanation to her of what it is like to be big. The story is filled with colorful patterns on the tablecloth, wallpaper, and the quilt that covers their mother's bed, and under which all three snuggle by the end of the story.


A Chick Called Saturday is about the seventh chick that hatches from a clutch of eggs, and who seems to possess enough inquisitiveness for all of them. He bothers his mother with questions about the other barnyard birds and tries to emulate them, soon learning that he can't swim like a duck or honk like a goose. His problem is solved when he learns that he will grow to become like the beautiful, crowing rooster. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that hens don't lay multi-colored eggs and that young cockerels are not born with combs, but added that "this gentle life lesson of pursuing one's potential without wishing for what cannot be is well-organized." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the story a "sunny-hued picture book about self-discovery and acceptance," but felt that "Mother Hen's admonitions to conform seem overdone."


A narcissistic bird dressed in pink is looking for love in The Love-Me Bird, and follows a series of suggestions from Shut-Eye, the owl she is keeping awake with her pleadings. After telling her to act helpless, then play hard-to-get, he finally tells her to change her call from "love me" to "love you," which brings an immediate response from a possible suitor. Booklist's Connie Fletcher wrote that the colorful illustrations "perfectly match this whimsical tale with wisdom at its heart." A Publishers Weekly writer felt that children "may well absorb this worthwhile message about the pitfalls of self-absorption and the rewards of focusing on the needs of others."

Joyce Dunbar once commented: "I'd been writing for some time before a strange combination of circumstances turned me into a writer for children: First, I found myself married to an illustrator. A barrister by training, he used to draw a character called Jugg who was his alter ego. I liked this character so much that I thought he should have a story. Jugg became our first book. Secondly, my children. Writing children's stories was a way of entering into and sharing their world. Third, desperation. The house was falling down round my ears and I needed to do something to cheer myself up.


"The great thing about writing is that it makes almost every experience worthwhile because you can make a story out of it. The other great thing is that you can live two lives at once: one in the so-called 'real' world (which is never quite what we ordered), and one inside your head, which you can order in whatever way you like. This inner world is as full of possibilities as your imagination can make it, and gives one a wonderful excuse for daydreaming.


"I like to write in the mornings, and do something physical in the afternoons, like gardening. Even then I'm working, revising and developing in my head. A lot of a writer's work goes on in the subconscious, even while they are sleeping and dreaming. When it is 'real' writing and not what I call 'made-up,' it seems a very mysterious process. Like lots of things in life, it is sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating.


"My favourite contemporary children's authors are Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel, and Russell Hoban. Two of them are also illustrators. They all write books that are just as interesting to adults as to children, and they all ask the same fundamental questions that children, relative newcomers in the world, also ask themselves: Goodness! The world! How did it get here and how did I come to be in it?

"I used to be a teacher and loved it, but deafness put an end to that career. I'm glad in a way, because it gave me a very strong motive to survive the early difficult stages of writing, when you are very unsure of yourself, and can't believe that anyone will want to read what you write, never mind publish it!"


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of The Love-Me Bird, p. 1062.

Guardian (London, England), September 29, 1998,

Vivian French, review of Tell Me Something Happy before I Go to Sleep, p. 3; February 23, 1999, Vivian French, review of Tutti Fruitti, p. 4.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of A ChickCalled Saturday, p. 909.

Publishers Weekly, June 2, 2003, review of A ChickCalled Saturday, p. 50; December 15, 2003, review of The Love-Me Bird, p. 46.

School Library Journal, September 2001, Alison Kastner, review of Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big, p. 188; August, 2003, Bina Williams, review of A Chick Called Saturday, p. 126; January, 2004, Sally R. Dow, review of The Love-Me Bird, p. 97.


ONLINE

Joyce Dunbar Web site,http://www.joycedunbar.com/ (March 11, 2005).

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