Elish, Dan 1960-

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Elish, Dan 1960-

PERSONAL:

Born September 22, 1960, in Washington, DC; son of Herber (in business) and Leslie Elish; married; wife's name, Andrea; children: Cassie. Education: Middlebury College, B.A. (cum laude), 1983.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY.

CAREER:

Writer.

MEMBER:

Dramatists Guild, Authors League of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Sewanee Writers' Conference and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference fellowships; Born Too Short: The Confessions of an Eighth-Grade Basket Case was named a Book for the Teenage by the New York Public Library, 2003; Students' Choice Award, International Reading Association, 2004, for Born Too Short.

WRITINGS:


The Worldwide Dessert Contest (juvenile fiction), illustrated by John Steven Gurney, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Jason and the Baseball Bear (juvenile fiction), illustrated by John Stadler, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1990.

The Great Squirrel Uprising (juvenile fiction), Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad (juvenile nonfiction), Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1993.

The Transcontinental Railroad: Triumph of a Dream (juvenile nonfiction), Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1993.

James Meredith and School Desegregation (juvenile nonfiction), Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1994.

Vermont (juvenile nonfiction), Benchmark (New York, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, 2006.

Washington, DC (juvenile nonfiction), Benchmark (New York, NY), 1998, 2nd edition, 2006.

The Trail of Tears: The Story of the Cherokee Removal (juvenile nonfiction), Benchmark (New York, NY), 2001.

Born Too Short: The Confessions of an Eighth-Grade Basket Case (young adult novel), Atheneum (New York, NY), 2002.

New York (juvenile nonfiction), Benchmark (New York, NY), 2003.

Chester A. Arthur: America's 21st President (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

The Watergate Scandal (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Nine Wives (adult novel), St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2005.

The Battle of Gettysburg (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Louis Armstrong and the Jazz Age (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Jackie Robinson (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2005.

NASA (juvenile nonfiction), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Satellites (juvenile nonfiction), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

The Sun (juvenile nonfiction), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Theodore Roosevelt (juvenile nonfiction), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Galaxies (juvenile nonfiction), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

The Black Sox Scandal of 1919 (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Colorado (juvenile nonfiction), 2nd edition, Benchmark (New York, NY), 2006.

Edmund Hillary: First to the Top (juvenile nonfiction), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark (New York, NY), 2007.

The U.S. Supreme Court (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2007.

The Manhattan Project (juvenile nonfiction), Children's Press (New York, NY), 2007.

(With S. Hassig) Panama, 2nd edition, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2007.

(With others) Ethiopia, 2nd edition, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of lyrics and music for musicals, corporate videos, and scripts for children's television, including for Cyberchase. Contributor to children's periodicals, including 3-2-1 Contact and Sports Illustrated for Kids.

SIDELIGHTS:

Dan Elish is the author of many fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, as well as the writer of children's musicals and an adult novel. Elish once commented to CA: "My interest in writing was generated by musicals. When I was a senior in high school I became slightly obsessed with Richard Rogers and Stephen Sondheim. I play the piano and my only interest at this point in my life was writing songs. I wrote music for a camp show (I was a counselor and camper for nine years) the summer I went off to Middlebury College in Vermont. Then, the summer after my freshman year, I saw a production of Pirates of Penzance in Central Park. The wit of the production was very exciting and inspired a musical I wrote called Paul Bunyan: A Musical Tall-Tale, which was performed at Middlebury my junior year. Another musical I wrote, Twice upon a Time, went on the next year.

"When I got out of college I was sure that all I wanted to do was write music and lyrics. I got accepted at a workshop in New York for people who want to write show tunes. But much to my surprise, during the course of the next two years, I began to lose some of my enthusiasm for musicals. Then one day I reread Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was charmed by the story as a whole and was also surprised to see how much of the humor was on an adult level. This book prompted me to try one of my own, The Worldwide Dessert Contest. I remember thinking that writing a children's novel would probably only take a few months. Instead, it took a year and a half. It took me four or five months to realize what the story was about. The book turned into a story about John Applefeller and his desire to win a dessert contest.

"I write by trying out different ideas and gradually letting them fall together in a story. For every good idea I have, I have many that don't work. It's tricky. With my writing I've found that it is hard to come up with an idea that is both zany and fantastical, but also seems somehow believable.

"My next book was Jason and the Baseball Bear. I knew I wanted to write something using zoo animals as characters. After months of banging my head against the wall, I jotted down a conversation between a boy and a polar bear about baseball. For some reason it seemed real to me. From this scene, the rest came. Whitney, the aged bear, is a baseball genius who's collected years' worth of sports clippings from the trash by his cage. The bear comes to coach Jason and his Little League team to the championship.

"One day, while walking in New York City's Central Park, an image of a squirrel riding a skateboard and being chased by the police flashed through my mind. Again, after months of thoughts and fiddling, this idea turned into The Great Squirrel Uprising, about a group of squirrels and pigeons taking over Central Park by blocking off all the roads and pedestrian pathways. As usual, the book took far more work than I thought it would."

Elish has written a number of books of history and biography for children, too, including The Trail of Tears: The Story of the Cherokee Removal. This account, which describes the forced relocation of the Cherokee to Oklahoma, was reviewed by Ilene Cooper in Booklist. Cooper wrote that Elish describes the removal, broken treaties, and Cherokee assimilation into mainstream society "using straightforward, effective language."

Born Too Short: The Confessions of an Eighth-Grade Basket Case is an award-winning young adult novel set in New York City about Matt, whose handsome best friend, Keith, has gone through a growth spurt, leaving Matt behind. Matt resents Keith's popularity and success and wishes him bad luck. Keith does experience a string of unfortunate events, while Matt finds a girlfriend and is awarded a music scholarship, all of which leaves Matt feeling guilty and wondering if he is really the cause of Keith's problems. Kliatt reviewer Stacey Conrad wrote that "it is refreshing to have a novel for boys about friendship and its value." A Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked that in this story, which also delves into the sexual awakening of adolescent boys, "Elish perfectly captures the psychological rawness of eighth grade."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


Booklist, January 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review The Trail of Tears: The Story of the Cherokee Removal, p. 834; of February 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Born Too Short: The Confessions of anEighth-Grade Basket Case, p. 938; June 1, 2005, Allison Block, review of Nine Wives, p. 1752; June 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Vermont, p. 65.

Boston Globe, August 7, 2005, Tracy Quan, review of Nine Wives.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of Born Too Short, p. 44; June 15, 2005, review of Nine Wives, p. 654.

Kliatt, March, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Born Too Short, p. 10; November, 2003, Stacey Conrad, review of Born Too Short, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, April 13, 1992, review of The Great Squirrel Uprising, p. 59; January 14, 2002, review of Born Too Short, p. 61; June 13, 2005, review of Nine Wives, p. 30.

School Library Journal, March, 2002, Lana Miles, review of The Trail of Tears, p. 246; February, 2002, Barbara Auerbach, review of Born Too Short, p. 130; November, 2005, Mary R. Hofmann, review of Born Too Short, 57.

ONLINE


American Library Association Web site,http://www.ala.org/ (January 13, 2006), "Banned Books Go Back to School in Maryland."

Balkin Buddies,http://www.balkinbuddies.com/ (August 22, 2006), brief biography of Dan Elish.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (August 22, 2006), Sarah Rachel Egelman, review of Nine Wives.

Laguna Playhouse Web site,http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com/ (August 22, 2006), brief biography of Dan Elish.

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Elish, Dan 1960-

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