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French, Jackie 1953- (Jackie Anne French)

French, Jackie 1953- (Jackie Anne French)

PERSONAL:

Born November 30, 1953, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; daughter of Barrie (a management consultant) and Valerie (a social reformer) French; married David Dumaresq (divorced); married Bryan Sullivan, January 20, 1988; children: (first marriage) Edward. Education: University of Queensland, B.A. Politics: "Fluctuating." Religion: "Nonspecific."

ADDRESSES:

Home—Braidwood, New South Wales, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Children's book author. Worked variously as a sugar packer, cook, journalist, chambermaid, and as a gopher for a private detective; public servant, 1973-75; farmer, 1975-85; writer, 1985—. Director, Wombat Foundation.

MEMBER:

Australian Society of Authors, Braidwood Historical Society, Araluen Bush Fire Brigade.

AWARDS, HONORS:

New South Wales Premier's Award, 1991; Children's Book Award shortlist, New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, 1991, Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Award shortlist, 1992, and West Australian Young Readers Book Award (WAYRBA) shortlist, Primary Age Readers, 1993, all for Rainstones; Notable Book designation, CBCA, 1992, for The Roo That Won the Melbourne Cup; Wilderness Society Award, 1993; Royal Blind Society Talking Book of the Year designation, 1994; Human Rights Award, Talking Book of the Year shortlist, Australian Multicultural Children's Literature Award shortlist, and Notable Book designation, CBCA, all 1994, all for Walking the Boundaries; Family Award high commendation, New South Wales Family Therapy Association/Victorian Association of Family Therapists, and Honor Book designation, CBCA, both 1995, both for Somewhere around the Corner; Book of the Year designation, CBCA, 1999, for Daughter of the Regiment; Eve Pownall Award for Information shortlist, CBCA, 2000, for How to Guzzle Your Garden; Book of the Year Award, CBCA, and Sanderson Young Adult Audio Book of the Year shortlist, Vision Australia Library, both 2000, WAYRBA shortlist, Young Australian's Best Book Award (YABBA) shortlist, and Books I Love Best Yearly Award (BILBY) shortlist, all 2001, and KOALA shortlist, Children Choice Book Awards (Sweden) shortlist, and UK National Literacy Association WOW! Award, all 2002, all for Hitler's Daughter; Notable Book citations, CBCA, 2001, for Lady Dance, Stamp, Stomp, Whomp, and Missing You, Love Sara; WAYRBA shortlist, 2001, and KOALA shortlist, and YABBA shortlist, both 2002, all for Missing You, Love Sara; Notable Book designation, CBCA, for Felix Smith Has Every Right to Be a Crocodile, Little Book of Big Questions, The Fascinating History of Your Lunch, How the Finnegans Saved the Ship; Wilderness Society Book of the Year shortlist, for Hairy Charlie and the Frog; Book of the Year award, Australian Capital Territory, 2002, for In the Blood; Aurealis Award, Australian Science Fiction, 2002, for The Café on Callisto; ABA/Neilson Data Book of the Year award, and Honor Book designation, CBCA, KOALA Award for Best Picture Book, YABBA shortlist, Lemmee Award, Notable Children's Book designation, American Library Association, and Favorite Picture Book of the Year award, Cuffie Awards, all 2003, Benjamin Franklin Award, and Humpty Dumpty Picture Book of the Year honor, Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association, both 2004, and BILBY Award shortlist, 2007, all for Diary of a Wombat; Notable Book designation, CBCA, and Patricia Wrightson Award shortlist, both 2003, both for Ride the Wild Wind; Notable Book designation, and KOALA shortlist, both 2004, both for Too Many Pears; Notable Book designation, CBCA, 2004, for Valley of Gold; Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel shortlist, 2004, for Flesh and Blood; KOALA award shortlist, 2005, for Pete the Sheep; Eve Pownall Award, 2005, for To the Moon and Back; Young People's History Prize shortlist, New South Wales Premier's History Awards, 2006, and WAYBRA shortlist, 2007, both for They Came on Viking Ships; New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards shortlist, 2006, for The Secret World of Wombats; YABBA shortlist, Australian Book Industry Award in Younger-Reader category, and Notable Book designations, CBCA, all 2007, all for Josephine Wants to Dance; YABBA shortlist and Notable Book designa- tion, CBCA, both 2007, both for The Goat Who Sailed the World; CBCA Award shortlist in Younger Readers category, 2007, for Macbeth and Son; Australian nominee for Hans Christian Andersen Award, 2008; numerous child-selected awards; named Australian Capital Territory Children's Ambassador.

WRITINGS:

FOR YOUNG READERS

(Self-illustrated) Smudge, Childerset (Australia), 1988.

Rainstones (short stories), Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1991.

The Roo That Won the Melbourne Cup, illustrated by Carol McLean-Carr, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1991.

The Boy Who Had Wings, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1992.

Walking the Boundaries, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1993.

Hairy Charlie and the Frog, illustrated by Dee Huxley, CIS (Carlton, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

Hairy Charlie and the Pumpkin, illustrated by Dee Huxley, CIS (Carlton, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

Twelve Bottles Popping, CIS (Carlton, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

The Secret Beach, Angus & Roberson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1995.

Alien Games, Angus & Roberson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1995.

Annie's Pouch, illustrated by Bettina Guthridge, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1995.

Mermaids, photographs by Bernard Rosa, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1995.

Somewhere around the Corner, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

Mind's Eye, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

Summerland, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

A Wombat Called Bosco, illustrated by Bettina Guthridge, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

Beyond the Boundaries, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

The Warrior: The Story of a Wombat, illustrated by Bettina Guthridge, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

The Book of Unicorns, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

Dancing with Ben Hall and Other Yarns, illustrated by Gwen Harrison, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

The Boy with Silver Eyes, illustrated by David Miller, Lothian (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

There's a Wallaby at the Bottom of My Garden, illustrated by Bettina Gutheridge, Koala Books (Redfern, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

There's an Echidna at the Bottom of My Garden, illustrated by David Stanley, Koala Books (Redfern, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Soldier on the Hill, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

The Little Book of Big Questions, illustrated by Terry Denton, Allen & Unwin (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Felix Smith Has Every Right to Be a Crocodile, illustrated by David Stanley, Koala Books (Redfern, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

How the Aliens from Alpha Centauri Invaded My Math Class and Turned Me into a Writer … and How You Can Be One Too, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Daughter of the Regiment, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Tajore Arkle, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Hitler's Daughter, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1999, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Charlie's Gold, Koala Books (Redfern, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Bert and the Band, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Captain Purrfect (reader), illustrated by Gus Gordon, Koala Books (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

The Little Book of Big Questions, illustrated by Martha Newbigging, Annick (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Missing You, Love Sarah, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Dark Wind Blowing (middle-grade novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Lady Dance, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

The Book of Challenges, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Stamp Stomp Whomp and Other Interesting Ways to Kill Pests, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

The Café on Callisto (chapter book), illustrated by Sarah Baron, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

Ride the Wild Wind: The Golden Pony and Other Stories, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

How the Finnegans Saved the Ship, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

In the Blood (young-adult novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

The Fascinating History of Your Lunch, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

The Space Bug (reader), illustrated by Mitch Vane, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Diary of a Wombat, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Space Pirates on Callisto (chapter book), illustrated by Sarah Baron, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

The White Ship (historical novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Blood Moon ("Outlands" trilogy; young-adult novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Blood Will Tell ("Outlands" trilogy; young-adult novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Valley of Gold, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Vampire Slugs on Callisto (chapter book), illustrated by Sarah Baron, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Big Burps, Bare Bums, and Other Bad Mannered Blunders: Aunti Jackie's Guide to Behaving Almost Perfectly, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003, published as Big Burps, Bare Bums, and Other Bad-Mannered Blunders: Over 180 Tips on How to Behave, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Bears Don't Bounce! (lift-the-flap book), illustrated by Matt Cosgrove, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Pigs Don't Fly, illustrated by Matt Cosgrove, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Pear Pinching Pamela, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2003, published as Too Many Pears!, Star Bright Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Black House (middle-grade novel), Koala (Mascot, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

(With Bryan Sullivan) To the Moon and Back: The Amazing Australians at the Forefront of Space Travel, illustrated by Gus Gordon, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

Tom Appleby: Convict Boy, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

Pete the Sheep, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004, published as Pete the Sheep-Sheep, Clarion (New York, NY), 2005.

Flesh and Blood ("Outlands" trilogy; young-adult novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

The Secret World of Wombats, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.

They Came on Viking Ships, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2005, published as Rover, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

One Perfect Day, illustrated by Peter Bray, National Museum of Australia Press (Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, Australia), 2006.

Macbeth and Son, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.

Josephine Wants to Dance, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2006, published as Josephine Loves to Dance, Harry Abrams (New York, NY), 2007.

The Shaggy Gully Times: The Punniest Newspaper You'll Ever Read, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2007.

Pharaoh: The Boy Who Conquered the Nile, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2007.

The Day I Was History, illustrated by Christina Booth, National Museum of Australia Press (Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, Australia), 2007.

The Wonderful World of Wallabies and Kangaroos, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2008.

A Rose for the Anzac Boys (historical novel), HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2008.

"CHILDREN OF THE VALLEY" SERIES

The Music from the Sea, illustrated by Victoria Clutterbuck, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1992.

City in the Sand, illustrated by Victoria Clutterbuck, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

House of a Hundred Animals, illustrated by Victoria Clutterbuck, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

The Metal Men, illustrated by Victoria Clutterbuck, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

The Tribe That Sang to Trees, illustrated by Victoria Clutterbuck, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

"PHREDDE" NOVEL SERIES

A Phaery Named Phredde: Stories to Eat with a Banana, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Phredde and a Frog Named Bruce: Stories to Eat with a Watermelon, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Predde and the Zombie Librarian: Stories to Eat with a Blood Plum, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Phredde and the Temple of Gloom: A Story to Eat with a Mandarin, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

Phredde and the Leopard-skin Librarian: A Story to Eat with a Dinosaur Apple, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Phredde and the Purple Pyramid: A Story to Eat with a Passionfruit, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

A Box Full of Phaeries, Phreddes, and Fruit (includes Stories to Eat with a Banana, Stories to Eat with a Watermelon, and Stories to Eat with a Blood Plum), Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Phredde and the Vampire Footy Team, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

Phredde and the Ghostly Underpants: A Story to Eat with a Mango, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.

"WACKY FAMILIES" SERIES

My Mum the Pirate, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003, published as My Mom the Pirate, Stone Arch Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

My Dog the Dinosaur, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003, Stone Arch Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

My Dad the Dragon, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004, Stone Arch Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

My Uncle Gus the Garden Gnome, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

My Uncle Wal the Werewolf, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2005, published as My Uncle the Werewolf, Stone Arch Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

My Gran the Gorilla, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.

My Auntie Chook the Vampire Chicken, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.

My Pa the Polar Bear, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2007.

One Big Wacky Family, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2008.

"FAIR DINKUM HISTORY" SERIES; NONFICTION

Grim Crims and Convicts, 1788-1820, illustrated by Peter Sheehan, Scholastic (Linfield, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.

Shipwreck, Sailors, and 60,000 Years: 1770 and All That Happened before Then, illustrated by Peter Sheehan, Scholastic (Linfield, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.

Rotters and Squatters, illustrated by Peter Sheehan, Scholastic (Gosford, New South Wales, Australia), 2007.

Gold, Graves, and Glory, illustrated by Peter Sheehan, Scholastic (Gosford, New South Wales, Australia), 2007.

A Nation of Swaggies and Diggers, illustrated by Peter Sheehan, Scholastic (Gosford, New South Wales, Australia), 2008.

"ANIMAL STARS" SERIES

The Goat Who Sailed the World, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.

The Dog Who Loved a Queen, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2007.

The Camel Who Crossed Australia, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2008.

OTHER

Organic Gardening in Australia, Reed Books (Australia), 1987.

Natural Rose Growing: An Organic Approach to Gardening, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1988.

The Organic Garden Doctor, Harper Collins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1988.

Natural Control of Household Pests, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1990, 2nd edition, 2002.

The Wilderness Garden: A Radical New View of Australian Growing Methods, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993, 2nd edition published as The Wilderness Garden: Beyond Organic Gardening, 2007.

The Salad Garden, Reed Books (Australia), 1993.

Organic Control of Household Pests, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

Organic Control of Common Weeds, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993, revised, 1997.

The Earth Gardeners Companion: A Month-by-Month Guide, Earth Garden (Trentham, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

The Chook Book, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

A to Z of Useful Plants, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

New Plants from Old, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994, 2nd edition published as New Plants from Old: Simple, Natural, No-Cost Plant Propagation, 2007.

Book of Lavender, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Mint, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Rosemary, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Thyme, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Chili, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Garlic, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Parsley, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Book of Basil, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Jackie French's Guide to Companion Planting in Australia and New Zealand, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

(With Bryan Sullivan) Switch! A Book of Home-made Power, Water, and Garbage Systems, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

Household Self Sufficiency, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

Back Yard Self Sufficiency, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

The Organic Garden Problem Solver, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1995.

Plants That Never Say Die, Lothian (Port Melbourne, Australia), 1995.

Soil Food: 3,764 Ways to Feed Your Garden, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

Jackie French's Top Ten Vegetables, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

Jackie French's Cook Book, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

The Pumpkin Book, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

Yates Guide to Edible Gardening, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.

Growing Flowers Naturally, Aird Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

Making Money from Your Garden, Earth Garden Books (Trentham, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Seasons of Content, illustrated by Gwen Harrison, Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.

Yates Guide to Herbs, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Jackie French's Household Herb Book, Earth Garden Books (Trentham, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

How to Guzzle Your Garden, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Natural Solutions, Women's Weekly Home Library, 1999.

The Best of Jackie French: A Practical Guide to Everything from Aphids to Zuchinni Chocolate Cake, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

The House That Jackie Built, Earthgarden (Trentham, Victoria, Australia), September, 2001.

Earthly Delights, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

The Secret Life of Santa Claus, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.

Searching for Charlie, HarperCollins (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

A War for Gentlemen (historical novel), Flamingo (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

Rocket Your Child into Reading (nonfiction), Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

Regular contributor to periodicals, including Australian Women's Weekly, Burke's Backyard, and Earthgarden.

French's children's books have been translated into nine languages.

ADAPTATIONS:

Hitler's Daughter was adapted as a stage play by Eva DiCesare, Sandra Eldridge, and Tim McGarry, Currency Press (Strawberry Hills, New South Wales, Australia), 2007. "Walking the Boundaries," a popular environmental children's outdoor program, was based on French's book of the same name.

SIDELIGHTS:

The stories of Australian writer Jackie French are inspired by her love of the Australian landscape, her good-natured humor, and her passionate involvement in environmental and horticultural issues. The Australian bush serves as the backdrop of books such as her highly acclaimed story collection Rainstones, while Australia's unique creatures stars in picture books such as Diary of a Wombat and Josephine Wants to Dance. As Kevin Steinberger noted in Magpies, French "explores [the native Australian flora and fauna] with a keen multi-sensory perception that indicates a genuine affinity with the land and a passion for its life." In her review for Horn Book, Karen Jameyson also praised the author's poignant descriptions. Readers "imbibe not just plot and character but a very distinct group of country settings as well," Jameyson wrote. "Casuarina trees sway in the breeze; mopokes call their distinctive cry; wombats grind grass in the moonlight." In addition to the Australian landscape, French has also focused on her country's history in her "Fair Dinkum History" series for middle-grade readers, and her reputation as a self-sufficiency guru has been firmly cemented with works such as New Plants from Old (also published as New Plants from Old: Simple, Natural, No-Cost Plant Propagation), Plants That Never Say Die, and Household Self-Sufficiency.

With The Little Book of Big Questions, French drew critical attention across the English-speaking world. Organized in fifteen sections, French's book presents a multitude of reflective and unanswerable questions, such as "How did the universe begin?," "What is life?," "What happens when you die?," and "Why isn't life fair?" The possible and often contradictory answers she poses for reader consideration draw from science, philosophy and religion. French encourages readers to come up with their own answers to these questions but also suggests that they talk with librarians, ministers, teachers, or other adults in their personal search for answers. "It takes a brave adult to encourage kids to ask questions to which they have no answers," Julian Baggini commented in a review of the book for the Times Educational Supplement. Although she focuses on scientific explanations for the origins of life and of the universe, the critic added that French also gives "room and respect" to other alternatives, such as creationism. The Little Book of Big Questions is "a good choice for small browsers who like to mull over big issues," concluded Debbie Whitbeck in School Library Journal.

Although she has written several novels for adults, most of French's fiction is geared for younger readers. Somewhere around the Corner, a middle-grade novel, transports Barbara, an Australian foster child, from a violent labor dispute in 1990s Sydney, back to that city in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression. Fortunately for Barbara, she meets Jim, a young boy her own age who brings her home to his family. Amid the era's hard times and misfortune, Barbara comes to know the loving warmth and support of a family for the first time. Writing for School Library Journal, Susan L. Rogers claimed that "thorough character development and a captivating story save the novel from preaching." Booklist critic Sally Estes took a similar view, writing that "French does a wonderful job of portraying the precariousness of life during the 1930s Depression as well as the courage and warmth of people who not only survived but managed, in many ways, to thrive despite adversity." "The author has an eye for setting and characterization," concluded Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Joyce A. Litton in a review of Somewhere around the Corner.

In her award-winning middle-grade Hitler's Daughter, French focuses on a boy who is pondering one of life's darker moments from history. After one of his friends tells a fictional story about the secret daughter of German Chancellor Adolph Hitler during a storytelling game, ten-year-old Mark begins to reflect on the tale's deeper implications. He puts himself in the girl's place, and wonders what his life would be like if a trusted adult he looked up to for guidance was actually as evil as the Nazi leader. If he was the son of Hitler, and learned that his father was killing thousands of people, what would he have done? From there, the boy turns to the deeper implications of other things in his life, such as the taking of aboriginal lands, resulting in what Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman dubbed a "disturbing, fast-paced story" that "makes clear the roles of perpetrator and bystander."

In Rover, published in Australia as They Came on Viking Ships, French goes back in time a thousand years to tell the story of Hekja, a girl who lives in a seaside town in Sweden. Captured by a band of Viking raiders led by Freydis Eriksdottir, the daughter of Erik the Red, the twelve-year-old girl and her dog, Snarl, are taken to Greenland. Starting as a slave, Hekja becomes Freydis's friend, and eventually they help establish a settlement on Vinland, or North America. Praising Rover as "a captivating" novel featuring "a feisty and resourceful" young protagonist, Heather M. Campbell added in her School Library Journal review that French's ability to mine the Norse sagas for a wealth of "historical detail … lends an air of authority" to her novel.

Among French's many books for children that have made their way to American readers are the "Wacky Families" series. Designed to engage the imaginations of young readers, each beginning chapter book in the series features a boy or girl who is burdened with an unbelievable and totally improbable home life. In My Dog the Dinosaur, for example, Gunk and his family bring a strange puppy home from the local animal shelter, only to have it turn out to be a baby dinosaur. For Buster, normal means being a werewolf, and in My Uncle the Werewolf he balks when his uncle decides that everyone should act like humans. When Horace becomes a knight-in-training in My Dad the Dragon, the boy's homework assignment—to slay a dragon—is particularly problematic for his fire-breathing father.

French's picture-book collaborations with illustrator Bruce Whatley are beloved by many readers and include Diary of a Wombat, The Secret World of Wombats, Josephine Wants to Dance, and Pete the Sheep-Sheep. An entertaining introduction to an unique Australian species, Diary of a Wombat allows readers to keep pace with a not-so-busy wombat as her main occupation turns from sleeping away the day to begging for food once easily trainable humans arrive in her neighborhood. Whatley's amusing acrylic paintings "provide the perfect counterpoint to French's deadpan narration," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer. Noting French's informative text, School Library Journal contributor Gay Lynn Van Vleck also praised the book's "simple sentences and hilarious yet realistic" art.

In Josephine Wants to Dance a young kangaroo rejects the criticism of family and friends to follow her love of dancing, and proves that kangas can do more than just hop when she takes over the role of an injured prima ballerina. In a play on the role of a sheepdog, Pete the Sheep-Sheep focuses on Shaun, a sheep shearer living in Shaggy Gully, who uses his sheep Pete to herd his flock of sheep with polite requests rather than nips, snaps, and low grows. When the town's other shearers object, Shaun takes up a new trade, creating sheep hairstyles that make him the talk of the town. In School Library Journal, Kara Schaff Dean called Josephine Wants to Dance "an amusing twist on the age-old story of triumphing over adversity," adding that the book will appeal to "little girls with ballerina dreams of their own." Pete the Sheep-Sheep was praised by a Kirkus Reviews writer, who described the collaboration between French and Whatley as a "sweetly fleecy tale of outsider-makes-good." Noting that Pete the Sheep-Sheep plays on a simple silly premise, Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that French's "text is so jaunty and the artwork so amusing" that the book will nonetheless captivate story-hour crowds.

French once commented: "I wrote my first children's book, Rainstones, living in a shed with a wallaby called Fred, a black snake called Gladys, and a wombat called Smudge. The editor at HarperCollins described it as the messiest, worst spelt manuscript they'd ever received. Now, tens of thousands of readers deeply love these same short stories.

"The messiness was mostly due to Smudge, the wombat, who had a particular hatred for my typewriter (an old one I found at the dump) and so he left nightly droppings on the keyboard. But the incorrect spellings were from my dyslexia—I can't focus on single words to see if they're spelt properly or not. (I profoundly hope someone has checked this spelling before you read it.)

"I sent my first book off because I was broke, had a baby to support, and could think of no other way to do it alone in the bush. But I've always told stories. I'm a storyteller by passion and by conviction. In any age, in any place, I'd be a storyteller. But I also write because I believe that giving children fiction is one of the most valuable things you can give them.

"When you tell a child a story, you are telling them life holds other possibilities. Encouraging fantasies of mermaids, and unicorns just around the corner, may well foster creative imaginations that one day lead to social reform, or new theories of the universe or, simply, a knowing that life can be better.

"As well as my books for children, I'm one of the Australian gurus of organic growing methods, with books ranging from detailed accounts of my research into alternative methods of weed or pest control, to more popular gardening books. I'm also a regular on many radio programs around Australia. My husband, Bryan, and I also run an experimental farm.

"My other work includes adult fiction (horrible way to express it—it always sounds like I write pornography, but how else do you differentiate children's books from books for adults?), and various other books that are hard to stuff into categories I've also studied wombat ecology for many years, and will tell wombat stories at a drop of the hat—or with even less encouragement."

French lives with her family in a valley on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. "We live in a house we built ourselves with stone from the creek," she once explained, "with a homemade waterwheel to power the computer when it's too shady for the solar panels, a rambling garden over-endowed with fruit and roses, six wombats, a frequently drunk goanna, and a mob of lyrebirds who dig up the asparagus." Other, more recent residents include "a possum who dances on the roof every morning at 4 a.m., two wedgetail eagles who live in nests on the cliffs above us, eight geese (one of them only has one leg and none of them has many brains), a lot of chooks and a very handsome rooster called Rodney with long black and green tail feathers (they look like he's combed them) and a loud voice, and another called Arnold Shwarzenfeather."

One of French's central passions, in addition to her family, are the many wombats who have shared her time living in the Australian bush ("I suspect the local wildlife see us as pets, not the other way around," she quipped on her home page). Although French credits the short-legged, burrowing marsupials with being a central creative inspiration, she admits that the creatures have several annoying habits. One of her wombat acquaintances, Pudge, religiously ate all the celery growing in her garden, topping that off with parts of a nearby doormat. Pudge also influenced the author's typical bedtime routine; "10:00ish—Say goodnight to wombat; go to bed. 10:30—Say a very firm goodnight to wombat. 11:30—Rescue chewed doormat and mangled garbage bin from wombat. Speak sternly to wombat. Go to sleep."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Australian Book Review, February, 1993, p. 56; June, 1993, p. 59.

Booklist, May 15, 1995, Sally Estes, review of Somewhere around the Corner, p. 1645; September 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Hitler's Daughter, p. 236; January 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Pete the Sheep, p. 112; January 1, 2007, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Rover, p. 100.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1995, review of Somewhere around the Corner, p. 343; July, 2003, review of Hitler's Daughter, p. 447; November, 2003, Deborah Stevenson, review of Diary of a Wombat, p. 102.

Horn Book, July-August, 1992, Karen Jameyson, review of Rainstones, pp. 498-499; September-October, 1995, Ann A. Flowers, review of Somewhere around the Corner, p. 599; January-February, 2006, Kitty Flynn, review of Pete the Sheep-Sheep, p. 68.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Hitler's Daughter, p. 750; July 15, 2003, review of Diary of a Wombat, p. 963; October 15, 2005, review of Pete the Sheep-Sheep, p. 1137; February 15, 2007, review of Rover; September 15, 2007, review of Josephine Wants to Dance.

Kliatt, March, 2007, Claire Rosser, review of Rover, p. 12.

Magpies, March, 1992, review of The Roo That Won the Melbourne Cup, p. 30; July, 1993, review of Hairy Charlie and the Frog, p. 26; November, 1993, review of The Boy Who Had Wings, p. 34; March, 1995, review of Hairy Charlie and the Pumpkin, p. 21; March, 1996, review of Alien Game, p. 33; September, 1997, review of There's an Echidna at the Bottom of My Garden, p. 31; September, 1999, review of Charlie's Gold, p. 29; November, 1999, Catherine McClellan and Kay Sagar, review of Hitler's Daughter, pp. 6, 32; May, 2001, review of In the Blood, p. 38; September, 2001, review of Dark Wind Blowing, p. 33; July, 2002, reviews of The White Ship and Space Pirateson Callisto, p. 34; November, 2002, review of Diary of a Wombat, p. 29; March, 2003, review of Pigs Don't Fly!, p. 26; November, 2003, review of Too Many Pears!, p. 25; November, 2004, Jo Goodman, review of Pete the Sheep, p. 28; November, 2006, Vikki Turton, review of Josephine Wants to Dance, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1993, review of Book of Lavender, p. 73; May 15, 1995, review of Somewhere around the Corner, p. 73; July 21, 2003, review of Diary of a Wombat, p. 193.

School Library Journal, July, 1995, Susan L. Rogers, review of Somewhere around the Corner, p. 78; November, 2000, Debbie Whitbeck, review of The Little Book of Big Questions, p. 140; May, 2003, Sue Giffard, review of Hitler's Daughter, p. 151; August, 2003, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Diary of a Wombat, p. 128; November, 2003, Maryann H. Owen, review of Too Many Pears!, November, 2005, Grace Oliff, review of Pete the Sheep-Sheep, p. 90; June, 2007, Heather M. Campbell, review of Rover, p. 144; July, 2007, Kelly Roth, reviews of My Dad the Dragon and My Mom the Pirate, pp. 75-76; November, 2007, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Josephine Wants to Dance, p. 91.

Times Educational Supplement, Julian Baggini, review of The Small Book of Big Questions, p. 23.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1995, Joyce A. Litton, review of Somewhere around the Corner, p. 218.

ONLINE

HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com.au/ (January 10, 2008), "Jackie French."

Jackie French Home Page,http://www.jackiefrench.com (January 10, 2008).

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