PERSONAL: Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; married; children: three sons. Education: Attended University of Manitoba.
ADDRESSES: Home—St. Andrews, Manitoba, Canada. Agent—c/o Sumach Press, 1415 Bathurst St., Suite 202, Toronto, Ontario M5R 2H8, Canada.
CAREER: Writer. Worked variously as an audio-visual producer, waitress, puppeteer, and photographer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Manitoba Writers' Guild Mentor Program, 1994; Our Choice award, Canadian Children's Book Centre, for The Wise Washerman: A Folktale from Burma; Best Books for Young Adults award, American Library Association, 2003, for Out of the Fire.
The Wise Washerman: A Folktale from Burma (juvenile), illustrated by Wang Kui, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1996.
Out of the Fire (young adult), Sumach Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A young adult novel and a screenplay.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian author Deborah Froese's first book is The Wise Washerman: A Folktale from Burma, a children's story about Aung Kyaing, a hard-working laundryman who "worked magic in his washtub, for he made white clothes gleam like snowcapped mountains and colorful clothes sparkle like jeweled pagodas." Aung's neighbor, the potter Narathu, is jealous of Aung's success, and although he knows magic has nothing to do with it, he tells King Pagin Min that he should entreat Aung to use his magic to turn the royal elephant from gray to white. Aung tells the king that he will perform this miracle during the Water Festival and says that he must have a pot large enough to hold the elephant and the water with which to wash it. The king orders Narathu to make this pot, but when it is filled with water and elephant, the vessel breaks, and it is Narathu who is banished from the kingdom.
School Library Journal reviewer Marilyn Iarusso asserted that "children old enough to appreciate trickery, cleverness, and justice will enjoy this tale." The text is framed by black and white Burmese motifs, swirling across the pages, and the watercolor and gouache paintings of Wang Kui earned the artist awards for his first illustrated book. "Distinctive and imaginative, the art wraps the story in an extravagant garment of almost-psychedelic pastel colors," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Canadian Children's Literature reviewer Joanne Findon said that Froese's retelling of the traditional tale is "straightforward and lively" and "highlights the value of hard work in a lighthearted way." Harriet Zaidman wrote on the Web site of the Manitoba Library Association that Froese "writes lyrically. Her gentle, formal style, using elevated language, evokes pictures of ancient ordered times."
Froese's Out of the Fire, is written for teen readers. Sixteen-year-old Dayle Meryk has recently lost her beloved grandmother and is also resentful of her father's new wife and baby. Dayle's best friend, Amy, feels left out when Dayle begins to hang out with the more popular crowd which includes Keith, a handsome young athlete. When Keith's friend, Pete, starts a fire with gasoline, both he and Dayle are burned, and Pete dies. Dayle spends months in the hospital recovering, and this part of the story demonstrates the care and compassion exercised in hospital burn units. Dayle worries that her disfigurement will turn Keith away, and she soon learns who her real friends are.
School Library Journal contributor Angela J. Reynolds wrote that "Froese has created believable teen characters and placed them in a difficult situation, building tension and story." "This excellent novel deals forthrightly with guilt, forgiveness, and how our behavior affects our families and friends," wrote Joan Marshall on the Web site of the Manitoba Library Association. "Dayle is a sympathetic, well-drawn heroine whose suffering and growth keep the reader turning pages."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2002, Frances Bradburn, review of Out of the Fire, p. 1837.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1996, Janice M. Del Negro, review of The Wise Washerman: A Folktale from Burma, pp. 133-134.
Canadian Children's Literature, fall, 1997, Joanne Findon, review of The Wise Washerman, pp. 65-66.
Publishers Weekly, November 11, 1996, review of TheWise Washerman, p. 73.
School Library Journal, January, 1997, Marilyn Iarusso, review of The Wise Washerman, p. 100; August, 2002, Angela J. Reynolds, review of Out of the Fire, p. 184.
Manitoba Library Association,http://www.umanitoba.ca/ (November 15, 1996), Harriet Zaidman, review of The Wise Washerman; (February 15, 2002), Joan Marshall, review of Out of the Fire.*