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Garland, Sherry 1948-

GARLAND, Sherry 1948-

Lynn Lawrence

PERSONAL: Born July 24, 1948, in McAllen, TX; daughter of Joseph (a farmer and carpenter) and Desla (a homemaker) Allison; married Clyde L. Garland, July 4, 1971. Education: University of Texas at Arlington, B.A. (with honors), 1970, graduate studies, 1970-71.

ADDRESSES: Home—Central TX. Office—c/o Author Mail, Harcourt & Co., 525 B Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101.

CAREER: Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, librarian in oceanography/meteorology department, 1972-75; secretarial work for various homebuilders in Houston, TX, 1976-89; lecturer and writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Work-in-progress grant, Society of Children's Book Writers and Guilded Quill Award in juvenile fiction, both 1990, both for Song of the Buffalo Boy; ABC Children's Booksellers Choice Award; Best Book for Young Adults, Notable Picture Book, and Best Book for Reluctant Readers citations, American Library Association; American Booksellers Association Pick of the List citation; California Young Reader's Medal, for Shadow of the Dragon; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies citations, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council; Parents' Choice Honor Book; Lamplighter Award, National Christian Schools Association, for The Silent Storm; Best Books for the Teen Age citation, New York Public Library; Orbis Pictus recommended nonfiction book, for Voices of the Alamo; Cuffy Award, Publishers Weekly; Reading Rainbow featured book, for The Lotus Seed; numerous "readers' choice" citations from individual states; Texas Bluebonnet Master List, for The Lotus Seed; Texas Lone Star Reading List; Texas Institute of Letters Award for juvenile fiction; Spur Award from Western Writers of America for juvenile fiction; Honor Book, Society of School Librarians International, 2002, for In the Shadow of the Alamo.

WRITINGS:

FOR CHILDREN

Vietnam: Rebuilding a Nation (nonfiction), Dillon/Macmillan (New York, NY), 1990.

Where the Cherry Trees Bloom (novel), [Germany], 1991.

Best Horse on the Force (novel), Holt (New York, NY), 1991.

Song of the Buffalo Boy (novel), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1992.

The Lotus Seed (picture book), illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1993.

Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg (picture book), illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

The Silent Storm (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1993.

Shadow of the Dragon (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1993

I Never Knew Your Name (picture book), illustrated by Sheldon Greenberg, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.

Summer Sands, illustrated by Robert J. Lee, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1995.

Indio, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1995.

Cabin 102, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1995.

Letters from the Mountain, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1996.

The Last Rainmaker, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1997.

A Line in the Sand: The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence ("Dear America" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

My Father's Boat (picture book), illustrated by Ted Rand, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Voices of the Alamo (picture book), illustrated by Ronald Himler, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.

Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2001.

In the Shadow of the Alamo, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2001.

Valley of the Moon: The Diary of Maria Rosalia de Milagros ("Dear America" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

FOR ADULTS

(Under pseudonym Lynn Lawrence) The Familiar Touch, Berkley (New York, NY), 1982.

(Under pseudonym Lynn Lawrence) Deep in the Heart, Berkley (New York, NY), 1983.

Writing for Young Adults, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1998.

ADAPTATIONS: A Line in the Sand has been adapted as a movie for Home Box Office (HBO).

SIDELIGHTS: Sherry Garland has combined her interest in many cultures and her love of storytelling into a successful career as an author of books for young readers. With several picture books to her credit, Garland has also authored novels for both beginning readers and teens, including Shadow of the Dragon, Indio, and A Line in the Sand. Garland is a lifelong resident of Texas, and her love for the state's history and wildlife informs her work. She has also traveled widely and has come to know people of other cultures and backgrounds, so many of her books are set in foreign countries, especially Vietnam. Whatever their setting, her novels and stories offer meditations on such universal themes as loneliness, searching for identity, and love of nature.

Born in Texas's Rio Grande Valley into a large family, Garland grew up the youngest child of tenant farmers. Shy and often residing in isolated locations, she grew up telling herself stories and observing the many animals on the farm and in the fields. She began writing in secret but was encouraged by a high school teacher who praised her efforts and challenged her to enter contests. After graduating from college with a degree in French, Garland worked a series of jobs and had almost given up on writing until a dream inspired her to write a novel. She published two adult romance novels before turning to work for younger readers and publishing her first juvenile book, Vietnam: Rebuilding a Nation, in 1990.

A number of Garland's books are about Vietnam because she has many friends and acquaintances from that nation. By happenstance, some Vietnamese refugees moved into her neighborhood in Houston after the Vietnam War had ended, and she helped them to assimilate. In return they introduced her to their culture and their stories. An editor at a 1990 writer's conference mentioned to Garland she was looking for Asian folk tales, and Garland's response was to create Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg. A light-hearted story, the book contains a great deal of insight into Vietnamese traditions. Vietnamese culture also figures in the plot of her 1998 picture book My Father's Boat, which focuses on Vietnamese-American shrimpers working along the Gulf Coast. Dubbed a "thoughtful and loving family story" by School Library Journal contributor Carol Schene, My Father's Boat features a boy and his father working aboard their boat. The father tells tales of fishing in the South China Sea and vows that the two will one day experience that together. Garland "welds telling details of the sea, sky, and fishing life into a powerful narrative," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, while Schene praised a prose style that "flows effortlessly."

In addition to My Father's Boat, other works by Garland concerning Vietnamese themes include Song of the Buffalo Boy, The Lotus Seed, Shadow of the Dragon, and Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam. In Song of the Buffalo Boy, the Amerasian protagonist runs away from an arranged marriage but finds herself ostracized in Saigon because her father was an American serviceman. The heroine of The Lotus Seed is an elderly immigrant who carries with her a lotus seed she took from the emperor's garden in Vietnam. She plants the lotus seed in America and grows new seeds for her grandchildren. The stories collected in Children of the Dragon reveal the common concerns of Vietnamese and American children, from discovering the "why" in animal behavior to earning the rewards of frugality and hard work. In School Library Journal, Margaret A. Chang wrote that readers would enjoy Children of the Dragon for its "smooth writing and appealing format." Carolyn Phelan in Booklist called the collection a "beautiful volume."

Garland's books set in America often reveal her love of animals both wild and tame. She once told CA that one of her earliest projects was based upon her love for horses. "One day I met a . . . mounted policeman and his horse at a city park," she said. "After hearing him explain how special these horses are and how they are trained to tolerate crowds and loud noises, and after learning that at one time teenagers did volunteer work at the stables, I knew I had the ingredients for a unique story." Garland's Best Horse on the Force, published in 1991, proved to be one of her most popular books and generated a great deal of fan mail.

Garland continued to draw on her personal experiences in The Silent Storm, published in 1993. Recalling 1983, the year Hurricane Alicia hit Houston, she was inspired to write a story showing the fury of a hurricane. "I just had to name the character Alyssa, in honor of that storm," Garland told CA. The author combined the storm with a stable of sturdy ponies and a heroine unable to speak due to the trauma of witnessing her parents killed at sea, and created a complex, challenging novel. From her extensive research in preparation for writing The Silent Storm, Garland learned a great deal about hurricanes, the life of shrimp harvesters, and the history of Galveston Island, a region prone to hurricane damage.

Other books combining Garland's interest in history, her curiosity, and her insight into human nature include Indio, a young adult novel about Southwestern Indians and Spanish conquistadors, and her books for the popular "Dear America" series, A Line in the Sand: The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence and Valley of the Moon: The Diary of Rosalia de Milagros. Featuring a thirteen-year-old protagonist who witnesses the events leading up to the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, A Line in the Sand was hailed by School Library Journal critic Phyllis Graves as "carefully researched and historically accurate." The critic added that Garland's attention to detail adds "interest and give[s] a clear picture of the many hardships and simple joys of early Texas farm life." In Valley of the Moon, hardworking Rosalia writes secretly of her never-ending chores and the changes coming to California with the arrival of new Anglo settlers. Booklist correspondent Jean Franklin noted that Rosalia's love for her rural home "infuses her story with a strong sense of place."

After twenty-two years of living in or near Houston, Garland has relocated to a smaller town in central Texas that reminds her of her childhood home. Having once won a contest with an essay that began: "I've never seen the Alamo," she is now the author of three books on the siege of the Alamo, including the popular picture book Voices of the Alamo. To quote GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist, Garland's works on the Alamo "will make vivid for readers this period of American history."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 1992, p. 1438; November 15, 1993, p. 621; June 1, 1997, p. 1675; March 1, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Line in the Sand: The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence, p. 1213; April 1, 2001, Jean Franklin, review of Valley of the Moon: The Diary of Rosalia de Milagros, p. 1482; July, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam, p. 2010.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July, 1992, p. 294; April, 1995, p. 274; September, 1998, p. 13; October 15, 2001, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of In the Shadow of the Alamo, p. 389.

Horn Book, fall, 1993, p. 298; fall, 1998, p. 292; November-December, 2001, Betty Carter, review of In the Shadow of the Alamo, p. 747.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1990, p. 341; March 15, 1992, p. 393; May 15, 1998, p. 737.

Publishers Weekly, February 17, 1992, p. 64; June 1, 1998, review of My Father's Boat, p. 48; August 27, 2001, review of Children of the Dragon, p. 85.

School Library Journal, July, 1993, p. 60; December, 1995, p. 104; June, 1997, p. 117; July, 1998, Carol Schene, review of My Father's Boat, p. 74; January, 1999, Phyllis Graves, review of A Line in the Sand, p. 127; June, 2000, Ruth Semrau, review of Voices of the Alamo, p. 164; April, 2001, Carolyn Janssen, review of Valley of the Moon, p. 140; October, 2001, Margaret A. Chang, review of Children of the Dragon, p. 139; December, 2001, Lana Miles, review of In the Shadow of the Alamo, p. 133.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1992, p. 223; December, 1993, p. 290; December, 1995, p. 300; August, 1997, p. 183.

ONLINE

Sherry Garland Home Page,http://www.sherrygarland.com/ (October 13, 2003).

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