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Gelman, Rita Golden 1937-

Gelman, Rita Golden 1937-

(R.G. Austin, a joint pseudonym)

PERSONAL: Born July 2, 1937, in Bridgeport, CT; daughter of Albert (a pharmacist) and Frances (an artist and community activist; maiden name, Friedman) Golden; married Steve Gelman (an editor and writer), December 11, 1960, divorced, 1985 (one source says 1987); children: Mitchell, Jan. Education: Brandeis University, B.A., 1958; University of California, Los Angeles, M.A., 1984, Ph.D. candidate; additional study at Northeastern University, Yeshiva University, and New York University.

ADDRESSES: Office—McIntosh and Otis, 310 Madison Ave., Rm. 607, New York, NY 10017-6006. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Children's Books, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Young Americans (magazine), New York, NY, staff writer, 1958–60; Crowell-Collier Publishing Co., New York, NY, editor, 1961–62; Book-of-the-Month Club, New York, NY, juvenile consultant, 1972–76; Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, NY, editor, 1973–74; freelance writer, 1974–. Guest lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles, 1976–78; faculty member, Sixth Annual Writers' Conference in Children's Literature, Los Angeles, 1977; faculty member in extension program, California State University, Northridge, 1978–79. Lecturer, Association of Southeast Asian Nations Publisher's Conference, Singapore, 1993.

MEMBER: PEN, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best Science Book for Children Award, American Institute of Physics, 1987, and Science-Writing Award, 1988, both for Splash!: All about Baths; American Library Association Award, 1988, for Inside Nicaragua: Young People's Dreams and Fears; John Burroughs Association commendation, for Outstanding Nature Book for children, for Dawn to Dusk in the Galapagos: Flightless Birds, Swimming Lizards, and Other Fascinating Creatures, 1991.

WRITINGS:

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World (memoir), Crown (New York, NY), 2001.

FOR CHILDREN

Dumb Joey, Holt (New York, NY), 1973.

The Can, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.

Fun City, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.

The Me I Am, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.

Comits: A Book of Comic Skits, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.

(With husband, Steve Gelman) Great Quarterbacks of Pro Football, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1975.

Why Can't I Fly, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1976.

More Spaghetti, I Say, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1977.

Hey, Kid!, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Joan Richter) Professor Coconut and the Thief, Holt (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Susan Buxbaum) OUCH!: All about Cuts and Other Hurts, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Warner Friedman) Uncle Hugh: A Fishing Story, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1978.

Cats and Mice, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1978.

(With Steve Gelman) America's Favorite Sports Stars, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1978.

(With Marcia Seligson) UFO Encounters, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1978.

Hello, Cat. You Need a Hat, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1979.

The Biggest Sandwich Ever, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980.

Favorite Riddles, Knock Knocks, and Nonsense, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980.

Great Moments in Sports, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980.

Benji at Work, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980.

The Incredible Dinosaurs, Random House (New York, NY), 1980.

Mount St. Helens, the Big Blast, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1981.

Fabulous Animal Facts that Hardly Anybody Knows, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1981.

ESP and Other Strange Happenings, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1981.

(With Susan Baxbaum) Boats that Float, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1981.

Mortimer K Saves the Day, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.

Benji Takes a Dive, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.

(With Susan Buxbaum) Body Noises, Knopf (New York, NY), 1983.

Wet Cats, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1985.

A Koala Grows Up, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.

Care and Share: A Book about Manners, Marvel Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Listen and Look!: A Safety Book, Marvel Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(Coauthor) Splash!: All about Baths, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1987.

Leave It to Minnie, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.

Inside Nicaragua: Young People's Dreams and Fears, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1988.

Stop Those Painters, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

Monkeys and Apes of the World, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1990.

Monsters of the Sea, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.

Dawn to Dusk in the Galapagos: Flightless Birds, Swimming Lizards, and Other Fascinating Creatures, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.

A Monkey Grows Up, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.

What Are Scientists? What Do They Do?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.

Body Battles, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

I Went to the Zoo, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

A Panda Grows Up, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

Body Detectives: A Book about the Five Senses, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

Queen Esther Saves Her People, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Pizza Pat, illustrated by Will Terry, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Mole in a Hole, illustrated by Holly Hannon, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.

Rice Is Life, Holt (New York, NY), 2000.

Doodler Doodling, pictures by Paul O. Zelinsky, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2004.

"WHICH WAY" SERIES; WITH NANCY AUSTIN UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM R.G. AUSTIN

The Castle of No Return, illustrations by Mike Eagle, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Famous and Rich, illustrations by Mike Eagle, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Curse of the Sunken Treasure, illustrations by Lorna Tomei, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Lost in a Strange Land, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

The Spell of the Black Raven, illustrations by Anthony Kramer, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Vampires, Spies, and Alien Beings, illustrations by Kramer, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Cosmic Encounters, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Creatures of the Dark, Archway (Dover, NH), 1982.

Invasion of the Black Slime and Other Tales of Horror, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

Trapped in the Black Box, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

Islands of Terror, Archway (Dover, NH), 1985.

Ten Ton Monster, Archway (Dover, NH), 1985.

Poltergeists, Ghosts, and Psychic Encounters, Archway (Dover, NH), 1986.

"WHICH WAY SECRET DOOR" SERIES; WITH NANCY AUSTIN UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM R.G. AUSTIN

Wow! You can Fly! Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

Giants, Elves, and Scary Monsters, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

The Haunted Castle, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

The Secret Life of Toys, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

The Visitors from Outer Space, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

The Inch-High Kid, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

The Magic Carpet, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

Happy Birthday to You, Archway (Dover, NH), 1983.

The Monster Family, Archway (Dover, NH), 1984.

Brontosaurus Moves In, Archway (Dover, NH), 1984.

The Enchanted Forest, Archway (Dover, NH), 1984.

Crazy Computers, Archway (Dover, NH), 1984.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A collaborative cookbook featuring various stories sent in by different people.

SIDELIGHTS: Rita Golden Gelman is a nomad with no permanent address and no possessions except those that she carries in her suitcases. She has not always been a nomad: at one time she was a full-time mother of two children and a wife to a successful Hollywood writer, but all of that changed. At that time, she was, as she continues to be, a writer of children's books, but she lived in a suburban home. She was also attending school, working on her masters degree in anthropology. Her children had left for college. In 1985, however, Gelman found herself a divorced woman and for a while did not know for sure which direction to take.

Gelman states that the money she was earning from her books was not enough to afford an apartment in Los Angeles, and she did not want to rely on alimony, so she decided to pare down her possessions to nearly nothing and to travel as she always had wanted to do. She could, after all, continue writing no matter where in the world she lived. Since 1985 Gelman has rarely stayed in one place more than six months at a time. She does, however, have favorite places, such as Bali, to which she often returns. Since anthropology has always been one of her passions, she decided to combine her love of travel with her interest in other cultures.

In addition to her many children's books, in 2001 Gel-man published a book in which she relates her experiences on the road. In Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, Gelman "celebrates the joys of the unfettered life," as a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote.

"I move through the world without a plan," Gelman writes at her Web site, "guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities." Gelman states that she travels in this way so that she might learn about other cultures. She moves in with the local people as often as she can, "to share the minutes of their days, to know the seasons of their lives, and to be trusted with their secrets." She has traveled to Israel, the Galapagos Islands, the jungles of Borneo, and has lived with an Indonesian prince. "Gelman doesn't just observe the cultures she visits," wrote Carolyn Kubiszin Booklist, "she participates in them, becoming emotionally involved in the peoples' lives." Linda M. Kaufmann commented in the Library Journal: "Her enthusiasm for the people she meets and her ability to overcome the challenges … make for an engrossing and inspirational read."

As for the children books she writes, Gelman commented on her Web site, "the characters that I write about have a lot of me in them." Her favorite book is Why Can't I Fly?, which she says "comes from the part of me that used to lie in the grass as a child and watch the birds. I still dream about flying, soaring, riding the wind." She also states that this children's book is about doing the impossible, which she describes as "a pretty relative thing." The author noted: "What is impossible for one person, may be quite possible for someone else. A lot depends on how hard you try and how capable you are of listening to the voice inside your head instead of the voices outside. Much of the time, a little flexibility and a lot of will, can make the impossible happen."

Gelman's children's books are wide ranging, from I Went to the Zoo, which is in the vein of the Old Macdonald nursery song as a child relates her impressions of the zoo, to Queen Esther Saves Her People, a retelling of a well-known historical story about saving the Jews in Persia. A Publishers Weekly contributor called I Went to the Zoo "a sure kid-pleaser." Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, noted that Queen Esther Saves Her People "is a particularly well told version" of the story.

Rice Is Life draws on the author's experiences living in Bali. Gelman uses both poems and prose to tell about the integral role that rice plays in the life of the Balinese, from the planting fields to the dinner table. Writing in Booklist, Connie Fletcher noted "Gelman's light, poetic touch" as she avoids an encyclopedic approach to her topic. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "inviting as well as educational."

In Doodler Doodling, Gelman tells the story of a school girl who mixes and matches various words and then doodles illustrations to depict the resulting situations. Among her creations: "Teachers teaching flying fliers" and "Bakers baking mowing mowers." Joanna Rudge, writing in Horn Book, noted that young "readers … are sure to have fun trying their own verbally inspired doodles." School Library Journal contributor Kathy Krasniewicz wrote: "There's lots to look at and lots to ponder in this playful and powerful paean to the creative process, to the astonishing malleability of visual and verbal imagery, and to the evolution of ideas."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Gelman, Rita Golden, Doodler Doodling, pictures by Paul O. Zelinsky, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY) 2004.

Gelman, Rita Golden, Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, Crown (New York, NY), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Queen Esther Saves Her People, p. 1138; May 15, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of Rice Is Life, p. 1745; May 15, 2001, Carolyn Kubisz, review of Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, p. 1724; July, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Doodler Doodling, p. 1842.

Curriculum Review, November, 1988, review of Inside Nicaragua, p. 17.

Emergency Librarian, November, 1987, review of Why Can't I Fly, p. 53.

Horn Book, November-December, 2004, Joanna Rudge, review of Doodler Doodling, p. 696.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1991, review of Dawn to Dusk in the Galapagos: Flightless Birds, Swimming Lizards, and Other Fascinating Creatures, p. 612; April 15, 2001, review of Tales of a Female Nomad, p. 559; July 1, 2004, review of Doodler Doodling, p. 629.

Library Journal, May 15, 2001, Linda M. Kaufmann, review of Tales of a Female Nomad, p. 150.

New York Times Book Review, April 20, 1986, review of Koala Grows Up, p. 29; August 13, 2000, review of Rice Is Life, p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1993, review of I Went to the Zoo; p. 77; December 22, 1997, review of Queen Esther Saves Her People, p. 54; June 5, 2000, review of Rice Is Life, p. 94; July 19, 2004, review of Doodler Doodling, p. 161.

Reading Teacher, October, 1991, review of Monsters of the Sea, p. 136.

School Library Journal, November, 1987, review of Leave It to Minnie, p. 89; August, 1990, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of Monkeys and Apes of the World, p. 141; July, 1991, Ellen Fader, review of Dawn to Dusk in the Galapagos, pp. 79-80; November, 1993, Kathy Piehl, review of I Went to the Zoo, p. 79; September, 1999, Kristina Aaron-son, review of Pizza Pat, p. 182; June, 2000, Diane S. Marton, review of Rice Is Life, p. 130; August, 2004, Kathy Krasniewicz, review of Doodler Doodling, p. 86; April, 2005, review of Doodler Doodling, p. S32.

ONLINE

Rita Golden Gelman Home Page, http://www.ritagoldengelman.com (February 22, 2006).

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