Guthrie, Donna W. 1946-

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GUTHRIE, Donna W. 1946-


Born May 15, 1946, in Washington, PA; daughter of Wallace Lyde (a lumberman) and Opal (a homemaker; maiden name, Daque) Winnett; married Michael Beck Guthrie (a physician), June 8, 1973; children: Carly Elizabeth, Colin Wallace. Education:Rider College, B.A., 1968; Ravenhill Academy, AMI Montessori degree, 1971. Politics: Independent. Religion: Methodist.


Home and office—7622 Eads Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037.


Teacher in Paulsboro, NJ, Colorado Springs, CO, and Philadelphia, PA, 1968-75; Colorado Springs Montessori School, Colorado Springs, vice president of education, 1976-77; scriptwriter of pilot video series about hospitalization, 1979; Kids Corner Ltd. (audio visual company), Colorado Springs, founder and president, 1980-1990. President, board of trustees, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs; lay member, El Paso County Bar Association fee dispute committee. Writer, 1980—.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.


Best Parenting Video, 1982, and Best Video, 1982, 1983, National Council of Family Relations, all for I'm a Little Jealous of that Baby; The Witch Who Lives down the Hall was selected one of School Library Journal 's Twenty Best Children's Books, 1985; Arts Business Education Award of Colorado Springs, 1985, for "A Visit from History"; Best Books for Children, Ideals, 1992; Parents Page Magazine Award, 1993; Parents Press Best Books for Children, 1994, for Nobiah's Well. Recognized as one of eight families of merit in a feature story highlighting volunteer work both locally and nationally, USA Weekend Magazine, 1991; chosen by the Points of Light Foundation as one of three families to participate in the White House Conference on Volunteers in America, 1992.



The Witch Who Lives down the Hall, illustrated by Amy Schwartz, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1985.

Grandpa Doesn't Know It's Me, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Human Sciences Press (New York, NY), 1986.

This Little Pig Stayed Home, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Price, Stern (Los Angeles, CA), 1987.

While I'm Waiting, illustrated by Marsha Howe, Current Press, 1988.

A Rose for Abby, illustrated by Dennis Hockerman, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN), 1988.

Mrs. Gigglebelly Is Coming for Tea, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.

The Witch Has an Itch, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

Not for Babies, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.

Nobiah's Well: A Modern African Folk Tale, illustrated by Rob Roth, Ideals (Nashville, TN), 1993.

One Hundred and Two Steps, illustrated by Meg Kelleher Aubrey, Cool Kids Press (Boca Raton, FL), 1995.

The Secret Admirer, illustrated by Tony Sansevero, Ideals (Nashville, TN), 1996.


(With Katy Keck Arnsteen) I Can't Believe It's History! Fun Facts from around the World, Price, Stern (Los Angeles, CA), 1993.

Frankie Murphy's Kiss List (chapter book), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Nancy Bentley) The Young Author's Do-It-Yourself Book: How to Write, Illustrate, and Produce Your Own Book, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1994.

The Better Letter Book, Learning Works (Goleta, CA), 1994.

(With Nancy Bentley) The Young Producer's Video Book: How to Write, Direct, and Shoot Your Own Video, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1995.

Donna Guthrie: An Author's Story, Chip Taylor Communications (Derry, NH), 1995.

(With Joy N. Hulme) How to Write, Recite, and Delight in All Kinds of Poetry, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1996.

(With Nancy Bentley) Putting on a Play: The Young Playwright's Guide to Scripting, Directing, and Performing, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1996.

(With Jan Stiles) Real World Math: Money and Other Numbers in Your Life, illustrated by Robyn Kline, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1998.

(With Nancy Bentley) The Young Journalist's Book: How to Write and Produce Your Own Newspaper, illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1998.

Supermarket Math, illustrated by Robyn Klein, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1999.

(With Nancy Bentley) Writing Mysteries, Movies, Monsters Stories, and More, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2001.

Also author of radio program "Mr. Vanatoli and the Magic Pumpkin Seeds," Children Unlimited, 1983; author of videos Jasper Enters the Hospital, The Day of Jasper's Operation, Wellness: It's Not Magic!, I'm a Little Jealous of that Baby, My Brother Is Sick, and Thea's Story: A Young Woman's Life with Lupus; creator of classroom presentations "Make Mine a Mystery!," "Nine Nice Newberys and a Couple of Caldecotts," "A Visit from History," and "A Time to Live and a Time to Die," and a series of public service announcements and health spots for the National Poison Control Center. Contributor of stories and articles to periodicals including Turtle, Mature Living, American Library Journal, Parent's Plus, L.A. Parent, Hopscotch Magazine for Girls, and San Diego Parent.


A former schoolteacher, Donna W. Guthrie is the author of several picture books as well as books for older readers. The Witch Who Lives down the Hall, with Halloween-toned illustrations by Amy Schwartz, is designed to interest preschoolers in the overactive imaginings of the bright young narrator as he discovers witch-like attributes in an eccentric neighbor. For older readers, the foibles of a sixth grader trying to look cool in Frankie Murphy's Kiss List make the book "a guaranteed hit," according to School Library Journal contributor Connie Pierce. In addition to fiction, Guthrie has also coauthored several do-it-yourself books designed to help budding novelists, poets, playwrights, videographers, and nonfiction writers alike perform everything from writing and illustrating to editing and presenting their work.

"'Bookworm' is the word my family used to describe me as a child," Guthrie once commented. Born in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1946, Guthrie was, by her family's standards, "a hopeless 'dingbat.' I always had my nose in a book. Every time they turned around, I was off in some corner reading." Guthrie's parents were conservative farmers. "I was the fifth of six children (three girls and three boys)," the author recalled, "and according to my family, I lived with my head in the clouds. They had difficulty understanding my vivid imagination and love of reading. They saw it as a waste of time when there was so much work to do."

While she enjoyed story writing as an outlet for her imagination during elementary school, in high school Guthrie started to take the craft of writing more seriously. The encouragement of a supportive English teacher caused Guthrie to begin thinking about writing as a possible career. In college, she majored in journalism, despite the objection of her parents, who believed that teaching or nursing was a far more practical career for a young woman. Ultimately, her parents won out, and Guthrie turned to the study of education.

After earning her bachelor's degree and beginning work on her certification to teach Montessori school, Guthrie taught school in New Jersey. Married in 1973, she and her husband moved to Colorado, then to Philadelphia, where she continued teaching and eventually worked in an administrative position for a Montessori school. Her love of writing, however, remained, and by 1980 Guthrie had decided to begin a freelance writing career. She also started a company that produced videos for children.

As she juggled the roles of wife, mother, friend, community volunteer, businesswoman, and writer, Guthrie noted that "writer" was always last. "I used to tell myself that when everything else was accomplished, then and only then, could I turn on my electric typewriter and write," she remembered of those years. While her early writing met with little success, Guthrie refused to give up on her dream. She joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and attended a writers conference in the summer of 1983. "I left my young family with a freezer full of casseroles and headed [to California] with my latest manuscript. I'd made a firm decision that unless I received a 'sign' of some sort at that conference, I would unplug my electric typewriter and go back to being a full-time wife, mother, friend, and volunteer." Fortunately, a book editor from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich read her manuscript and took a liking to it; The Witch Who Lives down the Hall was soon published, with more books to follow.

The Witch Who Lives down the Hall concerns the wariness of a small boy who lives down the hall from Ms. McWee, whose odd habits, "magic potions," and cranky black cat lead the boy to the conclusion that his neighbor is a witch. His mother tries to dispel his suspicions, until Halloween night when they are confirmed "to the delight of readers who will count on his adventure adding to the thrills of spook evening for years to come," said a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Anne E. Mulherkar, writing in School Library Journal, applauded the charming characters and said, "The illogical logic and underlying humor of this picture story make it a compelling tale to read, and one which is sure to please young listeners."

In the picture book Grandpa Doesn't Know It's Me, Guthrie focuses on a more realistic, albeit difficult, situation as a young girl attempts to understand the changes occurring in her grandfather as he moves into the later stages of Alzheimer's disease. Targeting primary graders, Guthrie uses a straightforward writing style to instruct young readers about the disease without frightening them. A contributor to Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books maintained that Grandpa Doesn't Know It's Me "does a good job of explaining Alzheimer's disease and of explaining the disorientation it causes so that children realize that there is no rejection of them." Booklist critic Ilene Cooper called the book a "satisfying introduction" to understanding the disease, and one that reflects the conflicting emotions involved while stressing to young children the important message that "love can make a difference."

Other picture books by Guthrie include Nobiah's Well: A Modern African Folk Tale, which is about a young boy whose generosity in giving the last of his water to thirsty animals is repaid when those animals help him dig a well and find enough water for his whole drought-stricken village. And One Hundred and Two Steps finds a curious young girl lost in an unfamiliar town after she wanders away from the house of a family relative with whom she is spending the summer.

Guthrie's first chapter book, Frankie Murphy's Kiss List, finds a sophisticated sixth-grade newcomer forced to make good on his bluff that he is an expert on kissing girls, with humorous results. When another boy in the small-town school calls former city resident Frankie's bluff, Frankie is forced to bet he can kiss all the girls in the sixth grade by the end of the school year. "Believable, endearing characters, snappy dialogue, and a good story" render Frankie Murphy's Kiss List "an authentic, funny slice of pre-junior high life," according to a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, while a Publishers Weekly reviewer stated, "Guthrie's prose and dialogue are entertaining and credible." Pierce, writing in School Library Journal, asserted that "Guthrie gives readers characters with whom they can identify, and a valuable lesson in friendship and loyalty."

Guthrie has also penned several books, alone and with collaborators, that teach young people all the details of how to execute such "hands-on" projects as writing and producing plays, putting together and publishing a newspaper, and even practical applications for the math they are learning in school. One title, The Young Author's Do-It-Yourself Book: How to Write, Illustrate, and Produce Your Own Book, gives elementary-school-age, aspiring authors in-depth direction on how to write fiction and nonfiction, plus editing, illustration, assembly, binding, and promotion tips. Pamela K. Bombay stated in School Library Journal that "would-be writers couldn't be anything but successful if they use this concise manual."

Guthrie once cited three things that continue to be of prime importance in her life: "my family, my work, and my friends, but not always in that order. In the future, I hope to grow and mature as a writer. And I'm more than willing to risk and change, to read and study, to write and rewrite so that growth can occur in my life. My wish is to touch the minds and hearts of today's children through my writing, and with a little luck, perhaps leave something for tomorrow's 'bookworms.'"



Booklist, August, 1986, p. 1687; April 15, 1994, p. 1530; February 1, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Young Producer's Video Book: How to Write, Direct, and Shoot Your Own Video, p. 927; March 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Writing Mysteries, Movies, Monster Stories, and More, p. 1396.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1986, p. 86; July-August, 1986, p. 208; February, 1994, p. 188.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1986, p. 937; October 15, 1993, p. 1330.

Publishers Weekly, August 9, 1985, p. 74; August 9, 1993, p. 477; September 27, 1993, p. 64.

School Library Journal, December, 1988, Carolyn Noah, review of A Rose for Abby, p. 88; September, 1993, p. 232; January, 1994, p. 90; April, 1994, p. 138; October, 1995, p. 154; March, 1996, p. 174; April, 2001, Timothy Capehart, review of Writing Mysteries, Movies, Monster Stories, and More, p. 154.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1994, p. 367.*

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Guthrie, Donna W. 1946-

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