Heiligman, Deborah 1958-

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HEILIGMAN, Deborah 1958-

PERSONAL: Born April 24, 1958, in Allentown, PA; daughter of Nathan (a physician) and Helen (Rockmaker) Heiligman; married Jonathan Weiner (an author), May 29, 1982; children: Aaron, Benjamin. Education: Brown University, A.B. (religious studies), 1980. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES: Home—3040 Yorkshire Rd., Doylestown, PA 18901. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Author of children's books. Scholastic Inc., New York, NY, editor, 1981-85.

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

AWARDS, HONORS: Distinguished alumnus award, Allen High School, 1993; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, 1995, for Barbara McClintock: Alone in Her Field.


Into the Night, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1990.

Barbara McClintock: Alone in Her Field, illustrated by Janet Hamlin, Scientific American Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1994.

Mary Leakey: In Search of Human Beginnings, illustrated by Janet Hamlin, Scientific American Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1995.

Pockets, illustrated by Suzanne Duranceau, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

On the Move, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 1996.

From Caterpillar to Butterfly, illustrated by Bari Weissman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Mike Swan, Sink or Swim, illustrated by Chris L. Demarest, First Choice Chapter Books (New York, NY), 1998.

The Story of the Titanic, illustrated by James Watling, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.

The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998, also published as The Kid's Guide to Research.

Too Perfect, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1999.

The Mysterious Ocean Highway: Benjamin Franklin and the Gulf Stream, Raintree Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

Honeybees, illustrated by Carla Golembe, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.

Babies: All You Need to Know, illustrated by Laura Freeman, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.

Earthquakes, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.

High Hopes: A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2003.

Contributor to magazines, including Ladies Home Journal, Sesame Street Parents Guide, and Parents.

SIDELIGHTS: After working as a children's book editor in the mid-1980s, Deborah Heiligman began creating her own children's books. She has penned both fiction and nonfiction titles, including two biographies of female scientists, Barbara McClintock: Alone in Her Field, and Mary Leakey: In Search of Human Beginnings. Books about insects, titles for emergent readers, and even a research guide for students are all subjects written about by Heiligman. Like many people who eventually become writers, Heiligman appreciated books from an early age, as she once recalled to CA: "I remember so clearly the first time I checked a book out of the library. I was in kindergarten. We went to the school library—I can still see the warm wood of the floor, the card catalogue, the heavy doors. I can still smell the books—they smelled warm and musky. I can still feel those first books I pulled off the shelf. They had hard covers, and soft, worn pages. The book I checked out was What Is a Butterfly?"

Heiligman continued: "I brought it home; I felt as though I were carrying a real treasure. My mother read it to me, sitting on my bed. I was so small my legs did not reach to the side of the bed. But the world became larger and larger with each word she read. This book told me everything I wanted to know about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I was in a whole new world. I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. I kept reading nonfiction, and then branched out into fiction, longer books, encyclopedias, and magazines. While I was growing up, I had many friends and did all kinds of wonderful things. But the one anchor in my life was always my love of reading. Reading was like magic for me. I found, too, that I loved to write, and that I was pretty good at it."

Thus a career in publishing was a natural fit for Heiligman, who graduated from Brown University in 1980. She married and worked for New York City publisher Scholastic for several years before striking out on her own. As she once recalled to CA, "The magic came full circle . . . [in 1995] when an editor asked me to write a picture book on how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly! I had long been searching for my first butterfly book, but it was out of print. So I was able to write my own!" Heiligman had a personal investment in this book, as she told CA, "I wrote the book the month after my mother died, and I poured into it memories of her, and all of my books, and the wonders of the world, and of life. From a funny-looking caterpillar comes a beautiful Painted Lady butterfly. And life comes full circle too, as I dedicated From Caterpillar to Butterfly to my first son, Aaron, who loves books even more than I do, if that is possible."

As a child, Heiligman was entranced by nonfiction, a love she continues to demonstrate in her writings. And since research is an integral part of nonfiction writing, Heiligman offered her knowledge of research tools to readers in The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research. Geared to students in grades four through eight, this "short and complete" title, to quote Edith Ching of School Library Journal, gives practical advice on note taking, interviewing, evaluating Internet sources, and conducting surveys, as well as using secondary sources. For somewhat older readers, Heiligman also wrote about a historical science mystery—the Gulf Stream. In The Mysterious Ocean Highway: Benjamin Franklin and the Gulf Stream, the author traced the history of scientific investigation of this powerful ocean current, beginning with Franklin's discoveries and ending with a description of contemporary scientific investigations. Several reviewers evaluated the book for Appraisal, including Linda de Lyon Friel, who praised its "scientifically accurate" and "concise" information, and Robert Newman, who concluded that The Mysterious Ocean Highway is "a well written and fascinating tale of discovery and mapping."

Heiligman's ability to tell a story in an easy-tounderstand way led her to write a number of books for emergent readers, including Honeybees and Babies: All You Need to Know. Honeybees is an information-packed book of "fascinating details" about the secret life of bees, noted Booklist's Carolyn Phelan. Although Edith Ching, writing in School Library Journal, pointed out several flaws in the work, she also dubbed it overall an "attractive addition." Babies is also packed with "interesting information," though it suffers from "an uneven presentation," according to Martha Topol of School Library Journal. Yet a Kirkus Reviews commentator also found it "a satisfying introduction" to infants and predicted that this "upbeat and fun" title would be useful for families expecting a new member.



Appraisal, spring-summer-fall, 2000, Linda de Lyon Friel, review of The Mysterious Ocean Highway: Benjamin Franklin and the Gulf Stream, p. 39; spring-summer-fall, 2000, Robert Newman, review of The Mysterious Ocean Highway, p. 39.

Booklist, November 15, 1994, p. 596; October 1, 1998, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 362; October 15, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of The Mysterious Ocean Highway, p. 437; May 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Honeybees, p. 1529; October 1, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of Babies: All You Need to Know, p. 328.

Horn Book Guide, July, 1990, p. 38; spring, 1999, Peter D. Sieruta, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 84.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of Babies, p. 1225.

Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1998, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 79.

Reading Teacher, October, 1997, review of From Caterpillar to Butterfly, p. 152.

School Library Journal, January, 1991, p. 74; August, 1996, p. 138; February, 1999, Edith Ching, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 119; May, 2002, Edith Ching, review of Honeybees, p. 138; October, 2002, Martha Topol, review of Babies, p. 146.


Deborah Heiligman Home Page,http://www.deborahheiligman.com/ (July 30, 2003).*

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