Hicks, Barbara Jean 1953-
HICKS, Barbara Jean 1953-
PERSONAL: Born July 21, 1953, in Bellingham, WA. Education: Los Angeles Baptist College, B.A. (English); Oregon College of Education, secondary teaching certificate (language arts). Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, travel.
CAREER: Writer, editor, and educator. Educational consultant; worked variously as a nanny, waitress, bank teller, and shop clerk.
AWARDS, HONORS: Awards and award nominations for adult fiction; "Best of" awards for children's fiction.
Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale, illustrated by Alexis Deacon, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
I Like Black and White, illustrated by Lila Prap, Tiger Tales (Wilton, CT), 2006.
I Like Colors, illustrated by Lila Prap, Tiger Tales (Wilton, CT), 2006.
(With Lorena McCourtney and Karen M. Ball) Mistletoe, Palisades (Sisters, OR), 1996.
Coming Home, Palisades (Sisters, OR), 1996.
Snow Swan, Palisades (Sisters, OR), 1997.
Heart's Delight, Palisades (Sisters, OR), 1998.
China Doll, Palisades (Sisters, OR), 1998.
An Unlikely Prince, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 1998.
All That Glitters: A Romantic Comedy, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 1998.
Loves Me, Loves Me Not, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2000.
Restoration and Romance: For the Love of an Old House, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Barbara Jean Hicks began writing in fourth grade and eventually turned her childhood hobby into a career. After penning more than a dozen novels for adult readers, she turned to a younger audience with her picture book Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale. Referred to by a Children's Bookwatch critic as "a charming and wonderful story about how new friends could be just around the corner," Jitterbug Jam offers kids a fun twist to a much-told tale in its story about a young monster who is afraid there is a boy lurking under his bed. Despite reassurances from his grandpa and criticism from his brother, Bobo the monster must ultimately find the courage to take the dreaded look under the bed for himself. Praising Alexis Deacon's "slightly surreal, dreamy" illustrations, a Publishers Weekly contributor compared Hicks' story to Mercer Mayer's classic There's a Monster in My Closet, while in Kirkus Reviews a critic praised the author's use of "colorful turns of phrase" and predicted that the book would find an eager audience among "young readers, timorous or otherwise." Jennifer Mattson wrote in Booklist that Hicks' "folksy, slightly off-kilter language, full of fractured grammar and quirky aphorisms, keeps the sense of an exotic, alternate reality watertight," and dubbed Jitterbug Jam a "charming visit to the other side of the closet wall."
Discussing the art of writing on her home page, Hicks wrote: "I know this is going to be hard to believe … but everything I know about writing I learned from my cat." The lesson Hicks learned? Look, leap, and learn. "First, you look around for ideas," Hicks explained. "Then, before you have any real idea where you're going, you leap. You jump right into the writing. You might start out with a curious bit of dialogue, or a vivid description, or a word or phrase that tickles your funny bone. Then you let the writing take you wherever it wants to go."
Then comes the rewriting, according to the author, who suggests that writers read their work aloud at this point. "And you reread and rewrite and reread and rewrite….
"Get the picture? You learn as you go…. Look. Leap. Learn."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1998, John Mort, review of Heart's Delight, p. 772; August, 1998, review of An Unlikely Prince, p. 1965; March 1, 2000, John Mort, review of Loves Me, Loves Me Not, p. 1196; March 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale, p. 1194.
Children's Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Jitterbug Jam.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of Jitterbug Jam, p. 177.
Library Journal, June 1, 1996, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Coming Home, p. 92; September 1, 1998, Melissa Hudak, review of China Doll, p. 164; February 1, 2000, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Loves Me, Loves Me Not, p. 68.
Publishers Weekly, March 14, 2005, review of Jitterbug Jam, p. 66.
School Librarian, spring, 2005, Liz Baynton-Clarke, review of Jitterbug Jam, p. 22.
Barbara Jean Hicks Home Page, http://www.barbarajeanhicks.com (October 5, 2005).