Himelblau, Linda (?)-2005
Himelblau, Linda (?)-2005
Died 2005, in Carmel Valley, CA; married Irving Himelblau.
Educator and writer. Fifth-grade school teacher at Central Elementary School, San Diego, CA, 1974-99.
Channel 10 Leadership Award, Sempra Energy/Lead San Diego, for work with immigrant students; San Diego Book Award, San Diego Book Award Association, 2005, for unpublished novel Far from Ordinary; San Diego Book Award finalist, 2006, for The Trouble Begins.
The Trouble Begins, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2005.
As a fifth-grade school teacher at San Diego's Central Elementary school, Linda Himelblau spent a great deal of time with the school's immigrant students, who came to America from Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. After teaching for fifteen years, Himelblau retired to focus on writing for young readers. The Trouble Begins, a middle-grade novel that was published just prior to her death in 2005, ranked as a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards in 2006.
The Trouble Begins introduces eleven-year-old Du Nguyen, a boy based on one of Himelblau's former students. In fact, many of the characters found within the novel were inspired by the students Himelblau encountered during her teaching career. Framed as a first-person narrative, the novel follows Du as he emigrates with his grandmother from a refugee camp in the Philippines to the United States, where he reunites with his parents and siblings. Now in a new country, and living with family members he has not seen for a decade, Du learns that assimilating to a new lifestyle is not easy. In addition to troubles at home, he also faces difficulties at his new elementary school where classmates tease him and teachers misunderstand him. In The Trouble Begins, Himelblau details Du's experiences as he slowly progresses from a frustrated and angry outsider to an accepted family member and well-respected student.
Reviewing Himelblau's book, a Kirkus Reviews critic described The Trouble Begins as "a completely convincing picture of the immigrant experience from the point of view of a small boy." Gerry Larson, writing in School Library Journal, remarked that "Du's voice is energetic, descriptive, and direct" and added that the first-person viewpoint of the novel's likeable narrator will "help sensitize readers to the cultural and emotional hurdles facing many immigrant classmates." Leigh Fenly, in an assessment of The Trouble Begins for the San Diego Union Tribune Online, noted that "Himelblau has achieved something rare: She's created a believable, struggling family of refugees and placed at its center an unforgettable character."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2005, review of The Trouble Begins, p. 185.
Horn Book, January-February, 2006, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of The Trouble Begins, p. 79.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of The Trouble Begins, p. 1139.
School Library Journal, February, 2006, Gerry Larson, review of The Trouble Begins, p. 132.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.ca/ (May 19, 2007), "Linda Himelblau."
San Diego Union Tribune Online,http://www.signonsandiego.com/ (January 15, 2006), Leigh Fenly, review of The Trouble Begins.