Hunter, Jana Novotny

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Hunter, Jana Novotny

(Jana Hunter)


Born in Czechoslovakia; immigrated to England. Education: Hornsey College of Art, graduate; University of London, graduate; University of California, Los Angeles, graduate. Hobbies and other interests: Playing piano, amateur dramatics.


Home and office—London, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Author of books for children. Formerly worked as a textile designer and art teacher in Los Angeles, CA; lecturer at Anglia University; Bear Studios, England, cofounder, with Sue Porter, beginning 1993; Berryland Books, currently senior managing editor. Illustrator for British television. Presenter at workshops and conferences.



It's a Terrible Age to Be (middle-grade novel), Pages Publishing, 1989.

Get Up, Ben!, illustrated by Angie Sage, Viking (London, England), 1991.

Luna the Little Ghost, illustrated by Sue Porter, Orchard (London, England), 1991.

Ghost Games, illustrated by Sue Porter, Doubleday Book for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1993.

Hector the Spectre, illustrated by Mike Gordon, Viking (London, England), 1993.

(Under name Jana Hunter) Harry, Mari, and Squib and the Rainmaker's Spell ("We-Solve-It Detective Agency" series), illustrated by Noel Ford, Puffin (Harmondsworth, England), 1993.

(Under name Jana Hunter) Harry, Mari, and Squib and the Mystery of Miss Tree ("We-Solve-It Detective Agency" series), illustrated by Noel Ford, Puffin (Harmondsworth, England), 1993.

Hector's Hoax/Hector's Return to Ghoul School/Hector Goes West, illustrated by Mike Gordon, Viking (London, England), 1996.

A Bearhug at Bedtime, illustrated by Sue Porter, Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1998.

Little Ones Do!, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Under name Jana Hunter) I Have Feelings!, illustrated by Sue Porter, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2001, Mondo (New York, NY), 2002.

Read My Lips (young-adult novel), Walker (London, England), 2002.

When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up, illustrated by Carol Thompson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2006.

I Can Do It!, illustrated by Lucy Richards, Frances Lincoln (New York, NY), 2006.


Polly and Ricky's Casebook, illustrated by Tony Kenyon, Collins (London, England), 1996.

Sita and Sam's Casebook, illustrated by Tony Kenyon, Collins (London, England), 1996.

Scott and Mei Lin's Casebook, illustrated by Tony Kenyon, Collins (London, England), 1999.


It Belongs to Us!, Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1998.

The Big Rock Takeover, Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1998.

Carnival Time!, Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1998.

The Monster Trail, Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1998.


Sleepover Club Witches, Collins (London, England), 2001, published in Mega Sleepover 8, 2003.

Sleepover Club Makeover, Collins (London, England), 2003.

Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Sugar and Woman's Own. Author of "Groovy Chick" novel series. Also author of easy readers for Collins Educational, including Tortoise Trouble, Star Boy's Surprise, Sam the Detective, Sam and the Dragon, Back Spin, and The Ball Burglary.

Author's books have been translated into Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.


Born in Czechoslovakia, children's book author Jana Novotny Hunter attended college and worked in the United States for many years before making England her permanent home. Among the many books Hunter has written for younger children, several are collaborations with British artist and illustrator Sue Porter. She focuses on beginning readers in her elementary-grade chapter books for the "Saturday Club," "Sleepover Club," and "Pet Detectives" series, while in her award-winning teen novel Read My Lips she focuses on Cat, a deaf teen who must make the choice between learning sign language or attempting to speak. "My brother and sister are both deaf," Hunter explained to interviewer Cynthia Leitich Smith of Cynsations online, "yet chose opposing ways of communication, with profound repercussions. I wanted to explore this division further in the deaf community and saw the war within a school for the deaf as a parallel to other marginalized groups that break down into minority factions."

Hunter's collaboration with Porter has produced several popular picture books for younger readers, among them her early books I Have Feelings!, Ghost Games, and A Bearhug at Bedtime. A preschool picture-book starring a determined young guinea pig in which her text is paired with art by Lucy Richards, I Can Do It! was praised by School Library Journal contributor Linda Zeilstra Sawyer as a "charming book" that is "well suited to children who are starting nursery school." In Kirkus Reviews, a critic described the same book as "a wonderful introduction to nursery-school activities and materials" and predicted that Richards's reassuring art will be "just right for settling the nerves of new nursery-schoolers."

Hunter teams up with artist Carol Thompson for When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up, which finds a small boy anticipating his father's arrival at the end of school … in a large tanker truck! In what a Kirkus Reviews writer described as a "playful, rhymed text," Hunter captures a young child's building anticipation as the closing bell nears, her story brought to life in Thompson's "colorful, sketchy" pencil-and-watercolor art. When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up "will appeal to the crowds of boys who can't get enough truck books," according to School Library Journal reviewer DeAnn Okamura. Hunter opens other windows onto the preschool day in Little Ones Do!, featuring art by Sally Anne Lambert. Called a "sweet-natured" tale by a Publishers Weekly contributor, the picture book follows a young winged dragon over the course of a typical dragon day in his affectionate dragon family. Citing one strength of the reassuring story as Hunter's depiction of the youngster's parents, the Publishers Weekly critic explained that the adult dragons "exude bottomless reserves of patience, orderliness and affection," while in School Library Journal Karen Scott commended the "short, rhyming text and large, clear illustrations" in Little Ones Do!



Booklist, November 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Little Ones Do!, p. 581.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2006, review of I Can Do It!, p. 574; July 15, 2006, review of When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up, p. 723.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2001, review of Little One's Do!, p. 84.

School Library Journal, June, 1993, Anna Biagioni Hart, review of Ghost Games, p. 77; August, 2001, Karen Scott, review of Little Ones Do!, p. 154; August, 2006, Linda Zeilstra Sawyer, review of I Can Do It!, p. 90; October, 2006, DeAnn Okamura, review of When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up, p. 113.


Cambridge Wiggly Pencil Web site, (June 7, 2008), "Jana Novotny Hunter."

Cynsations Web site, (March 21, 2008), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Hunter.

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Hunter, Jana Novotny

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