Jarrow, Gail 1952–

views updated

Jarrow, Gail 1952–

PERSONAL:

Born November 29, 1952, in Dallas, TX; married Robert Jarrow (a college professor), May, 1974; children: Kyle, Tate, Heather. Education: Duke University, B.A., 1974; Dartmouth College, M.A., 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, cross-country skiing, reading, travel.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Ithaca, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Children's book author and teacher. Taught elementary and middle-school math and science in Cambridge, MA, and Hanover, NH, 1974-79; freelance writer, beginning 1983; Institute of Children's Literature, Redding Ridge, CT, instructor, beginning 1991.

MEMBER:

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

AWARDS, HONORS:

American Booksellers Association Quick Picks for Reluctant Young-Adult Readers, and Public Library Association Top Title for New Adult Readers, both 1996, both for Naked Mole-Rats; National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, Scientific American Young Readers Book Award, Society of School Librarians International Award in Science, all 1996, all for The Naked Mole-Rat Mystery; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age designation, and Natural History Best Books for Young Readers designation, both 2006, both for The Printer's Trial

WRITINGS:

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

That Special Someone, Berkley (New York, NY), 1985.

If Phyllis Were Here, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1987.

The Two-Ton Secret, Avon (New York, NY), 1989.

Beyond the Magic Sphere, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1994.

NONFICTION

(With Paul Sherman) The Naked Mole-Rat Mystery: Scientific Sleuths at Work, Lerner (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Paul Sherman) Naked Mole-Rats, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

(With Paul Sherman) Animal Baby Sitters, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2001.

Bears ("Animals Attack!" series), Kidhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Rhinos ("Animals Attack!" series), Kidhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Chiggers, Kidhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.

Hookworms, Kidhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.

A Medieval Castle, Kidhaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2005.

The Printer's Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press, Calkins Creek (Honesdale, PA), 2006.

Robert H. Jackson: New Deal Lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, Calkins Creek (Honesdale, PA), 2008.

OTHER

Contributor to periodicals, including 3-2-1 Contact, Highlights, Child Life, Spider, Muse, Cobblestone, Faces, and Pennywhistle Press.

SIDELIGHTS:

Gail Jarrow writes both fiction and nonfiction for younger readers. A former science teacher, she shares her interest in nature in books such as Animal Baby Sitters, Rhinos, and The Naked Mole-Rat Mystery: Scientific Sleuths at Work. Turning to more imaginative fare, her middle-grade novel Beyond the Magic Sphere mixes fantasy and the real-life problems of an eleven-year-old girl to produce what Booklist critic Mary Harris Veeder dubbed "an appealing coming-of-age story."

History provides the focus of The Printer's Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press, Jarrow's award-winning profile of the 1735 legal action aided by Andrew Hamilton that produced American colonists' right to a free press. Noting the book's "engaging narrative" in her School Library Journal review, Jayne Damron added that in The Printer's Trial the text reflects the author's "extensive research." In Kliatt, Patricia Moore praised Jarrow's book as "well written" and enhanced by a time line and notes that put the event into an historical context. Calling the Zenger trial "small but historically significant," Carolyn Phelan concluded her Booklist review of The Printer's Trial by predicting that Jarrow's "clear presentation may attract browsers as well as report writers."

Jarrow once commented: "I grew up in a small Pennsylvania town near Philadelphia, surrounded by extended family and by the same classmates from kindergarten through high school. Despite these close ties, as an only child I spent many hours alone, using my imagination to create triumphs and tragedies for my dolls and stuffed animals. When I learned to write down my thoughts, these pretend games were transformed into stories. I ‘published’ the first one, ‘The King's Lesson,’ at age seven. The same spark that inspired me then keeps my creative fires burning today.

"During my school years, I wrote stories and poetry and was the editor of the high school newspaper. A strong interest in animals and plants, however, led me to study biology at Duke University and later to teach elementary and middle school science and math for five years in New England. But I didn't abandon the love of writing. And while working on my master's degree at Dartmouth College, I took a course in children's literature that fanned those creative fires again.

"Soon after finishing my graduate degree, I left full-time teaching to start my family and to begin my writing career. Combining my science background with my writing skills, I became a freelance writer of science articles for 3-2-1 Contact magazine. Later I began writing short stories and novels for both middle-grade children and young adults.

"My strong childhood memories, my teaching experience, and my enjoyment of children's literature first led me to write for young people. I continue to create for them because I believe it is important for children to discover the joy and satisfaction of reading. I hope that my books will provide pleasure and entertainment, while broadening the young reader's view of the world.

"Ideas come from my past experiences, from my daily life, and from the activities of my children and their friends. For example, I developed the fantasy game in Beyond the Magic Sphere after observing my children as they created adventures in their secret land called ‘The Green Realm.’

"I can usually pinpoint the day when I begin to think about a story idea. I witness an action that becomes the basis of the plot. I overhear a comment that suggests a conflict. Or I spot an interesting person in the grocery store, and I wonder about her life story. The details of the novel gradually come to me as a steady accumulation of characters, bits of dialogue, and scenes which are later seasoned and combined in my imagination.

"My themes are often influenced by my concern that today's over-programmed children lack the free time to develop their imaginations. The ability to think creatively comes from practice and nurturing. This skill plays an essential role in a child's success no matter what path his life takes. Creativity leads to better ideas whether one is a writer, artist, scientist, mechanic, teacher, or businessman. My books celebrate this power of imagination."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 1987, review of If Phyllis Were Here, p. 396; October 15, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Beyond the Magic Sphere, p. 427; September 1, 1996, Leone McDermott, review of The Naked Mole-Rat Mystery: Scientific Sleuths at Work, p. 116; October 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Printer's Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press, p. 47.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1987, review of If Phyllis Were Here, p. 1241; September 15, 2006, review of The Printer's Trial, p. 959.

Kliatt, March, 2007, Patricia Moore, review of The Printer's Trial, p. 39.

School Library Journal, September, 1987, review of If Phyllis Were Here, p. 180; November, 1994, review of Beyond the Magic Sphere; April, 2004, Cathie Bashaw Morton, review of Bears and Rhinos, p. 171; March, 2005, Kathleen Simonetta, review of A Medieval Castle, p. 23; November, 2006, Jayne Damron, review of The Printer's Trial, p. 162.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2006, review of The Printer's Trial.

ONLINE

Gail Jarrow Home Page,http://www.gailjarrow.com (December 10, 2007).