Krensky, Stephen 1953- (Stephen Alan Krensky)

views updated

Krensky, Stephen 1953- (Stephen Alan Krensky)

PERSONAL:

Born November 25, 1953, in Boston, MA; son of Paul David (a business executive) and Roselyn Krensky; married Joan Frongello (a textbook editor), April 7, 1984; children: Andrew, Peter. Education: Hamilton College, B.A., 1975.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Lexington, MA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Freelance writer and critic, 1975—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Notable Book designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1982, for Dinosaurs, Beware!, and 1998, for How Santa Got His Job; Children's Books of the Year citation, Child Study Association of America, 1985, for Maiden Voyage, 1987, for Lionel in the Fall, 1993, for Lionel and Louise and Christopher Columbus, 1995, for Lionel in the Winter, and 1999, for Louise Goes Wild; Pick of the Lists citation, American Booksellers Association, 1992, for Lionel in the Spring, 1994, for Lionel in the Winter, and 1996, for Breaking into Print; Children's Choice selection, International Reading Association, 1992, for George Washington, and 2005, for There Once Was a Very Odd School; Reading Magic award, Parenting magazine, 1996, for Lionel and His Friends; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies designation, National Council for the Social Studies/ Children's Book Council (NCSS/CBC), 1996, for Breaking into Print, 2003, for Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, and 2006, for Dangerous Crossing; Sydney Taylor Book Award, 2007, for Hanukkah at Valley Forge.

WRITINGS:

FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

A Big Day for Scepters, illustrated by Bruce Degen, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1977.

The Dragon Circle, illustrated by A. Delaney, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1977.

Woodland Crossing, illustrated by Jan Brett Bowler, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1978.

The Perils of Putney, illustrated by Jeurg Obrist, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1978.

Castles in the Air, and Other Tales, illustrated by Warren Lieberman, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1979.

A Troll in Passing, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1980.

My First Dictionary, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1980, published as The American Heritage First Dictionary and Houghton Mifflin Primary Dictionary, illustrated by George Ulrich, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1986.

The Witching Hour, illustrated by A. Delaney, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1981.

Conqueror and Hero: The Search for Alexander, illustrated by Alexander Farquharson, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1981.

(With Marc Brown) Dinosaurs, Beware! A Safety Guide, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1982.

The Wilder Plot, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.

The Lion Upstairs, illustrated by Leigh Grant, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1983.

The Wilder Summer, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Marc Brown) Perfect Pigs: An Introduction to Manners, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1984.

A Ghostly Business, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1984.

Maiden Voyage: The Story of the Statue of Liberty, illustrated by Richard Rosenblum, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1985.

Scoop after Scoop: A History of Ice Cream, illustrated by Richard Rosenblum, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986.

Who Really Discovered America?, illustrated by Steve Sullivan, Hastings House (New York, NY), 1987.

Snow and Ice, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

Witch Hunt: It Happened in Salem Village, illustrated by James Watling, Random House (New York, NY), 1989.

Big Time Bears, illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1989.

Christopher Columbus, illustrated by Norman Green, Random House (New York, NY), 1991.

The Missing Mother Goose, illustrated by Chris Demarest, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.

Children of the Earth and Sky, illustrated by James Watling, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.

George Washington: The Man Who Would Not Be King, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.

Four against the Odds: The Struggle to Save Our Environment, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

The Pizza Book: Fun, Facts, a Recipe—the Works!, illustrated by R.W. Alley, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

All about Magnets, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

Fraidy Cats, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps, illustrated by John Fulweiler, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.

Children of the Wind and Water: Five Stories about Native American Children, illustrated by James Watling, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

The Three Blind Mice Mystery, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Yearling (New York, NY), 1995.

The Printer's Apprentice, illustrated by Madeline Sorel, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995.

Breaking into Print: Before and after the Invention of the Printing Press, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.

My Teacher's Secret Life, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Striking It Rich: The Story of the California Gold Rush, illustrated by Ann DiVito, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Pocahontas Official Game Book, Brady Computer Books, 1996.

A Good Knight's Sleep, illustrated by Renee Williams-Andriani, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

Sharks Never Sleep, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.

We Just Moved!, illustrated by Larry Difiori, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Write Away! One Author's Favorite Activities That Help Ordinary Writers become Extraordinary Writers, Scholastic Professional Books (New York, NY), 1998.

How Santa Got His Job, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1998.

My Loose Tooth, illustrated by Hideko Takahashi, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Bones, illustrated by Davy Jones, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever, illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1999.

Taking Flight: The Story of the Wright Brothers, illustrated by Larry Day, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.

What a Mess!, illustrated by Joe Mathieu, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

The Moon Robber, illustrated by Dean Morrissey, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Pearl Harbor, illustrated by Larry Day, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2001.

Egypt, Scholastic Reference (New York, NY), 2001.

(Adapter) Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, pictures by Dean Morrissey, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Shooting for the Moon: The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley, Melanie Kroupa Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Adapter) A.A. Milne, Eeyore Has a Birthday, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Adapter) A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2001.

How Santa Lost His Job, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2001.

The Winter King, pictures by Dean Morrissey, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, illustrated by Greg Harlin, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Abe Lincoln and the Muddy Pig, illustrated by Greshom Griffith, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2002.

Ben Franklin and His First Kite, illustrated by Bert Dodson, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2002.

Sacagawea and the Bravest Deed, illustrated by Diana Magnuson, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2002.

(Adapter) A.A. Milne, Pooh Goes Visiting, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.

(Adapter) A.A. Milne, Tigger Comes to the Forest, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.

(Adapter) A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin Leads an Expedition, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.

(Adapter) A.A. Milne, Pooh Invents a New Game, decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Do Not Open This Crate!, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Nellie Bly: A Name to Be Reckoned With, illustrated by Rebecca Guay, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Dean Morrissey) The Monster Trap, illustrated by Morrissey, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

There Once Was a Very Odd School, and Other Lunchbox Limericks, illustrated by Tamara Petrosino, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.

My Dad Can Do Anything, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.

Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier, illustrated by Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2004.

Bubble Trouble, illustrated by Jimmy Pickering, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2004.

George Washington's First Victory, illustrated by Diane Dawson Hearn, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2005.

Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John and John Quincy Adams, illustrated by Greg Harlin, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Dean Morrissey) The Crimson Comet, illustrated by Morrissey, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Milo the Really Big Bunny, illustrated by Melissa Suber, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.

Hanukkah at Valley Forge, illustrated by Greg Harlin, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Benjamin Franklin, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2007.

Curious George Finds a Friend (lift-the-flap book; based on the television series), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Curious George Cleans Up (based on the television series), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Big Bad Wolves at School, illustrated by Brad Sneed, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.

What's the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston, Charlesbridge/Boston History Collaborative (Watertown, MA), 2007.

Too Many Leprechauns; or, How That Pot o' Gold Got to the End of the Rainbow, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.

Snack Attack, illustrated by Stacy Curtis, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2008.

Sisters of Scituate Light, illustrated by Stacey Schuett, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Jungle Gym: A Touch-and-Feel Counting Book, illustrated by Marsha Gray Carrington, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2008.

Spark the Firefighter, illustrated by Amanda Haley, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2008.

A Man for All Seasons: The Life of George Washington Carver, illustrated by Wil Clay, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Comic Book Century: The History of American Comic Books, Twenty-first Century Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Noah's Bark, illustrated by Rogé, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Contributor of short stories to Cricket and reviews to magazines and newspapers, including New York Times Book Review, New Republic, and Boston Globe.

"ARTHUR" CHAPTER BOOK SERIES; BASED ON CHARACTERS BY MARC BROWN; ADAPTED FROM THE "ARTHUR" TELEVISION SERIES

Arthur's Mystery Envelope, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur and the Scare-Your-Pants-Off Club, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur Makes the Team, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur and the Crunch Cereal Contest, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur Accused, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Locked in the Library, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Buster's Dino Dilemma, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

The Mystery of the Stolen Bike, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur and the Popularity Contest, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur Rocks with Binky, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur and the Lost Diary, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Who's in Love with Arthur?, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arthur and the Cootie-Catcher, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Buster Makes the Grade, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

King Arthur, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Francine, Believe It or Not, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Muffy's Secret Admirer, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Arthur and the Poetry Contest, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Buster Baxter, Cat Saver, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Buster's New Friend, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Arthur and the Big Blow-up, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Francine the Superstar, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Arthur and the Perfect Brother, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Binky Rules, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Arthur and the Double Dare, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Arthur and the Comet Crisis, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Arthur Plays the Blues, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

Arthur and the Bad-Luck Brain, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

Arthur Loses His Marbles, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

Arthur and the Nerves of Steal, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

Arthur and the World Record, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2005.

Also adapter of ten traditional bedtime tales for Arthur's Really Helpful Bedtime Stories (based on the characters by Marc Brown), illustrated by Marc Brown, Random House (New York, NY).

"ARTHUR GOOD SPORTS" SERIES; WITH MARC BROWN

Arthur and the Race to Read, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Arthur and the Best Coach Ever, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Arthur and the Goalie Ghost, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Arthur and the Pen-Pal Playoff, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Arthur and the Recess Rookie, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Arthur and the Seventh-Inning Stretcher, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

"LIONEL" SERIES

Lionel at Large, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1986.

Lionel in the Fall, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1987.

Lionel in the Spring, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1990.

Lionel and Louise, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1992.

Lionel in the Winter, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1994.

Lionel and His Friends, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1996.

Lionel in the Summer, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1998.

Lionel at School, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 2000.

Lionel's Birthday, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 2003.

"LOUISE" SERIES

Louise Takes Charge, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1998.

Louise Goes Wild, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 1999.

Louise, Soccer Star?, illustrated by Susanna Natti, Dial (New York, NY), 2000.

"MONSTER CHRONICLES" SERIES

The Mummy, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Frankenstein, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Dragons, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Bigfoot, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Werewolves, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Vampires, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Zombies, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Watchers in the Woods, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Ghosts, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Creatures from the Deep, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

The Bogeyman, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

ADAPTOR; "ON MY OWN FOLKLORE" SERIES

Pecos Bill, illustrated by Paul Tong, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Paul Bunyan, illustrated by Craig Orback, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Mike Fink, illustrated by Jeni Reeves, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

John Henry, illustrated by Mark Didroyd, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Casey Jones, illustrated by Mark Schroder, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Calamity Jane, illustrated by Lisa Carlson, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Anansi and the Box of Stories, illustrated by Jeni Reeves, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

The Lion and the Hare: An East African Folktale, illustrated by Jeni Reeves, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Bokuden and the Bully: A Japanese Folktale, illustrated by Cheryl Kirk Noll, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

How Coyote Stole the Summer: A Native American Folktale, illustrated by Kelly Dupre, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2009.

ADAPTATIONS:

Krensky adapted his novel The Wilder Summer into a special for Home Box Office (HBO) Family Playhouse; the film was produced by Learning Corporation of America, 1984. Dinosaurs, Beware! was adapted into a filmstrip with cassette, Random House/ Miller-Brody, 1985; Big Bad Wolves at School was adapted into a partially animated DVD, Spoken Arts, 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Stephen Krensky is the prolific and popular author of a wide range of books for children. His picture books, easy readers, fiction, and nonfiction reflect his eclectic interests as well as those of the primary and middle graders for whom he usually writes. Krensky has written about dinosaurs, summer camp, Alexander the Great, Native-American children, the history of Boston, zombies and vampires, the invention of the printing press, America's founding fathers, and Annie Oakley, among other subjects, and he has also written a dictionary for primary graders, created original limericks, and compiled a social history of ice cream. Noted for his appealing sense of humor and his clear, easy-to-read style, Krensky is perhaps best known for his beginning readers, particularly those volumes in the "Lionel" reader series and his collaboration with noted author and illustrator Marc Brown on books featuring Brown's popular Arthur character.

Born in Massachusetts in 1953, Krensky never considered becoming a writer while growing up, although he did develop an early interest in both fiction and illustrating. His earliest stories were not written; rather, they were bedtime games that involved making up stories, attempting to visualize characters such as Robin Hood and favorite fantasy characters in his dreams. More comfortable with writing than drawing, Krensky eventually gravitated to the former, developing a businesslike approach to writing. Rather than waiting to be struck by inspiration, he worked at writing every day and revised each work until he was satisfied. Unlike some authors, he never viewed children's books as a stepping stone to writing for adults.

Krensky's first book for young readers appeared in 1977, just two years after he left college. A Big Day for Scepters tells the story of Calendar, a young sorcerer and collector of magic who searches for and finds a mysterious scepter with his thirteen-year-old companion. His second book, the novel The Dragon Circle, also deals with fantasy and magic; in this case, the Wynd family gets involved with dragons that need help recovering a long-lost treasure. Notable in these early books is the tongue-in-cheek humor that prompted a Kirkus Reviews contributor to call the action in A Big Day for Scepters "trippingly related."

Krensky's early books set the tone for much of his children's fiction. His combination of humor and magic earned the author the title of "talented fabulist" from one Publishers Weekly critic for another of his books involving magic and fantasy, A Troll in Passing. In this work, the young troll Morgan has no love for the nocturnal pursuits of his brethren. Instead of spending his time mining, he would rather roam the countryside gathering mistletoe—a useless occupation, it would seem, until the day the fearsome trolls of the Simon clan attack Morgan's people and his mistletoe becomes their one defense. A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books contributor cited Krensky's "fluent and sophisticated" writing style and deemed A Troll in Passing "a nicely crafted story that has pace, humor, and momentum."

Lionel at Large is the first book in the "Lionel" series of easy-to-read books. Featuring art by Susanna Natti, the book introduces the youthful protagonist and his family in five "warm, down-to-earth stories" that are by turns "humorous and touching," according to a School Library Journal critic. In Krensky's chapters, Lionel visits the doctor, refuses to eat his vegetables, and stays overnight with a friend. "There's quiet humor in the writing," noted a reviewer for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

The same gentle humor is featured in each of the series installments as Krensky presents short vignettes featuring Lionel and his family and friends. Lionel in theSpring finds Lionel busy with such seasonal activities as planting a garden and spring housecleaning. Carolyn K. Jenks, writing in Horn Book, noted that Lionel's "cheerful attitude" and the "amusing, believable situations" enhance Krensky's "well-written … series of stories for beginning readers." Other seasonal additions to the series include Lionel in the Winter, Lionel in the Summer, and Lionel in the Fall. Lionel in the Winter, in which Lionel explores his backyard Arctic, learns about New Year's resolutions, and keeps company with a snowman in separate easy-to-read stories, "will invite warm smiles on any day, cold or not," according to Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Carol Fox.

Moving from the seasons, Lionel's Birthday focuses on another special day as the boy buries a time capsule, hints at his most favorite gift, and practices blowing out candles. In Booklist, Hazel Rochman deemed the book "a warm, funny collection" of easy-to-read chapters. Lionel and Louise finds Lionel experiencing new adventures with his older sister. He rescues Louise from a dragon(fly), builds a sand castle on the beach, cleans up a mess at home, and goes on a camping expedition in the backyard. Reviewing Lionel and Louise for Booklist, Julie Corsaro wrote that Krensky's stories are "warm and funny," and Sharron McElmeel concluded in School Library Journal that the book serves as an "entertaining addition to beginning-reader collections."

Krensky gives Lionel's indomitable sister her own series beginning with Louise Takes Charge, a chapter book also illustrated by Natti. In the debut story, Louise's first few days of the new school year are blighted by the sudden change in personality in her friend Jasper. After a summertime growth spurt, Jasper returns to become the class bully. One day Lionel tells Louise a story about knight and his apprentice, and this gives Louise an idea: she offers to serve as Jasper's apprentice, and soon others in her class follow suit. "The setup isn't entirely plausible, but the dialogue is snappy," wrote Booklist critic Susan Dove Lempke. The series continued with Louise Goes Wild, in which the little girl laments that she is too boring and predictable, and Louise, Soccer Star?, wherein the heroine dreams of greatness on the soccer field and becomes irate when a new schoolmate from England usurps her prominent position on the team. "Krensky creates believable characters," noted Lempke of the book, adding that the author "nicely depict[s] … realistic, not-always-pretty feelings with empathy."

Krensky presents young readers with a comic prequel to the Santa story in How Santa Got His Job. Here a very young Santa applies for several jobs that hint at his future vocation. When he works as a chimney sweeper, he remains clean. He finds a job at the post office, but prefers to deliver in the middle of the night. At the zoo, Santa befriends the reindeer, and then runs away to join the circus with them. All the runaways are rescued by a group of elves and ultimately find their new home and a new calling at the North Pole. As the pages turn, Krensky's protagonist ages into his familiar, white-haired, roly-poly self, courtesy of S.D. Schindler's humorous illustrations. "The story is smart and funny, and Schindler knows exactly how to make his artwork play off the humor," noted Booklist critic Ilene Cooper.

Krensky reteams with Schindler for How Santa Lost His Job. Here the Christmas stalwart suddenly realizes that Muckle the Elf is planning to make St. Nick obsolete with the help of a new machine called the Deliverator. Predictably, the contraption fails at the worst possible time, and Santa is saved from compulsory early retirement. In this book, noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, Krensky "has crafted a tale with an obvious lesson" that "highlights the importance of personal attention and the ‘little things’ in the celebration of Christmas."

In The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever Krensky's indomitable heroine is facing a challenge: Mavis wants desperately to be a fairy godmother, as in the Cinderella story. She tells her parents that she wants to make the wishes of others come true, to which they respond by noting that they wish she would take out the garbage. Mavis studies hard to perform magic and tries to make her own magic wand, but she is seemingly stymied in the realization of her career goal. At school, her attempt to turn a pet classroom mouse into a coachman leads to some minor chaos and causes her to notice a new classmate: shabbily dressed Cindy, who lives with two mean stepsisters who order her about. When Mavis learns that Cindy does not have a Halloween costume, she decides to sew one for her, an act that makes her a fairy godmother. "As sympathetic as it is witty, this prince-less ‘Cinderella’ should charm its readers," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Tiny, mischievous men in green are the focus of Too Many Leprechauns; or, How That Pot o' Gold Got to the End of the Rainbow, which features detailed oil paintings by Dan Andreasen. The story finds befuddled traveler Finn O'Finnegan returning to his home in Dingle to find the village overrun by leprechauns. In addition to making things topsy turvy, the tiny men have kept the villagers awake with their noisy craft: making fairy shoes. Hoping to drive them away, the clever Finn convinces the leprechauns that he has stolen their gold and will return it only if they promise to leave. A Kirkus Reviews contributor dubbed Too Many Leprechauns "a good read," and a Publishers Weekly reviewer explained that the mysterious relationship between rainbows and a pot of gold is resolved via a "playful explanation courtesy of Krensky's original tale."

Another fairy tale is given a unique treatment in Big Bad Wolves at School, as artist Brad Sneed brings to life Krensky's humorous take on a traditional story. When a young wolf named Rufus is sent to the Big Bad Wolf Academy to perfect his huffing and puffing, he is a dismal failure; affecting a human disguise à la Red Riding Hood also proves difficult. Rufus would rather do really wolfy things, like howling at the moon and running through the woods. While he is singled out as a poor student at school, Rufus finally gains the respect of his classmates when he comes to the rescue and finds his true calling in the process. "Krensky's tale cleverly points out … the advantages of being true to one's own nature," Mary Jean Smith observed in School Library Journal. In Publishers Weekly a critic dubbed Big Bad Wolves at School "comical," adding that "readers familiar with wolf fables will best appreciate" its sly humor. In Booklist, Cooper had particular praise for Sneed's artwork, calling it "full of energy and extremely funny."

In his "On My Own Folklore" books, Krensky brings to life some of the characters from American tall tales, such as Paul Bunyan, Calamity Jane, Pecos Bill, and John Henry. He also recounts tales from other lands that focus on folktale archetypes, such as the trickster character, which is featured in Anansi and the Box of Stories: A West African Folktale. Turning to more fantastical—and creepy—fare, his "Monster Chronicles" chapter books introduce the literary roots of mummies, zombies, vampires, werewolves, and dwarves. In a review of Anansi and the Box of Stories, Marilyn Taniguchi praised Krensky's retelling as "simple and fast-moving." His "conversational writing style and tendency toward speculation and sensationalism," as well as the inclusion of "illustrations [that] are really frightening," make the "Monster Chronicles" books more entertaining than scholarly, concluded Marcia Kochel in the same periodical. In Booklist Gillian Engberg recommended the series for reluctant readers due to Krensky's "high-interest subject and conversational tone."

Geared for older readers, The Wilder Plot and The Wilder Summer are two of Krensky's longest works of fiction, and both feature eighth grader Charlie Wilder. In The Wilder Plot, Charlie unwillingly gets the lead role in the student production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and spends much of the rest of the book attempting to get out of this uncomfortable situation before being saved just before show time. Amy L. Cohn noted in School Library Journal that Krensky captured the intensity of school in "a novel of high-spirited good humor."

Set at summer camp, The Wilder Summer describes Charlie's attempts to get to know Lydia, with whom he falls in love at first sight, despite the endeavors of Lydia's jealous friend Willoughby. "Charlie's shy reluctance to approach Lydia leads to a string of humorous situations," commented a reviewer for Voice of Youth Advocates, and creates a book that "should appeal to the youngest YAs." The reviewers proved to be right about the book's popularity: The Wilder Summer was appealing enough to be adapted for an HBO television movie.

In addition to fiction, Krensky has written nonfiction books noted for presenting accurate and thoroughly researched overviews of interesting subjects. In Conqueror and Hero: The Search for Alexander Krensky "offers a clear, concise account of the brilliant and enigmatic Macedonian leader," according to Horn Book contributor Ethel R. Twichell. A reviewer noted in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that the conciseness of Krensky's text "may appeal to reluctant readers," and School Library Journal critic Elizabeth Holtze commented that when "readers put down this good book, they will want to learn more about its fascinating subject." Although Maiden Voyage: The Story of the Statue of Liberty was joined by many other books on its subject in honor of the statue's centennial year, it stands out from the rest, according to Elizabeth S. Watson in Horn Book, because of its "brevity and humor." Assessing Breaking into Print: Before and after the Invention of the Printing Press, Krensky's overview of the printed word, a Kirkus Reviews writer concluded that the text and the artwork by Bonnie Christensen work in tandem to create "a gorgeous format that does complete justice to the subject."

Among Krensky's books dealing with the history of North America are Who Really Discovered America?, Striking It Rich: The Story of the California Gold Rush, and Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John and John Quincy Adams. Who Really Discovered America? details the sea voyages that preceded that of Christopher Columbus, including those of Asian nomads, Polynesians, Phoenicians, and Scandinavians. "Though Krensky treats his subject with respect and precision, his text is leavened with humor," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor of the book. A more recent voyage across the Atlantic—that of John Adams and ten-year-old son John Quincy Adams in 1778—is the focus of Dangerous Crossing, as readers follow the sea sickness, the threats from Portuguese battle ships, and the stress of weeks at sea through Krensky's fictionalized history. Based on the diary of the older Adams, the book "offers a stirring account of life aboard ship" that is "spiced with details," according to Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan. In School Library Journal, Lynda Ritterman praised the "masterful watercolor paintings" by Greg Harlin, adding that Dangerous Crossing is a work of "engaging historical fiction … that truly brings the story to life."

As in Dangerous Crossing, Krensky often frames moments from history within a compelling story. Taking place in 1735, Printer's Apprentice finds a young boy learning the importance of freedom of speech the hard way, while in The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps, Krensky brings to life the plight of the Chinese workers constructing the transcontinental railroad through his fictional story about the friendship between a white girl and a Chinese boy. Based on an actual incident, Hanukkah at Valley Forge finds General George Washington learning about the traditional Jewish holiday ritual from a Polish-born volunteer while the Continental Army endures a harsh winter. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Krensky "makes good use of historical fact" in The Printer's Apprentice, and Teri Markson cited Hanukkah at Valley Forge for offering "an interesting perspective through which to view a familiar holiday story." Reviewing The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps for Kirkus Reviews, a critic dubbed the work an "interesting adjunct to the study of Westward expansion," and a Publishers Weekly critic concluded that Krensky avoids "a pat, happy ending" by presenting readers with "a bittersweet conclusion that renders his historically accurate story even more powerful."

Much of Krensky's nonfiction takes the form of biography. Taking Flight: The Story of the Wright Brothers recounts the achievements of brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright in their attempt to make and send aloft a "flying machine" in North Carolina in 1903. Nineteenth-century Ohioan and famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley is the focus of Shooting for the Moon: The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley, while what Phelan deemed "a stimulating introduction" to the life of young Davy Crockett is the focus of Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier. A collective biography of environmentalists John Muir, Rachel Carson, Chico Mendes, and Lois Gibbs, Krensky's Four against the Odds: The Struggle to Save Our Environment was praised by Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Catherine M. Clancy as "an excellent introduction to the ‘environmental issue,’" and Chris Sherman noted in his Booklist review of the work that "Krensky's style is very readable."

Krensky once explained where his books and ideas come from: "People often ask me how I can write something that twelve-year-olds or nine-year-olds will want to read. I'm not sure, but I do know that the part of me that was once twelve and nine and six is not neatly boxed and tucked away in some dusty corner of my mind. It's spread throughout the place like crepe paper or bunting. So far I think it's given the place a festive air. If I'm lucky, it always will." Noting the discipline required to be such a prolific author, Krensky noted on his home page: "Writing is hard and fun at the same time, and writing children's books is the best job I can think of having. So if I didn't do it, I'd have to do something I'd like less. That certainly helps me keep focused."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 1986, Ilene Cooper, review of Scoop after Scoop: A History of Ice Cream, p. 513; December 1, 1991, Julie Corsaro, review of Lionel and Louise, p. 709, and Carolyn Phelan, review of Christopher Columbus, p. 111; June 1, 1992, Chris Sherman, review of Four against the Odds: The Struggle to Save Our Environment, p. 1759; July, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of We Just Moved! and Lionel in the Summer, p. 1890; September 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of How Santa Got His Job, p. 112; October 1, 1998, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Louise Takes Charge, p. 330; March 15, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of My Loose Tooth, p. 1337; July, 1999, Lauren Peterson, review of Louise Goes Wild, p. 1946; May 15, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Taking Flight: The Story of theWright Brothers, p. 1740; June 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Arthur and the Big Blow-up, p. 1894; July, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever, p. 2040; October 1, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Lionel at School, p. 352; March 1, 2001, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Louise, Soccer Star?, p. 1278; April 15, 2001, Roger Leslie, review of The Moon Robber, p. 1559; May 15, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Arthur and the Seventh-Inning Stretcher, p. 1753; September 15, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, review of How Santa Lost His Job, p. 235, and Carolyn Phelan, review of Shooting for the Moon: The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley, p. 228; October 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, p. 318; July, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Lionel's Birthday, p. 1899; September 1, 2004, Kay Weisman, review of There Once Was a Very Odd School, and Other Lunch-box Limericks, p. 117; December 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier, p. 656; March 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Voyage of John and John Quincy Adams, p. 1198; September 1, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Hanukkah at Valley Forge, p. 137; October 15, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Vampires, p. 71; April 1, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Big Bad Wolves at School, p. 57; October 1, 2007, Jesse Karp, review of Comic Book Century: The History of American Comic Books, p. 50; March 1, 2008, Todd Morning, review of What's the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston, p. 67.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1980, review of A Troll in Passing, p. 175; January, 1982, review of Conqueror and Hero: The Search for Alexander, p. 88; November, 1984, review of A Ghostly Business, p. 49; April, 1986, review of Lionel at Large, p. 113; February, 1987, Betsy Hearne, review of Scoop after Scoop, p. 111; February, 1994, Carol Fox, review of Lionel in Winter, pp. 190-191; January, 1997, review of Breaking into Print: Before and after the Invention of the Printing Press, p. 177; February, 1997, review of Lionel and His Friends, p. 212; September, 1998, review of How Santa Got His Job, p. 18; July, 2001, review of Shooting for the Moon, p. 412; March, 2007, Hope Morrison, review of Too Many Leprechauns; or, How That Pot o' Gold Got to the End of the Rainbow, p. 298.

Five Owls, September, 1991, review of American Heritage First Dictionary, p. 20.

Horn Book, December, 1981, Ethel R. Twichell, review of Conqueror and Hero, pp. 677-678; January-February, 1986, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Maiden Voyage: The Story of the Statue of Liberty, pp. 76-77; July-August, 1990, Carolyn K. Jenks, review of Lionel in the Spring, p. 477; March, 1992, p. 219; March-April, 1994, Margaret A. Bush, review of Lionel in the Winter, p. 195; September-October, 1995, Margaret A. Bush, review of The Printer's Apprentice, pp. 600-601.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1977, review of A Big Day for Scepters, p. 352; January 1, 1988, review of Who Really Discovered America?, p. 56; June 1, 1994, review of The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps, p. 776; June 15, 1995, review of The Printer's Apprentice, p. 858; July 15, 1996, review of Breaking into Print, p. 1051; September 15, 2001, review of How Santa Lost His Job, p. 1360; July 15, 2002, review of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, p. 1035; January 1, 2005, review of Dangerous Crossing, p. 53; November 1, 2006, review of Milo the Really Big Bunny, p. 1323; November 1, 2006, review of Hanukkah at Valley Forge, p. 1130; December 1, 2006, review of Too Many Leprechauns, p. 1222; June 1, 2007, review of Big Bad Wolves at School.

New York Times Book Review, November 9, 1980, Richard Mitchell, review of My First Dictionary, p. 56; May 20, 1990, Ann M. Martin, review of Perfect Pigs: An Introduction to Manners, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, June 13, 1980, review of A Troll in Passing, p. 72; June 27, 1986, review of Lionel at Large, p. 88; October 9, 1987, review of Lionel in the Fall, p. 86; May 2, 1994, review of The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps, p. 309; June 5, 2000, review of The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever, p. 93; June 11, 2001, review of The Moon Robber, p. 86; October 8, 2001, review of Shooting for the Moon, p. 64; August 5, 2002, review of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, p. 71; February 13, 2006, review of Milo the Really Big Bunny, p. 89; September 25, 2006, review of Hanukkah at Valley Forge, p. 68; October 2, 2006, review of The Crimson Comet, p. 63; January 1, 2007, review of Too Many Leprechauns, p. 48; July 9, 2007, review of Big Bad Wolves at School, p. 52.

School Arts, April, 1997, Kent Anderson and Ken Marantz, review of Breaking into Print, p. 63.

School Library Journal, April, 1977, Craighton Hippenhammer, review of A Big Day for Scepters, p. 68; October, 1977, Craighton Hippenhammer, review of The Dragon Circle, p. 115; November, 1981, Elizabeth Holtze, review of Conqueror and Hero, pp. 106-107; January, 1983, Amy L. Cohn, review of The Wilder Plot, p. 77; May, 1986, review of Lionel at Large, p. 113; April, 1992, Sharron McElmeel, review of Lionel and Louise, p. 95; February, 1993, Carolyn Jenks, review of The Pizza Book: Fun, Facts, a Recipe—the Works!, p. 100; June, 2000, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever, p. 118; August, 2000, Susan Knell, review of Taking Flight, p. 171; September, 2000, Helen Foster James, review of Lionel at School, p. 202; January, 2001, Blair Christolon, review of Louise, Soccer Star?, p. 102; July, 2001, Susan Lissim, review of Pearl Harbor, p. 95; September, 2001, Devon Gallagher, review of The Moon Robber, p. 200; October, 2001, review of How Santa Lost His Job, p. 67; October, 2003, Laura Scott, review of Lionel's Birthday, p. 129; August, 2004, Doris Losey, review of There Once Was a Very Odd School, p. 110; February, 2005, Lynda Ritterman, review of Dangerous Crossing, p. 104; February, 2006, Rachel G. Payne, review of Milo the Really Big Bunny, p. 106; October, 2006, Teri Markson, review of Hanukkah at Valley Forge, p. 97; December, 2006, Piper L. Nayman, review of The Crimson Comet, p. 110; February, 2007, Kirsten Cutler, review of Too Many Leprechauns, p. 90; June, 2007, Mary Jean Smith, review of Big Bad Wolves at School, p. 110; November, 2007, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Anansi and the Box of Stories: A West African Folktale, p. 109, Marcia Kochel, review of The Bogeyman, p. 150, and Benjamin Russell, review of Comic Book Century, p. 151.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1984, review of The Wilder Summer, p. 339; October, 1992, Catherine M. Clancy, review of Four against the Odds, p. 254.

Wilson Library Bulletin, February, 1992, review of Christopher Columbus and His Voyage to the New World, p. 83.

ONLINE

Stephen Krensky Home Page,http://www.stephenkrensky.com (March 28, 2008).