Maitland, Barbara

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Maitland, Barbara

PERSONAL: Born in Northumberland, England; daughter of Joseph (a lecturer in accounting and law) and Enid (a nurse and a lecturer in nursing studies) Maitland; married Nicholas Funnell (a brewmaster). Education: University of Leeds, B.A. (with honors). Hobbies and other interests: Travel, hiking, bird-watching, cross-country skiing, reading, theater.

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Author Mail, Dutton Children's Books, 345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Writer.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, Children's Book Guild of Washington, DC.



The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey, illustrated by Odilon Moraes, Orchard (New York, NY), 1997.

The Bookstore Ghost, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Dutton/Puffin (New York, NY), 1998.

My Bear and Me, illustrated by Lisa Flather, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 1999.

Moo in the Morning, illustrated by Andrew Kulman, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2000.

The Bookstore Burglar, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Dutton/Puffin (New York, NY), 2001.

The Bookstore Valentine, illustrated by David LaRochelle, Puffin (New York, NY), 2002.

Maitland's books have been translated into French, Danish, Dutch, and German.

SIDELIGHTS: Barbara Maitland is an author of children's books aimed at the earliest readers. Her popular series about Mr. Brown, his cat, Cobweb, and the ghost that haunts Mr. Brown's bookstore address situations that are potentially scary or uncomfortable and gently show children that there is actually nothing to fear. The Bookstore Ghost introduces the characters and the decidedly un-supernatural source of the bookstore's haunting. In The Bookstore Burglar, Cobweb and the "ghosts" conspire to scare away a burglar who breaks in one night. The Bookstore Valentine introduces Miss Button, a romantic interest for Mr. Brown. Their romance is helped along by Cobweb and his ghostly companions, who gently assist the shy couple in realizing their mutual attraction. Mary Ann Carcich, writing in the School Library Journal, called the book "a winsome addition to beginning-reader collections." Moo in the Morning offers "a subtle message about appreciating one's home," observed a Publishers Weekly contributor. When a young girl and her mother seek a break from the constant noise of the city, they visit Uncle Jack's farm. There, peace and quiet are abundant, until the morning comes. Then, the farm erupts in a loud flurry of awakening animals, farm machinery, daily chores, and other noisy activities. School Library Journal reviewer Melinda Schroeter called the book "a neat twist on the city-life/farm-life theme."

Barbara Maitland told CA: "I began The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey outside my tent during a hiking vacation in the Adirondacks. We had rounded a corner of a trail earlier that day and came face to face with a mother black bear and her two cubs. They hardly paused from rummaging in the bushes for berries, and we watched, rapt, until they walked away through the trees. I couldn't rest until I had gotten this story down on paper, and I worked and worked at it over the following months. Imagining how it might feel to be a cub, just beginning to find its way around the woodland world.

"I enjoy reading my books to children during school visits. When I read The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey, shy children listen to how Little Bear is treated by his more confident brothers and sisters, then come up afterwards to tell me how their own brothers and sisters tease them! The book was translated into French, Danish, Dutch, and German, and children are intrigued to encounter Little Bear as Petit Ours, Lille Bjorn, Kleine Beer, or Kleine Baer.

"My Bear and Me, for the very youngest readers, explores the relationship between a toddler and her beloved teddy bear. Moo in the Morning follows a parent and child from their noisy city home to the country, where life will be so much quieter—or will it? Memories of my own faithful bear companions (still with me to this day) and of a noisy farm provided the inspiration for these stories.

"The Bookstore Ghost, The Bookstore Burglar, and The Bookstore Valentine are easy readers about the bookstore owner, Norris Brown; his clever cat, Cobweb; and a special ghost that lives in the store. Mr. Brown is a man who knows exactly what he likes: ghost books, cheese, and cats. I am something of a soul mate to Mr. Brown, though, to be strictly accurate, you might want to substitute chocolate for cheese and 'any books' for ghost books. I love the feel, smell, and look of books. I have hundreds of books, all shapes and sizes, on any available surface, in double rows on bookcases, going right back to picture books from my own childhood. As a child, I often read all day long, and still do, given the opportunity. I suspect Mr. Brown would, too, if the strange goings-on at his haunted store didn't keep him so busy.

"My stories go through many stages, except for the rare case where something has been nibbling at the edges of my brain for ages and suddenly comes pouring out almost intact. The stages include getting the basic idea, plot, characters, and setting down on paper; fleshing them out; and writing very basic early drafts by hand. When a handwritten draft reaches the stage where there are at least as many words in the story as there are notes in the margins, I know I'm ready to get it into the machine. I usually edit the first typed draft as I key it in from the handwritten version. Then I print out and revise by hand, retype, and repeat until I'm happy with it. In the final stage, I'm polishing, cutting, rearranging. I walk up and down my room, reading drafts out loud to hear the rhythm.

"Writing can be lonely work, and sometimes I despair of shaking the words out of my head and onto the page, but it is also a source of great happiness. It's the immense pleasure when something goes right that sustains me, along with the mental image of some child, somewhere, enjoying what I have written. My advice to aspiring writers or illustrators is the same advice I give myself: keep writing, keep rewriting until you're satisfied, and then keep submitting. On days when the Muse has flapped off to places unknown, I look, on the windowsill above my desk, at the tip which I copied a long time ago from a book on writing: 'The first draft doesn't have to be good. It just has to be there.'"



Booklist, February 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey, p. 1027; November 1, 1998, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Bookstore Ghost, p. 507; February 1, 2001, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Moo in the Morning, p. 1057; November 1, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of The Bookstore Burglar, p. 486; January 1, 2003, Connie Fletcher, review of The Bookstore Valentine, p. 908.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1997, review of The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey, p. 329; July, 2000, review of Moo in the Morning, p. 411.

Christian Science Monitor, August 24, 2000, review of Moo in the Morning, p. 17.

Publishers Weekly, February 24, 1997, review of The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey, p. 89; July 10, 2000, review of Moo in the Morning, p. 62.

School Library Journal, May, 1997, Dawn Ibey, review of The Bear Who Didn't Like Honey, p. 106; November 1, 1998, Dina Sherman, review of The Bookstore Ghost, p. 90; November, 1999, review of My Bear and Me, p. 124; August, 2000, Melinda Schroeter, review of Moo in the Morning, p. 159; October, 2001, Louie Lahana, review of The Bookstore Burglar, p. 124; December, 2002, Mary Ann Carcich, review of The Bookstore Valentine, p. 102.


Children's Book Guild Web site, (December 10, 2005), author profile.