PERSONAL: Married; husband's name Andy (a professor of ecology); children: Winslow, Haynes. Education: Attended Western Washington University; University of Alaska, B. Ed., 1983; Montana State University, M.Ed., 2004; postgraduate work at Portland State University and Western Oregon University.
CAREER: Librarian and writer. University of the Witwatersrand, member of teacher's continuing education program in Soweto, South Africa, 1984–85; Lincoln County School District, fifth-grade teacher, 1988–91; Human Resources Development Council, Headstart teacher, 1993–94; Great Beginnings Montessori School, administrative assistant, 1995–96; Very Special Arts Montana, writing instructor for youth living in shelter care, 1997–98; self-employed writer/educational consultant, 1995Ymdash;; Gallatin Gateway School, MT, school media specialist, GATE coordinator, technology director, Web designer, and English teacher, 1998–2004; Montana State University, Bozeman, instructor in young-adult literature and information literacy, 2001–.
MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (regional director, 1994–).
AWARDS, HONORS: Governor's Recognition Award for Very Special Arts Montana (creative writing); Pushcart Prize nominee, 1995, for essay "Prayer Flags on Barbed Wire;" Bank Street College Best Book designation, and American Library Association Best Trade Book for Social Studies designation, both 1997, both for The Eagle's Shadow; Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Award, 2003, for A Perfect Snow, Montana Book Award Honor Book, 2003, for Flight of the Fisherbird.
The Stone Dancers, illustrated by Jill Kastner, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY) 1995.
The Eagle's Shadow, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.
A Perfect Snow, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Flight of the Fisherbird, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: In Nora Martin's first book of juvenile fiction, The Stone Dancers, she provides a story within a story as the book opens with a grandfather telling his granddaughter a tale about their heritage. In the story a king takes all of the castoff people no one else wants, and invites them to be part of his kingdom. After building a castle, the townspeople welcome all others who are like them. After the grandfather tells his story, a group of strangers come to town looking for shelter, only to find the townspeoples' doors closed. Eventually, the town is given a chance to live up to its reputation for benevolence. Writing in Booklist, Ilene Cooper commented that Martin's "story combines a magical essence with the practicalities involved in being a friend."
In The Eagle's Shadow a young girl is sent to live with her Tlingit relatives in Alaska. Once there, she finds a closeness with her grandmother and other relatives that she never achieved with her distant father, a soldier who is stationed in Japan, or her alcoholic mother, who has left the family. GraceAnne A. DeCandido, writing in Booklist, felt the characterizations are lacking but noted that the book has "economy and grace."
Martin turns to the issue of racism in A Perfect Snow, a tale of a troubled Montana teenager who becomes briefly enamored with a white supremacist group. At first Ben is excited by the violence and power, but he soon comes to realize through other relationships that he has made a serious mistake. Although Ben no longer wants to be part of the Guardians of the Identity, he still faces the task of preventing his younger brother from mistakenly following the same path. A Kirkus Reviews contributor felt the author misses the opportunity to state something "provocative" instead choosing to craft a standard "teen problem novel." Nevertheless, the reviewer noted, "some of the feelings expressed by Ben ring with emotional honesty." Michael Cart, writing in Booklist, noted that "the setting is vividly realized … and the timely premise will provoke thought as well as discussion," while a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "much of the prose is graceful." In a review in the School Library Journal, Joel Shoemaker concluded that Martin's "story will likely get readers thinking about the changes people undergo and their own motivations and beliefs." Barbara Pendrigh, Lesley Agnew and Wendy Cooling, writing in Bookseller, called the effort "a perfectly formed novel" and added that A Perfect Snow "has a lot to say."
In Flight of the Fisherbird Martin once again explores racism, this time the racial biases that existed against Chinese immigrants in Washington State in the late 1800s. In the story, Clem, who lives with her family on the San Juan Islands off the Washington Coast, rescues a Chinese illegal immigrant thrown off a boat when the smugglers are surprised by the border patrol. In the meantime, Clem finds herself in conflict with a young orphan girl, Sarah, who comes to live with the family. In the end, Clem, Sarah, and their neighbor, Jed, get caught up in trying to transport the immigrant to the mainland. In a high seas adventure on Clem's boat, the Fisherbird, they are chased by Clem's oncebeloved uncle, whose true nature has been uncovered. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, noted that "Clem emerges as a sympathetic heroine and the Washington coast setting makes an unusual and colorful backdrop." In a review in the School Library Journal, Carol A. Edwards called the book "a fast-paced, high-stakes historical mystery," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Martin "beautifully evokes" Clem's island home.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1996, Ilene Cooper, review of The Stone Dancers, p. 847; August, 1997, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Eagle's Shadow, p. 1891; August, 2002, Michael Cart, review of A Perfect Snow, p. 1946; April 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Flight of the Fisherbird, p. 1397; May 1, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, "Book Award Bonanzas," p. 1600.
Bookseller, October 18, 2002, Barbara Pendrigh, Lesley Agnew, and Wendy Cooling, review of A Perfect Snow, p. 32.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of A Perfect Snow, p. 884; May 15, 2003, review of Flight of the Fisherbird, p. 754.
Kliatt, September, 2004, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of A Perfect Snow, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, August 12, 2002, review of A Perfect Snow, p. 301; April 28, 2003, review of Flight of the Fisherbird, p. 71.
School Library Journal, September, 2002, Joel Shoemaker, review of A Perfect Snow, p. 229; May 2003, Carol A. Edwards, review of Flight of the Fisherbird, p. 157.
Nora Martin Home Page, http://www.noramartin.net (May 25, 2005).