PERSONAL: Born in New Orleans, LA; daughter of a minister; married Sears McGee, 1966; children: Elizabeth, Claude. Education: Attended Agnes Scott College; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, B.A. (English; with highest honors); Yale Divinity School, M.A.R. Hobbies and other interests: Traveling, beach walks, reading, theatre, opera and chamber music.
ADDRESSES: Home—CA. Agent—Nancy Gallt, 273 Charlton Ave., South Orange, NY 07079.
CAREER: Author, educator, and editor. American School, London, England, teacher c. 1967–69; freelance writer and editor, 1974–94; full-time writer for children, beginning 1994.
The Quiet Farmer, illustrated by Lynne Dennis, Atheneum/Macmillan International (New York, NY), 1991.
Diego Columbus, Adventures on the High Seas, illustrations by Jim Hsieh, Fleming H. Revell (New York, NY), 1992.
Forest Child, illustrated by A. Scott Banfill, Green Tiger Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Jack Takes the Cake, illustrated by Dana Regan, Troll Communications (Metuchen, NJ), 1998.
The Colt and the King, illustrated by John Winch, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2002.
Sleepy Me, illustrated by Sam Williams, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2001.
Wake up, Me!, illustrated by Sam Williams, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
The Noisy Farm, illustrated by Leonie Shearing, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Ronald J. Mellor) The Ancient Roman World, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Amanda H. Podany) The Ancient Near Eastern World, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
While Angels Watch, Good Books, 2006.
Winston the BookWolf, Walker (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to Cricket; contributor to anthologies edited by Myra Cohn Livingston.
WORK IN PROGRESS: National Geographic Explores: Greece, forthcoming, 2006; Silly Goose and Naomi's Gift, both 2007.
SIDELIGHTS: Children's book author and poet Marni McGee began writing in 1974 to entertain her own children, and as the number of stories grew, family and friends began to urge her to submit her manuscripts for publication. Ranging from picture books to middle-grade fiction and poetry for all ages, her books include The Noisy Farm, Wake up, Me!, and The Colt and the King, the last a retelling of the story of Palm Sunday from the point of view of the young donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem. The book was described as "reverent in tone, restrained in execution, and thoughtfully designed," by Horn Book contributor Mary M. Burns.
In The Noisy Farm, a book inspired by the author's grandfather, McGee utilizes onomatopoeia to introduce toddlers to life on a farm. As the farmer goes about his daily routine he cares for each of his animals, and McGee's text highlights the different noises that each creature makes. Maryann H. Owen, writing in School Library Journal, called the book "a pleasant introduction to farm life," while a Kirkus Reveiws critic praised The Noisy Farm as "a warm-hearted story that hints at the importance of symbiosis—and has a jolly good time doing it."
In Sleepy Me and Wake up, Me! McGee creates a pair of books that highlights the start and finish of a typical toddler day. Featuring an energetic young boy, both books feature a curly-haired toddler whose happy home and loving parents create a reassuring, upbeat mood. In Sleepy Me he is put to bed by his father, McGee's repetitive rhyming prose making the book "a soothing choice for nighttime reading," according to a Publishers Weekly critic. In the companion volume, Wake up, Me!, a child narrates his daily routine with a jaunty rhyme. Wanda Meyers-Hines wrote in School Library Journal that the up-to-date family interactions and affectionate family life make Wake up, Me! "a fine choice for one-on-one sharing, for toddler storytimes, and for beginning readers."
In addition, she has produced two highly praised volumes in Oxford University Press's "World in Ancient Times" series: The Ancient Roman World and The Ancient Near Eastern World. Praising The Ancient Roman World, which McGee coauthored with University of California professor Ronald J. Mellor, School Library Journal contributor David Pauli praised the in-depth coverage of Roman history as well as "lively writing" enlivened by quotes from the ancients. In Booklist Ilene Cooper also enjoyed the work, writing that it is "more readable, more complete, and more attractive" than other histories of its kind.
A popular speaker at schools, McGee shares her stories with students from third grade and up, talking about the creative writing process. "Writing provides a crucial outlet for me," the author once commented. "Like dancing, it clarifies the words that stumble on the tongue and reveal the hidden thought … the secret knowing…. Writing for children is the highest honor and privilege I can imagine. Children are worth the very best we can give them. I want nothing more than to give them my best in the hope that I might make a difference in some child's life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of The Colt and the King, p. 1334; June 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Wake up, Me!, p. 1742; April 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Ancient Roman World, p. 1372.
Horn Book, March-April, 2002, Mary M. Burns, review of The Colt and the King, p. 202.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of Wake up, Me!, p. 340; March 1, 2002, review of The Colt and the King, p. 340; April 1, 2004, review of The Ancient Roman World, p. 334; May 15, 2004, review of The Noisy Farm, p. 495.
Publishers Weekly, May 7, 2001, review of Sleepy Me, p. 245; February 18, 2002, review of The Colt and the King, p. 65.
School Library Journal, June, 2001, Martha Topol, review of Sleepy Me, p. 126; May, 2002, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Wake up, Me!, p. 122; July, 2004, David Pauli, review of The Ancient Roman World, p. 126; October, 2004, Maryann H. Owen, review of The Noisy Farm, p. 122.
Bloomsbury Press Web site, http://www.bloomsbury.com/ (July 6, 2005), "Marni McGee."
Marni McGee Home Page, http://www.marnimcgee.com (July 6, 2005).
PFD Web site, http://www.pfd.co.uk/ (July 6, 2005), "Marni McGee."