Nickel, Barbara 1966-
Nickel, Barbara 1966-
Born 1966, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; married. Education: University of British Columbia, M.F.A. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the violin.
Poet and novelist. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, writing instructor.
League of Canadian Poets, Children's Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia.
Second place, 1995 Kalamalka Press New Writers Competition; Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People shortlist, and Canadian Children's Book Centre Choice designation, both 1996; Mr. Christie's Book Award for Best Children's Book shortlist, 1997; and Red Cedar Awards shortlist, 1998; all for The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart; Pat Lowther Memorial Award, 1997, for The Gladys Elegies; travel grant, Canada Council for the Arts, 1998; Canadian Library Association (CLA) Book of the Year for Children finalist, and Canadian Children's Book Centre Choice designation, both 1999, both for From the Top of a Grain Elevator; Governor General's Award for Children's Literature nomination, 2005, Sheila A. Egoff Award for Children's Literature, CLA Book of the Year Award honor book, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Award nomination, and Chocolate Lily Young Readers Choice Award nomination, all 2006, and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award nomination and Rocky Mountain Book Award nomination, both 2007, all for Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach; Malahat Review Long Poem Prize and Quill & Quire Best Books designation, both 2007, both for Domain.
The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart, Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.
From the Top of a Grain Elevator, illustrated by Kathy Thiessen, Beach Holme (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1999.
Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach, Penguin Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
The Gladys Elegies (poetry), Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1997.
SchumannBrahmsSchuman (stage play), first produced at Vancouver Fringe Festival, 1998.
Domain (poetry), Anansi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.
Also author of chapbook Opal's Sun: Stories and Essays from Home, 1987. Contributor of poetry and articles to periodicals, including Books in Canada, Canadian Notes & Queries, Malahat Review, Fiddle-head, NeWest Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Maisonneuve, Notre Dame Review, Prairie Schooner, Rhubarb, and Antigonish Review.
Canadian writer Barbara Nickel has been honored for both her poetry for adults as well as her evocative novels for young readers. Reviewing her verse collection From the Top of a Grain Elevator, Evette Berry noted in Resource Links that "Nickel's language is sure to inspire young writers to be creative."
Nickel was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, a region that has inspired the prairie landscapes that are the focus of From the Top of a Grain Elevator. She earned her master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and served as poetry editor of the school's literary magazine, Prism International. She remained in western Canada, writing and teaching at the University of British Columbia, for several years. Although she briefly moved east to Newfoundland, Nickel has since returned to British Columbia.
Nickel's love of music—she is a violinist—is clearly the inspiration for both of her award-winning middle-grade novels. In The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart, she takes readers back to 1763 and brings attention to bear on the older sister of noted composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Set amid the world of Salzburg's court culture, Nickel's story finds twelve-year-old Nannerl as musically gifted as her younger brother. The text is framed as a series of the girl's journal entries, and she describes the stresses the talented siblings must bear. Her overbearing father, a music teacher and kappelmeister to the orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, nurtures and even exploits the children's talent, directing Wolfgang and Nannerl's tour of the courts of Europe. As a girl, Nannerl is also frustrated by her brother's preeminence. Ultimately, however, her dream of becoming a composer is realized when one of her symphonies is performed to a large and appreciative audience. While noting that younger children might become confused over Nickel's fictionalization of elements of Nannerl's life, a Resource Links contributor deemed The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart "an entertaining and accessible example" of an historical novel.
Like The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart, Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach is based on the life of a relative of a famous classical musician. In this case, Nickel focuses on Catharina Bach, the daughter of noted baroque musician Johann Sebastian Bach, and her story takes a jump in time from past to present. As she watches her father compose his concert for two violins, the young girl is inspired to sing. Three centuries later, violin student Hannah Waters is wrestling with the same Bach concerto. Just as Catharina felt intimidated by the vast musical talent around her, so Hannah feels out of place in her new school, and also emotionally disconnected since the death of her mother three years before. Through the music, the two girls connect, and through their growing knowledge of each other's lives they learn to deal with their own challenges. Calling the novel "readable and interesting," a Resource Links contributor added that Nickel creates "believable" young characters "and makes the transition from Catherine's sixteenth century to Hannah's modern-day Canada with relative ease."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Book Review Annual, 2005, Dave Jenkinson, review of Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach, p. 511.
Resource Links, February, 1997, review of The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart, pp. 132-133; December, 1999, review of From the Top of a Grain Elevator, p. 16; February, 2006, Evelle Berry, review of Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach, p. 27.
Children's Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia Web site,http://www.cwill.bc.ca/ (March 22, 2008), "Barbara Nickel."
League of Canadian Poets Web site,http://www.poets.ca/ (February 15, 2008), "Barbara Nickel."
Transatlantic Literary Agency Web site,http://www.tla1.com/ (February 15, 2008), "Barbara Nickel."