Odean, Kathleen 1953-
ODEAN, Kathleen 1953-
PERSONAL: Born September 12, 1953, in St. Paul, MN; daughter of William R. (a teacher) and Eileen (a teacher; maiden name, Leahy) Odean; married Ross E. Cheit (a professor of political science), August 22, 1982. Education: Carleton College, Northfield, MN, B.A., 1975; University of California at Berkeley, M.L.I.S., 1982, M.A., 1984.
ADDRESSES: Home—Barrington, RI. Agent—c/o Ballantine Publicity, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. E-mail—kathleenodean.cs.com.
CAREER: San Rafael Public Library, San Rafael, CA, librarian, 1983-86; Moses Brown School, Providence, RI, librarian, beginning 1987; University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Kingston, RI, adjunct faculty member.
MEMBER: American Library Association, American Folklore Society, American Dialect Society.
Great Books for Girls: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1997, revised edition, 2002.
Great Books for Boys: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Boys 2 to 14, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Great Books about Things Kids Love: More than 750 Recommended Books for Children 3 to 14, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Great Books for Babies and Toddlers: More than 500 Recommended Books for Your Child's First Three Years, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Frequent contributor to School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. Contributing editor to BOOK: The Magazine for the Reading Life.
SIDELIGHTS: Kathleen Odean has become known as an advocate, and a resource, for getting children to read. Drawing on seventeen years as a school and public librarian, as well as stints on the American Library Association's Notable Children's Book Committee and membership on the Newbery and Caldecott Award committees, Odean has provided thousands of recommendations in her "Great Books" series. In the first of these, Great Books for Girls: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women, she sets out to correct what she sees as an imbalance. Rather than the usual stories of girls negotiating relationships, dealing with new siblings, or worrying about boyfriends, Odean set out to find stories in which "girls have central roles and do something active like solve mysteries, go on adventures, play sports. I was looking for girls who aren't sugar and spice and everything nice," as she told Michael Cart in an interview for Booklist. Spunky heroines like Eloise and Harriet the Spy replace the Little Women characters and Anne of Green Gables in other lists, as Odean felt the latter focus too much on self-sacrifice. She also includes books on sports, surviving in the wild, and biographies of female luminaries such as Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, all designed to show girls—and boys—the wide range of experiences open to women.
Boys themselves are the focus in Odean's next compendium, Great Books for Boys: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Boys 2 to 14. Again, "Odean does have an agenda, but it is one most parents of boys can probably live with," suggested Karen Peterson in USA Today. "She plays down books with violence and plays up those that emphasize compassion, cooperation, a breadth of emotions, friendship and 'the complexity of boys' lives.'" As with the previous book, Odean draws from a wide range of genres, including adventure stories, biographies, fantasy novels, and poetry, and everything from picture books to young adult novels, all arranged to help parents choose the right book for their sons. "Odean's annotations are, as before, a clearly written combination of content and commentary," observed Booklist reviewer Stephanie Zvirin.
Great Books about Things Kids Love: More than 750 Recommended Books for Children 3 to 14 provides book suggestions in over fifty-five subject areas, "everything from cats and horses to baseball, robots, dinosaurs, knights, wizards, cars, trucks and trains," as Hazel Rochman put it in Booklist. Within these subject areas, books are arranged by age-level, and once again the target audience is parents looking for just the right book for their child, beyond the usual school readings. In addition, Odean offers advice and resources on hosting book theme parties and reading aloud. Indeed, many books "were chosen because librarians and teachers have found them to be great read-alouds," noted Mary Lankford in the School Library Journal. In addition, these books "reflect the author's concern for balancing diverse cultures, girl and boy main characters, and, in the case of picture books, artistic style," reported Library Journal contributor Katie Sasser.
Odean followed this with Great Books for Babies and Toddlers: More than 500 Recommended Books for Your Child's First Three Years, which is "another fine roundup of well-annotated, carefully selected books that parents, teachers and librarians can use when working with children," according to Stephanie Zvirin in Booklist. A great deal of research went into Odean's selections, in which she recommends rhyming books for babies, but not generally for older children, when rhymed stories can become strained or clichéd. She also cautions against board books that cram too many words on the page. This time, she also includes a list of good baby books translated into Spanish. Once again, she provides tips and strong encouragement for reading aloud to children, noting that even fetuses begin to recognize language while in the womb. Her lengthy annotations, furthermore, provide useful information on child development, but the emphasis remains on the sheer pleasure of sharing books with children.
About her first book, High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops: Wall Street Slang, Odean once told CA: "As a folklorist, I am most interested in the oral traditions of various occupational groups. The folklore includes slang, jokes, proverbs, legends, practical jokes, and superstitions. Such traditions, passed on over the years by word of mouth, reveal the concerns and attitudes of the group. Slang, or folk speech, offers insight into a group because it is the group's own descriptions of its members and their world—their own words and stories. I gathered Wall Street slang by interviewing brokers at stock exchanges and brokerages, and by reading newspapers and doing library research. My book is the only study of this subject, even though Wall Streeters have as much slang as prisoners and members of the military, whose language has been studied extensively.
"Most of the book discusses folk speech, interlaced with other lore such as jokes and anecdotes, and a fair amount of history. I particularly enjoyed writing the last chapter, in which I analyze the metaphors that form the slang. Violence, sex, and domesticity are prevalent themes, along with the recurring metaphor of money as dirty ('to take a bath,' 'laundry business,' and so on). The language reveals Wall Streeters as more creative than most outsiders suspect, but also more insecure. The few folklorists who currently study occupational groups tend to focus on blue-collar workers. In my pursuit of the folklore of white-collar professions, I have my work cut out for me."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, May, 2001, "Summer Fun," p. 82.
Booklist, March 1, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Great Books for Girls: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women, p. 1176; March 15, 1997, Michael Cart, "Scotch Those Stereotypes!," p. 1234; March 1, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Great Books for Boys: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Boys 2 to 14, p. 1143; March 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Great Books about Things Kids Love: More than 750 Recommended Books for Children 3 to 14, p. 1334; March 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Great Books for Babies and Toddlers: More than 500 Recommended Books for Your Child's First Three Years, p. 1132; May 1, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Great Books for Babies and Toddlers, p. 1603.
Children & Literature, winter, 2003, review of Great Books for Babies and Toddlers, p. 53.
Christian Science Monitor, June 23, 1998, Karen Carden, "Mining for Gold in Children's Books."
Entertainment Weekly, March 7, 1997, Megan Harlan, review of Great Books for Girls, p. 60.
Financial Analysts Journal, November/December, 1989, Martin Fridson, review of High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops: Wall Street Slang, p. 80.
Houston Chronicle, July 15, 1988, Jim Barlow, review of High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops, p. 1.
Library Journal, January, 1997, Carol McAllister, review of Great Books for Girls, p. 99; September 15, 1998, Glynys Thomas, review of Great Books for Boys, p. 63; April 1, 2001, Katie Sasser, review of Great Books about Things Kids Love, p. 92.
New York Times Book Review, July 24, 1988, review of High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops. p. 9.
Providence Journal, August 2, 1988, review of High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops, p. D1.
Record (Bergen County, NJ), August 13, 2002, Jacqueline Mroz, "Opening Books Up to Boys," p. F1.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 4, 1998, Jane Henderson, "'Great Books for Boys' Has a Goal of Inspiring More Males to Read," p. E3.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 1988, review of High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops, p. C2.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Mary Lankford, review of Great Books about Things Kids Love, p. 175; July, 2003, Leslie Barban, review of Great Books for Babies and Toddlers, p. 155.
USA Today, March 23, 1998, Karen Peterson, "'Great Books' Marks the Trail to a Love of Reading in Boys," p. D5.
Wall Street Journal, October 15, 1989, Stan Angrist, review of High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops, p. A26.
Kathleen Odean Home Page, http://kathleenodean.com (May 27, 2004).*