Paratore, Coleen Murtagh 1958- (Coleen Paratore)
Paratore, Coleen Murtagh 1958- (Coleen Paratore)
Born October 19, 1958, in Troy, NY; married Tony Paratore; children: Christopher, Connor, Dylan. Education: College of Saint Rose, B.A.; Trinity College, M.A.
Home—Albany, NY, and Mashpee, MA. E-mail—coleenpatore.com.
Russell Sage College, Troy, NY, director of communications, adjunct professor. Freelance public relations consultant; public speaker; founder of Books Worth Writing.
iParenting, media award, 2004.
26 Big Things Small Hands Do, illustrated by Mike Reed, Free Spirit Publishing (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.
How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales, illustrated by Tamara Petrosino, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.
Mack McGinn's Big Win, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.
Catching the Sun, illustrated by Peter Catalanotto, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2008.
The Funeral Director's Son, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2008.
"THE WEDDING PLANNER'S DAUGHTER" SERIES
The Wedding Planner's Daughter, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.
The Cupid Chronicles, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.
Willa by Heart, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2008.
The Wedding Planner's Daughter was adapted for audio (unabridged; three cassettes or four CDs), Recorded Books, 2006.
Before becoming a children's author, Coleen Murtagh Paratore worked in advertising and public relations. When her first son was born, she left her full-time position and began a small publishing business. Books Worth Writing is a vehicle for people to remember loved ones and was inspired by the loss of a friend of its founder. Paratore freelanced and taught as her family grew, but after the birth of her third son, she became a stay-at-home mom, first reading to her boys and then, energized by the children's books she brought into their home, writing them. Her first book, 26 Big Things Small Hands Do, is a preschool activity book, but Paratore then turned to writing for older children with a number of stand-alone books and a series.
The protagonist of How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales lives up to her name by asking questions of her teacher, Miss Bliss, about fairy tales, for example why Red Riding Hood couldn't tell a wolf from her grandmother. Miss Bliss reads fairy tales, but Prudence, who stands out from her classmates in a uniform complete with tie and oversized glasses, prefers science to literature, as do her strict professor parents, and she believes that if you can't prove a thing, it just isn't so. She does have three wishes, however—for curly hair, a dollhouse, and a baby sister. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote: "‘It's good to think. And to wish,’ Prudence's teacher says, yet the sour message implies that Prudence should ask fewer question if she wants real happiness." When she receives postcards signed R, postmarked Fairy Tale Forest, Prudence begins to believe that maybe fairy tales are true as Miss Bliss says they are. When it is revealed that Miss Bliss is, in fact, Cinderella's fairy godmother, Prudence switches sides, becoming a believer. By doing so, two of her wishes are granted.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that in the accompanying cartoon illustrations by Tamara Petrosino, the cards are pictured without postmarks. "Prudence may believe, but readers won't," the writer concluded. School Library Journal reviewer Grace Oliff faulted the plot, writing: "The premise seems to be that pursuing science and enjoying fairy tales are mutually exclusive."
The Wedding Planner's Daughter, a story of loss and love, was called "a sweet little morsel" by a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Twelve-year-old Willa Havisham is the daughter of glamorous wedding planning Stella, who has developed a twelve-step plan for a perfect wedding. They live in Bramble, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where Stella continues to mourn the death of her husband, Willa's father, who died soon after their wedding. There she helps other people celebrate their love, while she herself avoids it. Willa, however, senses that her mother would be happier if she let the past go and found a new love, and Willa would like to have a father. Willa makes new friends and can now spend time with her grandmother, Nana, who owns a candy store and who is dating Mr. Tweed, the owner of the town bookstore.
Stella is caught up in the planning the wedding of two television soap stars, and Willa is trying to find a way to let her know that there should be a thirteenth necessity for a perfect wedding, and life, and that is love. She encourages a relationship between her mother and Sam, her English teacher who lives next door, and in her own life goes on her first double date.
A Kirkus Reviews writer described The Wedding Planner's Daughter as a "smart and funny fairy tale." In reviewing it for School Library Journal, Tina Zubak wrote that it "is as sweet a confection as the cherry cordials its 12-year-old protagonist is so fond of eating."
Willa is entering high school as a freshman in The Cupid Chronicles. Her mother has married Sam, her grandmother is happy with Mr. Tweed, and Willa turns to other pursuits, including that of Joseph Francis Kennelly, or JFK, her first date in middle school. Her biggest threat is Ruby, who is trying to take him away from her. Lack of funds is threatening the library, and as a community service leader, Willa sets out on a campaign to save it. The story carries a message on community, as well as portraying middle and high school life. School Library Journal writer Amanda Raklovits called it "a sweet and satisfying read from cover to cover." "Willa's spirit keeps it fun, but it's her smarts that make her memorable," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
In Willa by Heart, Willa and JFK are officially a couple, but Mariel, a new girl in town, becomes a threat, especially so when she is cast opposite JFK in the school production of Our Town. The plot includes a new baby, two weddings, and Nana's search for new fudge and taffy recipes to sell to the tourists. "Willa," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "remains charming, funny and often achingly real."
Mack McGinn's Big Win is the story of a boy who lives in the shadow of an older brother. Rory is a star athlete, and their father favors him, since he is living up to the family tradition. His grandfather played football for Notre Dame, and his father was a soccer player. Mack is forced to stop seeing his friend Digger by his high-powered real estate agent mother, who tries to steer him towards Pope, who lives in the more upscale neighborhood to which his social-climbing parents decide to move. They discover that upscale isn't better, however, and that winning isn't everything when Mack drops out of the race he hoped would raise his status with his father in order to save the life of Digger's sister, an accident-prone little girl.
Todd Morning wrote in Booklist that "readers will find much about middle school and family life that rings true here." School Library Journal reviewer Sharon R. Pearce found Paratore's depiction of classes to be stereotyped, but added that "the action moves along, and the protagonist is likable." "Paratore's first foray into boy's lit is a strong one," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales, p. 1744; July 1, 2007, Todd Morning, review of Mack McGinn's Big Win, p. 62.
Books, September 3, 2006, Cassandra Cowperthwaite, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 7.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July 1, 2004, Janice Del Negro, review of How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales, p. 478; February, 2005, Deborah Stevenson, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 262.
Chicago Tribune, September 3, 2006, Cassandra Cowperthwaite, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales, p. 540; February 1, 2005, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 180; December 15, 2006, review of The Cupid Chronicles, p. 1272; June 15, 2007, review of Mack McGinn's Big Win; November 15, 2007, review of Willa by Heart,.
Kliatt, January, 2005, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 10.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 2004, review of How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales, p. 55; February 14, 2005, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 77; June 26, 2006, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 54.
School Library Journal, July, 2004, Grace Oliff, review of How Prudence Proovit Proved the Truth about Fairy Tales, p. 84; February, 2005, Suzanne Myers Harold, review of 26 Big Things Small Hands Do, p. 126; March, 2005, Tina Zubak, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 216; April, 2007, Amanda Raklovits, review of The Cupid Chronicles, p. 144; August, 2007, Sharon R. Pearce, review of Mack McGinn's Big Win, p. 124.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2005, Ed Goldberg, review of The Wedding Planner's Daughter, p. 48.
Coleen Paratore Home Page,http://www.coleenparatore.com (January 22, 2008).