PERSONAL: Born in CA; daughter of Ron Partridge (a photographer); married; husband's name Tom. Education: University of California—Berkeley, degree in women's studies, 1974; studied Chinese medicine in England, Licentiate of Acupuncture, 1978.
AWARDS, HONORS: Judy Lopez Memorial Honor Award for Children's Literature, Women's National Book Association, for Clara and the Hoodoo Man; Jane Addams Honor Book Award, Golden Kite Honor Award for Nonfiction, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Best Book for Young Adults selection and Notable Children's Book selection, American Library Association (ALA), Bay Area Reviewer's Award for children's literature, and Lasting Connections selection, Book Links magazine, all for Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange; nominee for National Book Award in young people's literature category, 2002, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, both for This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie; Michael L. Printz Honor Book, ALA, 2006, for John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth.
(Editor) Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, Smithsonian (Washington, DC), 1993.
Clara and the Hoodoo Man (novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.
Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange (photo biography), Viking (New York, NY), 1998.
Pig's Eggs (juvenile), illustrated by Martha Weston, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Oranges on Golden Mountain (juvenile), illustrated by Aki Sogabe, Dutton (New York, NY), 2001.
This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Annie and Bo and the Big Surprise (juvenile), illustrated by Martha Weston, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
Moon Glowing (juvenile), illustrated by Joan Paley, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Sally Stein) Quizzical Eye: The Photography of Rondal Partridge, Heyday Books (Berkeley, CA), 2002.
Whistling (juvenile), illustrated by Anna Grossnickle Hines, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2003.
(Adapter) Kogi's Mysterious Journey (juvenile), illustrated by Aki Sogabe, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth (biography), Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author, with sister Meg Partridge, of one-hour documentary Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, Pacific Pictures.
SIDELIGHTS: Elizabeth Partridge's writings include historical fiction, biographies, and photo books. She notes on her Web site that she spent many of her childhood summers traveling around the country with her parents and siblings. Partridge's parents were photographers, as were her grandparents, Imogen Cunningham and Roi Partridge. They arranged for Partridge's father, Ron, to apprentice with their friend, photographer Dorothea Lange. After Ron married, his family continued to associate with Lange's family until she died in 1965. Partridge was fourteen at the time. Several years later, after her sister Meg had made a film about their grandmother Imogen Cunningham, Elizabeth and Meg collaborated on a one-hour documentary about Dorothea Lange. Called Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life the film was accompanied by the issuance of a book by the same title. Partridge was then contracted to write a children's biography about Lange, published under the title Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange. Both works were published to critical acclaim. Writing in School Library Journal, Jackie Gropman lauded Dorothea Lange as a "magnificently reproduced collection of photos and insightful essays" that interweaves Lange's personal history with a large selection of her photographic achievements. Mary M. Burns wrote in Horn Book that Partridge makes a "thoughtful presentation" about Lange's life in Restless Spirit, including photographs and personal details about Lange's life. Similarly, Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, appreciated the combined presentation of Lange's work and life events in Restless Spirit, characterizing it as a "fine photo-essay that will interest adults as much as teens."
Partridge examines the life of America's celebrated folk singer in This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie. According to School Library Journal contributor Ginny Gustin, "Partridge has written a fascinating portrait not only of the man, but also of the historical upheavals that shaped his life and were captured and reflected in his songs." In her biography, the author offers readers a glimpse of Guthrie the individual as well as the singer. Partridge portrays Guthrie as "a true antihero: poor rather than rich, unkempt rather than groomed, crude rather than polished, emotional rather than reasoned, and passionate rather than contained," noted Horn Book reviewer Betty Carter.
Partridge looks at another musical icon in John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, "an unflinchingly honest portrait of a troubled, angry, and highly creative individual who was captivated by rock 'n' roll," Gustin stated in School Library Journal. The biography explains the author's position that the "talented singer and songwriter was a visionary; his gift both tormented him and raised him to a pinnacle of musical creativity," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
In addition to her biographical works, Partridge has also authored several fiction works for children. Her first book for children, Clara and the Hoodoo Man, received positive attention when it was published. Based on a true incident, Clara and the Hoodoo Man tells the story of Clara and her family's life in the hills of Tennessee during the late nineteenth century. The work is noteworthy, said Nancy Vasilakis in Horn Book, not just because of its period setting but also because the "characters are convincingly drawn." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked on the book's "luminescent writing," anticipating more works by Partridge.
Partridge's other books for young readers include Oranges on Golden Mountain, a picture book about a Chinese boy who comes to the United States during the late 1800s. The author charts his struggle to find his place in the new home he has adopted. Reviewing the work for the New York Times Book Review, Laurence Downes noted that "this is a fresh subject for a picture book, and Partridge … tells it with vividness, grace and exquisite restraint." Gillian Engberg, writing in Booklist, called the work "beautifully written."
Partridge is also the author of Annie and Bo and the Big Surprise, an easy reader about two mice who are friends, and Moon Glowing, a picture book focusing on sleeping places used by animals during winter. Commenting on Annie and Bo in Booklist, Engberg appreciated the "simple, descriptive language" of the book, which, she noted, was "just right for beginning readers." Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews contributor called Annie and Bo a "sweet and gentle" story that provides "fast-clipping exercise" for new readers. A critic in Publishers Weekly praised the author's "austere, almost poetic prose" in Moon Glowing. Partridge's "deceptively straightforward tale subtly conveys the concept of hibernation to a young audience," noted School Library Journal reviewer Carol Ann Wilson.
Partridge has written other stories for young readers, including Kogi's Mysterious Journey and Whistling. Kogi's Mysterious Journey, an adaptation of a Japanese folktale, concerns a frustrated artist's dream that he has been transformed into a golden carp. When Kogi is snared by a fisherman and nearly cooked for dinner, he finally wakes from his vision. Kogi's "dream opens floodgates of creativity and now his paintings are endowed with energy and vitality," observed Margaret A. Chang in School Library Journal. A young boy and his father on a camping trip cheerfully greet the morn-ing in Whistling. "Children will be entranced by the unaffected sweetness and gentle rhythms" of Partridge's tale, remarked a critic in Kirkus Reviews.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklinks, March, 2006, Dean Schneider, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, p. 24.
Booklist, October 15, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange, p. 417; March 1, 2000, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Restless Spirit, p. 1249; January 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Oranges on Golden Mountain, p. 970; November 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Annie and Bo and the Big Surprise, p. 487; April 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me, p. 1338; December 1, 2002, Diane Foote, review of Moon Glowing, p. 676; August, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Whistling, p. 1990; October 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, p. 52; June 1, 2006, Michael Cart, "Biography at Its Best," reviews of This Land Was Made for You and Me and John Lennon, p. 55.
Horn Book, November-December, 1996, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Clara and the Hoodoo Man, p. 739; March, 1999, Mary M. Burns, review of Restless Spirit, p. 228; March-April, 2002, Betty Carter, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me, p. 230; September-October, 2005, Betsy Hearne, review of John Lennon, p. 606.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2002, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me, p. 107; October 1, 2002, review of Moon Glowing, p. 1477; November 1, 2001, review of Annie and Bo and the Big Surprise, p. 1555; March 1, 2003, review of Whistling, p. 394; September 1, 2005, review of John Lennon, p. 980; December 1, 2005, "The Best Children's Books of 2005," review of John Lennon, p. S1.
News Photographer, July, 1995, C. Zoe Smith, review of Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, p. A18.
New York Times Book Review, October 21, 2001, Laurence Downes, "Young Man Goes East to the West."
Publishers Weekly, June 17, 1996, review of Clara and the Hoodoo Man, p. 65; January 17, 2000, review of Pig's Eggs, p. 56; February 25, 2002, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me, p. 68; September 9, 2002, review of Moon Glowing, p. 66; December 15, 2003, review of Kogi's Mysterious Journey, p. 72; October 3, 2005, review of John Lennon, p. 72.
School Library Journal, July, 1995, Jackie Gropman, review of Dorothea Lange, p. 106; March, 2001, Margaret A. Chang, review of Oranges on Golden Mountain, p. 218; April, 2002, Ginny Gustin, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me, p. 180; November, 2002, Carol Ann Wilson, review of Moon Glowing, p. 133; April, 2003, Laurie Edwards, review of Whistling, p. 134; November, 2003, Margaret A. Chang, review of Kogi's Mysterious Journey, p. 128; October, 2005, Ginny Gustin, review of John Lennon, p. 192; November, 2005, Rick Margolis, "She Said She Said: Biographer Elizabeth Partridge Talks about John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth," p. 41.
Sing Out!, winter, 2003, Mary Postellon, review of This Land Was Made for You and Me, p. 121.
Elizabeth Partridge Web site, http://www.elizabethpartridge.com (December 3, 2006).