Presnall, Judith (Ann) Janda 1943-
PRESNALL, Judith (Ann) Janda 1943-
PERSONAL: Born April 2, 1943, in Milwaukee, WI; daughter of Edward G. (a metal-casting pattern maker) and Tess (a homemaker, seamstress, and retail salesperson) Janda; married Lance O. Presnall (an engineer), January 21, 1967; children: Kaye Lynn, Kory Lee. Ethnicity: "Polish/Slovak." Education: University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, B.A., 1967; attended University of California—Los Angeles. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, golfing, traveling, watching suspense movies, "caring for all of God's creatures."
ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—6311 Crebs Ave., Reseda, CA 91335. E-mail—[email protected].
CAREER: Writer. Kelly Services, Milwaukee, WI, secretary, 1963-66; John Marshall Jr. High School, Milwaukee, business teacher, 1967-69; Pierce Community College, Woodland Hills, CA, typing teacher, 1982-86; Merit College, Van Nuys, CA, typing teacher, 1984-88. Tarzana Hospital, volunteer in newborn nursery, 1995-2002.
MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, California Writers Club (vice president, 1994-96), Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People, Alpha Gamma Delta.
AWARDS, HONORS: First place award, Southern California Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 1992, for the unpublished manuscript, Queen Liliuokalani; first place award, Ventura/Santa Barbara Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 1994, for another unpublished manuscript, Failure IsImpossible: Susan B. Anthony; citation for outstanding science book for children, National Science Teachers Association and Children's Book Council, 1994, for Animals that Glow; Jack London Award, California Writers Club, 1997, for meritorious service; first place award, Southern California Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 1997, for The Giant Panda.
Animals that Glow, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1993.
Animal Skeletons, illustrated by Kristin Kest, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1995.
Artificial Organs, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1996.
Circuses: Under the Big Top, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1996.
The Giant Panda, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Oprah Winfrey, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.
Mount Rushmore, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.
Life on Alcatraz, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Kite Tales, Bear Essential News for Kids, and My Friend.
"ANIMALS WITH JOBS" SERIES
Guide Dogs, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Animal Actors, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Horse Therapists, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Navy Dolphins, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Police Dogs, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Circus Animals, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Capuchin Monkey Aides, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Rescue Dogs, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Carrier Pigeons, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.
Canine Companions, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.
Race Horses, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.
Rodeo Animals, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Judith Janda Presnall once commented to CA: "I have always loved the smell of books and spending hours in a cozy library. As a child, I rode my bike to the library which was about a mile away. During the 1950s you could only whisper in libraries, so they were quiet places, unlike today's large bustling, computerized rooms.
"In 1985, while I was teaching at a court reporting college, I yearned to add a different dimension in my life, so I took a general writing class at a local community college. The instructor gave us an assignment each week, and I found that most of my writing was geared for children. At first, I wrote all fiction stories, mostly picture books and stories for magazines. Being unsuccessful in selling my 'talking-animal' stories, my critique group suggested that I try writing nonfiction. In 1987 I entered and won my first contest. Writing nonfiction requires much library research, so I am back to the comfortable surroundings of my childhood."
Presnall's love for children and animals sparked her interest in writing children's books with animal and nature topics. One such book is Animals that Glow.
Presnall's first book informs young children about the variety of bioluminescent animals, including fireflies, millipedes, squid, and fish. The author explains why these animals produce light, whether it's for survival purposes or for attracting prey. Presnall also addresses how bioluminescent animals are beneficial in detecting some human diseases and contamination in water. School Library Journal contributor Cynthia M. Sturgis praised the book for being "an informative and well-organized source for reports." Addressing the diagrams and useful captions in Animals that Glow, Carolyn Phelan of Booklist stated that the "book offers an accessible introduction to an intriguing subject."
"Besides obtaining information from books and periodicals," Presnall wrote, "I gather information through on-location visits and personal interviews. This gives my books the authenticity that readers deserve. Writing nonfiction is exciting and an on-going learning experience. I try to give readers the sense of being 'on the scene' when they read my books."
Presnall traveled to the eastern United States to do research for her second book, Rachel Carson. The volume is included in the Lucent Books series "The Importance Of" because of Carson's crusade to bring public awareness to the dangers of chemicals. Presnall visited Carson's childhood home, her alma mater, John Hopkins University, and spoke with several of her coworkers. According to School Library Journal contributor Sandra L. Doggett, Rachel Carson is "well-researched" and "easy to read." A reviewer for Appraisal: Science Books for Young People remarked that "the book could be a particularly good choice for students who like both science and writing."
"For Artificial Organs, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Willem J. Kolff in his Salt Lake City laboratory," Presnall explained. "Dr. Kolff was the inventor of the first artificial kidney used on humans. While in Utah, I also met doctors who are performing scientific studies and constructing the artificial eye, heart, and arm.
"When I was writing Circuses: Under the Big Top, I attended all types of events. I saw small one-ring tented circuses, huge three-ring arena-types, and the kind of circus that features contemporary high-tech theatrics and daring human acrobatics. I enjoyed interviewing some of the circus stars." Circuses traces the history of circuses as far back as ancient civilization. Part of the research involved speaking to longtime circus performer Gunther Gebel-Williams and being treated to an evening "animal walk." According to School Library Journal contributor George Gleason, Circuses is "colorful and informative," and can be enjoyed as "pleasure reading."
"I work every day to expand my writing career," Presnall explained. "When I write, I compose in longhand in a large spiral notebook. Next, I input the information into the computer. This becomes my first rough draft. It is rewritten many times before it gets to an editor's desk.
"My advice to aspiring writers is to persist. It took me four years and 250 rejections before I sold anything! But when I visit schools and talk to children about my books and the writing process, it was well worth the effort. I have a special feeling of satisfaction to see my books in schools and libraries and to hear a child's excitement about a book that I have authored."
Recently Presnall told CA: "My most recent project is a series which I developed for KidHaven Press, 'Animals with Jobs.' These books allow me to do some inside research. For example, I visited four horse-therapy ranches and saw firsthand how children smiled, laughed, and straightened their weak bodies atop the horses' warm backs. I went on a ride-along in a police car and watched a German shepherd police dog find drugs. A police K-9 trainer allowed me to observe a training session. I interviewed people who trained animal actors and worked in circuses, who have guide dogs and have raised guide dogs, and who worked with Navy dolphins."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Appraisal: Science Books for Young People, fall, 1993, p. 56; autumn, 1995, review of Rachel Carson, pp. 78-79.
Booklist, May 15, 1993, Carolyn Phelan, review of Animals that Glow, p. 1690; January 15, 1995, p. 939; April 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Police Dogs and Horse Therapists, p. 1326.
School Library Journal, June, 1993, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of Animals that Glow, p. 122; January, 1995, Sandra L. Doggett, review of Rachel Carson, p. 142; March, 1997, George Gleason, review of Circuses: Under the Big Top, p. 195; March, 2002, Cathie E. Bashaw, review of Horse Therapists and Animal Actors, p. 256; April, 2002, Nancy Call, review of Navy Dolphins and Guide Dogs, p. 182; September, 2003, Carol Schene, review of Rescue Dogs, p. 236.