Reeder, Carolyn 1937-

views updated

Reeder, Carolyn 1937-

PERSONAL: Born November 16, 1937, in Washington, DC; daughter of Raymond and Pauline Owens; married Jack Reeder; children: David, Linda. Education: American University, B.A., M.Ed. Hobbies and other interests: Bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, table tennis, reading, gardening.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—P.O. Box 419, Washington, VA 22747. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer; former elementary school teacher and reading specialist.

AWARDS, HONORS: Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction, Scott O'Dell Foundation, 1989; Child Study Children's Book Committee Award, Bank Street College, 1989; notable children's book designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1989, Jefferson Cup Award, Virginia Library Association, 1990, notable book designation, National Council of Teachers of English, 1990, and Jane Addams Children's Book Award/Honor Book, Jane Addams Peace Institution, 1990, all for Shades of Grey; Pick of the Lists citation, American Booksellers Association, 1991, for Grandpa's Mountain; Joan G. Sugarman Award, Washington Independent Writers Legal and Educational Fund, 1993, and Hedda Seisler Mason Honor Book Award, 1995, both for Moonshiner's Son; Books for the Teenage citation, New York Public Library, 1997, for Across the Lines; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies citation, 1999, for Foster's War; Books for the Teen Age citation, 2004, for Before the Creeks Ran Red.



Shenandoah Heritage: The Story of the People before the Park, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Vienna, VA), 1978.

Shenandoah Vestiges: What the Mountain People Left Behind, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Vienna, VA), 1980.

Shenandoah Secrets: The Story of the Park's Hidden Past, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Vienna, VA), 1991.


Shades of Grey, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1989.

Grandpa's Mountain, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1991.

Moonshiner's Son, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.

Across the Lines, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1997.

Foster's War, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Captain Kate, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Before the Creeks Ran Red, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

The Secret Project Notebook, Los Alamos Historical Society (Los Alamos, NM), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Carolyn Reeder is a former teacher who now writes historical fiction for young people, but her first books were adult nonfiction written with her husband and grew from their time spent hiking and camping with their children in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. During these hikes, they came across burned cabins and remnants of families who had once lived there. When they inquired about the history of the area that now includes the Shenandoah National Park, they learned that in building the park, the government's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) destroyed the properties of families who refused to leave. Reeder and her husband wrote a trio of books for adults based on their findings about Shenandoah.

Reeder then began to write for children, beginning with her multi-award-winning Shades of Grey, the story of Will Page, a twelve-year-old who has lost his family during the Civil War and who moves to the piedmont to live on the farm of an uncle who refused to fight for the Confederacy. In Grandpa's Mountain eleven-year-old Carrie arrives at her grandparents' home in the Virginia Blue Ridge to discover that her summer refuge is threatened by the government's decision to buy mountain land to create a new national park. In Moonshiner's Son, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains during Prohibition, Tom is the son of a moonshiner who is also a pillar of the community and a wonderful storyteller. When a preacher arrives with sermons about the evils of drink, Tom tries to justify his father's tradition to Amy, the preacher's daughter.

The protagonists of Across the Lines are Edward, whose family's Virginia plantation is taken over by the Yankees, and Simon, his slave and best friend. It is a story told from both points of view during their time together and apart. Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan praised the novel for its portrayals of race relations and the war, noting that it contains "believable characters and an eventful plot."

Reeder's next novel for children, Foster's War, is set in San Diego in the early months of World War II. Eleven-year-old Foster's older brother had already joined the army to escape their tyrannical father, and now he is sent overseas and goes missing in action. This is also a story of racism, in this case against the Japanese, and is demonstrated when Foster's best friend is placed in an internment camp. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the story "unveils a bit of the dark side of the nation's patriotic fervor."

Captain Kate is the story of a strong-willed girl who helped her parents haul coal to Washington, DC. When her father dies, her mother remarries, to a man with children. When her mother decides to rent out the boat rather than pilot it themselves, Kate enlists her stepbrother, Seth, to make the trip with her, a journey that presents them with many challenges and dangers. Before the Creeks Ran Red consists of three stories, each featuring a young man who is touched by the Civil War. Timothy is a Union bugler stationed at Fort Sumter, Joseph is a Union supporter in Baltimore whose beliefs threaten his life, and Gregory lives in Virginia with his family that is divided in their loyalties.

Reeder's The Secret Project Notebook is set during the World War II era. Seventh-graders Fritz and Kathy live in a small southwestern town that harbors a secret, one that is connected to the work of their scientist fathers. In this town, which is not identified by name or on any map, they threaten to breach security when they take steps to discover what the military is concealing. As with many of her other books, Reeder offers teaching aids at her Web site to accompany this story.



Children's Literature Review, Volume 69, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Booklist, April 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Across the Lines, p. 1331; February 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Foster's War, p. 919; January 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Captain Kate, p. 857; February 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Before the Creeks Ran Red, p. 1065.

Horn Book, September-October, 1993, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Moonshiner's Son, p. 601.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Before the Creeks Ran Red, p. 1700.

Public Interest, fall, 1998, Diana West, review of Across the Lines, p. 125.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1993, review of Moonshiner's Son, p. 88; February 9, 1998, review of Foster's War, p. 96; January 4, 1999, review of Captain Kate, p. 90; November 13, 2000, review of Foster's War, p. 106.

School Library Journal, March, 1998, Bruce Anne Shook, review of Foster's War, p. 216; February, 2003, Starr E. Smith, review of Before the Creeks Ran Red, p. 147.

Washington Post, June 23, 2004, review of Captain Kate, p. C16.


Carolyn Reeder Home Page, (February 10, 2006).

Children's Book Guild of Washington, DC Web site, (March 20, 2006)., (February 10, 2006), Virginia Johnson, "Carolyn Reeder: From Reeder to Writer."