Rosen, Michael J(oel) 1954-

views updated

ROSEN, Michael J(oel) 1954-

PERSONAL: Born September 20, 1954, in Columbus, OH; son of Marvin and Nona Rosen. Education: Attended Kent State University, 1972-73; Ohio State University, B.S., 1976, graduate study, 1976-77; attended St. George's School of Medicine (Grenada), 1978; Columbia University, M.F.A., 1981.

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 35, Glenford, OH 43739. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Ohio State University, Columbus, instructor, 1978-84, lecturer, 1983 and 1985; freelance illustrator and designer, 1981—; Thurber House, Columbus, OH, literary director, 1983—. Youth services director, program coordinator, and administrator of children's services for Leo Yassenoff Jewish Center, 1973-78; assistant at Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 1977-79; design consultant to Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts, 1982—; has taught in the Ohio Art Council Poetry-in-the-Schools Program and Greater Columbus Arts Council Artist-in-the-Schools Program; has conducted over 500 young authors' conferences, in-service days, writing workshops, guest author days, and residencies (for elementary, middle school, and high school students and teachers), as well as giving readings from his works. Member of board of directors, Share Our Strength, Washington, DC (national organization).

AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow of Ohio Arts Council (in poetry) 1981, 1985, and 1987, (in criticism), 1987; Ingram Merrill fellow (in poetry), 1982-83 and 1989; National Endowment for the Arts, fellow, 1984; Gustav Davidson Award from Poetry Society of America, 1984, for "The Map of Emotions"; Ohioana Library Award in poetry and Ohio Poetry Day Award, both 1985, for A Drink at the Mirage; grant from Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts, 1988 and 1989; National Jewish Book Award, 1993, and Living the Dream Award, 1994, both for Elijah's Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas; Dog Writers of America Maxwell Medallion, 1994, for Kids' Best Dog Book; Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance Once Upon a World 1996 Book Award, for A School for Pompey Walker; Alice Wood Memorial Career Award for Children's Literature, Ohioana Library, 1997; Ohioana Library Award, Juvenile Literature, 1998, for The Heart Is Big Enough; Ohio Arts Council Artist Exchange Sabbatical to Israel, 1998; Elizabeth Matchett Stover Memorial Award, Southwest Review, for Best Poem of 1999.


A Drink at the Mirage (poetry), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1985.

(Self-illustrated) Fifty Odd Jobs: A Wild and Whacky Rhyming Guide to One-of-a-Kind Careers (poetry; for children), Willowisp Press, 1988.

(Self-illustrated) The Kid's Book of Fishing (for children), Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1991.

Elijah's Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas (for children), illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1992.

Kids' Best Dog Book, Workman Publishing, 1993.

All Eyes on the Pond (poetry; for children), illustrated by Tom Leonard, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1994.

The Greatest Table (poetry; for children), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.

Bonesy and Isabel (picture book), illustrated by James Ransome, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.

A School for Pompey Walker, illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.

(Self-illustrated) Kid's Best Field Guide to Neighborhood Dogs, Workman (New York, NY), 1993.

Fishing with Dad (picture book), illustrated by Will Shively, Artisan, 1996.

Traveling in Notions: The Stories of Gordon Penn (poetry), University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1996.

Telling Things, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.

The Heart Is Big Enough: Five Stories, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.

The Dog Who Walked with God (picture book), illustrated by Stan Fellows, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

(With others) Down to Earth: Garden Secrets! Garden Stories! Garden Projects You Can Do, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Avalanche (picture book), illustrated by David Butler, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah (picture book), illustrated by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.

(Self-illustrated) The Blessing of the Animals, Farrar Straus Giroux (New York, NY), 2000.

With a Dog like That, a Kid like Me . . . (picture book), illustrated by Ted Rand, Dial (New York, NY), 2000.

Chanukah Lights Everywhere (picture book), illustrated by Melissa Iwai, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.

(With Sharon Reiss) Midnight Snacks: 150 Easy and Enticing Alternatives to Standing by the Freezer Eating Ice Cream with a Spoon, Broadway (New York, NY), 2002.

ChaseR: A Novel in E-mails, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Cooking from the Heart: One Hundred Great American Chefs Share Recipes They Cherish, Broadway (New York, NY), 2003.

Baking from the Heart: The Nation's Best Bakers Share Recipes They Cherish for the Great American Bake Sale, Broadway (New York, NY), 2004.

Just a Minute (for children), Workman (New York, NY), 2004.


Collecting Himself: James Thurber on Writing and Writers, Humor, and Himself, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1989, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

(And author of foreword and afterword) The Company of Dogs: Twenty-one Stories by Contemporary Masters, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.

Home (writings and drawings by contemporary children's authors), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

(And author of preface) The Company of Cats: Twenty Stories of Family Cats, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.

(And author of foreword) The Company of Animals: Kid's Best Field Guide to Neighborhood Dogs Stories of Animal Encounters, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.

(And author of preface) Speak! Children's Book Illustrators Brag about Their Dogs (for children), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1993.

(And author of introduction) People Have More Fun Than Anybody: A James Thurber Centennial Collection, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.

Dog People: Writers and Artists on Canine Companionship, Artisan (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor and illustrator) Food Fight: Poets Join the Fight against Hunger with Poems about Their Favorite Foods, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996.

Purr . . . Children's Book Illustrators Brag about Their Cats (for children), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996.

(With others) Down to Earth, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Horse People: Writers and Artists on the Horses They

Love, Artisan (New York, NY), 1998.

My Bug: For Everyone Who Owned, Loved, or Shared a VW Beetle—True Tales of the Car That Defined a Generation, Artisan (New York, NY), 1999.

Twenty-first Century Dog: A Visionary Compendium, Stewart, Tabori and Chang (New York, NY), 2000.

Mirth of a Nation: Best Contemporary Humor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

The Dog Department: James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties, and Talking Poodles, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

More Mirth of a Nation, Perennial, 2002.

101 Damnations: The Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2002.

May Contain Nuts: Mirth of a Nation's Loose Canon of American Humor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.


Work represented in anthologies, including Literature: Options for Reading and Writing, edited by Donald Daiker, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1984; A Place of Sense: Eight Essays in Search of the Midwest, edited by Michael Martone, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1988; The Direction of Poetry, edited by Robert Richman, Houghton (Burlington, MA), 1988; Louder Than Words, edited by William Shore, Vintage (St. Paul, MN), 1990; Townships, edited by Michael Martone, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1992; The Best Poems of 1994, edited by David Lehman, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995; Dog Music, edited by Duemer and Simmerman, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1996; The World's Children and Their Companion Animals: Developmental and Educational Significance of the Child/Pet Bond, edited by Mary Jalongo, ACEI Publications (New York, NY), 1996; When I Was Your Age, volume 2, edited by Amy Ehrlich, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1999; The Color of Absence, edited by James Howe, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2001; and Dog Is My Co-pilot, edited by the editors of the Bark, Crown (New York, NY), 2003. Contributor of poetry, fiction, reviews and articles to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Bloomsbury Review, Boston Review, Confrontation, Epoch, High Plains Literary Review, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review, Nation, New Criterion, New York Times Book Review, New Yorker, Paris Review, Poet and Critic, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, and Yale Review. Associate poetry editor, 1987-89, poetry editor, 1990—, High Plains Literary Review. Contributor of illustrations to magazines, including Gourmet and New Yorker. Humor editor, Emmis Press, 2003—. Contributing editor, Bark, 2001—.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael J. Rosen has written successfully in many different fields, including children's books, humor, cookbooks, poetry, and religion. As literary director of the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, for nearly twenty years, Rosen has also edited a number of collections containing the stories and essays of noted American humorist James Thurber.

Speaking of Rosen's children's books, an essayist for the St. James Guide to Children's Writers stated: "Rosen's work has contributed to the field of children's literature in many ways. The use of a variety of artistic forms selectively chosen to carry significant ideas provides rich reading experiences and fine examples of the art of writing. His inclusion of a diversity of people interacting in natural contexts provides authentic stories of the similarities and differences that connect people to each other. Finally, by providing stories and illustrations on topics of interest to many, readers can add their own stories and contemplate the value of each situation for them individually."

In the books Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah and The Blessing of the Animals, Rosen deals with religious themes for a young audience. Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah chronicles the activities of one particular Jewish family as they celebrate the holiday. Among their activities is delivering presents to the local homeless shelter, visiting Jewish relatives and non-Jewish friends, and celebrating at the synagogue. Emphasizing the diversity of cultures who celebrate the holiday, and showing how neighbors of differing backgrounds can get along despite their differences, the book is "as friendly as it is politically correct," according to the critic for Publishers Weekly. Ilene Cooper of Booklist found that "those eight nights are so warm and encompassing that many readers will want to adapt some of the narrator's traditions as their own."

The Blessing of the Animals finds young Jared, who is Jewish, wishing to bring his pet dog, Shayna, to the local Catholic church's St. Francis Festival, which includes a blessing of the animals. But his mother opposes the idea; she suggests that he ask advice from more experienced people on whether he should take the dog to a Christian church. Among those consulted are a Catholic priest, Jared's great-grandfather, a Sunday school teacher, and two rabbis. "Jewish youngsters living in predominantly non-Jewish neighborhoods are constantly confronted with such dilemmas," noted Ellen Mandel in Booklist.

Rosen deals with culture shock, including issues of hunting, in his novel ChaseR: A Novel in E-mails, the story of a boy from Columbus, Ohio, whose family moves to the country. Told in a series of e-mails sent by Chase to his older sister in college and to his friends back in Columbus, the story follows Chase's initial frustration with rural life to his eventual protest against the locals who hunt wild animals. After taking secret actions to foil the hunters, he comes to realize that there are two sides to the issue. Chase's "journey is compelling, and brings up questions that readers will be eager to explore along with him," wrote Elizabeth Fernandez in the School Library Journal. Gillian Engberg, in Booklist, found Chase's comments to be "funny, rambling messages." Peter D. Sieruta, writing in Horn Book, admitted that "the likable narrator's wry voice remains engaging throughout."

Animals also figure into the Rosen-edited collection The Dog Department: James Thurber on Hounds, Scotties, and Talking Poodles, a gathering of humorist Thurber's essays and cartoons on the subject of dogs. Thurber was a dog enthusiast who often featured canines in his work. Ellen Emry Heltzel, reviewing the title in the St. Petersburg Times, noted that "Some of the humor in this attractive compendium . . . may seem a bit dated. But that's part of its charm: Thurber, after all, was a product of the first and more leisurely half of the twentieth century."

Rosen has used the proceeds from many of his edited anthologies to benefit charities. Profits from seven anthologies he has edited are donated to benefit the Company of Animals Fund, which Rosen established in 1990 to offer grants to animal welfare agencies nationwide. Profits from four of his children's books and his two cookbooks featuring recipes from distinguished chefs benefit Share Our Strength, which benefits anti-hunger agencies in the nation and abroad.

Rosen once told CA: "In the last fifteen years, I've been engaged by ways in which an individual can contribute to significant social issues beyond the financial and political channels—that is, beyond donations and activism. I am, of course, grateful to those individuals who have the resources and strengths to perform those valuable roles. But beyond those, I've been looking for other kinds of confidence and moral commitment. My anthologies created ways that individuals could contribute their talent and their good names to urgent and chronic social problems. Such collections of well-known authors provide volumes that garner not only funds but genuine media attention. It has been an enormous honor to precipitate such collections and a concomitant reward to know that these generated funds offer such lasting benefits. Rather than imagine this a unique design, I hope that such collective philanthropy becomes a perennial enterprise in publishing."



How to Write Funny, F & W Books, 2001.

Kaye, Catherine Berger, The Complete Guide toService Learning, Free Spirit Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Booklinks, January, 1997, "Interview with Leonard Kniffel."

Booklist, September 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah, p. 135; November 1, 2000, Ellen Mandel, review of The Blessing of the Animals, p. 541; March 1, 2001, Kathleen Hughes, review of The Dog Department, p. 1219; September 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Chanukah Lights Everywhere, p. 122; June 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of ChaseR: A Novel in E-mails, p. 1708; November 1, 2002, James Klise, review of More Mirth of a Nation, p. 469.

Dallas Morning News, August 28, 2002, Mike Maza, review of 101 Damnations.

Horn Book, November, 1993, "National Jewish Book Award Acceptance Speech by Michael Rosen," pp. 714-716; May-June, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of ChaseR, p. 337.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of ChanukahLights Everywhere, p. 1432.

Library Journal, July, 2002, Kathy Ingles Helmand, review of 101 Damnations, p. 80; September 15, 2002, Judith Sutton, review of Midnight Snacks: 150 Easy and Enticing Alternatives to Standing by the Freezer Eating Ice Cream with a Spoon, p. 86.

New York Times Book Review, December 13, 1992, Ari L. Goldman, review of Elijah's Angel, p. 35.

Ohio Journal of the English Language Arts, winter, 1998, "Interview with Connie Zitlow and Tobie Sanders."

Plays, December, 2001, review of Chanukah LightsEverywhere, p. 66.

Publishers Weekly, September 25, 2000, reviews of Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah, p. 66, and The Blessing of the Animals, p. 113; September 24, 2001, review of Chanukah Lights Everywhere, p. 48; February 11, 2002, review of ChaseR, p. 188; June 17, 2002, "Funny Business," p. 56.

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL), July 22, 2001, Ellen Emry Heltzel, review of The Dog Department, p. 4D.

San Jose Mercury News, December 26, 1992, Richard Scheinin, "Interview: An Artful Bridge Uniting Faiths and Generations."

School Library Journal, April, 1995, Marcia Hupp, review of The Greatest Table, p. 128; October, 2000, review of Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah, p. 65; October, 2001, review of Chanukah Lights Everywhere, p. 68; May, 2002, review of ChaseR, p. 160.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), November 17, 2002, Robert Armstrong, review of More Mirth of a Nation, p. 19F.

Times (London, England), April 28, 2002, Howard Jacobson, review of Collecting Himself: James Thurber on Writing and Writers, Humor, and Himself, p. 40.


Michael J. Rosen's Home Page, (April 17, 2003), "A Message from Michael," "An Interview with Michael on 'How to Write Funny.'"

Ohio Authors and Illustrators for Young People Web site, (April 17, 2003).