Scott, Elaine 1940-
SCOTT, Elaine 1940-
PERSONAL: Born June 20, 1940, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of George Jobling (a banker) and Ethel (Smith) Watts; married Parker Scott (a geophysical engineer), May 16, 1959; children: Cynthia Ellen, Susan Elizabeth. Education: Attended Southern Methodist University, 1957-59, and Southern Methodist University and University of Houston, 1979-81. Politics: Independent. Religion: Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, travel, reading, teaching, learning new things.
CAREER: Writer, 1975—. Teacher of leadership workshops for Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, 1978; teacher of writing workshops at Southwest Writer's Conference, Houston, TX, 1979, and at Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, 1980. Volunteer teacher of leadership workshops at United Methodist Church, Houston, 1959-77; volunteer publicity director for Camp Fire Girls of America, 1973-74. Board member and chair of committee on international adoptions, Homes of St. Mark (a private nonprofit adoption agency), Houston, TX. Board member, teacher of adults, Chapelwood United Methodist Church, Houston, TX, 1975—.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
AWARDS, HONORS: Parenting Magazine Reading Magic Award and American Library Association Notable Book citation, both for Ramona: Behind the Scenes of a Television Show; School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editor's Choice, and Voice of Youth Advocates Nonfiction Honor List, all 1995, and Choice Children's Literature Choices List, 1996, all for Adventure in Space: The Flight to Fix the Hubble; American Institute of Physics Award and Outstanding Science Trade Book, National Science Teachers Association, both 1999, both for Close Encounters: Exploring the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope; one of thirteen featured authors in "Laura Bush Celebrates America's Authors," part of the extended Inaugural Activities on January 19, 2001; featured author at the 2002 West Texas Book and Author Festival in Abilene, TX.
Adoption, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1980.
The Banking Book, illustrated by Kathie Abrams, Warne (New York, NY), 1981.
Doodlebugging: The Treasure Hunt for Oil, Warne (New York, NY), 1982.
Oil!: Getting It, Shipping It, Selling It, Warne (New York, NY), 1984.
Stocks and Bonds, Profits and Losses, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1985.
Ramona: Behind the Scenes of a Television Show, Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.
Kidnapped: Could It Happen to You?, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1988.
Safe in the Spotlight: The Dawn Animal Agency and the Sanctuary for Animals, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.
Look Alive: Behind the Scenes of an Animated Film, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.
From Microchips to Movie Stars: The Making of SuperMario Brothers, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.
Funny Papers: Behind the Scenes of the Comics, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.
Adventure in Space: The Flight to Fix the Hubble, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.
Movie Magic: Behind the Scenes with Special Effects (photo essay), Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.
Twins!, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1998.
Close Encounters: Exploring the Universe with theHubble Space Telescope, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.
Friends!, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2000.
Penguins and Polar Bears: Why the Arctic andAntarctic Are Poles Apart, Viking, (New York, NY), 2004.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Choices, Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.
WORK IN PROGRESS: "An as-yet untitled YA novel based on Picasso's masterpiece of his Rose Period, The Family Saltimbanque, which hangs at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, to be published . . . by Watson-Guptill."
SIDELIGHTS: Award-winning author Elaine Scott writes nonfiction for young readers, particularly on outer space and other science topics. Among her most popular titles are Adventure in Space: The Flight to Fix the Hubble and Close Encounters: Exploring the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Adventure in Space recounts the 1993 NASA mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble had been placed in orbit around the Earth so that it could see into the universe from a vantage point above the distortions of the Earth's atmosphere. But the space telescope had not been installed correctly before launch, limiting its use, and so the 1993 mission was sent up to set things right. Scott's book details the original launch of the Hubble, its subsequent problems, the backgrounds of the astronauts involved in the repair mission, and the challenges and achievements of the mission itself. Carolyn Phelan in Booklist explained that Adventure in Space offered "children a rare look behind the scenes at NASA" and was "an excellent presentation of the mission." The book has won several awards, including a place on the Voice of Youth Advocates Nonfiction Honor List.
Close Encounters is a companion volume to Adventure in Space, this time detailing the accomplishments of the repaired Hubble Space Telescope. With its powerful telescope and unobstructed view of space, the Hubble has been able to provide astronomers with the clearest photographs of distant stars and planets ever seen before. A Horn Book reviewer noted that Scott "explains what is being learned from the spectacular photographs." She particularly explains how the space telescope has enabled scientists to better examine such things as the birth of stars, black holes, and planet formation. "Scott's comparisons and examples make highly complex information easier to understand," according to Karen Hutt in Booklist.
In January of 2001, Scott participated in "Laura Bush Celebrates America's Authors," part of the inaugural festivities surrounding the new president, George W. Bush. As a participant, Scott met with the First Lady and the President, had a luncheon with the other invited authors, and spent time in a local Washington, D.C., elementary school reading from her books and talking with the children. Scott told Cynthia Leitich Smith in an interview posted at the Children's Literature Resources Web site: "I was deeply honored to be part of the Inaugural Activities that Mrs. Bush sponsored. In addition to enjoying a weekend full of heart-thumping patriotism, it was wonderful to know that our First Lady is a woman who is deeply committed to children, books, and literacy. The thirteen children's authors who were part of the program spent an afternoon visiting Washington, D.C., public schools, and I left with hope in my heart. Though poor, and with few resources, the teachers in those schools were full of determination that their children succeed, and the children were full of the belief that they could do so." In an article posted at her own Web site, Scott concluded that the inaugural event was "one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had."
Scott once told CA that she first considered a career as an author at the age of ten: "Our teacher decided on a dreary, early March afternoon that the entire class would write a poem during recess instead of sliding around the frozen turf of the school yard. Along with the rest of the class, I agonized as I stared at the blank piece of paper that lay in front of me on the desk. What to write about? What did I have to say about anything? Any writer, no matter how young, writes about what he knows, and I was no exception. That very morning as I left for school, I noticed the sorry state of the snowman I had built the week before. The thirty-two-degrees-plus temperature was playing havoc with his physique, pulling him steadily toward his demise, so I wrote my poem called 'A Tale of Woe' about three snowmen whose fate it was to melt with the coming of spring. I got an 'A' for my efforts and that grade thrilled me, but not nearly as much as the thrill I received when I heard that my teacher had entered my poem in a state-wide contest in Pennsylvania, and it won second prize." Her creative writing career was put on hold when her family moved to Texas a few months later, "and for the next twenty-five years I wrote nothing creative other than term papers and letters home," Scott related. "I never really thought about writing for children until I went to the Southwest Writer's Conference at the University of Houston. Because of a lull in my schedule, I dropped into a workshop on writing nonfiction for children. As I listened to an editor speak about the need for good philosophical books for children, the idea for my bookAdoption began to form in my subconscious. By the end of the day, the idea had forced itself into my conscious thought and was no longer merely an idea, but a tangible form—a rough outline of the book. It was published in 1980 by Franklin Watts, and I have continued to write for children ever since.
"As I think about the books I have written up to now, I realize I haven't traveled too far from the child of ten who wrote about her melting snowmen. I still write about subjects I know and care about. I believe that without caring (and caring can mean hating, as well as loving) about his subject, the writer is in real danger of becoming nothing but a flesh and blood word processor—spitting out facts and nothing more. I think a writer should share himself, as well as his information, with his reader. . . . For me that is the essence of writing—it's really a dialogue between me and my reader. I am grateful for the reader, and out of that gratitude comes a willingness to share myself and my experience of life with him."
More recently, Scott told CA: "I . . . remember the tremendous influence of my favorite teacher, who taught me for both fifth and sixth grade. His name is Paul Wilson, from Abington, PA. I was recently reunited with him, and I cannot describe the joy of being able to thank him in person for all he did for a nine-and ten-year-old girl so long ago.
"My writing process is somewhat prosaic. Ideas come first, followed by my research, followed by the process itself. I write, and rewrite, and rewrite! I often say that I love the time between sending a manuscript off to the editor and waiting for his or her notes to be returned, the best. It's a nice limbo period between the writing and the rewriting. Truthfully, I love rewriting and polishing.
"I'm tempted to use the old cliché about books being a writer's children, and that is true. However, some books demand more of your attention than others. The new YA novel about Picasso's painting of the Saltimbanques was a grand adventure to research, and I loved doing it. And I loved the research for Penguins and Polar Bears too. Doing research is like going on a treasure hunt. You never know what gems you will find.
"I hope my books will cause readers to pause and think, wonder, question. I frequently get responses like, 'I didn't know that!' Hooray! That's exactly what I wanted to hear."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of Adventure in Space: The Flight to Fix the Hubble, p. 1879; February 15, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Movie Magic: Behind the Scenes with Special Effects, p. 1018; October 15, 1996, Jeanette Larson, review of audiocassette edition of Adventure in Space, p. 445; August, 1997, Barbara Baskin, review of audiocassette edition of Safe in the Spotlight: The Dawn Animal Agency and the Sanctuary for Animals, p. 1920; May 15, 1998, Karen Hutt, review of Close Encounters: Exploring the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope, p. 1625, and Carolyn Phelan, review of Twins!, p. 1628; May 15, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Friends!, p. 1746.
Horn Book, July-August, 1998, Margaret A. Bush, review of Close Encounters, p. 516.
Houston Chronicle, November 30, 1980; January 8, 1981.
Profile, August, 1982.
Publishers Weekly, June 15, 1992, review of LookAlive: Behind the Scenes of an Animated Film, p. 105; May 22, 2000, review of Friends!, p. 92.
School Library Journal, May, 2000, Susan Hepler, review of Friends!, p. 164.
Texas Association for Childhood Education News, fall, 1981.
Elaine Scott's Home Page,http://www.elainescott.com/ (April 14, 2003).