Seuling, Barbara 1937-
Seuling, Barbara 1937-
SEULING, Barbara 1937-
(Carrie Austin; Bob Winn, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Surname pronounced "Soo-ling"; born July 22, 1937, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Kaspar Joseph (a postman) and Helen Veronica (a homemaker; maiden name, Gadie) Seuling. Education: Attended Hunter College (now Hunter College of the City University of New York), 1955-57, Columbia University, 1957-59, School of Visual Arts, and New School for Social Research; also studied art and illustration privately. Hobbies and other interests: Movies, travel, reading, music.
CAREER: Freelance writer and illustrator, 1968—. Has worked for an investment firm, for Columbia University, and at the General Electric Co. exhibit at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Dell Publishing Co., New York, NY, children's book editor, 1965-71; J. B. Lippincott Co., New York, NY, children's book editor, 1971-73. The Manuscript Workshop, Landgrove, VT, director, 1982—. Lecturer, teacher, and consultant on children's books and writing for children. Served as a consultant to the New York Foundling Hospital.
MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (board of directors).
AWARDS, HONORS: Award from American Institute of Graphic Arts, 1979, for The Teeny Tiny Woman: An Old English Ghost Story; Christopher Award, 1979, for The New York Kid's Book; first place, Harold Marshall Solstad Prize, Cameron University Children's Short Story Competition, 1982.
"FREAKY FACTS" SERIES
Freaky Facts, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1972.
More Freaky Facts, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1973.
The Last Legal Spitball and Other Little-Known Facts about Sports, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.
You Can't Eat Peanuts in Church and Other Little-Known Laws, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.
The Loudest Screen Kiss and Other Little-Known Facts about the Movies, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1976.
The Last Cow on the White House Lawn and Other Little-Known Facts about the Presidency, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.
You Can't Count a Billion Dollars and Other Little-Known Facts about Money, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.
You Can't Show Kids in Underwear and Other Little-Known Facts about Television, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1982.
Elephants Can't Jump and Other Freaky Facts about Animals, Dutton/Lodestar (New York, NY), 1985.
You Can't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open and Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, Dutton/Lodestar (New York, NY), 1986.
The Man in the Moon Is Upside Down in Argentina and Other Freaky Facts about Geography, Ivy Books/Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.
Too Cold to Hatch a Dinosaur and Other Freaky Facts about Weather, Ivy Books/Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.
Abracadabra!: Creating Your Own Magic Show from Beginning to End, Messner (New York, NY), 1975.
(Editor and contributor) The New York Kid's Book, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.
Stay Safe, Play Safe: A Book about Safety Rules, illustrated by Kathy Allert, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1985.
(With Winnette Glasgow) Fun Facts about People around the World, illustrated by Leslie Connor, Xerox Education Publications (New York, NY), 1986.
It Is Illegal to Quack Like a Duck and Other Little-Known Laws, illustrated by Gwenn Seuling, Weekly Reader Books (Middletown, CT), 1987, published as It Is Illegal to Quack Like a Duck and Other Freaky Laws, Dutton/Lodestar (New York, NY), 1988.
Natural Disasters, Kidsbooks (Chicago, IL), 1994.
Bugs That Go Blam! And Other Creepy Crawly Trivia, Willowisp (Worthington, OH), 1995.
To Be a Writer: A Guide for Young People Who Want to Write and Publish, Twenty-First Century Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Where Do Ducks Go?, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Drip! Drop!: How Water Gets to Your Tap, illustrated by Nancy Tobin, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.
From Head to Toe: The Amazing Human Body and How It Works, illustrated by Edward Miller, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2002.
Flick a Switch: How Electricity Gets to Your Home, illustrated by Nancy Tobin, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2003.
PUZZLE AND ACTIVITY BOOKS
Monster Mix, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1975.
Monster Madness, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1976.
(With Winnette Glasgow) Fun with Crafts, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1976.
Dinosaur Puzzles, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1976.
Did You Know?, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1977.
Monster Puzzles, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1978.
(With Winnette Glasgow; under joint pseudonym Bob Winn), Christmas Puzzles, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1980.
Valentine Puzzles, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1980.
Space Monster Puzzles, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1980.
Goblins and Ghosts, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1980.
Scary Hairy Fun Book, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1981.
My Secrets, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1984.
(Reteller) The Teeny Tiny Woman: An Old English Ghost Tale, Viking (New York, NY), 1976.
The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant, Crown (New York, NY), 1977.
The Triplets, Houghton Mifflin/Clarion (Boston, MA), 1980.
Just Me, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1982.
What Kind of Family Is This? A Book about Stepfamilies, illustrated by Ellen Dolce, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1985.
I'm Not So Different: A Book about Handicaps, illustrated by Pat Schories, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Who's the Boss Here?: A Book about Parental Authority, illustrated by Eugenie, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Boo the Ghost Has a Party, Xerox Educational Publications (Middletown, CT), 1986.
Boo the Ghost and the Robbers, Xerox Educational Publications (Middletown, CT), 1987.
Boo the Ghost and the Magic Hat, Xerox Education Publications (Middletown, CT), 1988.
(Under pseudonym Carrie Austin) Julie's Boy Problem ("Party Line" series), Berkeley (New York, NY), 1990.
(Under pseudonym Carrie Austin) Allie's Wild Surprise ("Party Line" series), Berkeley (New York, NY), 1990.
Winter Lullaby, illustrated by Greg Newbold, Browndeer Press (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Spring Song, illustrated by Greg Newbold, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Whose House?, illustrated by Kay Chorao, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2004.
"ROBERT" SERIES; ILLUSTRATED BY PAUL BREWER
Oh No, It's Robert, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 1999.
Robert and the Attack of the Giant Tarantula, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.
Robert and the Great Pepperoni, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.
Robert and the Weird and Wacky Facts, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.
Robert and the Back-to-School Special, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.
Robert and the Lemming Problem, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Robert and the Three Wishes, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Robert and the Great Escape, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Robert and the Terrible Secret, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2004.
How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published, Scribner (New York, NY), 1984, revised and expanded edition, 1991.
Wilma Thompson, That Barbara!, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1969.
Nan Hayden Agle, Tarr of Belway Smith, Seabury Press (New York, NY), 1969.
Stella Pevsner, Break a Leg!, Crown (New York, NY), 1969.
Antonia Barber, The Affair of the Rockerbye Baby, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1970.
Stella Pevsner, Footsteps on the Stairs, Crown (New York, NY), 1970.
Moses L. Howard, The Ostrich Chase, Holt (New York, NY), 1974.
Melinda Green, Bembelman's Bakery, Parents' Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1978.
Contributor to books and periodicals for and about children, including Cricket, Ladybug, and Once upon a Time.
SIDELIGHTS: The author and illustrator of fiction, nonfiction, and picture books for young readers and the illustrator of works by such writers as Stella Pevsner and Antonia Barber, Barbara Seuling is well known for her "Freaky Facts" books, as well as for her "Robert" series about an elementary school boy and his humorous escapades in the classroom. The informational "Freaky Facts" books, organized thematically, provide middle graders with little-known facts, myths, and legends on such subjects as sports, law, money, television, geography, the weather, the human body, and the presidency. Reflecting the author's fascination with her subjects, the "Freaky Fact" books are generally considered both edifying and entertaining.
Seuling is also the author of individual volumes of middle-grade nonfiction on such topics as natural disasters, safety, and creating a magic show. In addition, she has written books on the art of writing and being published and has edited a popular guide to New York City for children. As the creator of picture books for preschoolers and early readers, Seuling is the author and illustrator of a well-received retelling of an English folktale; works that address such topics as friendship and individuality; and three stories about Boo, a ghost. For older children, she has written bibliotherapy titles on being handicapped, adjusting to a new step-family, and establishing personal independence with parents as well as two stories for middle graders published under the pseudonym of Carrie Austin. Seuling is also the creator of activity books on some of children's favorite subjects, such as monsters, ghosts, dinosaurs, crafts, and holidays.
"My early years," Seuling wrote in her essay in Something about the Author Autobiography Series (SAAS), "were the part of my childhood that left the deepest impression, and it is where I feel most connected." Born and raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York, Seuling was the middle child and only girl in her family, which also includes two brothers. Her parents, Kaspar and Helen Seuling, were influential figures in Barbara's decision to create books for children. "My mother," Seuling said in SAAS, "passed on to me her love of reading, of fairy tales and mythology and stories in general. . . . While my mother filled my head with a love of books, it was my father who fostered the magic and wonder in our childhood, especially around the holidays." Her father, Seuling recalled in SAAS, "had a unique, witty [writing] style. I like to think I inherited some of my feeling for writing from him."
Growing up in the richly varied area of Bensonhurst, Seuling absorbed neighborhood life as well as the stories passed on by members of her family. "I didn't know then, of course," she recalled in SAAS, "that I was collecting details—the colors, the sounds, the language, the sights, the emotions, of my world—and that I would later use them as a writer and artist." She was also greatly influenced by the popular culture of the time: radio shows like "Gangbusters," "The Green Hornet," and "Inner Sanctum"; the comics; and movies, which, Seuling wrote in SAAS, "left a great impression on me, and it's no wonder that one of my freaky fact books—The Loudest Screen Kiss and Other Little-Known Movie Facts—is about them."
While Seuling was developing her love of story, she was also establishing her talent as an artist. "I showed talent for drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil," she recalled in SAAS. "For a long time, my talent for drawing became an important part of my identity. My family was close, but never showed affection openly. The praise and encouragement I received through my drawing, however, seemed to make up for that, giving me a sense of importance. All through my school years, my skill in drawing served as a kind of reminder to an otherwise not-very-confident youngster that I was really good at something." In addition to her interest in art, Seuling was developing a love of nature, fostered by the summers she spent outside of New York City. "These summers," she wrote, "instilled in me a deep love of the country and of space and time to explore and discover the natural world. They balanced my view so that I did not grow up thinking city life was the only life."
In grade school, Seuling was, she recalled, a "good student, if rather passive." In junior high, she experienced some difficulties, both social and academic—"I just wasn't ready for all the changes in my life, physical and social, happening all at once." However, she made some friends and learned to cope with her problem subjects, science and algebra. In addition, she was voted wittiest in her class, claiming, she once told CA, "I've been clowning around ever since." In the summer between junior high and high school, Seuling went to Indiana to live with one of her cousins, an experience that she feels helped her to gain self-confidence. "My trip to Indiana—seeing a slice of another way of life," she recalled, "set off something inside of me. . . . I didn't know what I wanted, but it seemed to be outside school, even outside Brooklyn. I began to question what I would do with my life, what I might accomplish. I wanted to see so much of the world, do so much, be useful." By the time Seuling reached high school, there "was certainly none of the trauma that junior high had for me," she wrote in SAAS.
At fourteen, Seuling saw the movie With a Song in My Heart, the story of singer Jane Froman, who learned to walk again after surviving a plane crash that occurred while she was traveling as part of the USO. Froman's "strength and courage," wrote Seuling, "became my model for all that a person could be." Becoming a member of the Jane Froman fan club, Seuling met Froman in person and became friends with her. "It was through Jane," Seuling wrote, "that I began writing." Becoming the assistant editor of the Froman fan club journal, she wrote and illustrated stories and edited features. "I developed my love for editing at this point," she recalled in SAAS, "and while I still didn't think of myself as a writer, I was becoming one. I was, at that time, more confident in my abilities as an artist." The editor of the fan club journal, Winnette Glasgow, has remained Seuling's lifelong friend and has collaborated with her on several works.
Seuling attended night school at Hunter College in the Bronx while working at an insurance company during the day; at nineteen, she changed jobs and schools, taking a position at Columbia University, which offered free college credits as a benefit. She took a room with a single mother in exchange for part-time child-care help. Struggling with the balance of work and school, Seuling decided to take a full-time position as the office manager of an investment company. In charge of hiring temporary help, she hired Winnette Glasgow and Nancy Garden, a budding writer who later became a successful children's author. Seuling and Garden collaborated on a tale for young readers—"a long story about a bookworm," Seuling remembers—with Garden doing the text and Seuling the pictures. When the investment company went bankrupt, Seuling found a position at Dell Publishing Company as a secretary in the adult trade department; when Dell created a new department for children's books, Seuling transferred into it. Working with editor Lee Hoffman, she began to learn about the craft of editing and about the principles of successful writing for children. Seuling then became an assistant children's book editor and also began writing her own works. Her first book, Freaky Facts, was written for the Weekly Reader Book Club and published in paperback. Freaky Facts compiles hundreds of humorous and outrageous facts on a wide range of subjects, from, Seuling wrote in SAAS, "language and hair to animal behavior and diseases." This compilation, she continued, "came from my own love of the strange and fascinating. As a child I had devoured Ripley's Believe It or Not in the Sunday funnies and later on in paperback books. . . . I knew strange and funny facts would entertain kids, and I could illustrate them humorously as well. This little book began a long trail of fact books for me that has not stopped yet."
While creating her own books, Seuling continued to work at Dell with Lee Hoffman's successor, George Nicholson. "My association with children's books and publishing," she wrote in SAAS, "only whetted my appetite for illustrating. George liked some samples of my drawings that I showed him, and he gave me a middle-grade novel to illustrate. My illustrations were mentioned in a couple of reviews, and my career as an illustrator was started." Seuling showed Nicholson, who had moved from Dell to Viking, her first ideas for a version of the English folktale "The Teeny Tiny Woman." When she had completed the book, Nicholson accepted it for publication. The Teeny Tiny Woman: An Old English Ghost Tale is a picture book version of the ghost story in which a small woman in a miniature house finds a small bone on top of a tiny grave. When she gets home, the woman puts the bone in some soup and hears a voice saying, "Give me my bone." She does not give up the bone; instead, she tells the voice to take it. Seuling illustrates the tale in soft pencil with rosy overlays and incorporates hand-lettering into her drawings. A critic in Publishers Weekly noted that this "just-for-fun ghost story . . . is embellished with exuberant pictures," while a School Library Journal reviewer called The Teeny Tiny Woman "a fine new retelling . . . [The] gentle pencil drawings soften the scare so even the most timid beginning readers will enjoy this."
Seuling based her next picture book, The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant, on her friendship with Winnette Glasgow. Seuling describes this book, which is comprised of three gentle stories illustrated in inks and watercolors that stress the affection of her title characters for each other, as "a picture storybook about two friends who are opposite personalities and who see things differently but who ultimately get along by contributing what they each do best." A contributor in Publishers Weekly said that Seuling "tells and shows with equal skill in three stories of friendship. . . . Seuling has given beginners a funny, enduring, and altogether lovely book." The Great Big Elephant has been compared to Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad" books and James Marshall's "George and Martha" series. For example, a reviewer in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books said, "This hasn't the tenderness of the Lobel stories or the humor of the Marshall books, but it's adequate, both in writing style and as a testament to the give-and-take of friendship."
Two of Seuling's picture books published in the early 1980s have personal identity as their theme. In The Triplets, sisters Pattie, Mattie, and Hattie, who have been dressed and treated alike since birth, sequester themselves in their room and refuse to emerge until they are recognized as individuals. A contributor in Kirkus Reviews noted that the book contained "an obvious problem-solution contrivance, but there is some zip in the specific examples and in the author's simple two-color cartoons," while Horn Book reviewer Kate M. Flanagan noted the "guileless text" and thought that the illustrations of the "three round-faced triplets, though identical in appearance, exhibit subtle but distinct differences in facial expressions and mannerisms." In the easy reader Just Me, Seuling depicts a little girl who, over a three-day period, imagines herself as a horse (with hooves made by blocks on her feet), a dragon (with a jump rope for a tale), and a robot (with a box for a body); finally, she decides to just be herself when her supportive mother says, "I like you best of all." Booklist reviewer Judith Goldberger said, "With this unimposing set of first-person stories, Seuling shines a true yet carefully framed mirror on the younger reader," while a reviewer in School Library Journal noted that the "blend of real life and imagination in both text and pictures will strike a chord within any child who's ever . . . been sent to his room for refusing to go against dragon nature and 'be nice.'" In the piece she wrote for SAAS, Seuling said, "Of all I have written, the work I love best is in picture books. Picture books offer the greatest challenges and bring the most satisfaction. . . . Every word must count, so I have to choose my words carefully, and to hone and polish for the best effect. This has made me a better writer in all forms, not just in picture books."
While contributing books to other genres, Seuling continues to write and illustrate her nonfiction collections of arcane information. One of the earliest "Freaky Facts" titles, You Can't Eat Peanuts in Church and Other Little-Known Laws, is a collection of obscure and offbeat laws gathered from around the United States and illustrated in cartoon-like line drawings that underscore the incongruous nature of the laws; writing in School Library Journal, Linda Kochinski called You Can't Eat Peanuts in Church "[just] the ticket for upper elementary and junior high trivia buffs." Seuling's research for The Last Cow on the White House Lawn and Other Little-Known Facts about the Presidency, a collection of facts, firsts, and unique accomplishments, took the author to the Library of Congress, where she investigated the diaries and journals of presidents from George Washington to Jimmy Carter as well as their families and staffs. Booklist reviewer Denise M. Wilms claimed, "[This] historical hodgepodge is entertaining, to say the least," while a Publishers Weekly critic said, "Trivia fans have taken to Seuling's other books. . . . They may do the same for her new collection."
In Elephants Can't Jump and Other Freaky Facts about Animals, Seuling organizes her information in eleven categories such as eating habits, dwellings, and reproduction and enhances her facts with humorous line drawings. Appraisal reviewer Althea L. Phillips wrote, "The trivia enthusiasts with an interest in animals will devour this book," while Nancy Murphy, writing in the same publication, noted that Seuling provides "a fresh outlook on some familiar bits of knowledge." School Library Journal reviewer Mavis D. Arizzi commented, "These unusual bits of information just might inspire some students to do further research into the characteristics of various animals." With You Can't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open and Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, Seuling covers, in the words of Appraisal reviewer Renee E. Blumenkrantz, "amusing and amazing facts" about the body in general, body systems and functions, the brain, birth, death, disease, medical practices, and unusual beliefs. School Library Journal reviewer Denise L. Moll said, "Like Seuling's other books . . . this one would be especially useful for book-talking or for suggesting for recreational reading." Writing in Appraisal, John R. Pancella observed, "The author is very good at this writing style."
Looking back on the "Freaky Facts" books, Seuling wrote, "I was fast becoming known for these books, and it worried me that I would be considered the Queen of Trivia instead of a bona fide writer of children's books, so I tried to steer away from them for a while. Every time I thought I had done my last freaky fact book, however, something came along to persuade me to do another one. . . . From the feed back I've received over the years . . . I'd say that these books, with their short readable bits of funny or fascinating information, have turned more than a few reluctant readers onto reading, and that pleases me enormously." Yet Seuling could not resist writing more fact books. At the turn of the millennium, she added such titles as Drip! Drop!: How Water Gets to Your Tap, From Head to Toe: The Amazing Human Body and How It Works, and Flick a Switch: How Electricity Gets to Your Home, to her roster of nonfiction treats.
Further works for younger children include the companion picture book titles Winter Lullaby and Spring Song, both illustrated by Greg Newbold. The pair celebrate the seasons through lyrical texts, using a question-and-answer format. In the first title, Seuling tells what happens as winter approaches, employing literary techniques such as "subtle alliteration and assonance as well as rhyme," which, according to Peg Solonika of School Library Journal, "work well for reading aloud." Winter Lullaby is "a picture-perfect conclusion to a frosty night," commented Booklist reviewer Ellen Mandel. Spring gets a similar treatment in Spring Song. Although "sometimes clumsy" in the view of a Publishers Weekly contributor, the text presents "a joyful introduction to the creatures of the woodland forest, mountain range, meadow, and marshland." Among the work's enthusiasts are Helen Foster of School Library Journal, who predicted that the picture "book will prompt lively discussion and conversation," and a Kirkus Reviews writer, who called Spring Song "a seasonal wake-up tune with nary a false note."
In 1999, Seuling launched her "Robert" series of easy readers, which, according Booklist's Todd Morning, are known for "a fast-moving plot, short chapters, and witty writing." Geared to readers in grades two through four, they also feature familiar characters and situations, such as the desire for a dog or for stress-free recognition from a teacher. Reviewing Robert and the Back-to-School Special, a Kirkus Reviews critic praised Seuling's command of a "tight plot and realistic situations," predicting that "young readers will identify with and root" for the young protagonist. Accompanying Seuling's humorous stories are pen-and-ink drawings by Paul Brewer, which "create satisfying visual interest," wrote Janie Schomberg in a School Library Journal review of Robert and the Great Pepperoni. Other reviewers saw much to like about the "Robert" books as well, including a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who appreciated the "familiar and comforting" and yet "goofy but believable situations" in Robert and the Weird and Wacky Facts. In her review of Robert and the Great Pepperoni for Horn Book, Betty Carter also cited Robert as a "familiar character" and praised Seuling's "tight plotting." Janice M. Del Negro, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books about Oh No, It's Robert, complimented Seuling for her "easygoing humor," "conversational style," and "light hand with her messages." So too, Kay Weisman of Booklist found this work "a perfect choice for those looking for a humorous book." With Robert and the Weird and Wacky Facts, Seuling combined her long-held penchant for interesting tidbits and her likeable Robert character when Robert tries to enter a television trivia contest. "The Robert stories are instant winners," enthused Horn Book's Betty Carter.
In addition to working as an author, illustrator, and editor, Seuling has been a teacher at the Bank Street College, the Manuscript Workshop, and the Institute for Children's Literature, among other places, and has become recognized as an authority on writing for children. She is eager to share her insight with would-be writers and in 1984 wrote How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published, which she revised and expanded in the 1991 edition. Seuling explained her love of working in the juvenile literature field in SAAS: "I still try to do it all—write, illustrate, edit, and teach—sometimes to the point of frustration, because it's what I love to do. . . . I am pleased to have devoted my life to books for children, because I believe books will help young people to grow and think and see the world in all its variety." She once said, "My purpose is different for each book I create—to share an emotional experience, show some aspect of the world a little better, or more clearly; make it easier to get through a tough or stressful situation—and yet all this must be kept carefully hidden so that it doesn't frighten children away. So, on the surface, I want to make children laugh, to entertain them, tell them a good story, excite their interest. I feel fortunate to work at what I love so much—writing and illustrating children's books. Although it has never been easy, the rewards still outweigh the difficulties. Young people want to know more and more about the life around them, about people and relationships and feelings, and if we're truthful, we can support them in this quest for knowledge. Inevitably, it turns around, and we learn something from the kids."
Seuling concluded, "My advice to new writers is: be persistent. The saddest part of writing is the defeatism that is felt so early by writers. One's first work rarely gets published, but that is when our hopes and ideals are so high that they are easily dashed by rejection. It is a rough process, and if one can weather the first years, and keep writing in spite of the obstacles, the chances of success keep growing. A writer is a growing thing; we grow with each page we write, and therefore the more we write the more we learn and the better we become."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Seuling, Barbara, Just Me, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1982.
Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 24, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997, pp. 217-233.
Appraisal, fall, 1985, Nancy Murphy, review of Elephants Can't Jump and Other Freaky Facts about Animals, pp. 35-36, and Althea L. Phillips, review of Elephants Can't Jump and Other Freaky Facts about Animals, pp. 35; fall, 1987, Renee E. Blumenkrantz, review of You Can't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open and Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, p. 49, and John R. Pancella, review of You Can't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open and Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, pp. 49-50.
Booklist, October 1, 1975, p. 241; September 1, 1978, Denise M. Wilms, review of The Last Cow on the White House Lawn and Other Little-Known Facts about the Presidency, p. 53; May 1, 1982, p. 1163; June 15, 1982, Judith Goldberger, review of Just Me, p. 1372; February 15, 1985, p. 848; July, 1992, p. 1947; September 1, 1998, Ellen Mandel, review of Winter Lullaby, p. 123; July, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of Oh No, It's Robert, p. 1947; April 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Spring Song, p. 1566; April 1, 2002, Todd Morning, review of Robert and the Weird and Wacky Facts, p. 1329; January 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Robert and the Back-to-School Special, p. 893; April 1, 2003, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Robert and the Lemming Problem, p. 1398.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 1975, p. 185; October, 1997, review of The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant, pp. 36-37; October, 1988, pp. 53-54; July, 1999, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Oh No, It's Robert p. 400.
Horn Book, August, 1976, Virginia Haviland, review of The Teeny Tiny Woman: An Old English Ghost Tale, pp. 591-592; April, 1980, Kate M. Flanagan, review of The Triplets, p. 400; January-February, 2002, Betty Carter, review of Robert and the Great Pepperoni, pp. 83-84; July-August, 2002, Betty Carter, review of Robert and the Weird and Wacky Facts, pp. 471-472.
Horn Book Guide, spring, 1999, Martha Sibert, review of Winter Lullaby, p. 16; fall, 2001, Danelle J. Ford, review of Drip! Drop!: How Water Gets to Your Tap, p. 382.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1978, pp. 752-753; April 1, 1980, review of Triplets, p. 437; February 15, 2001, review of Spring Song, p. 265; March, 2002, review of Robert and the Weird and Wacky Facts, p. 246; August 15, 2002, review of From Head to Toe: The Amazing Human Body and How It Works, p. 1236; October 1, 2002, review of Robert and the Back-to-School Special, p. 1481.
Publishers Weekly, April 12, 1976, review of The Teeny Tiny Woman, p. 66; June 13, 1977, review of The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant, p. 108; May 15, 1978, review of The Last Cow on the White House Lawn and Other Little-Known Facts about the Presidency, p. 104; October 5, 1998, review of Winter Lullaby, p. 88; June 14, 1999, review of Oh No, It's Robert, p. 70; February 26, 2001, review of Spring Song, p. 84; September 6, 2002, review of From Head to Toe, p. 71.
School Library Journal, May, 1975, p. 73; October, 1975, Linda Kochinski, review of You Can't Eat Peanuts in Church and Other Little-Known Laws, p. 101; November, 1975, p. 83; May, 1976, review of The Teeny Tiny Woman, p. 75; September, 1977, p. 115; November, 1980, p. 67; May, 1982, review of Just Me, p. 80; August, 1982, p. 122; March, 1985, Mavis D. Arizzi, review of Elephants Can't Jump and Other Freaky Facts about Animals, p. 171; February, 1987, Denise L. Moll, review of You Can't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open and Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, p. 84; September, 1998, Peg Solonika, review of Winter Lullaby, p. 198; July, 1999, Linda Beck, review of Oh No, It's Robert, p. 80; February, 2001, Ellen Heath, review of Drip! Drop!, p. 115; May, 2001, Helen Foster, review of Spring Song, p. 135; October, 2001, Janie Schomberg, review of Robert and the Great Pepperoni, p. 131; July, 2002, John Sigwald, review of Robert and the Weird and Wacky Tales, pp. 98-99; November, 2002, Dona Ratterree, review of From Head to Toe, p. 148.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1997, p. 270.*