Sinykin, Sheri(l Terri) Cooper 1950-

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SINYKIN, Sheri(l Terri) Cooper 1950-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "sin-i-kin"; born May 3, 1950, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Norman (an optometrist) and Barbara (an elementary school teacher; maiden name, Kresteller) Cooper; married Daniel Sinykin (an attorney and land developer), August 18, 1974; children: Aaron Joel, Rudi Samuel, Joshua Paul. Education: Stanford University, B.A. (communications), 1972, Vermont College of Union Institute and University, M.F.A., 2003. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Pottery, theater, collecting dolls and perfume bottles.

ADDRESSES: Home—26 Lancaster Ct., Madison, WI 53719-1433; 9622 E. Sundune Dr., Sun Lakes, AZ 85248. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Rockford Newspapers, Rockford, IL, reporter, 1972; Madison General Hospital, Madison, WI, public relations coordinator, 1972-75; Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, Madison, WI, assistant executive director, 1975-78; children's author.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (Wisconsin regional advisor, 1990-96), Authors Guild, Inc., Council for Wisconsin Writers.

AWARDS, HONORS: Ed Press Award, Educational Press Association of America, 1986, for Humpty Dumpty story "Mostly I Share . . . but Sometimes I Don't"; Arthur Tofte Award for juvenile fiction, Council for Wisconsin Writers, 1994, for Sirens; Member of the Year award, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 1995.

WRITINGS:

Shrimpboat and Gym Bags, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1990.

Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are!, Hazelden Educational, 1990.

Apart at the Seams, Hazelden Educational, 1991.

Next Thing to Strangers, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1991.

The Buddy Trap, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1991.

Slate Blues, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1993.

Sirens, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1993.

The Shorty Society, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

A Matter of Time, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 1998.

"MAGIC ATTIC CLUB" SERIES

The Secret of the Attic, Magic Attic Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Heather at the Barre, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1995.

Heather, Belle of the Ball, illustrated by Ed Tadiello, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1995.

Heather Takes the Reins, illustrated by Ed Tadiello, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1996.

Viva Heather! illustrated by Richard Lauter, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1996.

Alison Walks the Wire, illustrated by Gabriel Picart, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1996.

Heather Goes to Hollywood, illustrated by Richard Lauter, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1997.

Trapped beyond the Magic Attic, illustrated by Gabriel Picart, Magic Attic Press (Portland, ME), 1997.

Contributor to reading textbooks published by C. E. Merrill; contributor of stories, including "Mostly I Share . . . but Sometimes I Don't," to periodicals, including Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Child Life, Children's Playmate, Children's Digest, Redbook, Turtle, and Children's Album. Stanford alumni magazine, "Class of '72" correspondent, 1972-97.

SIDELIGHTS: Sheri Cooper Sinykin is the author of imaginative books for preteen readers that often combine recognizable adolescent difficulties with fantasy elements such as time travel and magic talismans. In Slate Blues, for example, thirteen-year-old Reina discovers that she has a rock-star relative, and she hopes popularizing this fact will provide her with a ticket to the in-crowd at school. Sirens introduces teen protagonist Chantal Lanier, whose wish that boys at school would like her comes true due to the power of a magic statue . . . until a chain of unforseen consequences causes her to question the price of popularity. A Matter of Time commences with eleven-year-old Jody being magically transported back into the 1950s when he steps inside an old television console. Through the use of distancing devices such as magic statues and time machines, Sinykin offers subtle lessons about growing up, facing down peer pressure, and coming to understand older generations. Praising Slate Blues as "a nicely delivered story with a wealth of carefully drawn characters," Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Kevin Kenny commended Sinykin for avoiding "the pedantry which a number of scenes invite" and penning "a story which delivers more complexity than the premise would seem to offer."

Among Sinykin's most popular books is A Matter of Time. After climbing into an old, boxy wooden television set on a lark, sixth-grader Jody is surprised to find out he has actually been transported back a generation, to 1958. He meets up with his dad, who is a boy the same age as Jody, and gets to meet his nowdeceased grandfather and his grandmother, whom he knows only from boring visits to the nursing home, as young, caring parents. Sharing their family experiences, he begins to understand why his father and grandparents view the world the way they do. Reviewing A Matter of Time for Booklist, Carolyn Phelan praised the novel's suspense and noted that readers "will enjoy this trip into the past."

Having raised three children of her own, Sinykin credits her family with being a source of support, as well as providing a host of ideas for her novels. Her first children's book, Shrimpboat and Gym Bags, was inspired by her son Aaron and his participation in the sport of gymnastics. The Buddy Trap was inspired by son Rudi's recollections of the games he played at summer camp. And Next Thing to Strangers sprang from a family visit to Sinykin's parents at their senior citizens' trailer park in Arizona. Diane Roback in Publishers Weekly felt that young readers would enjoy the "Rockyesque flavor" of Shrimpboat and Gym Bags. Another Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote of Next Thing to Strangers: "The characters are well-intentioned and sympathetic, and merit applause."

"An adolescent stint with a junior ballet company in which I danced the only male role, a distorted body image, and my hesitance to express negative feelings conspired to push me into using food as a way to manage my emotions for many years," Sinykin once revealed in CA. "My resulting eating disorder and my ongoing recovery have played a significant role in both my motivation for writing and in the themes that interest me. Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are!, my picture book on overeating and self-esteem, and Apart at the Seams, my young adult novel about a young dancer's struggle with bulimia, in particular were born of this pain."

Sharing her sons' frustrations over being shorter than other boys their age inspired several books by Sinykin. The Shorty Society, published in 1994, finds friends Kate, Drew, and Bo joining forces against seventh-grade bullies Grease and Scud when the "short" jokes get out of hand. Unfortunately, the tricks in which the three friends plan to avenge themselves result in counterattacks by the taller bullies, and the battle is propelled into a calamity at the school's Halloween dance. Praising the novel for its humor and energetic plot, Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Char Zoet noted that Sinykin's "characters are well drawn" and that the escalating pranks "are on the harmless side and are at time quite humorous."

In addition to her stand-alone novels, Sinykin has published several titles in the "Magic Attic Club" series, including the inaugural title, The Secret of the Attic. These works differ from Sinykin's other titles in that the "Magic Attic" books are formulaic and are written to support a collection of dolls and other collectibles. However, as she helped to create the "Magic Attic" series, Sinykin did have significant input into the characters' motivations and backgrounds—and it was Sinykin who suggested that the girls be multicultural and of different races.

Sinykin's fascination with the interplay between generations, "by the similarities and the differences of young readers and their older relatives," as she once remarked, causes her to incorporate such relationships into her work. "I write hopeful books," Sinykin added, "the kind I wished I had read in my youth. My goal is not to 'plant messages' but rather to entertain and connect with the reader's experience. Still, if young readers glean something meaningful that they can use in their lives long after they have closed my books, I will feel gratified."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 1993, Sally Estes, review of Slate Blues, p. 1816; January 1, 1994, Jeanne Triner, review of Sirens, p. 816; May 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Matter of Time, p. 1627.

Book Report, March-April, 1994, Jo Clarke, review of Sirens, p. 38; January-February, 1995, Anne Marie Lilly, review of The Shorty Society, p. 49; May 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Matter of Time, p. 1627.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1994, review of Slate Blues, p. 668.

Publishers Weekly, January 19, 1990, review of Shrimpboat and Gym Bags, p. 110; October 11, 1991, review of Next Thing to Strangers, p. 143; May 31, 1993, review of Slate Blues, p. 56; July 11, 1994, review of The Shorty Society, p. 79; August 14, 1995, review of The Secret of the Attic, p. 85; February 23, 1998, review of A Matter of Time, p. 77.

School Library Journal, April, 1990, Susan Schuller, review of Shrimpboat and Gym Bags, p. 124; August, 1991, Carol A. Edwards, review of Next Thing to Strangers, p. 195; October, 1991, Jack Forman, review of The Buddy Trap, p. 130; April, 1993, Gail Richmond, review of Slate Blues, p. 143; January, 1994, Vanessa Elder, review of Sirens, p. 135; August, 1994, Melissa Yurechko, review of The Shorty Society, p. 158; February, 1996, Carolyn Jenks, reviews of Heather at the Barre and The Secret of the Attic, pp. 102-103; May, 1998, Lisa Dennis, review of A Matter of Time, p. 148.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1993, Kevin Kenny, review of Slate Blues, p. 219; April, 1994, Cecilia Swanson, review of Sirens, p. 40; December, 1994, Char Zoet, review of The Shorty Society, pp. 280-281.

ONLINE

Sheri Cooper Sinykin's Place,http://www.sherisinykin.com/ (May 7, 2003).