Stewart, Paul 1955–
Stewart, Paul 1955–
PERSONAL: Born June 4, 1955, in London, England; married Julie Stewart (a primary school teacher); children: Joseph, Anna. Education: Lancaster University, B.A., 1977; University of East Anglia, M.A., 1979; attended Heidelberg University, 1980–82.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Philippa Milnes-Smith, Lucas, Alexander, Whitley, 14 Vernon St., London W14 0RJ, England.
CAREER: Author, 1989–. Teacher of English as a foreign language in Germany, 1979–82, in Sri Lanka, 1982–83, and in Brighton, England, 1983–90.
AWARDS, HONORS: Smarties Gold Medal award in six-to-eight-year-old category, Youth Libraries Group, 2004, for Fergus Crane.
FICTION; FOR CHILDREN
The Thought Domain, illustrated by Jon Riley, Viking (London, England), 1988, Puffin (New York, NY), 1989.
The Weather Witch, illustrated by Jon Riley, Viking (London, England), 1989, Puffin (New York, NY), 1990.
Adam's Ark, illustrated by Kevin Jones, Viking (London, England), 1990, Puffin (New York, NY), 1992.
Giant Gutso and the Wacky Gang, Orchard (London, England), 1991.
Rory McCrory's Nightmare Machine, Viking (London, England), 1992, Puffin (New York, NY), 1993.
The Snowman Who Couldn't Melt, illustrated by Annabel Large, Viking (London, England), 1993, Puffin (New York, NY), 1994.
Bubble and Shriek, illustrated by Annabel Large, Viking (London, England), 1993, Puffin (New York, NY), 1995.
Castle of Intrigue, illustrated by Jane Gedye, Usborne Books (London, England), 1994.
Neighborhood Witch, illustrated by Annabel Large, Viking (London, England), 1994, Puffin (New York, NY), 1995.
Stage Fright, illustrated by Alan Marks, Usborne Books (London, England), 1995.
Brown Eyes, Penguin (London, England), 1996, new edition, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 1999.
The Diary, Penguin (London, England), 1996.
The Clock of Doom, Usborne Books (London, England), 1996.
The Wakening, Yearling Books (London, England), 1996.
Football Mad, Hippo (London, England), 1997.
The Midnight Hand, Yearling Books (London, England), 1997.
Dogbird, illustrated by Tony Ross, Corgi (London, England), 1998.
The Hanging Tree, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Football Mad II: Off-Side!, Hippo (London, England), 1998.
The Birthday Presents, illustrated by Chris Riddell, Andersen (London, England), 1998, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
A Little Bit of Winter, illustrated by Chris Riddell, Andersen (London, England), 1998, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
Millie's Party (picture novel for beginning readers), illustrated by Bernard Lodge, Blue Bananas, 1999.
Football Mad III: Hat-Trick!, Hippo (London, England), 1999.
Football Mad IV: Teamwork!, Hippo (London, England), 2000.
Freight Train, Scholastic (London, England), 2000.
Rabbit's Wish, illustrated by Chris Riddell, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
Sausage, illustrated by Nick Ward, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2002.
What Do You Remember?, illustrated by Chris Riddell, Andersen (London, England), 2002.
The Were-Pig, illustrated by Tony Ross, Corgi (London, England), 2002.
The Watch-Frog, illustrated by Tony Ross, Corgi (London, England), 2003.
(With Chris Riddell) Fergus Crane ("Far Flung Adventures" series), illustrated by Riddell, Double-day (London, England), 2004.
The Curse of Magoria, Usborne (London, England), 2004.
(With Chris Riddell) Corby Flood ("Far Flung Adventures" series), illustrated by Riddell, Random House (London, England), 2005.
"THE EDGE CHRONICLES"; COAUTHOR WITH ILLUSTRATOR CHRIS RIDDELL
Beyond the Deepwoods, Doubleday (London, England), 1998, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Stormchaser, Doubleday (London, England), 1999, David Fickling Books (New York, NY) 2004.
Midnight over Sanctaphrax, Doubleday (London, England), 2000, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Curse of the Gloamglozer, Doubleday (London, England), 2001, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Cloud Wolf, illustrated by Chris Riddell, Corgi (London, England), 2001.
The Last of the Sky Pirates, Doubleday (London, England), 2002, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Vox, Doubleday (London, England), 2003.
Freeglader, Doubleday (London, England), 2005.
Winter Knights, Doubleday (London, England), 2005.
"BLOBHEADS" SERIES; COAUTHOR WITH ILLUSTRATOR CHRIS RIDDELL
Invasion of the Blobs, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Talking Toasters, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
School Stinks, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Beware of the Babysitter, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Garglejuice, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Silly Billy, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Naughty Gnomes, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Purple Alert!, Macmillan (London, England), 2000.
Blobheads (omnibus), Macmillan (London, England), 2003.
Blobheads Go Boing!, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.
"MUDDLE EARTH" SERIES; COAUTHOR WITH ILLUSTRATOR CHRIS RIDDELL
Muddle Earth, Macmillan (London, England), 2003.
Here Be Dragons, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.
Dr. Cuddles of Giggle Glade, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.
"KNIGHT'S STORY" SERIES; COAUTHOR WITH ILLUSTRATOR CHRIS RIDDELL
Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls, Hodder (London, England), 2003, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Free Lance and the Field of Blood, Hodder (London, England), 2004.
Joust of Honor, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.
Free Lance and the Dragon's Hoard, Hodder (London, England), 2005, published as Dragon's Hoard, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.
Trek (adult novel), Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1991.
Lucky Luke and Other Very Short Stories, Penguin (London, England), 1997.
Also author of numerous short stories published in magazines, including Me and Mayfair, anthologized in collections from Doubleday, and broadcast on BBC-TV. Author of "Australian Connection" series (graded readers for teens).
Author's works have been translated into over two dozen languages.
ADAPTATIONS: The Blobheads was turned into an animated television series by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Film rights to the "Edge Chronicles" were sold to Jigsaw Films, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Paul Stewart is a British author of fantasy, time-travel and palpably realistic novels, all with a speculative edge that are targeted at an audience of middle-grade readers. Though they find their main audience in Great Britain, many of Stewart's books, such as Adam's Ark, Bubble and Shriek, and The Wakening, have found fans with readers in North America as well.
"Most of my books for children originate from a 'what if' question," Stewart once explained. "'What if there was a machine that could record our nightmares?' 'What if there was a snowman that couldn't melt?' 'What if someone didn't know what winter felt like?' Then I play with the idea—researching the background and working on the plot—and decide the genre with which best to explore the story. Only when I am completely certain where the story is heading do I start writing."
Stewart, who was born in 1955 and grew up in southwest London, earned a master's degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Stewart recalled his experience there to an interviewer for the Achuka Web site: "You learnt to become extremely thick-skinned, because you were surrounded by this little group of people who were ripping to shreds something you'd just written and … [it] was very good at pinpointing what was wrong with a piece."
Upon graduation Stewart produced short stories for adults, as well as some unpublished novels, while further studying and working as an English teacher in Germany and then Sri Lanka. Returning to England in 1983, he began casting about for a new project. He went back to an early idea—writing a sister book to The Phantom Tollbooth by American writer Norton Juster, one of the books that informed his youth. This led to Stewart's first publication, The Thought Domain, a children's novel aimed at ten-to-thirteen year olds.
This initial title was followed the next year by The Weather Witch, a time-travel story about a village hidden under a lake for four hundred years. Two children from the present, Kerry and Joe, discover the hidden village when they are sent for the summer to stay with their Great Aunt Eleanor. A dull summer is suddenly filled with danger and excitement when the two are sucked into a time vortex while rowing on the lake. They end up in the ancient village of Cleedale, replete with villagers and resident weather witch Megwyn, an ancestor of Great Aunt Eleanor. Megwyn imprisoned the villagers under water four centuries earlier while ostensibly saving them from an invading Protestant army. In fact, Kerry and Joe turn out to be the long-prophesied duo who will save the villagers. "How they return to Great Aunt Eleanor, and bring into the present a girl and a boy from 400 years back makes exciting reading," a reviewer for Junior Bookshelf noted. "The whole story is fantastic in more ways than one," the same reviewer added, "but the author's skill renders it quite believable."
Adam's Ark is one of Stewart's most popular books. "It's about a boy who's been diagnosed as autistic," Stewart explained in his Achuka online interview, "but he isn't, he's just been born able to communicate with animals rather than humans. It's his cat who teaches him to speak and to act in a way in which he should act, in an appropriate way, so that people don't think he's round the bend." As he grows older, Adam begins to learn that he can communicate with animals because he is a holdover from prehistoric times when mammals could communicate in a language called Mammalogue. Working at the zoo, Adam learns from a dolphin that it is to be his mission to protect animals from human aggression of the sort which his own father carries out in his research laboratory.
"This is an interesting book," commented Jo Goodman in a review of Adam's Ark for Magpies, "imperfect but, it its own way, compelling." Jane Inglish, writing in the School Librarian, dubbed Stewart's story a "passionate teenage novel," while Linda Newbery commented in Books for Keeps that this "moving story will find an appreciative audience in the growing numbers of young people concerned about animal welfare and environmental issues." A reviewer for Junior Bookshelf concluded that Stewart "has tackled this theme of some considerable grandeur in a down to earth, matter of fact style which renders easy the suspension of disbelief in so unusual a thesis…. Young readers will enjoy this cleverly constructed story."
Several more books followed, all published by Viking and edited by Morris Lyon. Next in line was Rory McCrory's Nightmare Machine, about a scheme for recording nightmares that goes horribly awry. The Snowman Who Couldn't Melt, published in 1993, is a "strange mix of a story," according to Adrian Jackson in Books for Keeps, "part fairy tale, which eventually becomes a moving account of … attempts to rescue the snowman." Cruel Balthazar Grot has constructed the snowman in question, and has given him ice for a heart; thus, he is unable to melt. Young Amy arranges for the snowman to come to a summertime beach in hopes of helping the icy creature by showing him the better side of humans. Unfortunately, they encounter some of the worst examples of the human species, and finally it is Amy's own goodness that melts the snowman's heart and sets him free. Jocelyn Hanson noted in School Librarian that this "is a cheerful and fast-moving story … with a lively and determined girl as the main character."
An amazing bottle of bubbles that, when blown, contain those things most feared proves the catalyst for Bubble and Shriek, a "readable and clever story for smart readers," according to David Bennett, writing in Books for Keeps. Young Charlie does not like the continual limelight of being a s tar in advertisements, while Vinny despises the pressure his father puts on him to succeed. These two apparent enemies at school encounter one another at a fair, and with a little help from the mysterious Madame Tatania and her magic bubbles, Charlie is able to both neutralize the animosity from Vinny and reclaim his childhood from a television career. "Stewart has some wise things to say about the inner fears of childhood and the consequences of obsessive parenting," commented a reviewer for Junior Bookshelf. "He presents a fable in a style which will capture the interest of the primary school reader and may stimulate healthy discussion as a class experience."
Stewart soon changed pace and began writing for younger audiences, producing books such as the "Football Mad" series, Dogbird, and several picture books with author/illustrator Chris Riddell. In the soccer books, Gary, Danny, and Craig have adventures on and off the field; the series is developed for seven-to-nine year olds. Novels for young readers, such as Dogbird and Millie's Party, focus on small, generally humorous events to entice beginning readers. In Dogbird, for example, a barking parakeet proves to be the perfect pet for young Alice.
With frequent collaborator Riddell as illustrator, Stewart has also tried his hand at picture books. A Little Bit of Winter introduces Rabbit and Hedgehog. When spring reunites the two friends—Hedgehog has hibernated for the season—they share a little bit of the season they just missed together. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "This tale of friendship from a British team gently distills the elements of the winter season." The same reviewer concluded that "the emotional connection between the two [animals] emits warmth and wit." The two critters return in Rabbit's Wish, in which Rabbit wants the nocturnal Hedgehog to stay awake and have fun with him during the day. He gets his wish when a rainstorm floods the animals' burrows, forcing them to spend a day cavorting in the rain until their homes dry out.
More ambitious in scope is the collaboration of Riddell and Stewart on the fantasy series, the "Edge Chronicles." As Stewart noted in his Achuka interview, Riddell provides line drawings for the series, but also has editorial input on the story as well as planning the storyline with him; thus they share the credit for the books. The series was planned as a trilogy, but in the end went much longer. Beyond the Deepwoods starts things off when thirteen-year-old Twig is told that the Woodtrolls who raised him are not his real parents, and that he must venture into the Deepwoods to discover the truth about his parentage and himself. On his journey he stumbles off the path and into a frightening other world, a world full of magic, adventure, danger, and hordes of slimy, vicious, strange monsters.
A reviewer for Interzone praised Beyond the Deepwoods and wrote that "Stewart combines the horrific and the absurd to produce an atmosphere of sustained nightmare." The reviewer acknowledged that it is "strong stuff," but claimed "the writing is so full of zest, Stewart's imagination so fertile, his love of language so inventive" that "every child from [age] nine to eleven should be given a copy." A Kirkus Reviews critic also thought that "readers fond of nonstop adventures thickly stocked with … plug-uglies will be in hog heaven," and Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan likewise wrote that "those with hearty appetites for adventure (and strong stomachs) will find this a tremendously exciting fantasy."
In Stormchaser, the second volume of "The Edge Chronicles," Twig is reunited with his sky-pirate father aboard the flying sailship Stormchaser. With Twig as a stowaway, the ship undertakes a dangerous mission, sailing into the heart of a Great Storm to save the city of Sanctaphrax. This volume "is a rousing adventure tale," Phelan declared, "with a story that's more complex and satisfying than its predecessor," although another bloodthirsty villain means that this volume too is "not for the fainthearted." Reviewers Bookwatch critic Molly Martin similarly praised Stormchaser as "a thrilling yarn of conspiracy, conniving and complicity" with "often eerie and extraordinary characters," set in a world that is "elaborate]and] marvelously detailed."
Twig and his father's quest to save their world continues in Midnight over Sanctaphrax, which continues the progression of "The Edge Chronicles" towards deeper storylines. In this volume, Lisa Prolman noted in School Library Journal, "Stewart tackles issues of slavery and class structure while still maintaining a good adventure story."
The fourth volume, The Cur se of the Gloamglozer, is an extended flashback to the youth of Twig's parents, Quint and Maris. Maris's father, Linux Pallitax, is a respected scholar in Sanctaphrax, a city composed almost entirely of scholars and built on a large floating rock. Quint is Linux's apprentice, both during the day when he is a student and at night when he goes on mysterious little missions for Linux. The more Quint learns about what Linux is doing, the more he comes to believe that the man's studies are leading to something very dangerous for the city. The Curse of the Gloamglozer has several notable differences from the first three books in the series, Jenna Miller noted in School Library Journal, including less swashbuckling adventure and more intrigue, but "the primary charm of the series remains the imaginative settings and creatures."
The Last of the Sky Pirates brings a new main character: Rook, an apprentice librarian. He has been exiled from Sanctaphrax to a community of earth-scholars built in the sewers beneath Undertown. He dreams of being allowed to journey out into the Deepwoods and continue on his path to becoming a Librarian Knight, but when he gets his wish he finds the Deepwoods just as terrifying as Twig did in the first book of the series. Rook's "adventures pull readers along," Walter Minkel wrote in School Library Journal, "and the pages flip by in no time."
"Some children want to grow up to be a brain surgeon or an astronaut," Stewart once commented. "I always wanted to be an author. It took a long time but, in 1988—and after a lot of other jobs—my first novel for children was published. I am now a full-time author, writing books and short stories for children of all ages, as well as a novel for adults and several readers for foreign learners of English…. Writing has always been a compulsion for me, and I count myself so very lucky that I can earn a living from what I enjoy doing best in the world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Little Bit of Winter, p. 1223; October 15, 2001, Helen Rosenberg, review of Rabbit's Wish, p. 402; July, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Beyond the Deepwoods, p. 1844; August, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Stormchaser, p. 1925; September 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Midnight over Sanctaphrax, p. 125.
Bookseller, January 24, 2003, "In Search of a Lost Snuggly-Wuggly," p. 29; December 10, 2005, "Smarties for Random," p. 6.
Books for Keeps, July, 1992, Linda Newbery, review of Adam's Ark, p. 13; January, 1995, Adrian Jackson, review of The Snowman Who Couldn't Melt, p. 10; November, 1995, David Bennett, review of Bubble and Shriek, p. 12; January, 1997, Adrian Jackson, review of The Wakening, p. 25.
Daily Telegraph, December 12, 1998.
Interzone, January, 1999, review of Beyond the Deepwoods.
Junior Bookshelf, December, 1989, review of The Weather Witch, p. 303; April, 1991, review of Adam's Ark, p. 68; June, 1992, p. 125; June, 1993, p. 107; February, 1994, review of Bubble and Shriek, p. 27; December, 1996, p. 261.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2004, review of Beyond the Deepwoods, p. 637.
Magpies, July, 1991, Jo Goodman, review of Adam's Ark, pp. 31-32; May, 1992, review of Great Gutso and the Wacky Gang, p. 30; July, 1993, review of Rory McCrory's Nightmare Machine, p. 33.
Publishers Weekly, December 14, 1998, review of A Little Bit of Winter, p. 74; January 31, 2000, review of The Birthday Presents, p. 108; November 13, 2000, review of A Little Bit of Winter, p. 106; June 4, 2001, review of Rabbit's Wish, p. 82; May 17, 2004, p. 12; June 21, 2004, review of Beyond the Deepwoods, p. 63.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, August, 2004, Molly Martin, review of Stormchaser.
School Librarian, February, 1991, review of Adam's Ark, p. 32; August, 1991, Jane Inglish, review of Adam's Ark, p. 91; August, 1993, Jocelyn Hanson, review of The Snowman Who Couldn't Melt, p. 112; May, 1994, review of Bubble and Shriek, p. 62; February, 1997, review of Clock of Doom, p. 34.
School Library Journal, July, 2001, Ann Cook, review of Rabbit's Wish, p. 89; September, 2004, Erin Gray, review of Lake of Skulls, p. 218; October, 2004, Lisa Prolman, review of Midnight over Sanctaphrax, p. 178; February, 2005, Jenna Miller, review of The Curse of the Gloamglozer, p. 140; June, 2005, Walter Minkel, review of The Last of the Sky Pirates, p. 170.
Sunday Telegraph (London, England), November 22, 1998.
Times Educational Supplement, November 3, 1989, p. 32; November 8, 1991, p. 32; August 27, 1999.
Achuka Web site, http://www.achuka.co.uk/ (July 24, 2005), interview with Stewart.
Fantastic Fiction Web site, http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (July 6, 2005), "Paul Stewart."
Readingmatters.co.uk, http://www.readingmatters.co.uk/ (July 6, 2005), review of The Curse of the Gloamglozer and The Curse of the Sky Pirates.