Torres, Laura 1967-
TORRES, Laura 1967-
PERSONAL: Born March 21, 1967, in Yakima, WA; daughter of James R. (a data technician) and Shirley (a loan officer; maiden name, Gray) Hofmann; married John C. Torres (an assistant professor of sociology), December 19, 1987; children: Brennyn, John Andrew. Education: Brigham Young University, A.A., 1987. Religion: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).
ADDRESSES: Home—1643 North 1100 W., Mapleton, UT 84664.
CAREER: Freelance writer, 1990—; creative consultant, 1995—; workshop presenter. Former editor, American Girl magazine; Klutz Press, Palo Alto, CA, senior editor.
MEMBER: International Society of Altered Book Artists.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA) and Cuffie Award, both 1994, both for The Incredible Clay Book: How to Make and Bake a Million-and-One Clay Creations; NAPPA Award, 1999, for Create Anything with Clay (with Sherri Haab), and 2001, for Paper Punch Art.
Beads, Glorious Beads, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1994.
(With Sherri Haab) The Incredible Clay Book: How to Make and Bake a Million-and-One Clay Creations, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1994.
Beads: A Book of Ideas and Instructions, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1996.
Friendship Bracelets, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1996.
The Sticker Book, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1996.
Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy: A Complete Guide to Bending Fuzzy Sticks, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1997.
The Fantastic Foam Book, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1998.
Clay Modeling with Pooh, illustrated by Francese Rigoli, Mouse Works (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Sherri Haab) Create Anything with Clay, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1999.
Pompoms Gone Crazy: How to Make Any Pompom Project in Three Easy Steps, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1999.
Disney's Ten-Minute Crafts for Preschoolers, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Sherri Haab) Wire-o-Mania, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 2000.
Don't Eat Pete, Klutz Press (Palo Alto, CA), 2000.
Salt Dough!, illustrated by Wendy Wallin Malinow, Pleasant Company (Middleton, WI), 2001.
Paper Punch Art, Pleasant Company (Middleton, WI), 2001.
Disney Princess Crafts, photographs by Sherri Haab, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2001.
young adult novels
November Ever After, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1999.
Crossing Montana, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including Children's Digest and Jack and Jill.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A third novel; a line of books for girls.
SIDELIGHTS: Laura Torres has taken a talent for making all manner of things and fashioned a career as an author of children's how-to books. A senior editor at the California-based publisher Klutz Press, Torres is the brainchild behind such works as Pompoms Gone Crazy: How to Make Any Pompom Project in Three Easy Steps, Wire-o-Mania, The Fantastic Foam Book, and Salt Dough!, the last a 2001 book that helps students concoct the stiff, dyeable bread dough that has been a classic for creating topographical maps for school geography projects for years. In the late 1990s, Torres expanded her own craft as a writer and has garnered praise for several works of young-adult fiction.
Torres had aspirations to be a writer even as a child; quiet and shy, she came into her own writing stories others could enjoy. While working in a publishing company for several years, she submitted stories to children's periodicals and sold several. However, it was not until she persuaded the publisher she worked for—Klutz Press—to let her develop a book on polymer clay projects for kids that she began writing nonfiction. Talented at explaining techniques in simple terms that children can understand, Torres has since gone on to produce over a dozen books that celebrate the virtues of crafts from the mid-twentieth century, many of which use materials such as pipe cleaners, Styrofoam, and pompoms. In a Threads review of Torres's craft manual The Incredible Clay Book: How to Make and Bake a Million-and-One Clay Creations, David Page Coffin praised Torres and frequent collaborator Sherri Haab for doing "a witty, imaginative, and attractive job of presenting clay projects," and noted that the book—geared toward younger readers—makes "the whole idea of clay molding seem fun and approachable."
In 1999, Torres made the break into young-adult fiction with her first novel, November Ever After. The book introduces sixteen-year-old Amy, whose pastor father is too busy dealing with his parishioners to help Amy cope with the grief over her mother's recent death in a car accident. Turning not only from her father but from her faith as well, Amy clings to her friend Sara for support. More confusion comes when Sara is found in a secret homosexual relationship with another young woman, leaving Amy with feelings of abandonment that a young man named Peter ultimately helps her deal with. A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that in response to the questions she raises regarding organized religion's views on homosexuality, Torres "timidly suggest [s] that …, in real life, personal bonds may be more powerful than belief systems." Praising the novel's protagonist as "a refreshingly wholesome yet completely realistic teen," Booklist contributor Debbie Carton added that the many "lighthearted" turns the plot takes help balance the book's serious focus. In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer concluded of November Ever After that Torres's "promising prose and credible characterizations make this writer one to watch."
Another young teen figures in Torres's second novel, Crossing Montana, which appeared in 2002. At age fifteen, coping with the death of her father and now living with her grandfather and a mother who cannot cope with life, Callie had proved herself a survivor. When her grandfather disappears, Callie decides to go in search of him herself, stealing the family car and a credit card and heading out on the highway. Grandpa, an alcoholic, is ultimately found fishing and brought home, but his condition and her self-reflection while driving cause Callie to realize that her family harbors demons of alcoholism and depression. A fighter, she vows to find a way to make her life better in a novel Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman called "stark and beautiful," adding that "Callie's brave, desperate … narrative tells the truth and doesn't let you go."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 1999, Debbie Carton, review of November Ever After, p. 697; August, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Crossing Montana, p. 1963.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1999, review of November Ever After, p. 1816.
Lambda Book Report, April, 2000, Nancy Garden, review of November Ever After, p. 27.
Publishers Weekly, October 7, 1996, review of Friendship Bracelets, p. 78; April 7, 1997, review of Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy: A Complete Guide to Bending Fuzzy Sticks, p. 94; June 15, 1998, review of The Fantastic Foam Book, p. 61; January 3, 2000, review of November Ever After, p. 77.
School Library Journal, January, 2000, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of November Ever After, p. 136; July, 2002, Diane P. Tuccillo, review of Crossing Montana, p. 126.
Threads, June-July, 1996, David Page Coffin, review of The Incredible Clay Book: How to Make and Bake a Million-and-One Clay Creations, p. 82.*