Trembath, Don 1963-
TREMBATH, Don 1963-
PERSONAL: Born May 22, 1963, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; married Lisa Murray (a social worker) August 25, 1984; children: Riley, Walker. Education: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Diploma in Civil Engineering Technology, 1983; University of Alberta, B.A., 1988.
ADDRESSES: Home—10011-104 St., Morinville, Alberta T84 1A5, Canada.
CAREER: Writer. Prospects Literacy Association, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, special projects coordinator, 1988—. Morinville Mirror, Morinville, Alberta, Canada, reporter, photographer, editor, 1988-90. Worked variously as a tutor and writing instructor.
AWARDS, HONORS: R. Ross Annett Juvenile Fiction Award, 1997.
"harper winslow" series
The Tuesday Cafe, Orca (Custer, WA), 1996.
A Fly Named Alfred, Orca (Custer, WA), 1997.
A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, Orca (Custer, WA), 1998.
The Popsicle Journal, Orca (Custer, WA), 2001.
"black belt" series
Frog Face and the Three Boys, Orca (Custer, WA), 2001.
One Missing Finger, Orca (Custer, WA), 2001.
The Bachelors, Orca (Custer, WA), 2002.
The Big Show, Orca (Custer, WA), 2003.
Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit, Orca (Custer, WA), 1999.
Author of biweekly column, "To Be a Dad," Edmonton Journal, 1993-96.
SIDELIGHTS: Canadian author Don Trembath's first novel, The Tuesday Cafe, is about a fifteen-year-old boy who seems to be the ideal child, until he commits an act of rebellion. Harper Winslow shocks his upper-middle-class community by setting a trash can on fire and ending up in juvenile court. After Harper is sentenced to writing an essay for arson charges, his mother signs him up for a writing workshop, not realizing the class is for students with learning disabilities. It is there, however, that Harper finally encounters peers with whom he is comfortable and to whom he can relate.
Kliatt contributor Jacqueline C. Rose commented that Trembath possesses a "fresh, humorous writing style" and applauded "the depth of his characters." Gerry Larson noted in School Library Journal that Trembath's style, ending, and inspirational message "combine to create an appealing package." Janet McNaughton of Quill & Quire added that the new author is a "welcome" talent who has the ability to "create a character who tells us more about himself than he realizes."
Trembath continued Harper Winslow's story in A Fly Named Alfred. In the sequel, Harper continues to improve his writing and even writes a gossip column for the school newspaper, which he secretly submits under the name Alfred. After one of Alfred's columns takes aim at a popular girl in the class, the girl's football-player boyfriend asks Harper to investigate and reveal Alfred's identity. Harper turns to his writing friends for help. "Harper … is so quick-witted and engagingly honest about his life that it's hard to put down this latest misadventure," wrote Booklist reviewer Anne O'Malley, who concluded that the book provides "a searingly honest look at life through adolescent eyes."
Harper Winslow appears again in A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, and The Popsicle Journal. In A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, Harper attends a camp for aspiring writers, where he meets and falls in love with a girl named Sunny Taylor. In the novel, Trembath explores the insecurities and complications of young love. Booklist's O'Malley commented, "We experience [Harper's] angst and inner-voice soul-searching as we are treated to his nonstop, intense wit and commentary."
Harper Winslow becomes a student writer for the local newspaper in The Popsicle Journal. When the editor of the paper is busy covering the upcoming election of the town's mayor, Harper is allowed to write his own column, a bittersweet invitation since Harper's father is running for mayor and Harper's sister has been arrested for drunk driving. Harper must write about his own family. While Trembath tackles the ethics of journalism and the impact of drunk driving in this young-adult novel, the book received mixed reviews from critics. Lynn Bryant of School Library Journal observed, "Trembath's characterization of the teen excels when he shares samples of his writing," but felt that there was "not enough substance for those who want to invest themselves in a good story." Kliatt critic Sarah Applegate wrote, "Too often the book seems to be written for adults," but allowed that "it is easy to follow, the characters are likeable, and the situations are, at times, believable."
Trembath's "Black Belt" series depicts the adventures of three twelve-year-old boys: Charlie, Jeffrey, and Sidney. In Frog Face and the Three Boys, the principal, fed up with the boys' behavior, decides to enroll them in a karate class taught by his son, Sensei Duncan. The boys soon realize that their usual antics won't fly with their new teacher and begin to learn new ways to handle themselves in different situations. Betsy Fraser of School Library Journal termed the book "a satisfying and humorous tale," and noted, "the characters have definite and entertaining personalities." In the second book in the series, One Missing Finger, Charlie develops a crush on a girl he met on the street when his dog tore one finger from her glove. Linda Irvine noted in Resource Links, "There are few love novels with young males as protagonists, so this novel should please both boys and girls."
Also part of the "Black Belt" series, The Bachelors describes the antics of Jeffrey, Charlie, and Sidney when they are left in charge of caring for Jeffrey's grandfather for a week. In seven short days, the boys manage to get into a heap of trouble, including skipping school and getting caught and attempting to watch "hot" videos (which actually turn out to be old black- and-white movies). Debbie Stewart of School Library Journal called the tale "fast-paced and humorous." Resource Links' Joan Marshall noted, "This short novel will satisfy fans of the series and provide laughter, especially from younger boys." The boys' fourth adventure, The Big Show, is their chance to debut their karate talents and prove themselves to any doubters. The book, according to Resource Links writer Carroll Atkins, demonstrates how the boys "can use their martial arts skills to achieve control of their minds, bodies, and emotions."
Trembath also authored the novel Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit, which is about a boy named Lefty who suffers from epileptic seizures. The book tracks Lefty's family from their initial concern over Lefty's condition to their annoyance with his overly cautious lifestyle. With the urging of his friend, Penny, Lefty tries to resume a "normal" life and enjoy himself again. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Trembath is "deftly balancing humor with grim realism" in this novel. The reviewer continued, "The strength of the author's writing lies in his precise, entertaining depiction of characters and their chorus of lively dialogue."
Don Trembath once commented: "I started writing stories when I was about ten or eleven. I would leave them on the dining room table and my mom and dad and all my brothers would pick them up and read them. Then they would tell me what they thought and ask if I was doing anymore. That kind of support and encouragement is crucial to a writer. I believe it went a long way in convincing me that writing would be a career path worth pursuing, that writing was something I was actually pretty good at. I think all young people should have the opportunity and encouragement to write."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Booklist, August, 1997, Anne O'Malley, review of A Fly Named Alfred, p. 1891; June 1, 1998, review of The Tuesday Cafe, p. 1741; March 1, 1999, Anne O'Malley, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 1208; January 1, 2000, Debbie Carton, review of Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit, p. 908; March 1, 2001, review of Frog Face and the Three Boys, p. 1283.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 331.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1998, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 524; 1999, review of Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit, p. 523; 2000, review of Frog Face and the Three Boys, p. 508.
Canadian Children's Literature, winter, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 70, review of A Fly Named Alfred, p. 70.
Canadian Literature, summer, 1998, Alexandra and Gernot Wieland, review of A Fly Named Alfred, p. 165.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials, February 26, 1999, Mary Thomas, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street; April 23, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street; January 21, 2000, Betsy Fraser, review of Left Carmichael Has a Fit; March 30, 2001, Liz Greenaway, review of Frog Face and the Three Boys.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 28, 2001, review of One Missing Finger, p. D13.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 152.
Kliatt, November, 1996, p. 11; July, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 20; July, 2002, Sarah Applegate, review of The Popsicle Journal, p. 25; September, 2003, Stacey Conrad, review of The Big Show, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, June 9, 1997, review of A Fly Named Alfred, p. 46; January 3, 2000, review of Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit, p. 77.
Quill & Quire, May, 1996, pp. 33-34; November, 1998, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 48; November, 1999, review of Lefty Carmichael Has a Fit, p. 47; July, 2001, review of One Missing Finger p. 50.
Resource Links, October, 1997, review of A Fly Named Alfred, p. 36; February, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 29; October, 2001, Linda Irvine, review of One Missing Finger, p. 20; February, 2002, Margaret Mackey, review of The Popsicle Journal, p. 35; October, 2002, Joan Marshall, review of The Bachelors, p. 15; June, 2003, Carroll Atkins, review of The Big Show, p. 47.
School Library Journal, September, 1996, pp. 228-230; July, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 101; September, 2001, Betsy Fraser, review of Frog Face and the Three Boys, p. 234; July, 2002, Lynn Bryant, review of The Popsicle Journal, p. 126; February, 2003, Debbie Stewart, review of The Bachelors, p. 148.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1997, p. 248; April, 1998, review of The Tuesday Cafe, p. 42; June, 1999, review of A Beautiful Place on Yonge Street, p. 118.
Young Alberta Book Society, http://www.yabs.ab.ca/ (November 25, 2002), "Don Trembath."*