Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth (Ann) 1928-
VAN STEENWYK, Elizabeth (Ann) 1928-
PERSONAL: Born July 1, 1928, in Galesburg, IL; daughter of Wilson Andrew and Edith Viola Harler; married Donald H. Van Steenwyk (an executive), June 12, 1949; children: Kedrin (daughter), Matthew, Brett, Gretchen. Education: Knox College, B.A., 1950. Politics: Republican. Religion: Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking and watching sunsets at family walnut ranch, reading.
CAREER: Writer. WGIL-Radio, Galesburg, IL, producer, 1948-51; KTSM-TV, El Paso, TX, producer, 1951-52; Adelaida Cellars, Paso Robles, CA, owner/president and general manager. President of Cardiac League, Guild of Huntington Memorial Hospital. Lecturer and speaker to schools and writers' groups.
MEMBER: International PEN, Society of Children's Book Writers.
AWARDS, HONORS: Silver medal, International Film and Television Festival, 1979, for film adaptation of her book The Best Horse; Patriotic Feature of the Year Award, Highlights for Children magazine, 1987, for short story "Secrets of the State House"; selection as one of 300 Best Books for Teenagers in 1988, New York Public Library, for Dwight David Eisenhower, President; nomination for Bluebonnet Award (Texas), 1989, and Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award (Illinois), 1991, both for Three Dog Winter; Helen Keating Ott Award, Church and Synagogue Library Association, 1990, for outstanding contribution to children's literature.
Women in Sports: Figure Skating, Harvey House (New York, NY), 1976.
The Best Horse, Scholastic Book Services (New York, NY), 1977.
Larry Mahan, Grosset (New York, NY), 1977.
Barrel Horse Racer, Walker (New York, NY), 1977.
Women in Sports: Rodeo, Harvey House (New York, NY), 1978.
Mystery at Beach Bay, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1978.
Ride to Win, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 1978.
Cameo of a Champion, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1978.
Fly Like an Eagle, and Other Stories, Walker York, NY), 1978.
Rivals on Ice, Albert Whitman (Chicago, IL), 1978.
Illustrated Skating Dictionary for Young People, Harvey House (New York, NY), 1979.
God, Why Did He Die?, Concordia, 1979.
Presidents at Home, Messner (New York, NY), 1980.
Tracy Austin, Childrens Press (New York, NY), 1980.
Quarter Horse Winner, Albert Whitman (Chicago, IL), 1980.
Stars on Ice, Dodd (New York, NY), 1980.
Illustrated Riding Dictionary for Young People, Harvey House (New York, NY), 1980.
Bucky, Economy, 1981.
The Ghost of Pilgrim Creek, Economy, 1981.
Triangle of Fear, Economy, 1981.
Three Dog Afternoon, Economy, 1981.
Dance with a Stranger, Tempo, 1982.
Southpaw from Sonora Mystery, Childrens Press (New York, NY), 1983.
Ghost in the Gym, Childrens Press (New York, NY), 1983.
Terror on the Rebound, Childrens Press (New York, NY), 1983.
Secrets of the Painted Horse, Childrens Press (New York, NY), 1983.
Lonely Rider, Tempo, 1983.
The Witness Tree, Tempo, 1983.
Behind the Scenes at the Amusement Park, Albert Whitman (Chicago, IL), 1983.
The Face of Love, Dutton (New York, NY), 1983.
Harness Racing, Crestwood, 1983.
Will You Love My Horse Forever?, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.
Rachel Has a Secret, Willowisp Press (Worthington, OH), 1987.
Sarah's Great Idea, Willowisp Press (Worthington, OH), 1987.
Dwight David Eisenhower, President, Walker York, NY), 1987.
Three Dog Winter, Walker York, NY), 1987.
Lorie for President, Willowisp Press (Worthington, OH), 1988.
Levi Strauss: The Blue Jeans Man, Walker York, NY), 1988.
Can You Keep a Secret?, Willowisp Press (Worthington, OH), 1990.
The California Gold Rush: West with the Forty-Niners, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1991.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Woman of Courage, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1992.
Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?, Pages Publishing Group, 1994.
Frederic Remington, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1994.
The California Missions, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1995.
Frontier Fever: The Silly, Superstitious—and Sometimes Sensible—Medicine of the Pioneers, Walker (New York, NY), 1995.
Saddlebag Salesmen, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1995.
Mathew Brady: Civil War Photographer, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1997.
My Name Is York, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, Rising Moon (Flagstaff, AZ), 1997.
A Traitor among Us, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1997.
Air Shows: From Barnstormers to Blue Angels, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1998.
When Abraham Talked to Trees, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2000.
Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
Maggie in the Morning, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.
Seneca Chief, Army General: A Story about Ely Parker, illustrated by Karen Ritz, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
One Fine Day (radio play), illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.
Also author of The Witch Switch, New Girl in Town, and Friends Are Like That, all Willowisp Press. Contributor of more than one hundred fifty articles and stories to periodicals. Developer of a primary reading kit, "TOYS," for Educational Insights.
ADAPTATIONS: The Best Horse was filmed by Learning Corp. of America, 1979; Three Dog Winter has been optioned by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) for a ninety-minute television movie.
SIDELIGHTS: Elizabeth Van Steenwyk has written a number of books for young readers on historical subjects. Among her books are A Traitor among Us, a novel set in World War II Holland, When Abraham Talked to the Trees, an account of Abraham Lincoln's childhood, and Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea. In addition to her writing, Van Steenwyk also manages her family's vineyards in Paso Robles, California. She claimed in an article posted at the Adelaida Cellars Web site that she got the position because she was "the only family member without a day job."
A Traitor among Us tells of teenaged Pieter Van Dirk, a Dutch boy drawn into working for the Resistance during World War II. While helping a wounded American soldier hide from the Gestapo, and transmitting secret radio messages, Pieter is under the pressure of knowing that someone in his small village is working for the Nazis and may betray him. Hazel Rochman in Booklist praised "the suspense [that] rises to the very last chapter." A critic for Publishers Weekly found that "the climax—a furtive, after-curfew bicycle ride in which Pieter flushes out the traitor—is heart-pounding."
When Abraham Talked to the Trees is a biography that focuses on the young Abraham Lincoln's early studies. Aesop's fables, the Bible, and the dictionary were constant companions for the studious boy. Van Steenwyk shows that whatever Lincoln read the evening before was mulled over the next day while he worked in the fields. Lincoln also practiced oratory by standing on a tree stump in the woods and, thanks to his strong memory, delivering sermons he had heard word for word. Writing in Booklist, Shelley Townsend-Hudson praised the "simple, anecdotal text, which is filled with gentle humor." A critic for Publishers Weekly judged When Abraham Talked to the Trees "an amiable portrait of a young Abraham Lincoln as an aspiring scholar and orator."
In Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea, Van Steenwyk traces the often overlooked history of one of America's favorite pastimes, going to the beach. She chronicles in particular such beach staples as boardwalks, toys, water sports, amusement parks, and swimming attire. Historic photographs, old advertisements for beach products, and illustrations provide a comprehensive look at the development of a popular recreational destination. Van Steenwyk "demonstrates that this smilingly simple setting is an essential part of our collective experience," Karen Simonetti wrote in Booklist.
Van Steenwyk once told CA: "Why do I write for children? I can sum it up in the words of a child who wrote to me after reading one of my books. She said, 'Happiness must be writing children's books.' I wonder how she knew? Simply, I write for young readers because there are so many more possibilities than limitations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Frontier Fever, p. 1873; September 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Matthew Brady, p. 121; August, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of A Traitor among Us, p. 1992; October 1, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of When Abraham Talked to the Trees, p. 344; May 1, 2001, Karen Simonetti, review of Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea, p. 1674; July, 2001, Karen Hutt, review of Seneca Chief, Army General: A Story about Ely Parker, p. 2004; January 1, 2002, Michael Cart, review of Maggie in the Morning, p. 860.
New York Times Book Review, August 12, 2001, review of Let's Go to the Beach, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, June 22, 1998, review of A Traitor among Us, p. 92; February 22, 1999, review of Three Dog Winter, p. 97; September 25, 2000, review of When Abraham Talked to the Trees, p. 117; July 30, 2001, review of Let's Go to the Beach, p. 86; August 5, 2002, review of audiocassette version of Let's Go to the Beach, p. 27.
Adelaida Cellars Web site,http://www.adelaida.com/ (November 14, 2002).
Knox College Web site,http://www.knox.edu/knox/knoxweb/ (September 7, 2002), "Author Elizabeth Van Steenwyk to Speak at Knox, Sept. 20."*