Vivelo, Jackie 1943–

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Vivelo, Jackie 1943–

(Jacqueline J. Vivelo, Jacqueline Jean Vivelo)

PERSONAL: Surname pronounced with accent on first syllable; born January 23, 1943, in Lumberton, MS; daughter of Jack (a mechanical engineer) and Virginia Olivia (an English teacher; maiden name, Bond) Jones; married Frank Robert Vivelo (an anthropologist and writer), June 19, 1965; children: Alexandra J. Education: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, B.A., 1965, M.A., 1970.

ADDRESSES: Home—5117 Brittany Dr., Old Hickory, TN 37138-1262. Agent—c/o Author Mail, DK Publishing, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: New York City Department of Welfare, New York, NY, caseworker, 1965–66; Knoxville College, Knoxville, TN, instructor, 1968–70; Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ, instructor, 1970–72, 1978–80; University of Missouri, Rolla, instructor, 1975–77; Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA, instructor, 1981–87, assistant professor of English, 1987–91.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, Sigma Tau Delta, Pi Lambda Theta.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Institute of Mental Health grant, 1969–70; Super Sleuth: Twelve Solve-It-Yourself Mysteries named a Child Study Association of America Book of the Year, 1985; Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowship, 1992; Young Book Trust award, 1994.



Super Sleuth: Twelve Solve-It-Yourself Mysteries, Putnam (New York, NY), 1985.

Beagle in Trouble: Super Sleuth II, Putnam (New York, NY), 1986.

A Trick of the Light: Stories to Read at Dusk, Putnam (New York, NY), 1987.

Super Sleuth and the Bare Bones: Super Sleuth III, Putnam (New York, NY), 1988.

Mr. Scatter's Magic Spell, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 1993.

Reading to Matthew, Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1993.

Chills Run down My Spine, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 1994.

(With daughter, Alexandra J. Vivelo) Have You Lost Your Kangaroo?: News Stories and Activities for Reading & Writing, Walch, 1996.

Chills in the Night: Tales That Will Haunt You, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 1997.


(As Jacqueline J. Vivelo) Handbook for College Reading Teachers, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, 1969.

(As Jacqueline J. Vivelo; editor, with husband, Frank Robert Vivelo, and Gloria Levitas) American Indian Prose and Poetry: We Wait in the Darkness, Putnam (New York, NY), 1974.

(As Jacqueline Vivelo) Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Creative Writing, Walch, 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of the Pennsylvania Children's Literature Council, Penny-whistle Press, and Learning and Media.

ADAPTATIONS: Characters and stories from "Super Sleuth" series were adapted for television series The Read-Around Gang, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1986, The Dirty Dog, Education Systems, 1988, and Clues in the Diary, Education Systems, 1988.

SIDELIGHTS: Jackie Vivelo has published a number of mystery and horror story collections for young readers. In her popular "Super Sleuth" series, Vivelo invites readers to solve the mysteries along with her two main characters, Ellen and "Beagle" Beaghley, partners in the Beagle Detective Agency. Clues hidden in the text reveal the secret of "The Big Diamond Robbery" or "The Big Pig Problem." In Chills Run down My Spine Vivelo presents scary stories featuring young people who encounter the mysterious and dangerous. One story, "The Bell-Ringer," tells of a girl who discovers that one of her cousins is really a murderer, while in "Nick of Time" a boy finds himself attacked by wild dogs. "Vivelo has no trouble setting a quietly tantalizing scene," Stephanie Zvirin noted in her review of the book for Booklist, "and her stories do have some chilling, even gory moments." The collection Chills in the Night: Tales That Will Haunt You is another gathering of disturbing and creepy stories, including tales about ghosts in a mine shaft and a girl who loses a family heirloom and suffers unexpected consequences. "Vivelo turns everyday experiences into something strange and fearsome," wrote Chris Sherman in Booklist. In the novel Mr. Scatter's Magic Spell Vivelo tells of an absent-minded school teacher who is, in his spare time, really the Magnificent Scarlotti, a world-renowned magician, a secret he keeps hidden even from his own students.

Vivelo once commented: "One summer evening when I was very young I sat on a porch swing with two even younger cousins, the son of one aunt and the daughter of another. Because they'd asked for a story, I began the adventures of a creature that was both ogre and ghost. As darkness closed in, I described the monster as moving nearer to us—down the street, up the walk, at the gate. I never had to end the story because as the creature passed the gate, my cousins shrieked in terror and raced into the house to find their mothers. Having felt the power of storytelling on this and similar occasions, I decided I wanted to be a creator of stories.

"My childhood was spent among wonderful storytellers. One of my aunts could hold us spellbound recounting the plots of suspense novels she'd read. Another, secretary to a U.S. senator, told tales of her world of work. My youngest aunt, the harried wife of an underpaid college professor, made her own life the subject matter of an ongoing comedy series. My favorite aunt had only the events in our small town to draw on, but she told the best stories of all, turning gossip into drama. I learned from each of them, but probably I learned most from my mother who retold for my sister and me the literature she taught. Asking her for a story might mean hearing Beowulf or a tale from Saki.

"Once she told us about a poor boy who was taken to an orphanage where he saw more food at dinner that first night than he had believed possible. He'd never in his life had enough biscuits, so each time the heaping platter passed him, he'd take one and hide it in his shirt. Years later when I read Richard Wright's Black Boy and found the biscuit incident, I felt that the author was an old friend.

"Characters from the books I read were the best friends of my youth. I roamed Alaska with Buck, though I was eleven before I saw my first snowfall. By turns I was rich or I was poor. Through the gaslit streets of London, I chased criminals and worked toward the downfall of Moriarty. I took the characters out of the books and lived with them, never climbing a tree without Robin Hood by my side.

"When I had exhausted other reading material, my father's matched set of Agatha Christie novels caught my eye, and I tried one. I'd never met anyone named 'Agatha' and assumed Christie was a man, a mistake that persisted for several years. I was amazed by the books and read all that my father had.

"I enjoyed stories of any kind, but my favorites were ghost stories, mysteries, and animal stories. The author of Lad, a Dog, Albert Payson Terhune, was one of my heroes. On the other hand, though I eagerly read his books, I've never quite forgiven Jack London for letting a dog named 'Billee' die. I soon came to see story teller as story master, lord of the world he creates, responsible for the events within it. I badly wanted to create worlds and to rule in realms of my own.

"Although I've written for adults, my most personally satisfying stories are those for young people. I loved creating Ellen and Beagle in Super Sleuth and setting them the task of solving mysteries. I like my characters, and I would have liked facing the challenges they encounter in their neighborhood. I want all the stories to be possible, to be the kinds of problems really happening in everyday life. Few of us can find mysteries as readily as Beagle does, but through him and Ellen readers get to share the mysteries.

"Beagle, though fictional, has much in common with a friend I first met in sixth grade, not always an admirable person but loyal and one of the best friends of my school years. Beagle in Trouble, second in the 'Super Sleuth' series, includes some actual incidents from those school days.

"My short story collection, A Trick of the Light: Stories to Read at Dusk, drew from my own life: a favorite, though dilapidated, book of ghost stories; a group of friends who 'plagued' my mother when I was young (yes, they really did kill our cat); a comment my daughter once made about painting; a day when my dog was almost shot because he was mistakenly identified as rabid.

"As storyteller, I become master of the events I describe, even the ones I borrow from real life. In fact, my mother's horrid students all grew into decent adults. One by one they apologized to her and she forgave them. But she was not the only one affected by their malice. In fiction, I took great pleasure in devising the revenge exacted in 'A Plague of Crowders.'

"Throughout my life books and storytelling have helped to shape my world, giving it stability and peopling it with interesting characters."



Booklist, November 15, 1994, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Chills Run down My Spine, p. 605; January 1, 1998, Chris Sherman, review of Chills in the Night: Tales That Will Haunt You, p. 795.

Journal of the Pennsylvania Children's Literature Council, 1998, Jackie Vivelo, "On Becoming a Children's Author."

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 1993, review of Mr. Scatter's Magic Spell, p. 79.

School Library Journal, September, 1985, Ruth S. Vose, review of Super Sleuth: Twelve Solve-It-Yourself Mysteries, p. 140; November, 1986, Candy Colborn, review of Beagle in Trouble: Super Sleuth II, p. 94; February, 1988, Michael Cart, review of A Trick of the Light: Stories to Read at Dusk, p. 76; August, 1988, Carol McMichael, review of Super Sleuth and the Bare Bones: Super Sleuth III, p. 99; March, 1994, Nancy Seiner, review of Mr. Scatter's Magic Spell, p. 210; December, 1994, Elaine E. Knight, review of Chills Run down My Spine, p. 114; January, 1998, Molly S. Kinney, review of Chills in the Night, p. 116.