Wargin, Kathy-jo 1965-

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WARGIN, Kathy-jo 1965-

PERSONAL:

Born 1965, in Tower, MN; married Ed Wargin (a photographer). Education: Studied music at University of Minnesota—Duluth.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Northern Michigan. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Sleeping Bear Press, 300 North Main St., P.O. Box 20, Chelsea, MI 48118.

CAREER:

Writer. The Wargin Company, Petosky, MI, co-owner, with husband.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Official Children's Book of Michigan, Michigan House of Representatives, 1998, and Children's Choice Award for Best Picture Book, Capital Area District Library, both for The Legend of the Sleeping Bear; Children's Book of the Year Award, Great Lakes Booksellers Association, 1999, for The Legend of Mackinac Island.

WRITINGS:

Scenic Driving Michigan, photographs by Ed Wargin, Falcon Press (Helena, MT), 1997.

The Legend of Sleeping Bear, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 1998.

Michigan: The Spirit of the Land, photographs by Ed Wargin, Voyageur Press (Stillwater, MN), 1999.

The Legend of Mackinac Island, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 1999.

The Michigan Counting Book, illustrated by Michael Glenn Monroe, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2000.

The Legend of the Loon, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2000.

The Great Lakes Cottage Book, photographs by Ed Wargin, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2000.

L Is for Lincoln: An Illinois Alphabet, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2000.

The Legend of the Lady's Slipper, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2001.

The Michigan Reader for Boys and Girls, illustrated by K. L. Darnell, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2001.

The Legend of the Voyageur, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2002.

The American Reader, illustrated by Kathryn L. Darnell, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2002.

The Legend of Leelanau, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2003.

The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2003.

V Is for Viking: A Minnesota Alphabet, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2003.

Contributor of poems to M Is for Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet, by Annie Appleford, illustrated by Michael G. Monroe, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 1999. Contributor to Voices of Michigan, Volume II: An Anthology of Michigan Authors, edited by Jane Winston, Mackinac Jane's Publishing Company (Warner Robbins, GA), 2000.

SIDELIGHTS:

Northern Michigan resident Kathy-jo Wargin has found a niche writing about the natural beauty, Native-American legends, and history of the Great Lakes region. She has written picture book versions of legends about such animals as bears, loons, and turtles, and about such places as Mackinac Island, the Leelanau Peninsula, and Lake Superior, the watery grave of the ore carrier Edumund Fitzgerald. "I like to retell old legends because of the wonderful messages they offer," she told Julia Durango of the Ottawa Daily Times. "I also believe it's important we keep history alive by remembering the stories passed down for generations through the oral tradition."

Nature and music have long been a part of Wargin's life. Born in Tower, Minnesota, she grew up in Grand Rapids, and later studied music at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. She parlayed her interest in the music of instruments into the music of words in her picture books. After teaming up with her husband, photographer Ed Wargin, to create Scenic Driving Michigan, she authored The Legend of Sleeping Bear, which was the first children's book for Michigan-based Sleeping Bear Press. In it, she retells the Native-American tale of the great sleeping bear who waits for her cubs, which have been turned into the Manitou Islands, in Lake Michigan, west of the Leelanau Peninsula. This was the first of many Wargin titles to be illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, a Dutch artist who came to the United States because of its natural beauty, serving as an art director for Michigan Natural Resources magazine before embarking on a picture book-illustrating career. With more than 200,000 copies sold, The Legend of the Sleeping Bear became a mainstay of Sleeping Bear Press and was named the Official Children's Book of Michigan in 1998.

Following up on this success, Wargin wrote about several other Michigan legends, including The Legend of Mackinac Island. Pronounced "Ma-ki-naw," this island lies east of St. Ignace in the Straits of Mackinac and has long played a role in Michigan history. In Wargin's retelling of a Native-American creation tale, the painted turtle Makinauk and his animal friends discover land in an ancient time when all the earth was covered with water. Several of Wargin's subsequent picture books feature Native-American girls. For instance, The Legend of the Lady's Slipper, which Cathy Collison of the Detroit Free Press called a "lovely story," recounts the tale of young Running Flower, who must make a desperate dash through the forest in an attempt to save the people of her village. And in The Legend of Leelanau, young Leelinau enters the forbidden Spirit Wood, where, not wanting to grow up, she plays with the Pukwudijinees, or tiny fairies. In Kirkus Reviews, a critic praised Wargin's version of the Leelinau legend, calling it "a fluid retelling that even young listeners will comprehend and older readers will enjoy."

Among Wargin's other books are educational alphabet primers about the states of Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota; The Michigan Reader for Boys and Girls, full of stories and activities for readers of various ages; and The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell, about the sinking of the famous ore freighter in 1975.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Daily Times (Ottawa, IL), February 20, 2001, Julia Durango, "Kathy-jo Wargin's Illinois Alphabet."

Detroit Free Press, June 10, 2001, Cathy Collison, review of The Legend of the Lady's Slipper, p. 5; October 21, 2001, Janis Campbell, review of The Michigan Reader for Boys and Girls, p. 5.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of The Legend of Leelanau, p. 613.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 7, 2001, Mary Harris Russell, review of L Is for Lincoln: An Illinois Alphabet, p. 5.*

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Wargin, Kathy-jo 1965-

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