Weiss, Nicki 1954-

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WEISS, Nicki 1954-

PERSONAL: Born January 25, 1954, in New York, NY; daughter of Harry (a textile importer) and Lyla (a sculptress; maiden name, Gutman) Weiss. Education: Union College, B.A., 1976.

ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Office—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022.

CAREER: Scheck-Rosenblum Textiles, Inc., New York, NY, textile designer, 1977-79; freelance textile designer, 1979-81; freelance author/illustrator, 1981—. Preschool teacher at Walden School in New York, NY, 1983-84; kindergarten teacher in New York City Public Schools, 1993—. Visiting author in schools and libraries, 1983—.


for children; self-illustrated

Menj!, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1981.

Waiting, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1981.

Chuckie, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1982.

Hawk and Oogie, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1982.

Maude and Sally, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1983.

Weekend at Muskrat Lake, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1984.

Battle Day at Camp Delmont, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1985.

Princess Pearl, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1986.

A Family Story, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1987.

If You're Happy and You Know It, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1987.

Barney Is Big, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1988.

Where Does the Brown Bear Go?, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1988.

Sun Sand Sea Sail, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1989.

Dog Boy Cap Skate, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1989.

Surprise Box, Putnam (New York, NY), 1991.

On a Hot, Hot Day, Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.

The First Night of Hanukkah, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1992.

Stone Men, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1993.

The World Turns Round and Round, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2000.

for children

Scoop!: Fishbowl Fun, Simple Addition, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Shopping Spree: Identifying Shapes, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Snap! Charlie Gets the Whole Picture, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

How Many?, How Much?, Measuring, illustrated by Rosemary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Mmmm—Cookies!: Simple Subtraction, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Pop!: ABC Letters and Sounds: Learning the Alphabet, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

The Biggest Pest: Comparisons, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Birthday Cake Candles: Counting, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Guess What!: Drawing Conclusions, illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

SIDELIGHTS: It is through the combination of words, illustrations, and overall design that Nicki Weiss creates her picture books, which range from lively, fun read-alouds to sensitive, warm stories. Weiss began publishing her self-illustrated titles while still in her twenties and has continued to release new books even while working as an elementary school teacher. One of her favorite themes is coping with change. The young heroes of such books as Hank and Oogie, Maude and Sally, and Barney Is Big bravely face such situations as the first day of school and making new friends. In other Weiss picture books, family relationships are examined and celebrated, as in The World Turns Round and Round, in which school children receive gifts from grandparents all over the globe.

Among Weiss's first books is the picture book Waiting. A youngster named Annalee waits in the yard for her mother's return from the store and is so eager for the reunion that she mistakes certain events for her mother's return. A Kirkus Reviews critic wrote that the "still, boundless setting is … a metaphor for the stop-time endlessness of Annalee's wait. One small idea, wholly realized." In Hank and Oogie, the title character must face that fact that his favorite stuffed animal, Oogie, is not necessarily welcome in kindergarten. A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that Weiss "treats with sensitivity and humor the need for children to adjust to changes wrought by the years."

Best friends Maude and Sally inhabit two Weiss books, Maude and Sally and Battle Day at Camp Delmont. In the first title, Maude must cope with Sally's absence through a long summer, and in the second Maude and Sally—both at camp this time—have to compete against each other in a field day competition. Peggy Forehand, writing in School Library Journal, noted that in Maude and Sally Weiss "sensitively portrays the warmth and fun of friendships with all the insecurities that youngsters experience in relationships."

Sibling and intergenerational relationships animate some of Weiss's books, including Weekend at Muskrat Lake, Princess Pearl, and A Family Story. In the first two stories, Pearl comes to terms with her place in the family and learns that love exists between herself and her sister. A Family Story follows a pair of sisters, Rachel and Annie, as they grow up and start families of their own. A Family Story "is a warm, loving look at the rare and wonderful relationships between big girls and little girls," observed School Library Journal contributor Lucy Young Clem. A Publishers Weekly reviewer likewise felt that the book "celebrates love in this softspoken and endearing telling." The 1993 story Stone Men explores the bond between Arnie and his grandmother as she tells him a folktale passed from one generation to the next. A Publishers Weekly critic concluded: "Economy in prose and art produces a picture book with … power and pungency."

Weiss has also produced several well-received picture books meant to be read aloud to very young children. These combine pastel pictures with rhymes and repetitions that youngsters can quickly pick up themselves. Where Does the Brown Bear Go? asks where a variety of woodland creatures sleep. Horn Book correspondent Elizabeth S. Watson described the title as "an exquisite book to end a young one's day." On a Hot, Hot Day celebrates the changing seasons in an inner city neighborhood; Ellen Fader in Horn Book praised the work as an "unassuming and reassuring domestic slice of life." In The World Turns Round and Round, a class of school children compares the gifts sent to them by their grandparents, some of whom live in foreign lands. The book introduces foreign words for "grandmother" as well as the traditional clothing and hats of such places as Mexico, Egypt, and Vietnam. Bina Williams in School Library Journal called the book a "fine introduction to world cultures," and Reading Today correspondent Lynne T. Burke commended it as a "simple celebration of geography."



Horn Book, September-October, 1986, Ann A. Flowers, review of Princess Pearl, p. 584; May-June, 1989, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Where Does the Brown Bear Go?, p. 366; May-June, 1992, Ellen Fader, review of On a Hot, Hot Day, p. 335.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1981, review of Waiting, p. 1008.

New York Times Book Review, April 25, 1982.

Publishers Weekly, July 2, 1982, review of Hank and Oogie, p. 55; March 20, 1987, review of A Family Story, p. 78; July 28, 1989, reviews of Dog Boy Cap Skate and Sun Sand Sea Sail, p. 218; February 24, 1992, review of On a Hot, Hot Day, p. 53; February 1, 1993, review of Stone Men, p. 94; October 16, 2000, review of The World Turns Round and Round, p. 76.

Reading Today, October, 2000, Lynne T. Burke, review of The World Turns Round and Round, p. 32.

School Library Journal, September, 1981, Carolyn Noah, review of Waiting, p. 116; May, 1983, Peggy Forehand, review of Maude and Sally, pp. 67-68; December, 1984, Robin Fenn Elbot, review of Weekend at Muskrat Lake, p. 78; June-July, 1987, Lucy Young Clem, review of A Family Story, p. 91; July, 1992, Liza Bliss, review of On a Hot, Hot Day, pp. 65-66; July, 1993, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Stone Men, pp. 73-74; October, 2000, Bina Williams, review of The World Turns Round and Round, p. 141.*