Whitmore, Benette 1955-
Whitmore, Benette 1955-
Born December 17, 1955, in Syracuse, NY; daughter of Ben and Jeanette Whitmore; married; children: Eli and Kallie. Education: Queen's University, B.A., 1977; Syracuse University, M.A., 1980.
Home—Fayetteville, NY. Office—State University of New York, Department of Environmental Studies, 105 Moon Library, 1 Forestry Dr., Syracuse, NY 13210; fax: 315-470-6512. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]
Academic and writer. Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY, public relations director, 1980-82; Sargent-Webster-Crenshaw & Folley, Syracuse, NY, publications director, 1982-89; Community General Hospital, Syracuse, video producer, 1989-1994; Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, instructor; Syracuse University, Syracuse, writing instructor; State University of New York, Department of Environmental Studies, Syracuse, instructor.
Outstanding teaching award and President's Award for community service, both from Syracuse University.
A Quilt for Elizabeth, Centering (Omaha, NE), 1992.
Pappyland Activity Book, Volumes I and II (nonfiction), Craftsman & Scribes (Syracuse, NY), 1995.
The Little Shoe Book, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.
Real Stuck, Way Up, Barron's Educational (New York, NY), 1996.
Ghost Bat in a Gum Tree, Falcon Press (Helena, MT), 1998.
Shelter, Walker (New York, NY), 2006.
Head writer of thirty-five episodes of Public Broadcast Service's Pappyland. Contributor to journals and periodicals, including House Beautiful, Corporate Design, Building Design and Construction, Electric Light and Power, American School and University, Architectural Lighting, School and College, North American Review, and School Product News.
Benette Whitmore is an American academic and writer. Whitmore studied in Ontario, Canada, and in Syracuse, New York, and since graduation has worked primarily in the Syracuse area in a number of positions, including as the public relations director for the local Cazenovia College, as a publications director for an architecture firm, and as a video producer for Syracuse's Community General Hospital. She has also lectured in writing and in environmental studies at local universities and community colleges.
Whitmore served as the head writer for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) children's television program Pappyland. During this time she wrote thirty-five episodes. The drawing show, which also airs on the Learning Channel, appeared in over 165 television markets in the United States and was considered by TV Guide to be one of the best new children's programs on television in the 1990s. Whitmore also authored two activity books based on the show that cover instructions for making crafts, suggested reading lists, and lesson plans for teachers.
In 2006 Whitmore published Shelter. The book introduces Skyler Baxter, a sixteen-year-old girl who is charged by her teacher to create a video journal of her life over the summer. She lacks interest in the project at first, but slowly realizes that she is documenting serious problems within her life and those of her family members. Her mother builds a fallout shelter with the intention of protecting her family from any possible danger that would warrant such a shelter. The shelter, however, serves as a catalyst for bad things happening to the family. Will, her brother, uses the shelter as a place to hide his drug supply. It is also the place where he almost dies from an overdose. Her estranged father also has a serious drug abuse problem. Skyler loses her virginity to her brother's best friend, and later realizes that getting involved with him may have been a terrible decision. And her mother is also trapped in a relationship with a man who is too controlling. Eventually Skyler has recorded enough of her family's downward spiral and begins to take action to help each of them, including herself.
A contributor to Publishers Weekly described Whitmore's novel as "moving" and "often funny." The same contributor stated that "spare narrative charged with emotion eloquently expresses the growing tensions in the Baxter household." The critic added that "readers will sigh with relief" after Skyler begins to fix the problems she and her family members are dealing with. Kim Dare, writing in School Library Journal, noted that the book's formulaic writing and "melodramatic symbolism … make for a mediocre coming-of-age story." Dare also commented that "Whitmore fails to build on the theme of coping in today's terrorist-threatened world." A contributor to the Midwest Book Review agreed that the account was "moving." The contributor also called the book "an excellent leisure read" for teens and young adults.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2007, Karen Coats, review of Shelter, p. 234.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of Shelter, p. 915.
Midwest Book Review, September, 2007, review of Shelter.
Publishers Weekly, December 11, 2006, review of Shelter, p. 71.
School Library Journal, October, 2006, Kim Dare, review of Shelter, p. 175.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2006, Walter Hogan, review of Shelter, p. 436.
Benette Whitmore Home Page,http://www.benettewhitmore.com (January 28, 2008), author biography.