Addy, Sharon Hart 1943-

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Addy, Sharon Hart 1943-

Personal

Born February 3, 1943, in Oak Creek, WI; daughter of Earl (a bricklayer and janitor) and Gertrude (a caterer) Hart; married Gordon Addy (a hydraulic repairman), August 9, 1969; children: Mari Jo Burri, Jill. Education: University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, B.E., 1964. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.

Addresses

Home and office—Wisconsin Dells, WI. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Freelance writer, speaker and teacher. Fifth-grade teacher in Stone Bank, WI, 1964-66, Commerce City, CO, 1966, and Oak Creek, WI, 1967-70; substitute teacher in Oak Creek, 1983-87; Community Newspapers, Inc., Milwaukee, WI, staff and features writer, 1985-90. Institute of Children's Literature, West Redding, CT, instructor, beginning 1995.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Awards, Honors

Archer/Eckbald Children's Picture Book Award, and Outstanding Achievement in Children's Literature selection, Wisconsin Library Association, both for Right Here on This Spot; Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices designation, for A Visit with Great-Grandma; Betty Ren Wright Children's Picture Book Award honorable mention, and Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award nomination, both 2003, both for When Wishes Were Horses.

Writings

We Didn't Mean To ("Life and Living from a Child's Point of View" series), illustrated by Jay Blair, Raintree (Milwaukee, WI), 1981.

A Visit with Great-Grandma, illustrated by Lydia Halverson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1989.

Kidding around Milwaukee: What to Do, Where to Go, and How to Have Fun in Milwaukee, John Muir (Santa Fe, NM), 1997.

Right Here on This Spot, illustrated by John Clapp, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

When Wishes Were Horses, illustrated by Brad Sneed, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

In Grandpa's Woods, illustrated by Tamlyn Akins, Trails Custom Publishing (Black Earth, WI), 2004.

Lucky Jake, illustrated by Wade Zahares, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Contributor of short story "The Breakwater" to Wisconsin Seasons: Classic Tales of Life Outdoors, Cabin Bookshelf, 1998. Contributor of short stories, poems, and articles to children's magazines, including Highlights for Children, Boy's Quest, Hopscotch, Fun for Kidz and Pennywhistle Press.

Sidelights

A lifelong resident of Wisconsin, Sharon Hart Addy is the author of such well-received picture books as Right Here on This Spot and Lucky Jake. Addy's works for young readers are often recognized for their humorous narratives. "I love to make people laugh," the author stated in an interview on the Lori Calabrese Web log. "Laughter breaks down barriers. It makes people feel good about themselves and the people they're with. Life can be a pretty heavy experience. Laughter makes things lighter and easier to bear."

A number of Addy's books also incorporate her love of history. "Using historical settings … takes people out of their lives and connects them with the people who came before us," she remarked to Calabrese. "I firmly believe that ‘history’ is really ‘his story’ and ‘her story’—the stories of individuals who faced the same personal and interpersonal conflicts and needs we struggle with today. The trappings of life change, but basic human needs don't. Humans scramble, not always visibly, to find physical and emotional comfort. How people in the past achieved that comfort changed the world and created the world we have today."

Addy's picture book Right Here on This Spot was described as a "lyrical homage to humankind's relationship to the land" by a contributor in Publishers Weekly. The book "grew from an idea for a magazine article," the author told SATA. "A children's magazine planned an issue on the Great Lakes. Since I live near Lake Michigan and find archaeology interesting, I contacted the Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center and set up an interview with the Center's archaeologist. The day we met he didn't have time to talk, so he handed me a report on one of his digs. The magazine rejected the article, but I never forgot what I read in the report. He excavated a spot just a few miles from my house and found evidence that humans hunted at the edge of Ice Age glaciers. I got to thinking about all the people who lived on the land we occupy today. The result was Right Here on This Spot."

In Right Here on This Spot, a young narrator describes the historic artifacts that his grandfather finds on his cabbage farm, including a bone from a mastodon, an arrowhead, and a button from a U.S. soldier's Civil War uniform. "In Addy's stately text, spare language evokes the changes of seasons and of centuries," remarked the Publishers Weekly critic, and Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, praised the "simple poetic text" in Addy's tale.

When Wishes Were Horses, an "amusing twist on the traditional granted-wish-that-gets-out-of-control motif," according to School Library Journal critic Louise L. Sherman, centers on Zeb, a tired and overworked resident of Dry Gulch whose every desire suddenly comes true. While carrying a sack of flour, Zeb wishes for a horse to help ease his burden; before long, the town is filled with mares and stallions. "This cautionary tale, humorously told and illustrated, gets its message across gently and without didacticism," noted a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.

In Lucky Jake, a prospector's son learns to make the most of every opportunity. "As I was growing up, my mom taught me that you have to work for what you want," Addy remarked in her interview with Calabrese. "That idea seemed like an excellent theme for a story, so, mentally … I trolled through periods in history for a setting that would highlight that theme. The Gold Rush was perfect. Pa wants to strike it rich. Jake wants a pet, regular meals, and a few comforts of home."

Addy's tale focuses on Jake, a young gold panner who desperately hopes for a canine companion but settles for the only available pet: a pig. When the pig discovers some corn seeds in Pa's jacket, Jake plants and nurtures the corn, which attracts a goat that provides milk. Before long, Jake and Pa are feeding an army of hungry prospectors, and their fortunes soar. Lucky Jake earned strong reviews. "The sunny story is told in a deliberately deadpan, unruffled tone," noted Horn Book contributor Susan Dove Lempke, and a critic in Publishers Weekly stated that "perceptive readers will recognize their providence has quite a bit to do with gumption, ingenuity and a sense of fairness—and, yup, luck too."

Addy once told SATA: "One of my strongest memories from second grade is walking home from school thinking about becoming a writer. I wanted to write stories as wonderful as the ones I read.

"When I reached ninth grade, I discovered I could handle words pretty well. That year my English teacher accused me of plagiarism over my description of a leaf rustling down the street. Three years later, the same teacher sent an article I wrote for the school paper to the local newspaper. They published it with my byline.

"Unfortunately, by this point my dream of becoming a writer was supplanted by the practical decision to become an elementary school teacher. In college I kept my vision of writing to myself. Real writers certainly didn't spend as much time as I did on a single paragraph!

"After graduation from college, I taught fifth grade for several years, then married and left teaching to raise my family. I started writing while my girls watched Sesame Street, and I've been at it ever since. I write anything I get a good idea for—stories, articles, poetry, riddles, books.

"I wrote We Didn't Mean To after I learned that a series of books about problems children encounter could use a book on vandalism. A Visit with Great-Grandma grew out of an article I did as a feature writer for the local newspaper. My editor asked for a story about people who immigrated to America. The great-grandmas I interviewed didn't speak English very well, but they both enjoyed visiting with their great-grandchildren. I wondered how they communicated. As I played ‘What if?’ the story came together."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Right Here on This Spot, p. 449; December 1, 2002, Kay Weisman, review of When Wishes Were Horses, p. 671; April 15, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Lucky Jake, p. 52.

Horn Book, July-August, 2007, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Lucky Jake, p. 375.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of When Wishes Were Horses, p. 1120.

Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1999, review of Right Here on This Spot, p. 104; May 7, 2007, review of Lucky Jake, p. 58.

School Library Journal, November, 2002, Louise L. Sherman, review of When Wishes Were Horses, p. 110; July, 2007, Ieva Bates, review of Lucky Jake, p. 66.

ONLINE

Cooperative Children's Book Center Web site,http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/ (August 15, 2008), Sharon Hart Addy."

Lori Calabrese Web log,http://loricalabrese.blogspot.com/ (April 30, 2008), Lori Calabrese, interview with Addy.

Sharon Hart Addy Home Page,http://www.sharonhartaddy.com (August 15, 2008).