Born in MI; married; husband's name Michael; children: Max. Education: University of Michigan, B.A.; American University (Washington, DC), M.F.A.
Writer. Worked variously as a waitress, General Motors assembly-line worker, preschool teacher, pianist, advertising copywriter, reference-book editor, news reporter, and high-school English teacher.
Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, Sleuth/Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator and Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake were recorded as audiobooks, Recorded Books, 2005 and 2006.
Author and former teacher Jennifer Allison grew up in a small town in Michigan, where she spent many a humid summer reading at the local library. A talented pianist, Allison attended the University of Michigan on a music scholarship, but switched her major to English shortly after her freshman year. She went on to work at a variety of jobs before publishing her first novel, including reporting on healthcare news and teaching high-school English. Allison made her publishing debut in 2005 with Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, which introduces a spunky ninth-grader with a talent for stirring up the supernatural. Allison's likeable protagonist, popular with middle-grade readers, has been compared favorably by critics to both time-honored teen sleuth Nancy Drew and to Louise Fitzhugh's popular fictional character Harriet the Spy. In addition to penning the continuing adventures of Gilda Joyce, Allison also serves as a tutor to young writers.
Still saddened by the death of her beloved father two years prior, thirteen-year-old Gilda decides to develop the skills needed to communicate with the dead in Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator. When her determination leads to some success—she discovers that she can communicate with her father through her typewriter—she then decides to seek out other ways to expand her skills. During the summer break before ninth grade, Gilda wrangles an invitation to visit some distant relatives who are living in a rambling Victorian mansion in San Francisco. Soon after arriving, the teen finds herself
nose-deep in mystery when she learns about a mysterious death: that of her cousin's sister, who committed suicide years ago. Gilda is determined that there is more to the story than anyone will admit, and she decides to track down the ghostly witnesses that will help her solve the mystery.
School Library Journal reviewer Connie Tyrrell Burns enjoyed Allison's publishing debut, stating that "zany, likable Gilda Joyce deserves a place right next to her inspiration, Harriet the Spy. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator "surprisingly spooky" and added that "Gilda's earnest and wacky personality accompanied by her dry wit make this an amusing as well as suspenseful mystery." Ilene Cooper also enjoyed Allison's work, giving the book "high marks for substance" in her Booklist review.
Gilda's adventures continue in Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake, which finds the sleuth knee-sock deep in mystery when she meets up with a ghostly student after beginning her own studies at an exclusive girl's high school called Our Lady of Sorrows. In School Library Journal, Lauralyn Persson praised the return of Allison's "funny, engaging" heroine, adding that, like the "Nancy Drew" books, Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake "is an irreverent, well-written addition to the too-small collection of engrossing mysteries for junior high readers."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, p. 1542; March 15, 2006, Karen Cruze, review of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, p. 73.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2005, review of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, p. 677.
School Library Journal, July, 2005, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, p. 95; September, 2006, Lauralyn Persson, review of Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake, p. 200.
Jennifer Allison Home Page,http://www.gildajoyce.com (September 10, 2006).
Penguin Group USA Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (September 10, 2006), "Jennifer Allison."