Baggott, Julianna 1969- (Bridget Asher, N.E. Bode)
Baggott, Julianna 1969- (Bridget Asher, N.E. Bode)
Born 1969; married David G.W. Scott (a writer); children: four. Education: University of North Carolina, Greensboro, M.F.A.
Home—FL. E-mail—[email protected].
Novelist and poet. Florida State University, associate director of creative-writing program; Kids in Need—Books in Deed, co-founder.
Girl Talk, Pocket (New York, NY), 2001.
This Country of Mothers, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2001.
The Miss America Family, Pocket (New York, NY), 2002.
The Madam, Atria (New York, NY), 2003.
Lizzie Borden in Love: Poems in Women's Voices, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2006.
(With Steve Almond) Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions, Algonquin (Chapel Hill, NC), 2006.
Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees (poetry), Pleiades (Warrensburg, MO), 2007.
ADULT FICTION; UNDER NAME BRIDGET ASHER
My Husband's Sweethearts, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2008.
The Pretend Wife, Bantam (New York, NY), 2009.
"ANYBODIES" TRILOGY; FOR CHILDREN; UNDER NAME N.E. BODE
The Anybodies, illustrated by Peter Ferguson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
The Nobodies, illustrated by Peter Ferguson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
The Somebodies, illustrated by Peter Ferguson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
FOR CHILDREN; UNDER NAME N.E. BODE
(Under name N.E. Bode) The Slippery Map, illustrated by Brandon Dorman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
The Prince of Fenway Park, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2009.
The Anybodies was optioned for film by Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies.
Since Julianna Baggott had her first novel published at age twenty-two, she has continued to produce books under her own name as well as under the pseudonyms N.E. Bode and Bridget Asher. Baggott is known primarily for her adult novels, many of which center around women whose family relationships are troubled and dysfunctional. Her first novel, Girl Talk, focuses on a mother-daughter relationship and opens as the daughter muses while preparing to give birth to her first child as a single mother. In her poetry, Baggott often concentrates on similar themes; her verse collection This Country of Mothers, for example, also focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters.
Baggott turns her attention to younger readers in her books written under the pen name N.E. Bode, a persona who is also a regular guest on XM radio. Her novel The Anybodies introduces readers to Fern Drudger, a girl who discovers that her very normal and very boring parents are not, in fact, the parents she was born to. Fern is actually the daughter of Bone, and both of them are "Anybodies," people who can take the shape of any other person or thing. Problematically, Bone is not very good at shape shifting, but he is attempting to further develop his abilities by studying a manual titled The Art of Being Anybody, which once belonged to Fern's mother. The manual is highly desired by Miser, an evil magician who hopes to use the powers of the book for his own dastardly plans. A Publishers Weekly critic described the book as "engaging in places," but also "overly precious." Mara Alpert writing in School Library Journal, compared The Anybodies to Lemony Snicket's fantasy series, as well as to Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, writing that "there's laugh-out-loud humor, fantasy, mystery, real-life family drama, and the potential for a sequel." Jennifer Mattson predicted in Booklist that "the loony goings-on will entice young bibliophiles back for future installments."
In The Nobodies Fern's adventures continue, this time alongside those of Howard, the real son of the Drudgers. The pair attends a camp that focuses on training Anybodies to use and control their shape-shifting abilities. At camp, Fern begins receiving messages in soda-pop bottles that explain that she has to save someone. When she discovers that the camp counselors have become trapped in animal form overnight. Fern must unravel the mystery before it is too late. A Kirkus Reviews critic found the novel to be "rich in mystery, action and self discovery."
In The Somebodies, the scope of Fern's adventure expands: she is now a royal Anybody, and she must inherit her grandmother's abilities to keep the evil Blue Queen from destroying the city of the Anybodies, under Manhattan. Howard continues to be a part of the story as Fern's best friend, a foil for Fern's adventurous bravery. The pace "will keep kids turning pages through an imaginative kaleidoscope of transformations," wrote Quinby Frank in School Library Journal. Critics noted that all three books in the series reference other well-known children's books, such as bottles labeled "Drink Me" that evoke Alice in Wonderland and trips in glass elevators, à la Roald Dahl's "Charlie" adventures. "The series remains a delight for better-read audiences," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.
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Also writing for children under her Bode pseudonym, Baggott produced The Slippery Map. Here ten-year-old orphan Oyster wishes to be the victim of a mysterious temporary disappearance, like several other children in his Baltimore neighborhood. Then he discovers that these strange disappearances have actually been aimed at him. In fact, Oyster is the child of the creators of Boneland, an imaginary world that has taken on a life of its own. His parents are still alive in Boneland, captured by evil Dark Mouth, and only Oyster can save them. Oyster "comes to understand the power of unleashed imagination and discovers the true meaning of family," Kim Dare summarized in School Library Journal, the critic adding that The Slippery Map contains less whimsy than The Anybodies. A Kirkus Reviews contributor found the novel to be "inventive and an awful lot of fun," and Jennifer Hubert wrote in Booklist that "readers will be tickled by the punny dialogue." A Publishers Weekly critic concluded of The Slippery Map that Baggott "effortlessly renders an expansive, entertainingly quirky cast … [in] snappy prose."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Antioch Review, fall, 2007, Malinda Markham, review of Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees, p. 766.
Booklist, November 15, 2000, Michelle Kaske, review of Girl Talk, p. 621; February 15, 2002, Carolyn Kubisz, review of The Miss America Family, p. 990; August, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of The Madam, p. 1950; July, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Anybodies, p. 1841; June 1, 2005, Chris Sherman, review of The Nobodies, p. 1806; April 1, 2006, Debi Lewis, review of Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions, p. 16; November 1, 2007, Jennifer Hubert, review of The Slippery Map, p. 47.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2002, review of The Miss America Family, p. 63; May 15, 2004, review of The Anybodies, p. 487; May 15, 2005, review of The Nobodies, p. 584; February 15, 2006, review of Which Brings Me to You, p. 143; August 1, 2006, review of The Somebodies, p. 781; August 15, 2007, review of The Slippery Map; July 1, 2008, review of My Husband's Sweethearts.
Library Journal, March 1, 2006, Beth Gibbs, review of Which Brings Me to You, p. 76.
New York Times Book Review, April 1, 2001, Elizabeth Judd, review of Girl Talk, p. 16.
Prairie Schooner, summer, 2008, Carrie Shipers, review of Lizzie Borden in Love: Poems in Women's Voices, p. 170.
Publishers Weekly, November 20, 2000, review of Girl Talk, p. 43; April 1, 2003, review of The Miss America Family, p. 53; June 30, 2003, review of The Madam, p. 51; May 24, 2004, review of The Anybodies, p. 63; February 6, 2006, review of Which Brings Me to You, p. 40; September 24, 2007, review of The Slippery Map, p. 71.
School Library Journal, July, 2004, Mara Alpert, review of The Anybodies, p. 98; July, 2005, B. Allison Gray, review of The Nobodies, p. 96; September, 2006, Quinby Frank, review of The Somebodies, p. 200; December, 2007, Kim Dare, review of The Slippery Map, p. 120.
Julianna Baggott Home Page,http://www.juliannabaggott.com (February 14, 2009).