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Borden, Louise 1949–

Borden, Louise 1949–

Personal

Born October 30, 1949, in Cincinnati, OH; daughter of William Lee (president of a sales distributorship) and Louise Walker; married Peter A. Borden (president of a sales distributorship), September 4, 1971; children: Catherine, Ayars (daughter), Ted. Education: Denison University, B.A. (history), 1971. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: "Spending time with my family and friends, writing, reading, gardening, tennis, skiing, travel, summers in Leland, Michigan, and the Cincinnati Reds."

Addresses

Home and office—Terrace Park, OH.

Career

Author. Meadowbrook School, Weston, MA, teaching assistant, 1971-73; Cincinnati Country Day School, Cincinnati, OH, pre-primary teacher, 1973-74; The Bookshelf (bookstore), Cincinnati, co-owner, 1988-91; writer and speaker. Member of board, Redeemer Nursery School, Cincinnati Children's Theater, and Hillsdale Alumni Association.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors' Guild, Authors League, Ohio Council of Teachers of Language Arts.

Awards, Honors

Parents' Choice award, Reading Magic Award, and Notable Social Studies Trade Book designation, National Council for Social Studies (NCSS)/Children's Book Council (CBC), all 1998, all for Paperboy; Notable Social Studies Trade Book designation, NCSS/CBC, 1999, for Good-bye, Charles Lindbergh; Parents' Choice award, 1999, for A. Lincoln and Me; Parents' Choice Recommended title, and Christopher Award, 2000, both for Good Luck, Mrs. K!; Smithsonian magazine Notable Book for Children designation, and Best Children's Book of the Year designation, both 2000, both for Sleds on Boston Common; Notable Social Studies Trade Book designation, NCSS/CBC, and International Reading Association (IRA) Teachers' Choice title, both 2001, both for Fly High!; Best Books for Children designation, 2003, for Touching the Sky; Notable Book designation, American Library Association, 2005, for The Journey That Saved Curious George.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens: A Book about the Four Seasons, illustrated by Lillian Hoban, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

The Neighborhood Trucker, illustrated by Sandra Speidel, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

The Watching Game, illustrated by Teri Weidner, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.

Albie the Lifeguard, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

Just in Time for Christmas, illustrated by Ted Lewin, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Mary Kay Kroeger) Paperboy, illustrated by Ted Lewin, Clarion (New York, NY), 1996.

Thanksgiving Is …, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II, illustrated by Michael Foreman, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 1997.

Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh: Based on a True Story, illustrated by Thomas B. Allen, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 1998.

Good Luck, Mrs. K!, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 1999.

A. Lincoln and Me, illustrated by Ted Lewin, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2000.

The Day Eddie Met the Author, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Mary Kay Kroeger) Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman, illustrated by Teresa Flavin, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2001.

America Is …, illustrated by Stacey Schuett, Margaret McElderry (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Trish Marx) Touching the Sky: Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright, illustrated by Peter Fiore, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2003.

Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude, illustrated by Erik Blegvad, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2004.

The A+ Custodian, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Margarget K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2004.

The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands, illustrated by Niki Daly, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2004.

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margaret and H.A. Rey, illustrated by Allan Drummond, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.

The Last Day of School, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

The John Hancock Club, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2007.

The Lost-and-Found Tooth, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Off to First Grade, illustrated by Joan Rankin, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor of poetry to Christmas in the Stable, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1990.

Author's works have been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.

Sidelights

A former school teacher, Louise Borden has written several books for young readers that take a gentle approach to childhood. A young boy realizes his dream of riding in his favorite truck in The Neighborhood Trucker, while in The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II, a fisherman's daughter helps come to the aid of Allied soldiers trapped on the beach at Dunkirk. Family traditions are the focus of Just in Time for Christmas, which a Publishers Weekly contributor described as "a poignant story, sparely and smoothly told," while in The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey she focuses on the amazing true-life story of a beloved children's author. Also true to life, Borden's picture book Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh is based on the real-life recollections of Harold Gilpin, who as a boy met the famed aviator when Lindbergh landed his plane in a field near Gilpin's Mississippi home. "More than just a retelling," asserted Booklist reviewer Shelle Rosenfeld, "the book explores the complex issues of age versus youth, modern technology versus the Old World, innocence versus experience," providing readers with "a moving story of how the ordinary can suddenly become extraordinary."

Borden was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1949, and inherited an interest in history from her grandmother. After graduating from college with a major in the subject, Borden worked at teaching positions in Weston, Massachusetts, and in her hometown of Cincinnati. In 1988 she indulged her lifelong love of books by becoming co-owner of a bookstore, The Bookshelf, and Borden's first book, Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens: A Book about the Four Seasons, was published the following year. "The sound of language and the poet's voice have always fascinated me," she once explained, "and so I think that writing picture books was a natural step for me. The sound and rhythm that are inherent in good picture books are a continuing challenge—to craft a text that has its own natural voice, as well as a good story line."

Borden started work on Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens after her second child began primary school. Her work as an assistant first-grade teacher gave her a good sense of how to write a beginning reader in a way that would help students sound out new words. She sent the book to Scholastic and was pleasantly surprised when they sent back a contract for its publication. Borden was even more pleased when her editor at Scholastic chose artist Lillian Hoban to create the pictures. "Everyone always asks if authors are pleased with the illustration for their books. I cannot now think of my words as separate from Lillian Hoban's wonderful pictures," Borden explained.

The Neighborhood Trucker, her second book, introduces Elliot Long, a little boy who loves to watch trucks roll by his home. His favorite is a cement truck from Sardinia Concrete with the number forty-four painted on its side; it is driven by a truck driver named Slim. "I had never looked twice at trucks until our son Ted pulled me into their loud, noisy, exciting world," Borden recalled. In a review for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Roger Sutton called The Neighborhood Trucker "a poetic … portrait of vocational obsession" and a "good bedtime choice for revved-up trucksters."

The Watching Game describes a game played by four cousins when they visit their grandmother in the country. Each child tries to be the first to spot the fox in the woods and to put out their grandfather's hat so the fox will know it has been seen. School Library Journal contributor Patricia Pearl noted that the story "emphasizes the significant themes of family love and respect for nature."

Borden creates another distinctive character in Albie the Lifeguard. In this story, a young boy realizes that his lack of skill as a swimmer will keep him off the local swim team. He decides instead to work lifeguard duty at his backyard swimming pool. By the end of the summer, he has gained the confidence to join his friends in swimming the entire lap-length of his town pool, in a story that "pays tribute to the natural ability of a child to recognize and respect his own timetable and abilities," according to School Library Journal contributor Liza Bliss. Also enthusiastic about the story, a Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed Albie the Lifeguard "a winning tale that indirectly and elegantly demonstrates the psyche's inventiveness."

The Little Ships is a fictionalized re-creation of an important historical event: the 1940 rescue of 300,000 Allied soldiers from the beach at Dunkirk, France, and to safety in Dover, England, by hundreds of small boats captained by naval officers and brave English fishermen. The story is told from the point of view of an English girl who, dressed as a boy, joins her fisherman father in helping to transport the soldiers. Jon Scieszka, writing in the New York Times Book Review, maintained that The Little Ships "gives a personal, memorable character to what might otherwise be an abstract chapter of history." Scieszka also praised Borden for the tone of her storytelling, noting that her young heroine "describes her exhaustion, and the spectacle of … troops fleeing from the beach to boats and back to England, in a spare and dramatic child's voice [that is] wonderfully free of patriotic preaching or moralizing."

Borden continues her exploration of wartime in The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands, illustrated by Niki Daly, and Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. In The Greatest Skating Race she focuses on three Dutch children who flee their country during wartime by skating along the country's frozen canals. Featuring illustrations by Robert Andrew Parker, Across the Blue Pacific introduces Molly Chrenshaw, a Midwestern third grader whose older neighbor, Ted Walker, a young man serving aboard a Naval cruiser posted on a submarine based in the South Atlantic during World War II. Borden uses what Rochman described as a "long, lucid first-person narrative" of a ten-year-old boy to provide the text for The Greatest Skating Race,and in School Library Journal Shawn Brommer described the book as a "slice of historical fiction [that] celebrates the bravery and resourcefulness of children." Written in free verse and based on the life of Borden's late uncle, Across the Blue Pacific was described by a Publishers Weekly critic as an "elegant book [that] speaks to the far-reaching effects of war and the healing power of memory." With its poignant story, the book pairs what Phelan described as a "short, graceful text and … evocative art," resulting into a story that captures "the profound effects that even a faraway war can have on those at home." Viewing Borden's book as a good supplement to a social studies curriculum, Heide Piehler concluded that Across the Blue Pacific "will provide a human perspective to nonfiction accounts and may also touch a chord with children who have loved ones serving abroad."

Enriched by Borden's "spare, lyrical text," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer, The Journey That Saved Curious George follows one couple's flight from Germany following the outbreak of World War II. A cosmopolitan Jewish couple, Margaret and H.A. Rey were living in Paris when they heard that the Nazis were taking control of the city. Taking few possessions—among which was the manuscript of what would become the classic picture book Curious George—the Reys bicycled south of Paris, traveling by train to Lima before sailing to Rio de Janiero and then to New York City. In addition to photographs and other archival materials, The Journey That Saved Curious George contains "spirited ink-and-watercolor illustrations" by artist Allan Drummond, according to Phelan. Borden's historical account is "well worth reading for its accessible portrayal of the Reys' personal adventure at a pivotal point in modern history," Phelan concluded in her Booklist review, and in School Library Journal Barbara Auerbach maintained that the author's in-depth research into "personal papers, notebooks, and photographs," as well as her interviews with the Reys' acquaintances, make The Journey That Saved Curious George "richly detailed." According to a Publishers Weekly contributor, Borden's text recrafts the Reys' story into "a stirring, uplifting and elegantly packaged saga."

In Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh Borden presents another fictional recreation of an actual event. "I saw a ‘Dear Abby’ letter in my local paper with the name Lindbergh in the title," the author once recalled. "[This] caught my eye because I admired Anne Morrow Lindbergh's writing. I read the letter from Harold Gilpin of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, that told of his meeting Charles Lindbergh near the Mississippi farm that Gilpin grew up on. I immediately pictured an image of a boy on his horse looking up into the sky to see a biplane. I thought that contrast was remarkable: the ordinary meeting the extraordinary. I filed the newspaper clipping but carried the image inside, hoping to someday find a way to write a book about a Mississippi boy meeting the nation's hero."

"A few years later, when I decided to write the book, I actually tracked down Harold Gilpin. We corresponded via phone and mail for several months, and in January 1995, I flew to Arkansas to meet the Gilpins in person…. I then drove 175 miles to Canton, Mississippi, so that I could get a feel for the setting of the book. I returned to Cincinnati, contacted the National Air and Space Museum, researched biplanes, read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's journals, listened to the taped interview of Harold Gilpin that I had made in Pine Bluff, and then began writing the story."

Borden revisits the subject of flight in Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright, written with coauthor Trish Marx, and Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman, a collaboration with writer Mary Kay Kroeger. The Wright Brothers made their historic first ascent into the heavens in December of 1903, and less than six years later they publicly revealed their invention in highly publicized flights over New York Harbor as well as in Berlin, Germany. Coleman, who grew up picking cotton in Texas, became the first African American to earn a pilot's license. Borden and Coleman's free-verse text combines with Peter Fiore's watercolor illustrations to make Touching the Sky what a Kirkus Reviews writer called a "unique recognition of two American heroes," while Harriett Fargnoli concluded in School Library Journal that Touching the Sky combines "Fiore's detailed watercolors" and a "narrative … laced with engaging facts [that] … are successfully married to the pictures." Borden's "flair for imparting history soars" in this book, Gay Lynn Van Vleck commented in a review of Fly High! for School Library Journal.

In Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude Borden brings to life a fascinating true story. Set in the eighteenth century, her free-verse narrative follows English carpenter John Harrison and his forty-year search for the answer to the centuries-old question of how to determine longitude—and thereby one's exact location—while on a ship at sea. The author "details Harrison's dedication, perseverance, and ingenuity" in achieving his goal by inventing the chronometer, noted School Library Journal critic Joy Fleishhacker. The "measured pace" of Borden's writing "helps readers to keep the details straight," the critic added, "and the scientific concepts are clearly explained and smoothly incorporated" into the book's text. Praising the book's "unintimidating" verse, Jennifer Mattson added in Booklist that in Sea Clocks Borden will "inspire" young readers in her "scientific Cinderella story."

Borden's picture book Good Luck, Mrs. K! is also based on a real-life experience. Told in the words of a nine-year-old narrator and illustrated by Adam Gustavson, the story centers on a favorite teacher who is hospitalized with cancer. "It is about an exceptional third-grade teacher and her class," the author once noted. "Mrs. K. is a composite of the many wonderful teachers whom I have met during my school visits—this is my way to honor them. The story is also based on a teacher I knew, a great friend, who had cancer. Essentially, it's a book about the joy of teaching and learning."

In The Day Eddie Met the Author Borden recalls her own experiences as a visiting author to write about a little boy who thinks very hard about what question to ask when a real live writer visits his school. He is crushed when he does not get a chance to ask his question during the assembly, but luckily he bumps into the author later and gets his answer. Lee Bock, who reviewed the book for School Library Journal, called The Day Eddie Met the Author "enjoyable to read." Citing the detailed artwork by Gustavson, Bock also found the book to be "gently instructive" in helping to prepare children for author visits at their own schools.

Other collaborations between Borden and artist Gustavson include The A+ Custodian, The Last Day of School, The John Hancock Club, and The Lost-and-Found Tooth. Borden involves young readers in an elementary school where students and teachers work together to let school custodian Mr. Carillo know that they appreciate his many efforts. In The Last Day of School the excitement mounts in Mrs. Mallory's third-grade classroom as Matthew Perez tries to find the right time to give his teacher a special gift. "Borden's prose is accomplished but accessible," noted a Kirkus Reviews writer in a review of The Last Day of School, while in School Library Journal Susan Hepler predicted that The A+ Custodian features a "story [that] is sure to move youngsters."

"I think that I learned the craft of writing through osmosis, because long before I was a writer of books for children, I was a reader," Borden once explained. "And because reading has brought me so much pleasure—has given me most of what I have inside my head and inside my heart—it is a real thrill today to realize that maybe one of my books will hook a child into the same wonderfully rich world that I was drawn to at an early age."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Thanksgiving Is …, pp. 925-926; March 1, 1998, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh: Based on a True Story; July, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Good Luck, Mrs. K!, p. 1942; November 15, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of A. Lincoln and Me, p. 622; July, 2000, Kay Weisman, review of Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution, p. 2028; February 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman, p. 1152; March 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of The Day Eddie Met the Author, p. 1275; September 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright, p. 233; December 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude, p. 674; September 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of The A+ Custodian, p. 129; October 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands, p. 328; October 15, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margaret and H.A. Rey, p. 45; February 1, 2006, Karin Snelson, review of The Last Day of School, p. 53; April 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story, p. 42.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1990, Roger Sutton, review of The Neighborhood Trucker, p. 79; April, 1997 review of The Little Ships, p. 276; July, 2000, review of Sleds on Boston Common, p. 391; January, 2005, Elizabeth Bush, review of The Greatest Skating Race, p. 201.

Horn Book, November, 2000, Mary M. Burns, review of Sleds on Boston Common, p. 743; May-June, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Across the Blue Pacific, p. 289; September-October, 2004, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Greatest Skating Race, p. 564; September-October, 2005, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Journey That Saved Curious George, p. 599; May-June, 2006, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Across the Blue Pacific, p. 289.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1997, review of The Little Ships, p. 549; October 1, 1999, review of A. Lincoln and Me, pp. 1574-1575; September 15, 2004, review of The Greatest Skating Race, p. 576; August 1, 2005, review of The Journey That Saved Curious George, p. 844; January 1, 2006, review of The Last Day of School, p. 38; April 1, 2006, review of Across the Blue Pacific, p. 342; January 1, 2006, review of The Last Day of School, p. 38; June 15, 2007, review of The John Hancock Club; June 1, 2008, review of The Lost-and-Found Tooth; June 15, 2008, review of Off to First Grade.

New York Times Book Review, May 18, 1997, John Scieszka, "War Is Heck," p. 25; October 17, 1999, Perry Nodelman, review of Good Luck, Mrs. K!, p. 31.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1993, review of Albie the Lifeguard, p. 87; September 19, 1994, review of Just in Time for Christmas, p. 30; April 9, 1998, review of Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh, p. 78; May 17, 1999, review of Good Luck, Mrs. K!, p. 79; November 1, 1999, review of A. Lincoln and Me, p. 83; August 14, 2000, review of Sleds on Boston Common, p. 355; December 4, 2000, review of Fly High!, p. 73; August 15, 2005, review of The Journey That Saved Curious George, p. 59; May 29, 2006, review of Across the Blue Pacific, p. 58.

School Library Journal, August, 1991, Patricia Pearl, review of The Watching Game, p. 142; June, 1993, Liza Bliss, review of Albie the Lifeguard, p. 70; March, 1998, Patricia Dole, review of Goodbye, Charles Lindbergh, p. 166; March, 1998, Gale W. Sherman, review of Thanksgiving Is …, p. 192; May, 1999, Jackie Hechtkopf, review of Good Luck, Mrs. K!, p. 86; October, 1999, Linda Greengrass, review of A. Lincoln and Me, p. 1942; December, 2000, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Sleds on Boston Common, p. 97; January, 2001, Gay Lynne Van Vleck, review of Fly High!, p. 114; May, 2001, Lee Bock, review of The Day Eddie Met the Author, p. 110; October, 2003, Harriett Fargnoli, review of Touching the Sky, p. 144; January, 2004, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Sea Clocks, p. 110; December, 2004, Shawn Brommer, review of The Greatest Skating Race, p. 98; October, 2005, Barbara Auerbach, review of The Journey That Saved Curious George, p. 182; March, 2006, Mary Elam, review of The Last Day of School, p. 175; May, 2006, Heide Piehler, review of Across the Blue Pacific, p. 84; June, 2007, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of The John Hancock Club, p. 92.

ONLINE

Houghton Mifflin Web site,http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (July 15, 2008), "Louise Borden."

Louise Borden Home Page,http://www.louiseborden.com (July 9, 2008).

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