Cleary, Brian P. 1959–

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Cleary, Brian P. 1959–

Personal

Born October 1, 1959, in Lakewood, OH; son of Michael J. (an international businessman) and Suzanne Cleary; children: Grace, Ellen, Emma. Ethnicity: "Irish-American." Education: John Carroll University, B.A., 1982. Religion: Roman Catholic.

Addresses

Home and office—16505 Southland Ave, Cleveland, OH 44111. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Humor writer and freelance copywriter. American Greetings, senior editor.

Awards, Honors

Children's Choice selection, International Reading Association/Children's Book Council, 1996, for Give Me Bach My Schubert and Rainbow Poetry; Pick of the List citations, American Booksellers Association, 1999, 2000; Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Juvenile/Young Adult Nonfiction, 2002, for To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What Is a Verb?; Honor Book designation, Society of School Librarians International, 2002.

Writings

Jamaica Sandwich?, illustrated by Rick Dupre, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

It Looks a Lot like Reindeer, illustrated by Rick Dupre, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

Give Me Bach My Schubert, illustrated by Rick Dupre, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

You Never Sausage Love, illustrated by Rick Dupre, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?, illustrated by Jenya Prosmitsky, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?, illustrated by Jenya Prosmitsky, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What Is a Verb?, illustrated by Jenya Prosmitsky, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.

Under, Over, by the Clover: What Is a Preposition?, illustrated by Brian Gable, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

Nearly, Dearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb?, illustrated by Brian Gable, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

I and You and Don't Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun?, illustrated by Brian Gable, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry, illustrated by Neal Layton, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Pinch and Throw, Grasp and Know: What Is a Synonym?, illustrated by Brian Gable, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

The Mission of Addition, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?: What Are Homonyms and Homophones?, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.

Stop and Go, Yes and No: What Is an Antonym?, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

A Lime, a Mime, a Pool of Slime: More about Nouns, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Rhyme and Punishment: Adventures in Wordplay, illustrated by J.P. Sandy, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale, illustrated by David Udovic, Kar-Ben (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

The Action of Subtraction, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Quirky, Jerky, Extra-Perky: More about Adjectives, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Slide and Slurp, Scratch and Burp: More about Verbs, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide, illustrated by Brian Gable, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

The Laugh Stand: Adventures in Humor, illustrated by J.P. Sandy, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

On the Scale: A Weighty Tale, illustrated by Brian Gable, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Contributor of humor articles, essays, features, and cartoons to magazines.

Sidelights

Humorist Brian P. Cleary has filled his children's books with good clean fun. His picture books Jamaica Sandwich?, It Looks a Lot like Reindeer, Give Me Bach My Schubert, and You Never Sausage Love rely heavily on pun-filled wordplay and are geared to entertain. His more-recent books have another purpose: to explain in an entertaining way several fundamental parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, homophones, synonyms, antonyms, and prepositions. As Cleary once told SATA, "I believe humor increases vocabulary, ignites curiosity and, therefore, teaches." Collectively called the "Words Are CATegorical" series, his humorous grammar-based titles have sold nearly two million copies. Additionally, Cleary has also written cartoon gags and humor essays, and has been a senior editor for American Greetings, a card company that is also one of the five largest creative companies in the world.

On his home page, Cleary described himself as a "frustrated student and reluctant learner." It was not until he was introduced to poetry as a third grader that he realized the power of words. He began writing on his own, usually funny bits, and by grade five he had sold a joke to a local radio station. "Discovering that I was good at something (writing quirky verse) gave me more confidence," he stated.

With his books, particularly in the "Words Are CATegorical" series, as well as with his school visits, Cleary's goal is "to kickstart a similar fascination with words among today's elementary schoolers" to the one he experienced. For A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun? he creates "humorous rhymes" that are combined with "silly illustrations," according to Lisa Gangemi in School Library Journal. Using his "witty zeal," Cleary concocts "certainly one of the least serious grammar lessons imaginable," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted of the same book. In Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? cartoon cats play among an array of adjectives, in a book that Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman predicted will "appeal to kids" because of its exaggeration, wordplay, and nonsensical situations. Writing in School Library Journal, Adele Greenlee called the work a "lighthearted, multifaceted illustration of the importance of adjectives." In keeping with its companion volumes, To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What Is a Verb? reviews the definition and use of verbs with the help of slapstick cartoon cats. Together, according to Elaine Lesh Morgan in School Library Journal, rhymes and cartoons "painlessly teach a grammar lesson."

Under, Over, by the Clover: What Is a Preposition? sets each preposition in bright colors, making the part of speech obvious. Cleary's "humorous text does a solid but entertaining job of introducing different types of prepositions," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. In Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb? the author tackles words that describe actions, putting the cartoonish cats that accompany each book in the series through a variety of stunts. In Booklist, Carolyn Phelan wrote that I and You and Don't Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun? explains that part of speech "with precision, brevity, and wit." Discussing Pitch and Throw, Grasp and Know: What Is a Synonym? Gloria Koster concluded in School Library Journal that Cleary's "excellent text goes a long way toward establishing the importance of synonyms." Another book in the popular series, A Lime, a Mime, a Pool of Slime: More about Nouns, was "recommended as an antidote to snooze-producing grammar texts" by Phelan.

Cleary's poetry book Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry features the same puns and gags readers enjoy in his grammar books. Educational footnotes are provided that give readers literary definitions for parts and styles of poetry, and are "written in a tongue-in-cheek way that will engage young readers," according to Laura Reed in School Library Journal. Cleary's "verses are clever and comical," a Publishers Weekly critic noted, going on to suggest that young readers who find poetry unapproachable "may well warm up to its playful presentation here." Rhyme and Punishment: Adventures in Wordplay explains two of the basic structures involved in poetry and joke writing: rhymes and puns. Though noting that some of the puns might not be familiar to young readers, Grace Oliff noted in School Library Journal that the author's examples "are both amusing and get their point across." Despite his nickname of "word nerd," Cleary also tackles math basics in The Mission of Addition, The Action of Subtraction, and How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide. The last-named title "measures up quite nicely," according to a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.

Cleary's picture book Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book "reads like a tongue twister," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. He is also the author of Eight Wild Nights: A Family Hanukkah Tale, a picture book that describes a loving but chaotic family full of pets and guests during the Jewish holiday. Though noting that the book is not a traditional or reverent holiday tale, Teri Markson wrote in School Library Journal that the author's "amusing rhythmic text carries the action along from one crazy night to the next."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?, p. 1900; March 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Under, Over, by the Clover: What Is a Preposition?, p. 1132; April 1, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry, p. 1361; May 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of I and You and Don't Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun?, p. 1560; February 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Pitch and Throw, Grasp and Know: What Is a Synonym?, p. 956; January 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Lime, a Mime, a Pool of Slime: More about Nouns, p. 112.

Childhood Education, winter, 2000, Jorie Borden, review of Hairy, Scary, Ordinary, p. 107.

Children's Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Pitch and Throw, Grasp and Know.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1999, review of A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?, p. 1424; March 1, 2002, review of Under, Over, by the Clover, p. 331; February 1, 2003, review of Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb?, p. 227; March 15, 2007, review of Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes; July 15, 2007, review of How Long or How Wide?

Publishers Weekly, February 26, 1996, review of Jamaica Sandwich?, p. 105; August 9, 1999, review of A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink, p. 352; February 26, 2001, "More Where That Came From," p. 88; February 16, 2004, review of Rainbow Soup, p. 172; March 13, 2006, "True Companions," p. 68; September 25, 2006, review of Eight Wild Nights, p. 68; April 9, 2007, review of Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes, p. 52.

Reading Teacher, May, 2007, Nancy Livingston and Catherine Kurkjian, "Summer Reading: Books Too Good to Miss," p. 794.

School Library Journal, June, 1996, Kathy Piehl, review of Jamaica Sandwich?, p. 120; June, 1996, Ellen M. Riordan, review of It Looks a Lot like Reindeer, p. 120; December, 1996, Elizabeth Trotter, review of Give Me Bach My Schubert, p. 91; November, 1999, Lisa Gangemi, review of A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink, pp. 135-136; July, 2000, Adele Greenlee, review of Hairy, Scary, Ordinary, p. 92; July, 2001, Elaine Lesh Morgan, review of To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What Is a Verb?, p. 92; June, 2002, Wendy S. Carroll, review of Under, Over, by the Clover, p. 119; March, 2003, Dona Ratterree, review of Dearly,Nearly, Insincerely, p. 216; June, 2004, Steven Engelfried, review of Hair, Scary, Ordinary, p. 56, and Laura Reed, review of Rainbow Soup, p. 125; July, 2004, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of I and You and Don't Forget Who, p. 91; March, 2005, Gloria Koster, review of Pitch and Throw, Grasp and Know, p. 191; October, 2005, Barbara Auerbach, review of The Mission of Addition, p. 136; November, 2005, Maura Bresnahan, review of How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?, p. 112; June, 2006, Grace Oliff, review of Rhyme and Punishment, and Kathleen Muelen, review of Stop and Go, Yes and No, both p. 134; October, 2006, Teri Markson, review of Eight Wild Nights, p. 95; November, 2006, Jayne Damron, review of A Lime, a Mime, a Pool of Slime, and Erlene Bishop Killeen, review of The Action of Subtraction, both p. 118; May, 2007, June Wolfe, review of Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes, p. 114.

ONLINE

Authors Den Web site,http://www.authorsden.com/brianpcleary (December 3, 2007), "Brian P. Cleary."

Brian P. Cleary Home Page,www.brianpcleary.com (December 3, 2007).

Lakewood, Ohio Public Library Web site,http://www.lkwdpl.org/lfiles/cleary/ (December 3, 2007), "Brian P. Cleary."