Coffelt, Nancy 1961-

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Coffelt, Nancy 1961-


Born 1961; married; children: one son. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis.


Home—Portland, OR. Agent—Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis, 353 Lexington Ave., 15th Fl., New York, NY 10016. E-mail—[email protected].


Fine artist and children's book author and illustrator. Presenter at schools.



Good Night, Sigmund, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1992.

Dogs in Space, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1993.

Tom's Fish, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1994.

The Dog Who Cried Woof, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1995.

What's Cookin'?: A Happy Birthday Counting Book, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

Pug in a Truck, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.


Fred Stays with Me!, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, Little Brown (New York, NY), 2007.


An artist and writer based in Oregon, Nancy Coffelt gets many of her story ideas from her pets. "Whether I am writing and illustrating children's books, creating designs for products or working on fine art, animals always seem to pop up," she admitted on her home page. Using her favorite medium—brightly colored pastels on black or white paper—she has created pictures books that include Dogs in Space, Tom's Fish, Pug in a Truck, and Fred Stays with Me!

An early picture-book effort, Dogs in Space finds pups living on a space station and going about the day-to-day activities of the average human astronaut living on the International Space Station. The book, which was created with the cooperation of NASA's Johnson Space Center, was cited by a Publishers Weekly critic for its "arresting" artwork and blend of "whimsy and fact," although the critic questioned whether the detailed information presented would be too sophisticated for a pre-school audience. More successful with critics, The Dog Who Cried Woof presents Coffelt's canine version of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," as a family dog who barks at everything, until he loses his voice and learns to be a more discrete woofer. In Booklist Stephanie Zvirin dubbed The Dog Who Cried Woof "a lively, funny" update on the traditional story that is paired with colorful art featuring "intriguing texture."

Dogs abound in other books by Coffelt. In Pug in a Truck an engaging pug dog tours the highways in the front seat of his owner's bright red tractor-trailer truck, sharing the excitement of life on the open road. In her text, Coffelt includes many road sounds, and includes a glossary of trucker terms. A Kirkus Reviews contributor praised the book's "kid-friendly narrative," adding that Coffelt's "bright" pastel illustrations feature "attractive simple shapes and text spotlighted in color." Noting that the story is geared toward boys beginning to read,

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School Library Journal reviewer Lynn K. Vanca wrote that children interested in big rigs "will breeze through the tale."

Illustrated by Tricia Tusa, Fred Stays with Me! sets its focus on a problem for many children: living in two places as children of divorced parents. In the story, al- though a girl has to move back and forth between two bedrooms and two homes and two neighborhoods, she is always accompanied by her rambunctious dog Fred. In Booklist Hazel Rochman commended Coffelt's "simple, first-person narrative and playful art," while Maura Bresnahan concluded in School Library Journal that Fred Stays with Me! is a "charming book that meshes text and illustrations seamlessly." "Coffelt offers a fresh, villain-free look at a split family," noted a Kirkus Reviews writer, adding that the story's young narrator "finds strength, love and reassuring consistency in the dear pooch who is all her own."

Tom's Fish marks a shift in focus for Coffelt due to the pet that takes center stage in its pages. The story focuses on a boy who gets a goldfish for his birthday. The fish, named Jessie, is unusual in that it swims upside down. When all efforts to right the tiny swimmer fail, the boy comes upon a unique solution: when watching Jessie, he will stand on his head! Praising Coffelt's pastel drawings (in which dogs do appear), Horn Book critic Lolly Robinson concluded that, "with its message that some folks are just different," Tom's Fish "avoids didacticism with its breezy pace and kind humor."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, February 15, 1993, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Dogs in Space, p. 1067; March 15, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Tom's Fish, p. 1371; April 1, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Dog Who Cried Woof, p. 1424; February 15, 2003, Diane Foote, review of What's Cookin'?: A Happy Birthday Counting Book, p. 1072; May 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of Fred Stays with Me!, p. 97.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2007, Deborah Stevenson, review of Fred Stays with Me!, p. 12.

Horn Book, September-October, 1994, Lolly Robinson, review of Tom's Fish, p. 573; July-August, 1995, Mary M. Burns, review of The Dog Who Cried Woof, p. 447; July-August, 2007, Kitty Flynn, review of Fred Stays with Me!, p. 376.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Pug in a Truck, p. 1068; May 15, 2007, review of Fred Stays with Me!

Publishers Weekly, March 8, 1993, review of Dogs in Space, p. 77; April 18, 1994, review of Tom's Fish, p. 61.

School Library Journal, April, 1993, Shirley Wilton, review of Dogs in Space, p. 94; May, 1994, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Tom's Fish, p. 90; May, 1995, Claudia Cooper, review of The Dog Who Cried Woof, p. 82; March, 2003, Eve Ortega, review of What's Cookin'?, p. 179; October, 2006, Lynn K. Vanca, review of Pug in a Truck, p. 103; June, 2007, Maura Bresnahan, review of Fred Stays with Me!, p. 96.


Nancy Coffelt Home Page, (May 1, 2008).

Nancy Coffelt Web log, (May 1, 2008).