Comora, Madeleine

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Comora, Madeleine

Personal

Born in CA; married Rahul Bhushan (an artist); children: twin boys. Education: Otis Art Institute, B.F.A. (fine arts).

Addresses

Home—Glendale, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer and educator. University of California Los Angeles Extension, instructor in writers' program.

Awards, Honors

National Council of Teachers of English Notable Picture Book designation, Children's Literature Council award, Best Children's Book, State of New Mexico, and Parents' Choice Recommended designation, all 200d3, and Land of Enchantment Book Award, 2007, all for George Washington's Teeth; Honor Book designation, Society of School Librarians International, 2006, and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People designation, National Council of Socials Studies/Children's Book Council, and Independent Publishers Book Award, both 2008, all for Taj Mahal.

Writings

(With Deborah Chandra) George Washington's Teeth, illustrated by Brock Cole, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2003.

Rembrandt and Titus: Artist and Son, illustrated by Thomas Locker, Fulcrum Publishing (Golden, CO), 2005.

(Caroline Arnold) Taj Mahal, illustrated by Rahul Bhushan, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Contributor of poetry to anthologies, including Call Down the Moon: Poems of Music, edited by Myra Cohn Livingston, Margaret McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1995; I Am Writing a Poem About … : A Game of Poetry, edited by Livingston, Margaret McElderry Books, 1997; Marvelous Math, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997; Dino-Roars, edited by Hopkins, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999; Yummy: Eating through a Day, edited by Hopkins, Simon & Schuster, 2000; Dirty Launtry Pile: Poems in Different Voices, edited by Paul Janeczko, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001; Anthology of Poetry for Children, Benchmark Press, 2001; A Pet for Me, edited by Hopkins, HarperCollins, 2003; and Oh No! Where Are My Pants?, and Other Disasters, edited by Hopkins, HarperCollins, 2005. Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Cricket.

Sidelights

A poet and author, Madeleine Comora studied with noted poet Myra Cohn Livingston before teaching her own class in poetry at the University of California Los Angeles. Inspired by her interests and her travels, Comora has written several books for younger readers that bring to light unusual elements from history. Her coauthored picture books George Washington's Teeth and Taj Mahal focus on a president's plight and an immortalized love, respectively, while in Rembrandt and Titus: Artist and Son she creates a fictionalized narrative of a life dedicated to the arts.

In George Washington's Teeth Comora teams up with Deborah Chandra to tell the rhyming story of how the first U.S. president suffered with dental pain. Based on Washington's own diary, as well as on other original sources, the two authors scout out the truth about one of the most intriguing aspects of this great man: the fact that he had no teeth! Putting to rest the myth that Washington's dentures were made of wood (they were actually mostly ivory), Comora and Chandra explain that the first U.S. president's rise in public life was shadowed by the secret loss of his teeth and a growing physical discomfort. Their "carefully-researched" text "will have readers feeling the great man's pain—and never looking at his painted visage the same way again," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer. Noting the coauthors' "wit, verve," and "sprightly" rhyming text, Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin praised George Washington's Teeth as "history … that will stick; … wild and fun and factual, without a trace of mockery." Along with this text, which follows Washington from his military leadership during the American Revolution through the rest of his eventful life, Comora and Chandra include a time line "guaranteed to evoke admiration and empathy for a man who managed to function despite lifelong torment," according to Horn Book critic Joanna Rudge Long. Noting that illustrator Brock Cole "easily keeps pace with the lighthearted narrative," a Publishers Weekly critic praised George Washington's Teeth as "a clever approach to history" featuring interesting factoids that young readers "will love."

A trip to Amsterdam to see the actual home her characters inhabited hundreds of years before allowed Comora to fully research her picture-book biography Rembrandt and Titus. Titus, the young narrator, is the son of Rembrandt van Rijn, an artist considered one of the Old Masters. In his story, Titus explains how his father taught him to view the world with an artist's eye and learn to accept both success and failure. He also provides readers with a window into seventeenth-century Dutch high society. Comora's story is paired with chiaroscuro-style oil paintings by Thomas Locker that are based on Rembrandt's original work. Describing Locker's illustrations as "richly painted" in shades of golds and ochres, School Library Journal critic Carolyn Janssen added that "text and art fit well together," "transport[ing] … readers into Rembrandt's world."

Married to artist Rahul Bhushan, Comora has made several trips to her husband's native India. A trip to Agra allowed her to research the history of the legendary Taj Mahal ("crown palace"), one of the world's most famous buildings. Working with fellow author Caroline Arnold, Comora shares what she learned about the sixteenth-century building and its history in Taj Mahal, a picture book featuring Bhushan's detailed art. The book recounts the great love that inspired Shah Jahan, a Mughal ruler and noted patron of the arts, to create a monument to the most beloved of his wives, Mumtaz Mahal, after her death in childbirth in 1631 at age thirty-nine. Praising Bhushan's illustrations as "extraordinary," a Publishers Weekly critic added that the artist's "intricate" works "echo the floral motifs and symmetry of the famous mausoleum." Taj Mahal "is sumptuous in appearance and presents a bit of history not often told for children," concluded Margaret Bush in School Library Journal.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of George Washington's Teeth, p. 880; September 1, 2005, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Rembrandt and Titus: Artist and Son, p. 132; June 1, 2007, Jennifer Mattson, review of Taj Mahal, p. 66.

Horn Book, March-April, 2003, Joanna Rudge Long, review of George Washington's Teeth, p. 200.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of George Washington's Teeth, p. 1846.

Publishers Weekly, December 2, 2002, review of George Washington's Teeth, p. 51; May 28, 2007, review of Taj Mahal, p. 65.

School Library Journal, October, 2005, Carolyn Janssen, review of Rembrandt and Titus, p. 109; July, 2007, Margaret Bush, review of Taj Mahal, p. 112.

ONLINE

Fulcrum Books Web site,http://www.fulcrum-books.com/ (May 28, 2004), "Madeleine Comora."

Madeleine Comora Home Page, http://www.madeleincomora (May 20, 2008).