Crocker, Nancy 1956–
Crocker, Nancy 1956–
Born February 20, 1956; married Dan Roettger; children: one son. Education: Columbia College, B.A.
Home and office—Minneapolis, MN. E-mail—[email protected]
Singer, actor, radio announcer, and writer.
Betty Lou Blue, illustrated by Boris Kulikov, Dial (New York, NY), 2006.
Billie Standish Was Here, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to anthology My Brush with History: By 95 Americans Who Were There, Black Dog & Leventhal (New York, NY), 2001.
While Nancy Crocker was performing as a singer, studying music in college, and working as a radio announcer and an actor, she was also writing. "Poetry, short stories, personal essays (some of which were actually published), songs … you name it," Crocker quipped on her home page. Her essay "What She Wore," published in American Heritage magazine in 1992 and later anthologized, describes the week infamous fan dancer Sally Rand came to live in Crocker's college dorm.
Although she wrote her first novel in 1993 during a trip with her now-husband, Dan, Crocker did not become a published author of fiction until over a decade later, when her picture book Betty Lou Blue was released. The novel Billie Standish Was Here followed close on its heels, bringing all of Crocker's years of writing into the public eye.
Betty Lou Blue began when Crocker imagined what the largest feet in the world must sound like. After the first line of the story popped into her head, it was not long until Crocker had set down the rhyming tale of young Betty Lou, who is cursed with the largest feet in the world. The girl is teased by bullies because of her extraordinary shoe size, but when she is able to stay on the surface of mounds of snow while the bullies sink down into the chilly drifts, she must confront a choice: whether to let them stay neck deep in snow or do the right thing and help them. Piper L. Nyman, writing in School Library Journal, called Betty Lou Blue "a fun seasonal selection and a great starting point for conversations about bullies."
Set in 1968-73 Missouri, an area similar to that where Crocker herself grew up, Billie Standish Was Here focuses on a young girl who, neglected by her family, finds support and love from an elderly neighbor. During a town emergency, however, Miss Lydia's adult son assaults Billie. Although Billie says nothing, Miss Lydia realizes what has happened and becomes the girl's protector. The novel follows the relationship between the girl and the older woman through Billie's teen years, showing how the girl heals from years of abuse and neglect and eventually becomes protector and caregiver to the elderly woman. Crocker's novel "is beautiful, painful, and complex, and the descriptions of people, events,
and emotions are graphic and tangible," wrote Nancy P. Reeder in a School Library Journal review of Billie Standish Was Here.
When asked by an online interviewer for Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast about her writing process, Crocker explained: "I do not outline. I know the beginning and end when I start, and have learned to trust that the route will become apparent—and to get out of the way when it does."
"My grade school had no kindergarten, which led my parents to start piano lessons when I was five," Crocker told SATA. "I learned to read music before words. Once I could read both, books and music became my passports to the world beyond our town of around one hundred people. I was lucky to have far-sighted parents who told me I was capable of reaching any goal I set; I think my varied career has come about partly because I never believed anything was impossible.
"Except maybe juggling live chickens. While wearing roller skates.
"When aspiring writers ask for advice, I tell them the only way to become a writer is to write. That sounds so simple—yet, everyone wants to be a writer; nobody wants to do the work. Write whenever you can, and read everything you can get your hands on. You can learn even from bad writing. Sometimes especially from bad writing."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Betty Lou Blue, p. 84.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2006, review of Betty Lou Blue, p. 950; April 15, 2007, review of Billie Standish Was Here.
School Library Journal, December, 2006, Piper L. Nyman, review of Betty Lou Blue, p. 96; July, 2007, Nancy P. Reeder, review of Billie Standish Was Here, p. 100.
Nancy Crocker Home Page,http://www.nancycrocker.com (December 1, 2007).
Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast Blog site,http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/ (August 30, 2007), interview with Crocker.
Simon & Schuster Web site,http://www.simonsays.com/ (December 1, 2007), "Nancy Crocker."