Deedy, Carmen Agra 1960-

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Deedy, Carmen Agra 1960-


Born 1960, in Havana, Cuba; immigrated to United States, 1963; children: three daughters.


Home—Atlanta, GA.


Author and storyteller. Has appeared at storytelling events at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC; Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC; and Disney Institute, Orlando, FL. Contributor to National Public Radio's All Things Considered; national spokesperson for ALA School Library Media Month, 2008.

Awards, Honors

Christopher Award, The Christophers, Children's Honor Book designation, Jane Addams Peace Association, BolognaRagazzi Award for Children's Nonfiction, Bologna Children's Book Fair, and Notable Book for Children selection, Association of Jewish Libraries, all 2001, all for The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark; Pura Belpré Honor Book designation, American Library Association, and Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People selection, National Council for the Social Studies and Children's Book Council, both 2008, both for Martina the Beautiful Cockroach.


Agatha's Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose Story, illustrated by Laura L. Seeley, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 1991.

Tree Man, illustrated by Douglas J. Ponte, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 1993.

The Library Dragon, illustrated by Michael P. White, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 1994.

The Last Dance, illustrated by Debrah Santini, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 1995.

Growing up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia (audio cassette recording), Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 1995.

The Secret of Old Zeb, illustrated by Michael P. White, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 1997.

The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark, illustrated by Henri Sorensen, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2000.

The Library Dragon (play; adapted from author's book of the same name), produced in Marietta, GA, at Theater in the Square, 2005.

(Reteller) Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, illustrated by Michael Austin, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2007.

Contributor of story to Rainbow Tales (audiocassette recording), Rounder Records, 1997.


Award-winning author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy has written several picture books for children. In

The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark she tells the fictional but often-repeated story of the king of Denmark's decision to wear a yellow Star of David during the country's German occupation to show support for his Jewish subjects. After Nazi occupation forces demand that the Jewish population of Denmark wear the stars to single themselves out their fellow Danes, King Christian adds the badge to his attire, and his example is soon followed by the rest of the non-Jewish Danish population. While acknowledging the story as unsubstantiated in her afterword, Deedy suggests that readers should use the tale as inspiration in their own lives, standing strong when the rights of others are violated. While some reviewers thought the work might be confusing to children because it depicts a fictional event as an historical fact, others found merit in the book's message. A Publishers Weekly critic described the text as "vivid and lyrical," and in Booklist Hazel Rochman cited Deedy's afterword was "an essential part of the book." Similarly, School Library Journal contributor Martha Link described The Yellow Star as "an interesting and thought-provoking piece of work."

Deedy taps her Cuban heritage in Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. Here the author retells a traditional Latin-American folktale about a grandmother cockroach who advises her granddaughter on how to select a good husband. Initially skeptical, Martina finds Abuela's suggestion of spilling coffee on her suitor's shoes to be an excellent way of determining his true personality. A prideful rooster, boorish swine, and cold-hearted lizard are all revealed by using the grandmother cockroach's test, yet the real surprise comes when a suitor turns the tables and spills coffee on Martina's own feet. "This telling has magic all its own," claimed a critic in Kirkus Reviews. Describing Deedy's version of the tale as "masterful," Booklist reviewer Janice Del Negro added that Martina the Beautiful Cockroach possesses "a rollicking voice imbued with sly tongue-in-cheek humor."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, January 1, 1996, Janice Del Negro, review of The Last Dance, p. 813; July, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark, p. 2024; October 1, 2007, Janice Del Negro, review of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, p. 61.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2007, review of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach.

Publishers Weekly, September 1, 1997, review of The Secret of Old Zeb, p. 105; July 17, 2000, The Yellow Star, p. 194; August 27, 2007, review of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, p. 89.

School Library Journal, September, 2000, Barbara Wysocki, review of Growing up Cuban in Decatur, Georgia, p. 84, and Martha Link, The Yellow Star, p. 193.


Carmen Agra Deedy Web site, (January 11, 2009).