Downey, Lynn 1961–

views updated

Downey, Lynn 1961–


Born 1961; married; children: three sons.


Home—Hampstead, MD.


Author and poet.


Sing, Henrietta! Sing!, illustrated by Tony Sansevero, Ideals Children's Books (Nashville, TN), 1997.

The Flea's Sneeze, illustrated by Karla Firehammer, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2000.

This Is the Earth That God Made, illustrated by Benrei Huang, Augsburg Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.

Papa's Birthday Gift, illustrated by Stacey Schuett, Augsburg Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

Most Loved Monster, illustrated by Jack E. Davis, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

The Tattletale, illustrated by Pam Paparone, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Matilda's Humdinger, illustrated by Tim Bowers, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of poems to literary journals.


Lynn Downey is the author of several well-received picture books for young readers. Downey published her debut work, Sing, Henrietta! Sing!, in 1997. Gardening aficionados Henrietta and George decide to combine their efforts and sell their own vegetables, which grow splendidly thanks to Henrietta's unconventional approach to horticulture: she sings to all the plants in their garden. Unfortunately, her off-pitch warbling also frightens the customers. When George asks her to remain quiet in order to encourage shoppers, the garden suffers and the business closes until the pair comes up with a unique solution to their problem. Susan Garland, writing in School Library Journal, called Sing, Henrietta! Sing! "a wonderful read-aloud choice."

In The Flea's Sneeze, a tale told in verse, a tiny flea with a bad head cold manages to wake a barn full of animals, including a frightened rat, an annoyed cat, a confused cow, and an equally sickly hog. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly complimented the "perky volume," offering praise for the "rollicking rhythms and kid-pleasing repetition" found in Downey's story. This Is the Earth That God Made, which is similar in style to the popular nursery rhyme "This Is the House That Jack Built," celebrates humankind's relationship to the natural world. According to a contributor in Publishers Weekly, Downey's text "successfully conveys its message of gratitude, admiration and praise for the glory, bounty and benevolence of the Creator," and Patricia Pearl Dole, reviewing This Is the Earth That God Made in School Library Journal, remarked that the book's "simple, cheerful words gently remind readers of nature's wonders and are suitable for any faith recognizing a heavenly maker."

A young girl learns a valuable lesson about forgiveness in Papa's Birthday Gift. On Tessa's sixth birthday, a snowstorm delays her father's return home, despite the girl's prayers for his quick arrival. A disappointed Tessa receives a wonderful surprise later that evening, however, and realizes that God has answered her prayers in an unexpected way. Sibling rivalry is the theme of Most Loved Monster, another picture book by Downey. As Mama Monster tucks her four monstrous offspring into bed, each one asks, "Who do you love most?" Mama points out that each of her fiends is special in his or her own way. Downey "freshens up a well-worn premise with genial grossness," wrote a critic in Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal contributor Wanda Meyers-Hines noted that the book "truly captures the spirit of giving and appreciation."

Downey's story pairs with Pam Paparone's illustrations in The Tattletale. In this picture book William the pig constantly reports on the bad behavior of his older brother, Wembly. After their exasperated mother separates the pair, a lonely William watches as Wembly joins Iggy, a troublesome neighbor, to build a tree fort. When Iggy teases Wembly about his fear of heights, William comes to his brother's aid. Although a critic in Kirkus Reviews believed that Downey keeps her "focus … more on appreciating siblings than on tattling," Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst noted in School Library Journal that The Tattletale "will find a ready audience with siblings everywhere."

A messy, clumsy waitress prevents a heist in Matilda's Humdinger, another amusing tale by Downey. Matilda the cat is the worst waitress at Burt's Diner, but her funny, exciting stories keep the customers entertained. After a health inspector spots a number of violations, Matilda vows to clean up her act, but she also quits spinning her tales, much to the dismay of her patrons. When robbers enter the diner, however, Matilda's quick wit and storytelling skills return and ultimately save the restaurant. According to Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman, Downey's narrative "reveals the strength of the small rebel and the power of the tales she tells."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, October 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Matilda's Humdinger, p. 54; November 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of The Tattletale, p. 60.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July, 2000, review of The Flea's Sneeze, p. 397.

Children's Bookwatch, October, 2006, review of The Tattletale; January, 2007, review of Matilda's Humdinger.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of Most Loved Monster, p. 683; September 15, 2006, reviews of Matilda's Humdinger and The Tattletale, p. 951.

Publishers Weekly, March 13, 2000, review of This Is the Earth That God Made, p. 81; September 4, 2000, review of The Flea's Sneeze, p. 106; August 9, 2004, review of Most Loved Monster, p. 250.

School Library Journal, July, 1997, Susan Garland, review of Sing, Henrietta! Sing!, p. 61; September, 2000, Patricia Pearl Dole, review of This Is the Earth That God Made, p. 215; August, 2004, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Most Loved Monster, p. 85; October, 2006, Catherine Callegari, review of Matilda's Humdinger, p. 109; November, 2006, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of The Tattletale, p. 90.