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Elliott, Laura Malone 1957- (L.M. Elliott)

Elliott, Laura Malone 1957- (L.M. Elliott)

Personal

Born 1957; married; children: two. Education: Wake Forest University, B.A.; University of North Carolina, M.A.

Addresses

Home and office—VA.

Career

Writer.

Awards, Honors

International Reading Association (IRA) Teacher's Choice Award, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age selection, both for Annie, between the States; IRA/Children's Book Council Children's Choice selection, for Hunter's Best Friend at School; two-time finalist for National Magazine Award.

Writings

(With Charlotte Fedders) Shattered Dreams: The Story of Charlotte Fedders, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1987.

(With others) A to Z Guide to Your Child's Behavior: A Parent's Easy and Authoritative Reference to Hundreds of Everyday Problems and Concerns from Birth to Twelve Years, Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.

(As L.M. Elliott) Under a War-torn Sky, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Hunter's Best Friend at School, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

(As L.M. Elliott) Flying South, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

(As L.M. Elliott) Annie, between the States, Katherine Tegen (New York, NY), 2004.

Hunter and Stripe and the Soccer Showdown, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Katherine Tegen (New York, NY), 2005.

(As L.M. Elliott) Give Me Liberty, Katherine Tegen (New York, NY), 2006.

Hunter's Big Sister, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Katherine Tegen (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to Washingtonian.

Sidelights

Writing under the name L.M. Elliott, Laura Malone Elliott is the author of several books for young readers that draw on the history of the early United States. She has drawn on her background as a journalist in undertaking her research, gathering information on original accounts of historic events that a relevant to each story. "History took me by the hand, led me to my computer and whispered in my ear as I wrote," she described of writing one of these novels, Give Me Liberty, on the HarperCollins Web site. "Words alone aren't necessarily that exciting," she added. "But seeing how abstract ideals can completely alter the lives of ordinary boys—frighten, endanger, or liberate them—now there's a story!"

In Elliott's historical novel Under the War-torn Sky, Henry Forester is a teen pilot serving in the American Air Force during World War II. Shot down during a mission over Europe, Henry finds help from the French Resistance after they smuggle him over the border to safety. "Elliott paints a picture of war that we don't often see, one that is away from the battles, showing life and death in a war-ravaged land," wrote Kliatt critic Erin Lukens Darr. According to Connie Fletcher, writing in Booklist, Under a War-torn Sky is "packed with action, intrigue, and suspense," creating a story that "celebrates acts of kindness and heroism without glorifying war." Bruce Anne Shook wrote in School Library Journal that "Hank is a smart, strong, and courageous character who survives under the worst of conditions."

Set in 1968, Flying South finds Alice coping with her recently widowed mother's attempt to marry a local politician. Spending most of her time with Edna, the housekeeper, and Doc, the gardener, Alice learns about gardening and life while tending the roses with Doc. She tries to be patient with her mother, and eventually, the woman recognizes Alice's strength of character. Flying South "is both a poignant mother-daughter story and a comforting tale of the affection between a lonely young girl and an irascible but devoted old man," wrote Gerry Larson in School Library Journal, while Hazel Rochman noted in Booklist that "Elliott creates a strong sense of the time and place" through Alice's narrative. Although observing that Elliott's use of some teen slang from the 1960s does not gel with the rest of the text, a Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that the characters' "dialogue is right on target."

Annie, between the States is, like Flying South, set in Virginia, but Annie's Virginia is one torn by the U.S. Civil War. Managing the family home in Virginia while her brothers are off fighting, the teenager falls in love with a Yankee officer, and this relationship makes Annie question everything she formerly thought was right. "Fiery, intelligent Annie remains a heroine to relish," wrote Jennifer Mattson in Booklist, while School Library Journal contributor Jane G. Connor called the teen a "strong and memorable heroine." According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, "Elliott does an admirable job of balancing the human story and the historical context."

The American Revolution serves as the backdrop for Give Me Liberty, Elliott's story of Nathaniel Dunn. Arriving in Virginia as an indentured servant and taken under the wing of a local schoolmaster, Nathaniel is apprenticed to a loyalist carriage maker. He must wade through the opposing ideals of the loyalists who want to stay a British colony and the patriots who want freedom yet support indentured servitude and condone slavery. "Elliott's engaging and highly readable novel is well researched and sprinkled liberally with renowned patriots of the period," wrote Kim Dare in her review of the novel for School Library Journal. The author "packs a great deal of historical detail into a novel already filled with action," wrote Carolyn Phelan in her Booklist review of Give Me Liberty.

Along with her historical fiction, Elliott is also the author of a series of books about Hunter, a young raccoon who struggles with peer pressure and sibling rivalry in various stories geared for young readers. In Hunter's Best Friend at School, Hunter goes along with best friend Stripes's plans to get into trouble, even though he feels guilty. After giving in and destroying an art project he was really proud of, Hunter realizes that he should listen to his feelings instead of going along with the crowd. "Elliott does a remarkable job portraying how difficult it is for Hunter," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Melina Piehler, writing in School Library Journal, described the book's characters "appealing" and considered Hunter's Best Friend at School "a solid choice, filling a need for stories about friendship and peer pressure."

Hunter and Stripe face off against each other in Hunter and Stripe and the Soccer Showdown, when the two play for competing teams during a soccer tournament. Shelle Rosenfeld, writing in Booklist, observed that the tale involves "activities and situations kids will easily recognize and relate to." Blair Christolon noted in School Library Journal that Hunter and Stripe and the Soccer Showdown contains a "subtle, yet humorous, message that even parents can enjoy." In Hunter's Big Sister, Hunter loves playing with his sister, but she sometimes ignores him. He pesters her to get her attention, accidentally putting her in danger. Mary Elam, writing in School Library Journal, called Hunter's Big Sister "a must-read for families with siblings."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Under a War-torn Sky, p. 312; October 1, 2002, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Hunter's Best Friend at School, p. 334; August, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Flying South, p. 1982; December 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Annie, between the States, p. 646; September 1, 2005, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Hunter and Stripe and the Soccer Showdown, p. 119; October 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Give Me Liberty, p. 51.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2002, review of Under a War-torn Sky, p. 170.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of Hunter's Best Friend at School, p. 879; May 1, 2003, review of Flying South, p. 675; October 15, 2004, review of Annie, between the States, p. 1005; July 1, 2005, review of Hunter and Stripe and the Soccer Showdown, p. 734; August 1, 2006, review of Give Me Liberty, p. 785; August 1, 2007, review of Hunter's Big Sister.

Kliatt, March, 2004, Erin Lukens Darr, review of Under a War-torn Sky, p. 19; May, 2006, Maureen Griffin, review of Annie, between the States, p. 18; May, 2008, Paula Rohrlick, review of Give Me Liberty, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, July 1, 2002, review of Hunter's Best Friend at School, p. 78.

School Library Journal, October, 2001, Bruce Ann Shook, review of Under a War-torn Sky, p. 154; September, 2002, Melinda Piehler, review of Hunter's Best Friend at School, p. 190; May, 2003, Gerry Larson, review of Flying South, p. 150; November, 2004, Jane G. Connor, review of Annie, between the States, p. 142; August, 2005, Blair Christolon, review of Under a Wartorn Sky, p. 50; September, 2005, Blair Christolon, review of Hunter and Stripe and the Soccer Showdown, p. 169; September, 2006, Kim Dare, review of Give Me Liberty, p. 204; September, 2007, Mary Elam, review of Hunter's Big Sister, p. 164.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 28, 2002, review of Hunter's Best Friend at School, p. 4.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2001, review of Under a War-torn Sky, p. 356; August, 2003, review of Flying South, p. 223; February, 2005, Delia Culberson, review of Annie, between the States, p. 471.

ONLINE

HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (January 15, 2009), interview with Elliott.

Laura Malone Elliott Home Page,http://www.lmelliott.com (January 15, 2009).

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