Griffin, Adele 1970-
Griffin, Adele 1970-
Born July 29, 1970, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of John Berg (a business manager) and Priscilla Sands (a school principal); married Erich Paul Mauff (an investment banker); children: Priscilla. Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1993. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Movies.
Writer. Clarion Books, New York, NY, assistant editor, 1996-98, freelance manuscript reader, 1996-99.
PEN, WGA, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Young Penn Alum, Friends of the New York Public Library, 92nd Street Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) of New York.
National Book Award nomination, National Book Foundation, and Notable Book citation, American Library Association (ALA), both 1997, both for Sons of Lib-
erty; Books for the Teen Age designation, New York Public Library, and Parenting magazine award, both 1997, both for Split Just Right; Blue Ribbon designation, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Best Books designation, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, Notable Book citation, and Best Books for Young Adults citation, both ALA, and 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing inclusion, New York Public Library, all 1998, all for The Other Shepards; Best Books designation, ALA and Publishers Weekly, both 2001, both for Amandine; National Book Award nomination, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year honor, both 2004, both for Where I Want to Be.
Rainy Season, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.
Split Just Right, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.
Sons of Liberty, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.
The Other Shepards, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.
Dive, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.
Amandine, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
Hannah, Divided, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Overnight, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2003.
Where I Want to Be, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2004.
My Almost Epic Summer, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2006.
"WITCH TWINS" NOVEL SERIES
Witch Twins, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
Witch Twins at Camp Bliss, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Witch Twins and Melody Malady, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.
Witch Twins and the Ghost of Glenn Bly, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
"VAMPIRE ISLAND" NOVEL SERIES
Vampire Island, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2007.
The Knaveheart's Curse, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2008.
V Is for … Vampire, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2009.
Where I Want to Be was adapted as an audiobook, read by Ruth Ann Phimister and Jenny Ikeda, Recorded Books, 2005. My Almost Epic Summer was adapted as an audiobook, read by Jessica Almasy, Recorded Books, 2006.
In her fiction, Adele Griffin explores teen behavior in all its variety, good and bad. Some of her teen novels, such as Overnight and Amandine, offer realistic portraits of manipulative, selfish young women and the friends they attract, while others, including Dive, Hannah, Divided, and Where I Want to Be, introduce unconventional young people coming to terms with their uniqueness. On the lighter side, Griffin's "Witch Twins" books wrap lessons on sibling rivalry and cooperation around stories of magic, spell-casting, and the supernatural, while the "Vampire Island" novels follow a family of school-aged veggie vampires. According to Ilene Cooper in Booklist, "Griffin elevates every genre she writes," whether it be fantasy or straight realistic fiction.
Griffin's well-received debut novel, Rainy Season, was lauded in a Publishers Weekly review as "ambitiously conceived and sharply observed." The story follows Lane Beck, a fearful twelve year old, and her belligerently bold younger brother Charlie through a single transformative day. The Beck family is living on an army base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1977, as resentment of U.S. imperialism is at its peak. Griffin's setting contributes danger and suspense to her story, and she discusses the history and politics relevant to the Canal Zone in an author's note. In anticipation of a battle with the children living on the opposite side of the Canal Zone, Lane and Charlie Beck and their friends begin building a fort. The political tensions escalating outside the Beck home are paralleled by tensions within the family: Lane is prone to panic attacks while her brother Charlie is becoming a bully, but both children's problems are deliberately ignored by their parents. Ultimately, Lane's concern for her brother forces her to break the family's pathological silence, a silence grounded in the grief they feel over older sister Emily's recent death in a car accident.
Reviewing Rainy Season for School Library Journal, Lucinda Lockwood commented favorably on Griffin's "evocative" writing, as well as on the author's ability to "capture the setting and the nuances of adolescent relationships." A Publishers Weekly critic commended the way Griffin "unfolds the events of the day and lets the reader make sense of them," revealing the nature of the tragedy "without resorting to melodrama or otherwise manipulating the characterizations." Del Negro concluded of the novel that certain images in Rainy Season "will remain with readers long after the book is closed."
Griffin tackles divorce and a girl's experience of life without her father in Split Just Right. A well-grounded fourteen year old who enjoys writing, Dandelion "Danny" Finzimer lives with her flamboyant, single, part-time waitress/actress/drama-teacher mom. With no memory of her father, Danny is unsure whether she should trust her mother's view of him and longs to learn about—or perhaps even meet—him. By way of a mix-up, Danny does get to meet her father, and in the process discovers much about her parents, her work as a burgeoning writer, and the line between fact and fiction. School Library Journal contributor Carol A. Edwards asserted that in Split Just Right Griffin "takes one of the most tired plots in current fiction and gives it
fresh zip." In Booklist Cooper praised the book for successfully tackling "a number of interesting issues, including class distinction and family relationships."
In Sons of Liberty Griffin returns to the serious tone of her first novel, examining the complicated issues faced by members of a dysfunctional family via the life of seventh-grader Rock Kindle. Rock has always looked up to his father, and in imitation of the older man's behavior he has become a bully. In contrast, older brother Cliff has lost patience with their father's warped sense of militancy, which prescribes regular doses of humiliation and such bizarre punishments as waking the boys up in the middle of the night to do chores and calisthenics. When the family shatters, no longer able to stand the strain, Rock is forced to choose between loyalty to his father and loyalty to his newly discovered sense of self. A Publishers Weekly contributor praised Griffin's use of "pointedly jarring dialogue" and her "keen ear for adolescent jargon." Horn Book reviewer Kitty Flynn credited the development of Rock's character in Sons of Liberty with providing "the tension in what could have been a superficial treatment of the issues."
The Other Shepards features a supernatural teen romance involving Holland and her obsessive-compulsive sister Geneva. The two teen girls live in a world haunted by the memory of three older siblings who died before the sisters were even born. In the guise of Annie, a mural painter, the spirit of the older sister breathes color into the Shepard family. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that Griffin "spins a taut story of two girls … who must confront the unknown in order to liberate themselves…. Griffin's story offers a resounding affirmation that fears are to be faced, not denied, and life is to be lived, not mourned." Praising the novel's realistic characters, Cooper concluded her assessment of The Other Shepards by asserting: "Carefully crafted both in plot and language, this book shows the heights that popular literature can scale."
Dive explores the difference between family ties forged by biology and those crafted from circumstance. When his irresponsible mother deserts the family, eleven-year-old Ben elects to stay with his responsible and reliable stepfather, Lyle. Ben's brother, Dustin, is more inclined to engage in daring behavior, and the teen chafes under Lyle's rules. The brothers must sort out their problematic relationship after Dustin suffers a serious injury in a diving accident. Nancy Vasilakis, reviewing Dive for Horn Book, called Griffin's novel "a wrenching tale of a young man struggling to find his voice in an unpredictable world."
Griffin tackles the difficult subject of teen friendships in the novels Amandine and Overnight, both which frankly confront the way some teenaged girls seek to manipulate their peers and to exert power. Delia, the insecure narrator of Amandine, is drawn into an obsessive friendship with dramatic, artistic Amandine. When Amand-
ine's behavior toward another girl takes a dangerous turn, Delia tries to break away. Only then does she discover the full force of Amandine's wrath. According to Anita L. Burkam in Horn Book, "Amandine's controlling nature and Delia's weak complicity are believably and subtly developed." Cooper wrote of the novel that Griffin "takes well-worn stereotypes … and … makes them seem much more: more real, more vulnerable, more scary." School Library Journal contributor Alison Follos called Amandine "a powerful story with real characters."
Overnight "once again penetrates the cruelty inherent in female cliques," according to a Publishers Weekly critic. Here Griffin introduces readers to the "Lucky Seven," a tightly knit group of girls who gather for a sleepover on Friday the thirteenth. Certain rifts have developed amongst the girls, and these conflicts become noticeable when one of their number, Gray, disappears during the party. Group leader Martha is ready to assert her control, even if it means putting Gray's life in jeopardy. B. Allison Gray, reviewing Overnight for School Library Journal, deemed the novel an "insightful version of the universal story of ostracism and manipulation among preteens." A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that Griffin "expertly captures the pettiness of the Lucky Seven."
Set in Depression-era Pennsylvania, Hannah, Divided centers on Hannah Bennett, a thirteen-year-old farm girl who also happens to be a math genius and an obsessive-compulsive who counts everything. Hannah loves living on a farm, helping her family with the chores, and attending a one-room school with children she has known all her life. With the help of a wealthy Philadelphia patron, Hannah travels to the big city to try to win a math scholarship. Once there, she is torn between her homesickness and her burning desire to work with numbers, even in an alien place full of automobiles, loud music, and strangers. Griffin's "portrait of a child struggling with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder is sensitive and convincing," declared Barbara Scotto in School Library Journal, the critic dubbing Hannah, Divided "a novel well worth savoring." In Publishers Weekly a critic praised the way Griffin "makes inventive use of a third-person narration to demonstrate Hannah's computer-like brain and quirky personality." As Booklist reviewer Cooper concluded: "In other hands, this might have been a problem novel. Here it is a celebration."
Fourteen-year-old Irene, the main character in My Almost Epic Summer, is looking forward to her first year in high school. While working as a babysitter to Evan and Lainie, Irene becomes fascinated by Starla, the lifeguard at the pool where the children swim. The teen's world gets more interesting when she attracts the attention of Starla's ex-boyfriend; meanwhile, young Lainie idolizes Irene in turn, while Irene's mother needs consoling when her relationship with her current beau goes south in a novel that Horn Book critic Jeannine M. Chapman dubbed "funny" and "thoughtfully layered." Praising My Almost Epic Summer as "delightful," Kliatt critic Claire Rosser added that the novel "borders on being a farce" due to Irene's witty observations, while in Booklist Cooper concluded that Griffin's "characters … are all neatly, if not broadly drawn, and readers will have lots of fun" spending time between the pages. My Almost Epic Summer is a coming-of-age novel that features "vivid scenes, believable dilemmas, and satisfyingly human characters," according to School Library Journal contributor Roxanne Myers Spencer.
Nominated for a National Book Award, Where I Want to Be features a story salted with the supernatural, as sisters Lily and Jane Culvert are separated by death. Sixteen-year-old Lily was happy-go-lucky until older sister Jane succumbed to mental illness and committed suicide by walking in front of a car. In the novel's dual narratives, readers learn that Jane's spirit must continue to relive a single day from her childhood, while Lily cannot recover from the guilt she feels following her sister's death until she is aided by boyfriend Caleb. Noting that the sisters are portrayed as complex but fascinating individuals, Cooper added that "Griffin artfully dabs details on her canvas, then overlays … a super-
natural patina that will immediately draw in" her novel's intended teen readership. In School Library Journal, Crystal Faris described Where I Want to Be as a "well-crafted blend of reality and otherworldliness" that is "thoughtful, unique, and ultimately life-affirming."
Griffin turns to younger readers in her "Witch Twins" series, which introduces ten-year-old twins Claire and Luna. Although they look alike, Claire and Luna are distinct individuals with unique personalities. They must keep their magic a secret from most of their family members, with the exception of Grandy, the grandmother from whom they have inherited their witchy talents. Series opener Witch Twins revolves around Claire and Luna's attempts to break up their father's impending marriage to a woman named Fluffy. "Griffin's modern tale bursts with everyday enchantment," noted Catherine T. Quattlebaum in her School Library Journal review of Witch Twins. The critic also lauded the work for its "breezy mixture of otherworldly witchcraft and ordinary activities."
Sixth-grade twins Claire and Luna attend summer camp in Witch Twins at Camp Bliss, once again proving their independence by pursuing different courses from the moment they arrive. Claire must overcome a rival to win the coveted "Camp Bliss Girl" trophy, and Luna cannot find the magic dust given to her by her grandmother. In Witch Twins and Melody Malady the girls get an opportunity to meet their film-star idol Melody Malady, but tensions erupt when Melody becomes friends with Claire, leaving Luna in the company of Melody's brainy but quiet sister, Dolores. A trip to a Scottish castle is the focus of Witch Twins and the Ghost of Glenn Bly, as Claire and Luna help put to rest the ghostly but harmless Sir Percival. In School Library Journal, Debbie Whitbeck observed that in Witch Twins at Camp Bliss Griffin "keeps the characters true to their personalities," and Booklist critic Diane Foote enjoyed the story's "satisfying and convincing happy ending." "Fans of the series will enjoy this offering," maintained Linda B. Zeilstra in a School Library Journal appraisal of Witch Twins and Melody Malady, while Karin Snelson dubbed the series "ebullient" and "quirky" in her Booklist review of the third "Witch Twins" installment.
Also designed for upper-elementary-grade readers, Griffin's "Vampire Island" books focus on the Livingstones, a family of vegetarian fruit-bat vampires that has given up immortality and relocated from Europe to New York City. In Vampire Island thirteen-year-old Lexington, eleven-year-old Madison, and nine-year-old Hudson try to fit in with their new schoolmates, although their Old-World mannerisms and odd craving for fruit make them stand out. In The Knaveheart's Curse, when a blood-drinking vampire comes to town and behaves in the classic vampire vein, Maddy must find help in order to fight the threat to their new neighbors. Praising Griffin's text as "clever and descriptive," School Library Journal contributor Christi Voth dubbed Vampire Island "a fun, light twist on the horror genre," while in Booklist Debbie Carton described the book as a "friendly vampire story" in which "fang-in-cheek jokes carry the swiftly moving plot."
Griffin once told SATA: "One of my most treasured childhood memories is the excitement I felt going book shopping before summer vacation. I looked forward to our family's annual visit to New York City and trip to Brentano's, where I was allowed to purchase as many books as I wanted, a joyful extravagance. I knew what I liked: stories about princesses, tough heroines who, defying all odds, would rise from a garret or cottage adjacent to the requisite bog to become a mogul—usually of a department store. I did not like science fiction, fantasy, or books about boys.
"While my books are not science fiction or fantasy, I do like to write about both girls and boys. (Perhaps age and marriage have helped with that particular aversion.) The voices in my writing are those of the children I have listened to hear and have strained to remember, voices that speak from the secret world we too soon leave. My goal, as I continue my career, is to write books for all young people, even boys, who look forward to a trip to the library or bookstore with great joy, and who are companioned by the friendship of a favorite book."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1 and 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of The Other Shepards, pp. 1702-1703; September 15, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Sons of Liberty, p. 235; August, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of The Other Shepards, p. 1999; April 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Witch Twins, p. 1552; September 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Amandine, p. 226; July, 2002, Diane Foote, review of Witch Twins at Camp Bliss, p. 1844; October 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Hannah, Divided, p. 323; September 15, 2003, Karin Snelson, review of Witch Twins and Melody Malady, p. 236; February 15, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Where I Want to Be, p. 1078; February 15, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of My Almost Epic Summer, p. 91; August, 2007, Debbie Carton, review of Vampire Island, p. 78.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1997, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Rainy Season, p. 207; September, 1997, Janice Del Negro, review of Split Just Right, p. 11.
Horn Book, March-April, 1997, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Rainy Season, p. 198; July-August, 1997, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Split Just Right, p. 455; January-February, 1998, Kitty Flynn, review of Sons of Liberty, p. 72; November, 1999, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Dive, p. 739; September, 2001, Anita L. Burkam, review of Witch Twins, p. 583; November-December, 2001, Anita L. Burkam, review of Amandine, p. 748; November-December, 2002, Susan P. Bloom, review of Hannah, Divided, p. 323; March-April, 2005, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Where I Want to Be, p. 202; May-June, 2006, Jeannine M. Chapman, review of My Almost Epic Summer, p. 318.
Kirkus Review, August 15, 2001, review of Amandine, p. 1213; May 15, 2002, review of Witch Twins at Camp Bliss, p. 733; September 1, 2002, review of Hannah, Divided, p. 1309; February 1, 2003, review of Overnight, p. 229; March 1, 2005, Adele Griffin, review of Where I Want to Be, p. 297; March 15, 2006, Adele Griffin, review of My Almost Epic Summer, p. 291; July 1, 2007, Adele Griffin, review of Vampire Island.
Kliatt, March, 2004, Courtney Lewis, review of Amandine, p. 19; March, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of My Almost Epic Summer, p. 10.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), April 13, 2003, Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy, "A Transplanted Savant Finds She Has Much to Learn off the Farm," p. J11.
Publishers Weekly, October 14, 1996, review of Rainy Season, p. 84; December 16, 1996, Elizabeth Devereaux, "Flying Starts," p. 32; September 8, 1997, review of Sons of Liberty, p. 77; September 21, 1998, review of The Other Shepards, p. 86; July 2, 2001, review of Witch Twins, p. 76; August 20, 2001, review of Amandine, p. 81; August 26, 2002, review of Hannah, Divided, p. 69; December 16, 2002, review of Overnight, p. 68; March 21, 2005, review of Where I Want to Be, p. 52; March 13, 2006, review of My Almost Epic Summer, p. 67; August 20, 2007, review of Vampire Island, p. 69.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 25, 1999, Susan Faust, "Haunting Novel Is Not Your Average Ghost Story," p. 9.
School Library Journal, November, 1996, Lucinda Lockwood, review of Rainy Season, pp. 104-105; June, 1997, Carol A. Edwards, review of Split Just Right, p. 117; July, 2001, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of Witch Twins, p. 82; November, 2001, Alison Follos, review of Amandine, p. 158; June, 2002, Debbie Whitbeck, review of Witch Twins at Camp Bliss, p. 96; December, 2002, Barbara Scotto, review of Hannah, Divided, p. 138; February, 2003, B. Allison Gray, review of Overnight, p. 141; July, 2003, Linda B. Zeilstra, review of Witch Twins and Melody Malady, p. 96; October, 2004, Tina Zubak, review of Witch Twins and the Ghost of Glenn Bly, p. 114; April, 2005, Crystal Faris, review of Where I Want to Be, p. 130; April, 2006, Roxanne Myers Spencer, review of My Almost Epic Summer, p. 140; August, 2007, Christi Voth, review of Vampire Island, p. 118.
Adele Griffin Home Page,http://www.adelegriffin.net (December 1, 2008).
Embracing the Child Web site,http://www.embracingthechild.org/ (November 1, 2002), interview with Griffin.