Harris, Trudy 1949–

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Harris, Trudy 1949–

Personal

Born May 3, 1949, in UT; daughter of Myron (a rancher) and Marva (a nurse) Hanchett; married Jay M. Harris (a dentist), 1972; children: Holly Worthington, Mark, Andrew, Julie, Emily Jones. Education: Brigham Young University, B.S. (elementary education), 1972. Religion: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). Hobbies and other interests: Painting, gardening, white-water rafting.

Addresses

Home and office—Idaho Falls, ID. Office—Temple View Elementary, 1500 Scorpius Dr., Idaho Falls, ID 83402. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Educator and author. Head Start teacher, 1972-73; elementary school teacher, 1973-75, 1992—; currently teaches kindergarten. Cooperating teacher for Idaho State University; affiliate faculty member of Idaho State University. Public speaker.

Member

Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, National Education Association.

Awards, Honors

Kids Pick of the List award, American Booksellers Association, 2000, for 100 Days of School.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

100 Days of School, illustrated by Beth Griffis Johnson, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1999.

Pattern Fish, illustrated by Anne Canevari Green, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2000.

Up Bear, Down Bear, illustrated by Ora Eitan, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.

Pattern Bugs, illustrated by Anne Canevari Green, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2001.

Over, Under, In, and Ouch!, illustrated by Steve Haskamp, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.

Twenty Hungry Piggies, illustrated by son Andrew N. Harris, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Jenny Found a Penny, illustrated by John Hovell, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Splitting the Herd: A Corral of Odds and Evens, illustrated by Russell Julian, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2009.

OTHER

(With husband, Jay Harris), Gaining the Fullness: The Spirit-filled Path to Exaltation, Horizon Publishers and Distributors (Bountiful, UT), 1989.

Sidelights

Critics have found Trudy Harris's picture books a light-hearted and fun way to teach children important math concepts such as patterns and multiplication. In 100 Days of School, Harris describes a number of ways to get to the number one hundred, using everything from pennies, berries, bees, and peanuts to ten toes on ten barefooted children. Each method is posed as a question with the answer offered in a rhyme (often with a joke attached). "Expressing one number in a variety of ways is an excellent exercise" for early math comprehension, commented Tim Arnold in Booklist. Beth Griffis Johnson's brightly colored cartoon illustrations of multiethnic children work in combination with the text, noted some, in allowing readers to actually count the 100 objects depicted. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews proclaimed that the artwork complements "the whimsical text as it slyly works in the basics." In her review for School Library Journal, Lisa Gangemi Kropp called 100 Days of School "a solid title to read aloud on the 100th day of school—or any other day."

For Pattern Fish, Harris takes a similar approach by mixing fun with math concepts. Each short poem describes a fish and its brightly colored pattern, leading the young audience into guessing the next element in the sequence. Illustrations by Anne Canevari Green depict each fish and the surrounding aquatic flora and fauna with the same pattern-scheme. "Once children get the idea, they will enjoy discovering the repetition and looking for examples," predicted Robin L. Gibson in School Library Journal. As a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviewer noted, although Pattern Fish may look like a math book to teachers, "kids will simply regard it as a juicy puzzle book and snap up the bait." Harris and Green continue their colorful collaboration in Pattern Bugs, which School Library Journal critic Thomas Pitchford dubbed "an intelligent math tool" that provides even reluctant readers "an excellent way to prove … that books can be lots of fun."

Harris focuses on a smaller section of numbers in Twenty Hungry Piggies, illustrated by her son, Andrew N. Harris. In her rhyming text about a group of high-energy pigs and their preparation for a picnic, she works in a number of fun activities, then presents a bit of drama by introducing a new character: the big bad wolf! Calling Andrew Harris's cartoon illustrations "crisp and simple," a Kirkus Reviews writer concluded that Harris's "variation on the familiar rhyme should tickle very young listeners." In School Library Journal Gloria Koster deemed Twenty Hungry Piggies a "funny story [that] is perfect for one-on-one and group sharing."

In Jenny Found a Penny, which features art by John Hovell, Harris entertains children with a clever story while teaching about coin recognition and money addition, while Splitting the Herd: A Corral of Odds and Evens finds Cowboy Kirby and Miss Emma using odd and even numbers to divide up their herds. A saga of a muddled mess that resolves into a happy surprise ending, the book features detailed illustrations by Jullian Russell that a Kirkus Reviews critic described as "bright … and a good fit with Harris's bouncy rhyming text."

Called a "simple, ingenious concept book" by Horn Book critic Martha V. Parravano, Up Bear, Down Bear features artwork by Ora Eitan. Within board covers designed for repeated toddler readings, Harris's story about a little girl and her stuffed bear teaches basic prepositions. Position words are also the focus of Over, Under, In, and Ouch!, which features pastel-toned acrylic paintings by Steve Haskamp in which a floppy-eared dog finds trouble coming from all directions.

Harris once told SATA: "We call it the family ‘illness.’ For example, at eighty years of age, my teetering father would still manage to stand on his head, balancing just long enough to make the grandkids squeal with laughter. My mother's symptoms were manifest in the fact that she never could resist making up goofy words to songs that were originally meant to be perfectly serious and normal sounding. My own ‘illness’ worsened when I married a man who admittedly chose me ‘because I was the only one’ … who always laughed at his jokes.

"Occasionally, my husband and I would lecture our children, ‘Stop being silly! There is a time to be serious, you know.’ Of course this was very confusing to the kids because, at home, things were seldom serious.

"If this irresistible desire to make others laugh is an ‘illness,’ then I suppose the affliction is evident in my writing. As a schoolteacher, I have always loved seeing children giggle (or at least smile) as they learn. I guess that is why so many of my books take an important, serious subject (math) and deal with it in a bright, light-hearted, even slightly silly way.

"Along with home life, teaching has had a definite impact on my writing. Although the story for Up Bear, Down Bear is taken from a personal childhood incident, I chose to write this book in a style that would be perfect for a child who is just beginning to read. It is hard for me to decide which I like most—seeing a child learn or seeing a child laugh. Writing, hopefully, opens a way for me to enjoy both (and it's good medicine for my ‘illness’)."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Book Links, November, 1999, review of 100 Days of School.

Booklist, November 15, 1999, Tim Arnold, review of 100 Days of School, p. 630.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2000, review of Pattern Fish.

Horn Book, September-October, 2001, Martha V. Parravano, review of Up Bear, Down Bear, p. 573.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1999, review of 100 Days of School, p. 1318; March 15, 2007, review of Twenty Hungry Piggies; July 25, 2008, review of Jenny Found a Penny.

School Library Journal, November, 1999, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of 100 Days of School, p. 143; December, 2000, Robin L. Gibson, review of Pattern Fish, p. 133; September, 2001, Thomas Pitchford, review of Pattern Bugs, p. 215; May, 2007, Gloria Koster, review of Twenty Hungry Piggies, p. 98.

ONLINE

KIDK Web site,http://www.kidk.com/ (July 20, 2008), "Trudy Harris."

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Harris, Trudy 1949–

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