Harrison, David L. 1937–

views updated

Harrison, David L. 1937–

(Arthur Kennon Graham, Kennon Graham)

Personal

Born March 13, 1937, in Springfield, MO; son of John Alexander (a businessman) and Laura Neva (a homemaker) Harrison; married Sandra Sue Kennon (a high school counselor), May 23, 1959; children: Robin Lynn Harrison Williams, Jeffrey Scott. Education: Drury College, A.B. (biology), 1959; Emory University, M.S. (parasitology), 1960; Evansville University, graduate studies, 1960-63.

Addresses

Office—928 S. Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65802. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer. Mead Johnson Co., Evansville, IN, pharmacologist, 1960-63; Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, MO, editorial manager, 1963-73; Glenstone Block Co. (manufacturer and supply house of building materials), Springfield, MO, president and owner, 1973—. President and member of Springfield Board of Education, 1983-88; member of board, Springfield Public Schools Foundation, 1988-96; member of board of trustees, Ozarks Technical Community College, 1992-94; member of advisory board, Springfield Parent magazine, 1994-97. Has been a professional musician, music teacher, and principal trombonist in the Springfield Symphony. Active in various activities supporting literacy, 1982—; presenter and speaker at workshops and conferences.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Missouri Writers Guild.

Awards, Honors

Christopher Award, Christopher Foundation, 1973, for The Book of Giant Stories; award for Outstanding Contributions to Children's Literature, Central State University, 1978; Distinguished Alumni Award, Drury College, 1981; Kentucky Blue Grass Award nominee, Kentucky State Reading Association, 1993, for Somebody Catch My Homework; Celebrate Literacy Award, Springfield Council of the International Reading Association (IRA), 1994 and 2002; Celebrate Literacy Award, Missouri State Reading Association, 1994; Friend of Education Award, Missouri State Teachers Association, 1994 and 2002; Children's Choice Award, IRA/Children's Book Council, 1994, for Somebody Catch My Homework, 1995, for When Cows Come Home, and 1997, for A Thousand Cousins; inclusion on Recommended Reading List, Kansas State Reading Association, 1995, and Master List of Virginia Young Readers Program, Virginia State Reading Association, 1996-97, both for When Cows Come Home; IRA Local Council Community Service Award, 2001, for "Sky High on Reading" literacy project; Missouri Governor's Humanities Award, 2001.

Writings

The Boy with a Drum, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1969.

Little Turtle's Big Adventure, Random House (New York, NY), 1969.

The Little Boy in the Forest, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1969.

About Me, Childcraft Education Corp., 1969.

The World of American Caves, Reilly & Lee, 1970.

The Case of Og the Missing Frog, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1972.

(With Mary Loberg) The Backyard Zoo, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1972.

(With Mary Loberg) The Kingdom of the Sea, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1972.

(With Mary Loberg) The World of Horses, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1972.

(With Mary Loberg) The Terrible Lizards, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1972.

The Book of Giant Stories, illustrated by Philippe Fix, McGraw, 1972.

The Little Boy and the Giant, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1973.

Let's Go Trucks!, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1973.

Children Everywhere, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1973.

Piggy Wiglet and the Great Adventure, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1973.

The Huffin Puff Express, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1974.

The Love Bug: Herbie's Special Friend, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1974.

The Busy Body Book, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1975.

Monster! Monster!, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1975.

The Pink Panther in Z-Land, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1976.

The Circus Is in Town, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1978.

Detective Bob and the Great Ape Escape, illustrated by Ned Delaney, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1980.

My Funny Bunny Phone Book, illustrated by Lyn McClure Butrick, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1980.

What Do You Know!: Mind-boggling Questions, Astonishing Answers, illustrated by Rod Ruth, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1981.

The Snoring Monster, illustrated by Richard Walz, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1985.

Busy Machines, illustrated by Richard Walz, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1985.

Wake up, Sun!, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm, Random House (New York, NY), 1986, reprinted, 2003.

Little Boy Soup, Ladybird Books (England), 1989.

Somebody Catch My Homework: Poems, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1993.

When Cows Come Home, illustrated by Chris L. Demarest, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1994.

The Boy Who Counted Stars: Poems, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1994.

A Thousand Cousins: Poems of Family Life, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1996.

The Animals' Song, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1997.

The Purchase of Small Secrets: Poems, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 1998.

Wild Country: Outdoor Poems for Young People, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 1999.

(With Bernice E. Cullinan) Easy Poetry Lessons That Dazzle and Delight, Scholastic Professional Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Farmer's Garden: Rhymes for Two Voices, illustrated by Arden Johnson-Petrov, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2000.

(Adaptor) The Big Sleepover (based on "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

(Adaptor) The Big Surprise (based on "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

(Adaptor) Dogs and Cats (based on "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Johnny Appleseed: My Story, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

(Adaptor) The Doggy Detectives (based on "Clifford the Big Red Dog" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Dylan, the Eagle-hearted Chicken, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2002.

The Alligator in the Closet, and Other Poems around the House, illustrated by Jane Kendall, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2003.

The Mouse Was out at Recess, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2003.

Wake up, Sun!, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Connecting Dots: Poems of My Journey (memoir), illustrated by Kelley Cunningham Cousineau, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2004.

Miss Grubb, Super Sub!: A Write-in Reader, illustrated by Page Eastburn O'Rourke, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Farmer's Dog Goes to the Forest: Rhymes for Two Voices, illustrated by Arden Johnson-Petrov, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2005.

Sounds of Rain: Poems of the Amazon, photographs by Doug Duncan, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2006.

Piggy Wiglet, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2007.

Cave Detectives: Unraveling the Mystery of an Ice Age Cave, illustrated by Ashley Mims, photographs by Edward Biamonte, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2007.

Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things, illustrated by Rob Shepperson, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2007.

Pirates, illustrated by Dan Burr, Wordsong (Honesdale, PA), 2008.

"EARTHWORKS" SERIES; NONFICTION

Caves: Mysteries beneath Our Feet, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2001.

Rivers: Nature's Wondrous Waterways, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2002.

Volcanoes: Nature's Incredible Fireworks, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2002.

Oceans: The Vast, Mysterious Deep, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2003.

Earthquakes: Earth's Mightiest Moments, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2004.

Mountains: The Tops of the World, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2005.

Glaciers: Nature's Icy Caps, illustrated by Cheryl Nathan, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2006.

UNDER PSEUDONYM KENNON GRAHAM

Smokey Bear Saves the Forest, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1971.

Lassie and the Big Clean-up Day, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1971.

Eloise and the Old Blue Truck, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1971.

Lassie and the Secret Friend, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1972.

My Little Book of Cars and Trucks, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1973.

Woodsy Owl and the Trail Bikers, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1974.

Land of the Lost: Surprise Guests, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1975.

The Pink Panther in the Haunted House, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1975.

The Pink Panther Rides Again, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1976.

My Little Book about Flying, Albert Whitman (Racine, WI), 1978.

Bugs Bunny in Escape from Noddington Castle, illustrated by Darrell Baker, Golden Press (Racine, WI), 1979.

EDITOR

Peter Pan, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1964.

Cinderella, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1964.

Pinocchio, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1964.

The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1965.

A Christmas Carol, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1965.

The Three Pigs, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1966.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hallmark Books (Shelby, OH), 1966.

(With Sandy Asher) Dude!: Stories and Stuff for Boys, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

OTHER

Writing Stories: Fantastic Fiction from Start to Finish, Scholastic Reference (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor of stories and poems to anthologies. Contributor of short stories, under pseudonyms Arthur Kennon Graham and Kennon Graham, to The Witch Book, edited by Dorothy F. Haas, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1976. Contributor to periodicals, including Highlights for Children, Family Circle, Journal of Reading, Creative Classroom, Hello Reader!, Senior Living, and Springfield News-Leader. Articles and interviews have appeared in Reading Today and state IRS reading journals.

Author's work has been translated into more than twelve languages.

Adaptations

Harrison's works have been adapted for audiocassette and for production on television and radio throughout the world. Somebody Catch My Homework was adapted for CD-ROM, Discis, 1994. Sandy Asher used Harrison's poetry as inspiration for the play Somebody Catch My Homework, 2002.

Sidelights

Educated as a scientist, David L. Harrison worked as both a pharmacologist and an editor before going on to establish a business in his native Missouri. At the same time, he also established a successful second career as a children's book author. In the dozens of books he has written for young people, Harrison draws on his interest in science as well as on the many other interests that have enriched his life, producing award-winning stories, poetry, and retellings of classic tales in addition to nonfiction works. "By the time I was twenty-one," the author once explained, "I had worked in a pet shop, done yard work, taught music, dug ditches, unloaded boxcars, played in dance bands, poured concrete, worked in the entomology department at a university, mined uranium, and explored caves. I had also begun to write seriously, but it took nearly six more years before my first story was accepted for publication." In addition to writing, Harrison has also teamed with Sandy Asher to edit Dude!: Stories and Stuff for Boys, an anthology of eighteen stories, poems, and plays that, taken together, "offer an array of characters and experiences" designed to inspire curiosity in middle-grade boys, according to Booklist reviewer Shelle Rosenfeld.

In one of Harrison's best-known books, the award-winning The Book of Giant Stories, the author blends limericks and stories together to create a world where giants live among men. In one fantasy tale, a young boy escapes from the hands of giants by telling them a secret; in another a clever lad calms a temperamental giant by teaching him to whistle; a third story finds a boy helping an unfortunate giant who has been cursed by a wicked witch. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly described Harrison's book as "farfetched and funny," while Evelyn Stewart noted in Library Journal that the "believable fantasy is perfect for reading aloud" to younger readers.

Featuring an easy-to-read text, Wake up, Sun! chronicles the humorous attempts of barnyard animals to awaken the sun when they arise one morning before daybreak. Piggy Wiglet and When Cows Come Home also feature a barnyard setting. The first is the story of a curious pig who decides to catch the sun despite the effort of others to stop him, while in When Cows Come Home Harrison reveals what really happens on the farm when the farmer's back is turned. As soon as the farmer tends to other business, all of his cows explode in silly and whimsical stunts, such as square dancing, riding bicycles, and playing tag. Harrison's "rhyming text" combines with watercolor illustrations by Karen Stormer Brooks to "contribute to the cheerful tone of this pleasant story," wrote Linda L. Walkins in a School Library Journal ap-

praisal of Piggy Wigglet. Reviewing When the Cows Come Home, a Kirkus Reviews critic complimented Harrison's "skillful versifying," while in School Library Journal Mary Lou Budd admired the book's "rhythmic and evocative text." A Publishers Weekly reviewer described When Cows Come Home as "a bright, appealing volume with a mischievous nature."

Harrison's picture book Dylan, the Eagle-hearted Chicken takes the nature-versus-nurture theory down to a child's level. After Ethel the chicken decides to take a break from sitting on her egg, it is snatched away by an old crow. The thief deposits the egg in an eagle nest, and when hatching time comes the mother eagle is surprised when a small yellow chick suddenly appears. The story continues as Dylan searches for his real mother while his eagle "siblings" contemplate eating him for lunch. A Kirkus Reviews writer thought that Harrison's story has a "droll wit that bespeaks the silliness of the situation."

Many of Harrison's books feature rhyming texts geared for young readers. In Somebody Catch My Homework he gathers a variety of poems addressing the trials and tribulations children often have about school. Missing-homework excuses, asking timely permission for restroom privileges, and complaints about playground bullies are set to verse and salted with a sense of humor that makes them accessible to children. According to School Library Journal contributor Lee Bock, Somebody Catch My Homework is "reminiscent of the styles of [Jack] Prelutsky and [Shel] Silverstein." Writing in Booklist, Hazel Rochman applauded Harrison for his "immediacy and slapstick," while a Kirkus reviewer described Somebody Catch My Homework as a "genuinely funny" book "to read aloud, pass around, and chortle over again."

In A Thousand Cousins: Poems of Family Life Harrison provides a light-hearted look at family situations which often confuse and confound children. The poet explores the relationships between siblings and extended family members and makes light of situations common to many children, such as fathers snoring loudly and mothers incessantly reminding their kids to keep clean. A critic in Kirkus Reviews observed that most of the poems "have punchy endings; each revolves around some gimmick." School Library Journal contributor Marjorie Lewis asserted that these poems will "elicit giggles from young readers and listeners." A similar topical familiarity informs The Alligator in the Closet: And Other Poems around the House. The verses in this collection focus on such commonplace household moments as the disruption posed by a new baby, a barking dog, a pesky spider, or the lack of toilet paper in the bathroom. Booklist correspondent Carolyn Phelan felt that the "familiar, homely topics and straightforward approach" make The Alligator in the Closet a good choice for reading out loud.

In The Purchase of Small Secrets Harrison compiles thirty-eight free-verse poems about a boy growing up in the country, while Wild Country: Outdoor Poems for Young People collects several short poems about Harrison's observations in the wild. Wild Country is separated into four sections: "Mountains," "High Country," "Forest," and "Sea." Also drawing from anture, The Animals' Song is a book-length nonsense rhyme that includes children playing instruments and animals making their respective noises.

Turning to more exotic locales, Sounds of Rain: Poems of the Amazon brings to life the many animals and plants that populate the rainforests surrounding the Amazon River in South America. Inspired by a trip to the Amazon region, the book is formatted like a scrapbook and features photographs by fellow traveler Doug Duncan. Harrison's trip to the Amazon is part of a much larger tapestry, as he shows in Connecting Dots: Poems of My Journey, a memoir composed of fifty-four poems. Moving from childhood to his teenage years to adulthood, Harrison's short poems express the wisdom he has gained throughout life, resulting in "an interesting endeavor," in the opinion of School Library Journal contributor Laura Reed.

In his "Earthwork" nonfiction series Harrison focuses on Earth science. He introduces young readers to cave formation in Caves: Mysteries beneath Our Feet offers scientific information in the form of a story. When Farmer Howe's cow leaves the pasture to stand in front of the entrance to a cave, the curious farmer discovers that breezes from the underground caves are keeping the cow cool. The book also describes how caves evolve and what is inside them. In Booklist Kelly Milner Halls called Caves "science with grace."

The "Earthworks" series continues with Rivers: Nature's Wondrous Waterways, Volcanoes: Nature's Incredible Fireworks, Oceans: The Vast, Mysterious Deep, Earthquakes: Earth's Mightiest Movements, Glacier: Nature's Icy Caps, and Mountains: The Tops of the World. In Rivers Harrison discusses the water cycle, ecology, geology, and environmental awareness while focusing mainly on rivers in his rhyming text. Volcanoes explains how volcanoes form, where they can be found, and what happens when they erupt while Oceans introduces readers to Earth's water cycle and phenomena such as tsunamis, el niño, and hurricanes. Glaciers and Mountains both focus on the slow but relentless changes occurring on Earth's surface. School Library Journal contributor Lynn Dye noted in her review of Rivers that Harrison's explanation of how a river forms is written in "clear, poetic prose." Although a critic for Kirkus Reviews maintained that the book leaves many questions unanswered, Carolyn Phelan praised Volcanoes in Booklist for its "surprisingly graceful text." Oceans "could inspire a deeper exploration of the subject," concluded School Library Journal reviewer Dona Ratterree, and Phelan praised Mountains for presenting a "simple, clear discussion" of the sometimes complex and still unfolding science of plate tectonics.

Other nonfiction works include Cave Detectives: Unraveling the Mystery of an Ice Age. Readers can follow the discovery and exploration of Riverbluff Cave, a Missouri cave that, in 2001, was found to contain the oldest fossil remains yet discovered in North America. Revealed by a road crew engaged in blasting a roadbed into the side of a hill, the cave rewarded scientists with a look back tens of thousands of years into the past, to the ice age. Citing the book's "inviting design," Marcia Kochel praised Cave Detectives in her School Library Journal review, noting that Harrison's "narrative is smooth and easy to follow" and is likely to inspire readers to learn more about the work of modern paleontologists.

Reflecting on his decades-long career as a writer, Harrison once commented on the way "folks react if you tell them you write for young people. They used to say something like, ‘Oh?’ beneath arched eyebrows, signifying that it was a darned pity you couldn't make it as a real writer. Thanks to our nation's well-founded concerns about educating and developing our newest generations, writing for young people is now recognized as a worthy goal. Writers have always known that they must grow with their work. What could be a better strategy for success than to choose an audience that also must keep growing?" In an effort to contribute to the success of others in the same field, Harrison has also produced Writing Stories: Fantastic Fiction from Start to Finish, which provides suggestions and examples geared for budding middle-grade writers. Praising the work for its "enthusiastic tone," Linda Wadleigh added in School Library Journal that Writing Stories will inspire "students … to start their own writing careers."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 1994, Janice Del Negro, review of When Cows Come Home, p. 1608; April 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of The Animals' Song, p. 1337; November 15, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Wild Country: Outdoor Poems for Young People, p. 620; September 1, 2000, Ellen Mandel, review of A Farmer's Garden: Rhymes for Two Voices, p. 122; September 15, 2001, Kelly Milner Halls, review of Caves: Mysteries beneath Our Feet, p. 228; February 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Johnny Appleseed: My Story, p. 949; April 1, 2002, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Rivers: Nature's Wondrous Waterways, p. 1330; July, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Volcanoes: Nature's Incredible Fireworks, p. 1851; April 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Alligator in the Closet, and Other Poems around the House, p. 1408; January 1, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Oceans: The Vast, Mysterious Deep, p. 864; November 1, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Writing Stories, p. 478; September 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Farmer's Dog Goes to the Forest: Rhymes for Two Voices, p. 144; November 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Mountains: The Tops of the World, p. 49; April 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Glaciers: Nature's Icy Caps, p. 45; July 1, 2006, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Dude!: Stories and Stuff for Boys, p. 86; March 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things, p. 86; May 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Cave Detectives: Unraveling the Mystery of an Ice Age Cave, p. 90.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of Rivers, p. 412; August 1, 2002, review of Volcanoes, p. 1131; August 15, 2002, review of Dylan, the Eagle-hearted Chicken, p. 1225; August 15, 2003, review of The Mouse Was out at Recess: Poems, p. 1074; August 15, 2004, review of Earthquakes, p. 806; November 15, 2004, review of Connecting Dots: Poems of My Journey, p. 1089; August 15, 2005, review of Mountains, p. 1027; June 1, 2006, review of Dude!, p. 568; November 1, 2006, review of Sounds of Rain: Poems of the Amazon, p. 1122; February 15, 2007, review of Bugs; May 15, 2007, review of Cave Detectives.

Library Journal, January 15, 1973, Evelyn Stewart, review of The Book of Giant Stories, p. 253.

Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1993, p. 64; December 17, 2001, review of The Book of Giant Stories, p. 94.

School Library Journal, March, 1997, Patricia Pearl Doyle, review of The Animals' Song, p. 160; November 1, 1998, Angela J. Reynolds, review of The Purchase of Small Secrets, p. 136; December, 1999, Carolyn Angus, review of Wild Country, p. 151; November, 2000, Susan Scheps, review of Farmer's Garden, p. 122; October, 2001, Catherine Threadgill, review of Mysteries beneath Our Feet, p. 140; May, 2002, Lynn Dye, review of Rivers, p. 138; August, 2002, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Dylan, the Eagle-hearted Chicken, p. 156; March, 2003, Nancy Palmer, review of The Alligator in the Closet, p. 218; September, 2003, John Peters, review of The Mouse Was out at Recess, p. 199; January, 2004, Dona Ratterree, review of Oceans, p. 117; November, 2004, Sandra Welzenbach, review of Earthquakes, p. 124; December, 2004, Laura Reed, review of Connecting Dots, p. 162; January, 2005, Linda Wadleigh, review of Writing Stories: Fantastic Fiction from Start to Finish, p. 148; September, 2005, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Farmer's Dog Goes to the Forest, p. 192; October, 2005, Eva Elisabeth Von Ancken, review of Mountains, p. 138; August, 2006, Coop Renner, review of Dude!, p. 113; August, 2006, Michael Santangelo, review of Glaciers, p. 105; December, 2006, Kathleen Whalin, review of Sounds of Rain, p. 163; May, 2007, Linda L. Walkins, review of Piggy Wiglet, p. 98; June, 2007, Julie Roach, review of Bugs, p. 133; August, 2007, Marcia Kochel, review of Cave Detectives, p. 134.

ONLINE

Drury University Web site,http://www.drury.edu/ (January 10, 2008), "Alumni Profile: David L. Harrison, '59."

About this article

Harrison, David L. 1937–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article

NEARBY TERMS

Harrison, David L. 1937–