Heiligman, Deborah 1958–
Heiligman, Deborah 1958–
Born April 24, 1958, in Allentown, PA; daughter of Nathan (a physician) and Helen Heiligman; married Jonathan Weiner (an author), May 29, 1982; children: Aaron, Benjamin. Education: Brown University, A.B. (religious studies), 1980. Religion: Jewish.
Home—Macguncie, PA. E-mail—[email protected]
Author of children's books. Scholastic Inc., New York, NY, editor, 1981-85.
Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Distinguished Alumnus award, Allen High School, 1993; Best in Category Award, Educational Press Association, for article in Zillions magazine; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council (CBC), 1995, for Barbara McClintock: Alone in Her Field, and 1998, for The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research; Best Book designation, Bank Street School of Education Book Committee, 1997, for On the Move; Outstanding Science Trade Book designation, 2002, for Honeybees; National Science Teachers Association/CBC, for Celebrate Diwali, Celebrate Thanksgiving, Celebrate Ramadan, and Celebrate Hanukkah; Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book designation, Association of Jewish Libraries, for Celebrate Hanukkah, Celebrate Passover, and Celebrate Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.
Into the Night, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1990.
Barbara McClintock: Alone in Her Field, illustrated by Janet Hamlin, Scientific American Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1994.
Mary Leakey: In Search of Human Beginnings, illustrated by Janet Hamlin, Scientific American Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1995.
Pockets, illustrated by Suzanne Duranceau, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.
On the Move, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly, illustrated by Bari Weissman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Mike Swan, Sink or Swim, illustrated by Chris L. Demarest, First Choice Chapter Books (New York, NY), 1998.
The Story of the Titanic, illustrated by James Watling, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.
The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, illustrated by David Cain, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998, also published as The Kid's Guide to Research, 1999.
Too Perfect, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1999.
Honeybees, illustrated by Carla Golembe, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.
Babies: All You Need to Know, illustrated by Laura Freeman, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.
Earthquakes, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
High Hopes: A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2003.
Fun Dog, Sun Dog, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2005.
Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2008.
Cool Dog, School Dog, illustrated by Tim Bowers, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2009.
Contributor to magazines, including Ladies' Home Journal, Sesame Street Parents Guide, and Parents. Con- tributor to anthologies, including Don't Cramp My Style: Stories about That Time of the Month, edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
"HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
Celebrate Hanukkah: With Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2006.
Celebrate Thanksgiving, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2006.
Celebrate Diwali: With Sweets, Lights, and Fireworks, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2006.
Celebrate Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2006.
Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: With Honey, Prayers, and the Shofar, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2007.
Celebrate Passover, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2007.
Celebrate Independence Day, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2007.
Celebrate Easter: With Colored Eggs, Flowers, and Prayer, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2007.
Celebrate Christmas, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2007.
Celebrate Halloween: With Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2007.
A former children's book editor, Deborah Heiligman is the author of both fiction and nonfiction titles for younger readers. From biographies such as Barbara McClintock: Alone in Her Field, High Hopes: A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy, and Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, to books about insects, titles for emergent readers, and a series about holidays throughout the world, Heiligman ranges widely in her focus. Charles and Emma, in particular, combines many
of Heiligman's interests, as she once explained to SATA: "Religion, science, a good story, and the most important connections between people."
Like many people who eventually become writers, Heiligman loved books from an early age. One of the first books she checked out from the library, a picture book titled What Is a Butterfly?, "told me everything I wanted to know about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly," the author once recalled. As her mother read the text to her, Heiligman entered "a whole new world," as she explained. "I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. I kept reading nonfiction, and then branched out into fiction, longer books, encyclopedias, and magazines. While I was growing up, I had many friends and did all kinds of wonderful things. But the one anchor in my life was always my love of reading. Reading was like magic for me. I found, too, that I loved to write, and that I was pretty good at it."
Inspired by another memorable event from the author's childhood, High Hopes captures the all-too-brief life of the beloved political leader whose assassination occurred during Heiligman's childhood. The author "is almost in awe of her subject," concluded Booklist critic Hazel Rochman in a review of the well-illustrated picture-book biography of thirty-fifth U.S. president John F. Kennedy, while Lucinda Whitehurst maintained in School Library Journal that High Hopes "successfully captures the spirit that makes Kennedy ala enduring figure in our history."
After graduating from Brown University in 1980, Heiligman married and worked for New York City publisher Scholastic for several years before striking out on her own. "The magic came full circle … [in 1995]," she explained, "when an editor asked me to write a picture book on how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly! I had long been searching for my first butterfly book, but it was out of print. So I was able to write my own!" Writing this first book was also a personal experience; it was written shortly after Heiligman's mother passed away. "I poured into it memories of her, and all of my books, and the wonders of the world, and of life. From a funny-looking caterpillar comes a beautiful Painted Lady butterfly. And life comes full circle too, as I dedicated From Caterpillar to Butterfly to my first son, Aaron, who loves books even more than I do, if that is possible."
Heiligman concentrates on nonfiction in her writings, and she shares her knowledge of research tools to readers in The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research. Geared to students in grades four through eight, this "short and complete" title, to quote Edith Ching in School Library Journal, gives practical advice on note taking, interviewing, evaluating Internet sources, and conducting surveys, as well on as using secondary sources.
Turning her attention to older readers, Heiligman spins an historical science mystery in The Mysterious Ocean Highway: Benjamin Franklin and the Gulf Stream, which traces the development of scientific investigation into this powerful ocean current from Franklin's discoveries in the eighteenth century to the work of contemporary scientists. Writing in Appraisal, Linda de Lyon praised the book's "scientifically accurate" and "concise" information and Robert Newman deemed The Mysterious Ocean Highway "a well written and fascinating tale of discovery and mapping."
Heiligman's storytelling talent is tapped in a number of books for emergent readers, among them Honeybees, Babies: All You Need to Know, and the amusing Fun Dog, Sun Dog. Honeybees is an information-packed book featuring "fascinating details" about the secret life of bees, according to Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan. Although Edith Ching, writing in School Library Journal, pointed out several flaws in the work, she called Honeybees an "attractive addition" to children's nonfiction choices. Babies is also packed with "interesting information," according to School Library Journal contributor Martha Topol, and a Kirkus Reviews commentator described the book as "a satisfying introduction" to infants and an "upbeat and fun" resource for families expecting a new member. Fun Dog, Sun Dog, which pairs a simple rhyming story about a golden retriever and her boy during a day at the beach with illustrations by Tim Bowers, prompted Booklist critic Julie Cummins to predict that "kids will relish this clever sharing and caring
story." In School Library Journal, Catherine Callegari praised Fun Dog, Sun Dog for featuring "a repetitive and effective singsong text that is catchy and enjoyable to read."
Featuring highly illustrated profiles of familiar holidays such as Christmas, Hannukah, and Halloween as well as Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, and Yom Kippur, Heiligman's "Holidays around the World" books "balance historical perspective with contemporary cultural significance," according to School Library Journal contributor Julie R. Ranelli. In each volume in the series, the author describes the history and purpose of the special day in question, including local celebration customs in various countries. Also writing in School Library Journal, Amanda Moss described Celebrate Halloween: With Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy as a "warm, informational book [that is] perfect for sharing aloud or enjoying individually," the critic adding that Heiligman's reassuring text "will calm any fears." In Celebrate Hannukah: With Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels, celebrations everywhere from Israel and India to Peru and Uganda are described, all in a text that Booklist critic Kay Weisman deemed "succinct and appropriate for reading aloud." Featuring a "beautiful explanation of the Jewish High Holy Days," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer, Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur incorporates important prayer rituals in a multicultural volume that features what the critic described as "a colorful, clean photographic design."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Appraisal, spring-summer-fall, 2000, Linda de Lyon Friel, review of The Mysterious Ocean Highway: Benjamin Franklin and the Gulf Stream, p. 39; spring-summer-fall, 2000, Robert Newman, review of The Mysterious Ocean Highway, p. 39.
Booklist, October 1, 1998, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 362; October 15, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of The Mysterious Ocean Highway, p. 437; May 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Honeybees, p. 1529; October 1, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of Babies: All You Need to Know, p. 328; November 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of High Hopes: A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy, p. 595; May 1, 2005, Julie Cummins, review of Fun Dog, Sun Dog, p. 1590; October 15, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Celebrate Hanukkah: With Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels, p. 77; March 15, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Celebrate Passover, p. 45.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2002, review of Honeybees, p. 19; October, 2002, review of Babies, p. 59.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2002, review of Babies, p. 1225; June 1, 2007, review of Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1998, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 79.
Reading Teacher, October, 1997, review of From Caterpillar to Butterfly, p. 152.
School Library Journal, February, 1999, Edith Ching, review of The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, p. 119; May, 2002, Edith Ching, review of Honeybees, p. 138; October, 2002, Martha Topol, review of Babies, p. 146; April, 2004, Lucinda Whitehurst, review of High Hopes, p. 170; May, 2005, Catherine Callegari, review of Fun Dog, Sun Dog, p. 85; January, 2007, Julie R. Ranelli, review of Celebrate Diwali, p. 118; August, 2007, Heidi Estrin, review of Celebrate Independence Day, p. 98; September, 2007, Angela Moss, review of Celebrate Halloween: With Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy, p. 183.
Deborah Heiligman Home Page,http://www.deborahheiligman.com (September 15, 2008).