Holm, Jennifer L. 1968(?)- (Holm and Hamel)
Holm, Jennifer L. 1968(?)- (Holm and Hamel)
Born c. 1968, in MD; daughter of William W. (a pediatrician) and Beverly A. (a pediatric nurse) Holm; married Jonathan Hamel (a video-game designer), 1999; children: Will. Education: Dickinson College, B.A., 1990.
Broadcast television producer and author. Ogilvy and Mather (advertising agency), New York, NY, producer of television commercials, music videos, and promotional materials, 1990-c. 2001.
Parents' Choice Silver award, and best books of the year designation, Publishers Weekly, both 1999, Newbery Honor award, Notable Book designation, American Library Association (ALA), and Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies designation, National Council for the Social Studies, all 2000, and Utah Book Award, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award master list inclusion, both 2000-01, all for Our Only May Amelia; Parent's Guide to Children's Media Award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults citation, and Book Sense 76 Pick, all for Boston Jane: An Adventure; Newbery Honor award and ALA Notable Book designation, both 2007, both for Penny from Heaven; honorary D.L, Dickinson College, 2007.
Our Only May Amelia, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
Boston Jane: An Adventure, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
Boston Jane: Wilderness Days, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
The Creek (horror; for young adults), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Boston Jane: The Claim, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Penny from Heaven, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told through Stuff, illustrated by Elicia Castaldi, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2007.
"BABYMOUSE" GRAPHIC-NOVEL SERIES; ILLUSTRATED BY BROTHER, MATTHEW HOLM
Baby Mouse: Queen of the World!, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
Baby Mouse: Our Hero!, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
Baby Mouse: Beach Babe, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Baby Mouse: Rock Star, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Baby Mouse: Camp Babymouse, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Baby Mouse: Heartbreaker, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
Baby Mouse: Skater Girl,, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.
"STINK FILES" SERIES; WITH JONATHAN HAMEL UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM HOLM AND HAMEL
The Postman Always Brings Mice, illustrated by Brad Weinman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
To Scratch a Thief, illustrated by Brad Weinman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
You Only Have Nine Lives, illustrated by Brad Weinman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Our Only May Amelia was adapted for the stage and performed at the Seattle Children's Theatre, 2002.
Noted for her ability to create likeable, realistic young characters, two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Jennifer L. Holm has always loved reading. "One of our neighbors said recently that his clearest memory of me as a child was watching me rake the lawn one-handed while I read a book with the other!," she admitted on her home page. Beginning her authorial career writing middle-grade historical novels such as Boston Jane: An Adventure, Holm has also profiled contemporary life in her innovative and highly visual middle-grade novel Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told through Stuff, which follows a seventh grader's efforts to take control of her life. Several of her books have involved collaborations: she joined her husband, Jonathan Hamel, to write the well-received "Stink Files" series featuring a feline version of James Bond, and has moved into the graphic-novel format with the engaging "Babymouse" series, created with her brother, artist Matthew Holm. Noting that Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf "combines honesty and humor to create a believable and appealing voice," School Library Journal reviewer Diana Pierce added that "Holm's creative book should hook readers, especially girls who want something out of the ordinary."
While attending Dickinson College, Holm studied international relations, and in an effort to lighten the intellectual load, during her senior year she decided to audit a class in writing short stories. Her interest in writing was again sparked several years later, when she received an unusual Christmas present: a typed copy of a diary her great-aunt, Alice Amelia Holm, had kept as a teenager. One of Holm's aunts had found the diary among her grandmother's things, transcribed it, and sent copies to family members.
Alice Amelia Holm grew up in rural Washington state in the early 1900s. While her life was a far cry from the suburban, 1970s upbringing Holm herself enjoyed, her diary entries describing her teen years "[were no] different from what I could have written when I was that age," as Holm explained to Publishers Weekly interviewer Ingrid Roper. "It got me thinking what it would be like to grow up as I did with brothers but out in the middle of nowhere in a wilderness at a very exciting time."
Holm's first book, Our Only May Amelia, was inspired by her discovery of her ancestor's diary. Like Holm herself, the fictional May Amelia is the only girl in a family full of boys; she has six brothers to Holm's four. May Amelia is the first girl to be born in a fledgling village along Washington's Nasel River. At age twelve she is—like Holm at that age—quite a tomboy, much to the despair of those who are trying to raise her to be a proper young lady. May's fictitious diary reveals much about turn-of-the-twentieth century pioneer life, including the dangers from wild animals and the hard work that went into performing basic household chores. Despite all the hardships, the girl's "mischievous spirit adds many amusing moments," Barbara Wysocki noted in School Library Journal. The young narrator also paints vivid portraits of her numerous family members and neighbors in her diary: Holm has an "uncanny ability to give each of the siblings—and a wide range of adults—a distinctive character while maintaining May Amelia's spunky narrative voice," noted a Publishers Weekly critic.
Holm describes the lives of pioneers living in Washington state during the 1850s in her next three books, which form the "Boston Jane" trilogy. Jane's mother died when Jane was young, and her father, a Boston businessman, has let his daughter run wild for many years. At age eleven, Jane wisely takes the advice of one of her father's apprentices, William, and enrolls at Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy to learn proper etiquette. When readers meet Jan in the first volume of the series, An Adventure, she is aged fifteen. William, who has in the interim moved to the Pacific Northwest, writes and asks her to come to Washington Territory and marry him. Jane agrees, but quickly finds that her finishing-school lessons have not prepared her for the experience. Booklist reviewer Kay Weisman praised Holm's "strong characterizations [and] meticulous attention to historical details," and School Library Journal contributor Janet Hilbun wrote also that "the author's portrayal of pioneer/Chinook relationships is sympathetic."
Holm's first book to be set in modern times is The Creek. Described by Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin as a mystery containing the "trappings of a creepy thriller that push[es] the story well beyond the wan child-plays-detective stuff so prevalent in youth mysteries," The Creek follows the return of delinquent teen Caleb Devlin to a Philadelphia suburb. Twelve-year-old Penny and the group of neighborhood boys she plays with are convinced that Caleb is behind certain chilling occurrences that now take place, among them the disappearances of many family pets. The children decide to investigate, not fully realizing how dangerous this choice could be. "The thriller aspects … are on target," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic, adding that, through the plot of The Creek, Holm is successful in "ratcheting up the tension with leisurely precision."
Readers are once again taken back in time in the pages of Penny from Heaven, which is set in the mid-1950s.
Looking forward to a summer spent swimming, playing baseball with friends, and eating ice-cream, eleven-year-old Penny Falucci finds her plans frustrated by her overprotective widowed mother's concerns over polio, problems with her mom's new boyfriend, and the drama among members of her close-knit Italian family. "Penny and her world are clearly drawn and eminently believable," Faith Brautigan wrote in School Library Journal, explaining that Holm brings the historical setting vividly to life via "seamlessly interwoven details from everyday life" as it was lived during the 1950s. Remarking on Penny's "gently comic" narrative voice, a Publishers Weekly reviewer predicted that "readers will enjoy observing Penny's growth" as she finds a balance between the restrained lifestyle imposed by her mom and the more dynamic culture of her father's family. The preteen's "narration is both earthy and observant, and her commentary … sparkles," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer, praising the "leisurely" pace and "cast of offbeat characters" in Penny from Heaven.
With their "Babymouse" graphic-novel series, Holm and brother Matthew Holm create an imaginative young heroine that has won the love of legions of preteen fans. The curly tailed rodent is first introduced in Babymouse: Queen of the World!, and was described by Scott La Counte as "spunky, ambitious, and, at times, a total dweeb," although the critic added in his School Library Journal review that she is nonetheless "endearing." As brought to life in Matthew Holm's heavy black-and-white lines and bright pink highlights, Babymouse lives in a small-scale world that resembles that of the average American child, although the threat from prowling cats is ever-present. In Babymouse: Queen of the World! she works to avoid a school bully during gym class while also hoping to wrangle an invitation to the same girl's slumber party. In Babymouse: Beach Babe Babymouse joins her family on a summer vacation at the beach where she plans to become a star surfer. Her frustration with pesky little brother Squeak turn to concern, however, when the younger mouse runs away from home. Babymouse: Heartbreaker follows the approach of Valentine's Day and Babymouse's desperate efforts to secure a date for the school dance.
In School Library Journal Ronnie Gordon noted the appeal of Babymouse: Beach Babe to "young graphic novel fans" as well as "reluctant readers," and Jesse Karp wrote in Booklist that the book's storyline is "as frolicsome and breathlessly paced" as previous installments in the series. "New readers will appreciate the familiar situations, humorous asides, and easy-to-digest plots" in the "Babymouse" books, predicted Horn Book critic Robin Smith in her review of Babymouse: Our Hero. Citing the divergence between the mouse's pink-hued flights of fancy and the real-life situations Babymouse attempts to navigate, a Horn Book writer observed that the Holms' "text and illustrations successfully differentiate between reality and daydreams, and there's a good amount of humor injected into both."
In the "Stink Files" books, Holm collaborates with husband Hamel in a series of books about a British super-spy-cat that tragically winds up living with an average American family in New Jersey. In The Postman Always Brings Mice James Edward Bristlefur is trying to cope with the indignity of being renamed "Mr. Stink" while hoping to escape his new pet guardians and continue his investigation into who assassinated his former owner. Slowly, however, the cat comes to care for his new keeper, fifth-grader Aaron. Seeing that Aaron is having trouble with a bully at school, Bristlefur hires a posse of mice and sets out to take care of the bully once and for all. The "resourceful, self-assured Stink makes a beguiling narrator," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, while Elaine E. Knight noted in School Library Journal that the book's "upper-class, James Bond-style narration provides a humorous contrast to the Jersey accent of the local dogs and mice and the everyday American English of the humans."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 1, 1999, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Our Only May Amelia; February 1, 2001, Lolly Gepson, review of Our Only May Amelia, p. 1063; September 1, 2001, Kay Weisman, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 109; July, 2002, Barbara Baskin, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 1866; September 1, 2002, Kay Weisman, review of Boston Jane: Wilderness Days, p. 123; August, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Creek, p. 1973; March 1, 2004, Kay Weisman, review of Boston Jane: The Claim, p. 1203; May 1, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Postman Always Brings Mice, p. 1498; March 15, 2006, Jesse Karp, review of Babymouse: Beach Babe, p. 56; April 15, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of Penny from Heaven, p. 58.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 2006, April Spisak, review of Babymouse: Beach Babe, p. 50; October, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Penny from Heaven, p. 74.
California Kids, September, 2003, Patricia M. Newman, "Who Wrote That?: Featuring Jennifer Holm."
Horn Book, January, 2001, Kristi Beavin, review of Our Only May Amelia, p. 121; September-October, 2001, Anita L. Burkam, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 584; September-October, 2002, Anita L. Burkam, review of Wilderness Days, p. 574; January-February, 2996, Robin Smith, review of Babymouse: Our Hero and Babymouse: Queen of the World!, p. 80; January-February, 2007, review of Babymouse: Heartbreaker, p. 67.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of The Creek, p. 805; January 15, 2004, review of The Claim, p. 83; May 15, 2004, review of The Postman Always Brings Mice, p. 492; April 15, 2006, review of Babymouse: Beach Babe, p. 408; June 1, 2006, review of Penny from Heaven, p. 574; July 1, 2007, review of Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told through Stuff.
Kliatt, July, 2004, Joni Spurrier, review of Wilderness Days, p. 19; November, 2004, Stephanie Squicciarini, review of The Creek, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1999, review of Our Only May Amelia, p. 71; June 28, 1999, Ingrid Roper, "Jennifer Holm," p. 28; November 1, 1999, review of Our Only May Amelia, p. 58; September 3, 2001, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 88; September 16, 2002, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 71; July 7, 2003, review of The Creek, p. 73; August 28, 2006, p. 54; September-October, 2006, Robin Smith, review of Babymouse: Rock Star, p. 585; July 30, 2007, review of Middle School Is Worse than Meat-loaf, p. 82.
School Library Journal, June, 1999, Cindy Darling Codell, review of Our Only May Amelia, p. 130; November, 2000, Barbara Wysocki, review of Our Only May Amelia, p. 78; August, 2001, Janet Hilbun, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 183; January, 2002, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Boston Jane: An Adventure, p. 78; October, 2002, Carolyn Janssen, review of Wilderness Days, p. 164; July, 2003, Douglas P. Davey, review of The Creek, p. 131; May, 2004, Jean Gaffney, review of The Claim, p. 150; June, 2004, Elaine E. Knight, review of The Postman Always Brings Mice, p. 110; March, 2006, Sadie Mattox, review of Babymouse: Our Hero, p. 251; July, 2006, Ronnie Gordon, review of Babymouse: Beach Babe, p. 128; September, 2006, Scott La Counte, review of Babymouse: Rock Star, p. 238; September, 2007, Diana Pierce, review of Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf, p. 198.
Dickinson,http://www.dickinson.edu/magazine/ (July 1, 2003), Sherri Kimmel, "Novel Dickinsonia: Prodigious Producer Jennifer Holm '90 Keeps the Printing Press Humming with a Book a Year."
Jennifer Holm Home Page,http://www.jenniferholm.com (July 19, 2005).