Hopkins, Jackie Mims 1952–

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Hopkins, Jackie Mims 1952–

(Jackie Hopkins)

Personal

Born October 2, 1952, in Tyler, TX; daughter of Levi Jackson (a geologist) and Rhebajo (a homemaker) Mims; married Jeffrey Van Hopkins (commercial insurance manager), July 28, 1972; children: Jonathan, Katie. Education: Attended Texas Tech University, 1971-72; University of Arkansas, B.S. (elementary education), 1976; Texas A & M University, M.A. (learning re- sources), 1993. Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Folk-art painting, collecting angels.

Addresses

Home—Houston, TX. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Eastdale Academy, Memphis, TN, elementary school teacher, 1976-78; Lamkin Elementary, Houston, TX, elementary school teacher, 1978-81; Building Rainbows, Houston, kindergarten teacher, 1985-88; Matzke Elementary, Houston, elementary school teacher, 1988-91, librarian/media specialist, 1994—; Horne Elementary, Houston, librarian/media specialist, 1991-93.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Association of Texas Professional Educators, Texas Library Association.

Awards, Honors

Storytelling World Award, and Willa Award, Women Writing the West, both 2001, both for The Horned Toad Prince;

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

(As Jackie Hopkins) Tumbleweed Tom on the Texas Trail, illustrated by Kay Salem, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1994.

(As Jackie Hopkins) The Horned Toad Prince, illustrated by Michael Austin, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2000.

(As Jackie Hopkins) Three Armadillies Tuff, illustrated by S.G. Brooks, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2002.

The Shelf Elf, illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh, Upstart Books (Fort Atkinson, WI), 2004.

The Shelf Elf Helps Out, illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh, Upstart Books (Fort Atkinson, WI), 2004.

The Gold Miner's Daughter: A Melodramatic Fairy Tale, illustrated by Jon Goodell, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2006.

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians, illustrated by John Manders, Upstart Books (Fort Atkinson, WI), 2007.

Sidelights

After working as a school teacher and librarian for almost two decades, Jackie Mims Hopkins left the classroom in her native Texas and picked up the pen, so to speak. In fact, Hopkins continues to spend time with young students, although she now does so as the critically acclaimed author of such entertaining picture books as Three Armadillies Tuff, The Horned Toad Prince, and The Gold Miner's Daughter: A Melodramatic Fairy Tale. Described by Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper as a "sassy update" of the classic story about the handsome prince who is released from a curse by the kiss of a beautiful woman, The Horned Toad Prince follows experienced cowgirl Reba Jo as her search for a lost cowboy hat lassoes her a less-than-enthusiastic prince. Noting the author's inclusion of Spanish vocabulary, Cooper added that "Hopkins' telling sizzles with southwestern panache," while a Publishers Weekly critic praised the picture book's "deliciously surprising double-twist ending."

In Three Armadillies Tuff Hopkins retells another traditional story—this one about a trio of billygoats gruff—in a version that features a Texas twang. Setting out to spend the evening at a new dance hall, armadillo sisters Jilly, Lilly, and Dilly have to cross a highway busy with traffic. Realizing that they cannot outrun the traffic, the sisters decide to climb through the drainage culvert running under the road. This seems like a good plan until they meet up with the proverbial hungry predator, in this case a coyote with a hankering for both supper and a set of armadillo-skin fashion accessories. Featuring humorous illustrations by S.G. Brooks, Hopkins' retelling was praised by School Library Journal contributor Gay Lynn Van Vleck, the critic writing that "droll turns of phrase … and hints of dialect add fun and flavor" to the well-trod tale.

Hopkins again mines traditional lore in The Gold Miner's Daughter, and again she salts the tale with her characteristic southwestern humor. Designed to encourage storyhour participation—the pages include rebuses that signal suggestions for audience participation—the story follows the quintessential innocent-but-beautiful storybook heroine and her efforts to repulse the romantic overtures of the villainous and mustachioed banker Mr. Bigglebotton and save the family gold mine. Gracie Pearl wanders through several fairy stories, meeting Goldilocks, the three little pigs, and Rapunzel along the way, ultimately—and not surprisingly—living happily ever after. Praising Hopkins' "fractured" fairy story in her School Library Journal review, Elaine Lesh Morgan cited Jon Goodell's illustrations for their "expressive characters and plenty of visual humor," while a Kirkus Reviews writer cited the story's "intrepid" and resolute young heroine.

Hopkins once told SATA: "The first book I can remember reading as a child is The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss. I loved the rhythm and the silliness of the words. Dr. Seuss's books were fast-paced like me. I didn't enjoy reading any book of length because I was so hyperactive and couldn't sit still long enough to read. I liked picture books, but when I was old enough to begin reading chapter books like Nancy Drew, I continued to only want picture books that I could finish quickly. Who would have ever imagined that a kid who had no interest in reading would someday become a

teacher and, later, a librarian? It was more than twenty years ago in a college children's literature class that I first fell in love with books.

"Over the years I've spent a good portion of my teacher paychecks on children's books to supplement the curriculum. It was during one of these searches for the perfect books on Texas that I discovered a real deficit. Like many native Texans, I take great pride in our state. It was this pride and a need for literature about Texas for younger students that sparked my interest in creating my first book, Tumbleweed Tom on the Texas Trail. The children loved my book, and eight years later, I found a publishing company that liked it, too.

"As an educator and a librarian I continue to firmly believe in using literature to enrich curriculum. I provide my teachers with as many books on a subject as I can find. In addition to helping out the teachers, I love reading aloud and story-telling to the children. It's wonderful to share literature just for the fun of it, too!

"I hope to write more books that teachers will find useful in their teaching, but it is also my desire to write books that will enchant and delight children of all ages. Hopefully they won't have to wait until they are in college to discover the magic of books."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of The Horned Toad Prince, p. 1756; February 15, 2006, Jen- nifer Mattson, review of The Gold Miner's Daughter: A Melodramatic Fairy Tale, p. 102.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2006, review of The Gold Miner's Daughter, p. 132.

Publishers Weekly, March 6, 2000, review of The Horned Toad Prince, p. 110.

School Library Journal, April, 2000, Maryann H. Owen, review of The Horned Toad Prince, p. 106; April, 2002, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Three Armadillies Tuff, p. 112; April, 2006, Elaine Lesh Morgan, review of The Gold Miner's Daughter, p. 108.

ONLINE

Jackie Mims Hopkins Home Page,http://www.jackiemimshopkins.com (April 15, 2007).

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