Kent, Deborah Ann 1948-

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KENT, Deborah Ann 1948-


Born October 11, 1948, in Little Falls, NJ; daughter of Gordon L. and Doris M. Kent; married Richard Conrad Stein (a writer), December 15, 1979; children: Janna. Education: Oberlin College, B.A., 1969; Smith College, M.S.W., 1971; Instituto Allende, M.F.A., 1976.


Home 5817 N. Nina Ave., Chicago, IL 60631. Agent Amy Berkower, Writer's House, Inc., 21 West 26th St., New York, NY 10010.


Writer. University Settlement, New York, NY, social worker, 1971-75. Worked with Centro de Crecimiento, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 1977-80.


Belonging: A Novel, Dial (New York, NY), 1978.

Cindy, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1982.

That Special Summer, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1982.

Jody, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1983.

Te Amo Means I Love You, Bantam (New York, NY), 1983.

Heartwaves, Ace (New York, NY), 1984.

Honey and Spice, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.

Love to the Rescue, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1985.

Ten-Speed Summer, Bantam (New York, NY), 1985.

Talk to Me, My Love, Dell (New York, NY), 1987.

Taking the Lead, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.

One Step at a Time, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

Why Me?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992, published as Why Me? The Courage to Live, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Benjamin Franklin: Extraordinary Patriot, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

The American Revolution: "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!", Enslow Publishers (Hillside, NJ), 1994.

The Vietnam War: "What Are We Fighting For?", Enslow Publishers (Hillside, NJ), 1994.

Mexico: Rich in Spirit and Tradition, Marshall Cavendish (Freeport, NY), 1995.

Salem, Massachusetts, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1995.

Dorothy Day: Friend to the Forgotten, William B. Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1996.

(With Kathryn A. Quinlan) Extraordinary People with Disabilities, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

China: Old Ways Meet New, Marshall Cavendish (Freeport, NY), 1996.

Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

Only Way Out, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Lexington and Concord, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Jane Means Appleton Pierce, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Living with a Secret, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Don't Cry for Yesterday, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.

Snake Pits, Talking Cures, and Magic Bullets: A History of Mental Illness, Millbrook Press, 2003.

Athletes with Disabilities, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2003.

Animal Helpers for the Disabled, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2003.

American Sign Language, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2003.

Helen Keller: Author and Advocate for the Disabled, Child's World (Chanhassen, MN), 2003.

The Changing Face of America: Hispanic Roots, Hispanic Pride, Child's World (Chanhassen, MN), 2004.

Elizabeth Blackwell: Physician and Health Educator, Child's World (Chanhassen, MN), 2004.

Frida Kahlo: An Artist Celebrates Life, Child's World (Chanhassen, MN), 2004.

James A. Garfield, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Juliette Gordon Low: Founder of the Girl Scouts of America, Child's World (Chanhassen, MN), 2004.

Phillis Wheatley: First Published African American, Child's World (Chanhassen, MN), 2004.

Warren G. Harding, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2004.


Massachusetts, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.

New Jersey, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.

Louisiana, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1988.

Pennsylvania, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1988.

Colorado, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1989.

Ohio, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1989.

Connecticut, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.

Maryland, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.

South Carolina, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.

Delaware, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.

Iowa, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.

Washington, D.C., Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.

Puerto Rico, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1992.

New Mexico, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.

Maine, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.

Utah, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Wyoming, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Tennessee, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2001.


Jane Addams and Hull House, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1992.

The Titanic, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

The Freedom Riders, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

Yellowstone National Park, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1994.

The White House, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1994.

The Vietnam Women's Memorial, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1995.

The Star-Spangled Banner, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1995.

The Lincoln Memorial, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

African Americans in the Thirteen Colonies, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

The Disability-Rights Movement, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

The Battle of Lexington and Concord, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.

Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.

The Purchase of Hawaii, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2004.


Rio de Janeiro, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

Tokyo, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

Beijing, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

New York City, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.

Amsterdam, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.

Dublin, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.

San Francisco, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.

St. Petersburg, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.

Boston, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Buenos Aires, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Madrid, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.

Moscow, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Atlanta, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Dallas, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Jerusalem, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2001.


In Colonial New England, Marshall Cavendish (Freeport, NY), 1999.

In The Middle Colonies, Marshall Cavendish (Freeport, NY), 1999.

In The Southern Colonies, Marshall Cavendish (Freeport, NY), 1999.


Contributor to Disabled U.S.A. and Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.


A versatile and prolific author, Deborah Ann Kent has written scores of well-received books for young people in a variety of genres. The success of her 1978 debut, the semi-autobiographical novel Belonging, sparked a flurry of activity during the 1980s, as Kent penned a number of novels for middle graders and young adults and eventually ventured into the writing of biographies and other nonfiction as well. These later works include histories such as The American Revolution, The Vietnam War, and China: Old Ways Meet New, documentary studies such as Extraordinary People with Disabilities and The Disability-Rights Movement, biographies such as Dorothy Day and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and a look at a number of famous institutions and other popular subjects, among them The White House, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Titanic.

Many commentators have offered favorable assessments of Kent's work. Anita Palladino, writing in School Library Journal, called The American Revolution "an agreeably unbiased presentation," while Valerie Childress dubbed The Vietnam War "a good overview" in a commentary for that same journal. In another review of The Vietnam War, Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Anne Liebst praised Kent for "a concise and factual account" and a "valuable introduction" to the war.

"I grew up in Little Falls, New Jersey, about fifteen miles from Manhattan," Kent once told SATA. "My parents were both very education-oriented, and there were always plenty of books around for my brothers and me to discover.

"I have been totally blind all my life. Fortunately for me, New Jersey practiced 'mainstreaming' long before it was required by federal law, and I was able to attend public schools from the time I entered eighth grade. Some of my experiences in making the transition from a special class for blind kids to a regular class provided the background for my first young-adult novel, Belonging.

"I've been interested in writing for as long as I can remember. My father used to make up stories with us, assigning each of us the roles of various characters, and we would record these little plays on tape for posterity. When I was six I received honorable mention in a story contest sponsored by Highlights (magazine), and they printed my story, 'The Animal Parade.'

"I continued to write stories through high school and college, but became increasingly discouraged by the warnings of teachers and counselors that nobody makes a living as a writer in this day and age. I determined to do something more practical with my life, and putting dreams of becoming an author aside, earned a master's degree in social work.

"I worked as a social worker for four years at the University Settlement House on New York's Lower East Side. Although it was often frustrating, I really enjoyed my job and the people I met through my work. I continued writing short stories, but I found that the settlement house took most of my time and energy.

"When I had been at the University Settlement for four years, I spent my summer vacation in the town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I fell in love with the charming colonial town, its narrow cobblestone streets and the warmth and spontaneity of the Mexican people. San Miguel had long attracted artists and writers from Europe and the United States, and I sensed that it could provide me with just the atmosphere I needed if I wanted to devote myself to writing full time. I resigned from my job and returned to San Miguel, intending to stay there for a year. As it turned out, it was five years before I moved back to the States again.

"I began my first book as a project in a writers' workshop but got so much encouragement that I actually completed and revised the book. I hadn't consciously planned to write a novel for teenagers, but by the time I finished the first chapter, I realized that the book was best suited for a young audience.

"After Belonging was accepted for publication, I wondered what I should write next. Meg, the heroine in Belonging, is blind but I didn't want to be categorized as a writer who could deal only with blind characters. So I was excited when my agent suggested that I try writing a romance novel for teenagers. My first romance, Cindy, grew out of my experiences in Mexico. It is the story of an American girl who spends a year in Mexico with her family, and must struggle with cultural differences when she falls in love with a Mexican boy.

"Most of my books are inspired by people I have known and places I have lived. For example, That Special Summer takes place in a resort community on a lake, not very different from Green Pond, New Jersey, where my family used to spend several weeks each summer. Although I still do not wish to write exclusively about people who are blind, I feel at the same time that blind people, and people with other disabilities, should be presented more positively in books. So several of my books do have disabled teenagers as minor or major characters."

Kent teamed up with Kathryn A. Quinlan for the nonfiction study Extraordinary People with Disabilities, which features biographies of a wide variety of famous individuals who have suffered from blindness (John Milton, Stevie Wonder), deafness (Beethoven), or both (Helen Keller), as well as people such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a victim of the debilitating disease polio. Carol F. Creedon, writing in Science Books and Films, called Extraordinary People with Disabilities a "splendid book," and noted the diversity of the people featured: "They include African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans, as well as Caucasians; forty percent are women. Whatever a given student's interests (sports, war, heroism, art, science, music, literature, ballet, activism, and more), he or she will find in this book several people with disabilities with whom to identify." Besides the biographies of some fifty people, there are a number of essays on related topics, including one on the subject of euthanasia. Creedon asserted: "Throughout, the authors' style is engaging and lively, with only the necessary amount of technical terminology." School Library Journal contributor Martha Gordon called the book "a fine combination of biography and the history of the disability-rights movement."

Kent has also written for the "Cornerstones of Freedom" series, published by Children's Press. Her work in this series includes a biography of reformer Jane Addams, as well as The Freedom Riders, which portrays the civil-rights activists who helped bring an end to racial segregation in the South during the 1960s. Bonnie Siegel, writing in School Library Journal, maintained that Kent's Freedom Riders "expands a subject usually given one or two lines in existing material." Of The Lincoln Memorial, another volume in the series, School Library Journal contributor Pamela K. Bomboy wrote, "As in other titles in the series, an enormous amount of complex history is broken down into highly readable and accurate text."

Other titles Kent has authored having to do with the disabled include Athletes with Disabilities, Snake Pits, Talking Cures, and Magic Bullets: A History of Mental Illness, and Animal Helpers for the Disabled. Snake Pits, Talking Cures, and Magic Bullets tackles a subject that is not readily found in literature for younger readers: historical efforts to cure mental illness. Kent covers the varied measures different societies and cultures have taken to deal with insanity, from harsh imprisonment to herbal and shaman intervention, to the modern use of pharmaceuticals. Roger Leslie in Booklist called the work "a thoroughly researched, well-paced history." Linda Beck in School Library Journal also found the book "an excellent history peppered with fascinating accounts." Animal Helpers for the Disabled offers a history of the use of service animals, not only seeing-eye dogs but also companion dogs for the elderly, hearing dogs for the deaf, and therapy dogs. In another School Library Journal review, Linda Beck deemed Animal Helpers for the Disabled "a clear, easy-to-read book on dogs that help people."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 1, 2001, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Why Me? The Courage to Live, p. 1675; May 1, 2003, Roger Leslie, review of Snake Pits, Talking Cures, and Magic Bullets: A History of Mental Illness, p. 1587; October 15, 2003, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Animal Helpers for the Disabled, p. 423.

School Library Journal, August, 1993, Bonnie Siegel, review of The Freedom Riders, p. 176; July, 1994, Anita Palladino, review of The American Revolution: "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!," p. 110; November, 1994, Valerie Childress, review of The Vietnam War: "What Are We Fighting For?," p. 127; February, 1997, Pamela K. Bomboy, review of The Lincoln Memorial, p. 92; March, 1997, Martha Gordon, review of Extraordinary People with Disabilities, pp. 177-178; April, 2002, Michele Capozella, review of Don't Cry for Yesterday, p. 150; July, 2003, Linda Beck, review of Snake Pits, Talking Cures, and Magic Bullets, p. 142; September, 2003, Linda Beck, review of Animal Helpers for the Disabled and Athletes with Disabilities, p. 232.

Science Books and Films, April, 1997, Carol F. Creedon, review of Extraordinary People with Disabilities, pp. 76-77.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1995, Anne Liebst, review of The Vietnam War: "What Are We Fighting For?," p. 359.*

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Kent, Deborah Ann 1948-

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Kent, Deborah Ann 1948-