Kimmel, Eric A. 1946-

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Kimmel, Eric A. 1946-

Personal

Born October 30, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Morris N. (a certified public accountant) and Anne (an elementary school teacher) Kimmel; married Elizabeth Marcia Sheridan (a professor of education), April 7, 1968 (divorced 1975); married Doris Ann Blake, June 16, 1978; children: Bridgett (stepdaughter). Education: Lafayette College, A.B., 1967; New York University, M.A., 1969; University of Illinois, Ph.D., 1973. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.

Addresses

Home and office—2525 Northeast 35th Ave., Portland, OR 97212-5232. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer. Indiana University at South Bend, assistant professor of education, 1973-78; Portland State University, Portland, OR, professor of education, 1978-94. Full-time writer, 1994—.

Member

International Reading Association, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN Northwest, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi.

Awards, Honors

Juvenile Book Merit Award, Friends of American Writers, 1975, for The Tartar's Sword; Ten Best Books of 1989, Association of Booksellers for Children, for Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock; Present Tense—Joel A. Cavior Award for Notable Children's Book, National Council of Teachers of English, 1990, for Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins; Sydney Taylor Picture Book Award, Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL), 1990, and National Jewish Book Award nomination, both for The Chanukkah Guest; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, Children's Book Council/National Council for the Social Studies (CBC/NCSS), 1992, for The Greatest of All; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, CBC/NCSS, 1992, and Aesop Prize, Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society, 1993, both for Days of Awe; Parents' Choice Award, 1994, for The Three Princes; Paul A. Witty Short Story Award, International Reading Association, for Four Dollars and Fifty Cents; Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award, for The Spotted Pony; Irma and James H. Black Award, Bank Street College of Education, for Three Sacks of Truth; Sydney Taylor Award, AJL, National Jewish Picture Book Award finalist, Zena Sutherland Award, University of Chicago Lab School, Notable Children's Book selection, American Library Association, Best Children's Books of 2000, Publishers Weekly, and One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, New York Public Library, 2000, all for Gershon's Monster; Best Children's Books of 2001, Bank Street College of Education, for The Runaway Tortilla; Notable Book selection, AJL, for The Jar of Fools; White House Easter Egg Roll featured book, 2001, for The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story; Sydney Taylor Award honor book, AJL, 2001, for A Cloak for the Moon. Several of Kimmel's books have been nominated or won state awards from organizations in Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Washington, and have been named to numerous "best books," "children's choice," and "teachers' choice" lists of organizations such as the New York Public Library, the American Booksellers Association, and the Children's Book Council/International Reading Association.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

The Tartar's Sword (novel), Coward, 1974.

(Reteller) Mishka, Pishka, and Fishka, and Other Galician Tales, illustrated by Christopher J. Spollen, Coward, 1976.

Why Worry?, illustrated by Elizabeth Cannon, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1979.

Nicanor's Gate, illustrated by Jerry Joyner, Jewish Publication Society, 1979.

Hershel of Ostropol, illustrated by Arthur Friedman, Jewish Publication Society, 1981.

(With Rose Zar) In the Mouth of the Wolf, Jewish Publication Society, 1983.

(Reteller) Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1988.

The Chanukkah Tree, illustrated by Giora Carmi, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1988.

Charlie Drives the Stage, illustrated by Glen Rounds, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1989.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1989.

The Chanukkah Guest, illustrated by Giora Carmi, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1990.

Four Dollars and Fifty Cents, illustrated by Glen Rounds, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1990.

(Reteller) Nanny Goat and the Seven Little Kids, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1990.

I Took My Frog to the Library, illustrated by Blanche Sims, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.

(Reteller) Baba Yaga: A Russian Folktale, illustrated by Megan Lloyd, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1991.

(Adapter) Bearhead: A Russian Folktale, illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1991.

(Reteller) The Greatest of All: A Japanese Folktale, illustrated by Giora Carmi, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1991.

(Adapter) Days of Awe: Stories for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, illustrated by Erika Weihs, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

(Reteller) Anansi Goes Fishing, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992.

(Reteller) Boots and His Brothers: A Norwegian Tale, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992.

(Adapter) The Four Gallant Sisters, illustrated by Tatiana Yuditskaya, Holt (New York, NY), 1992.

(Adapter) The Old Woman and Her Pig, illustrated by Giora Carmi, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992.

(Reteller) The Spotted Pony: A Collection of Hanukkah Stories, illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992.

(Reteller) The Tale of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, illustrated by Ju-Hong Chen, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1992.

(Adapter) Three Sacks of Truth: A Story from France, illustrated by Robert Rayevsky, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1993.

(Adapter) The Witch's Face: A Mexican Tale, illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1993.

Asher and the Capmakers: A Hanukkah Story, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1993.

(Reteller) The Gingerbread Man, illustrated by Megan Lloyd, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1993.

(Reteller) Anansi and the Talking Melon, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1994.

One Good Tern Deserves Another (novel), Holiday House (New York, NY), 1994.

(Adapter) I-Know-Not-What, I-Know-Not-Where: A Russian Tale, illustrated by Robert Sauber, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1994.

(Adapter) Iron John: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1994.

Bernal and Florinda: A Spanish Tale, illustrated by Robert Rayevsky, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1994.

(Reteller) The Three Princes: A Tale from the Middle East, illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1994.

(Reteller) The Valiant Red Rooster: A Story from Hungary, illustrated by Katya Arnold, Holt (New York, NY), 1994.

(Reteller) The Goose Girl: A Story from the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Robert Sauber, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1995.

(Adapter) Rimonah of the Flashing Sword: A North African Tale, illustrated by Omar Rayyan, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1995.

Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish Boy's Coming of Age, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

(Reteller) The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1995.

Billy Lazroe and the King of the Sea: A Tale of the Northwest, illustrated by Michael Steirnagle, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996.

(Reteller) Count Silvernose: A Story from Italy, illustrated by Omar Rayyan, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1996.

The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story, illustrated by Katya Krenina, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1996.

One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes, illustrated by Dirk Zimmer, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1996.

The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: A Story from the Arabian Nights, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1996.

Onions and Garlic: An Old Tale, illustrated by Katya Arnold, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1996.

(Adapter) Sirko and the Wolf: A Ukrainian Tale, illustrated by Robert Sauber, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1997.

(Adapter) Squash It!: A True and Ridiculous Tale, illustrated by Robert Rayevsky, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1997.

(Reteller) Ten Suns: A Chinese Legend, illustrated by Yong-Sheng Xuan, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1998.

(Reteller) Seven at One Blow: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Megan Lloyd, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1998.

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah, pictures by Barbara McClintock, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Be Not far from Me: The Oldest Love Story: Legends from the Bible, illustrated by David Diaz, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor) A Hanukkah Treasury, illustrated by Emily Lisker, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

(Reteller) Easy Work!: An Old Tale, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1998.

(Reteller) The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story, illustrated by Katya Krenina, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1999.

(Reteller) The Rooster's Antlers: A Story of the Chinese Zodiac, illustrated by Yong Sheng Xuan, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1999.

Sword of the Samurai: Adventure Stories from Japan, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1999.

The Runaway Tortilla, illustrated by Randy Cecil, Winslow (Delray Beach, FL), 2000.

(Reteller) Gershon's Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.

The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm, illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.

Grizz!, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.

Montezuma and the Fall of the Aztecs, illustrated by Daniel San Souci, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.

(Reteller) The Two Mountains: An Aztec Legend, illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.

Zigazak: A Hanukkah Story, illustrated by Jon Goodell, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

(Reteller) A Cloak for the Moon, illustrated by Katya Krenina, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2001.

Website of the Warped Wizard (chapter book), illustrated by Jeff Shelly, Dutton (New York, NY), 2001.

(Reteller) Anansi and the Magic Stick, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2001.

Robin Hook, Pirate Hunter!, illustrated by Michael Dooling, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Pumpkinhead, illustrated by Steve Haskamp, Winslow Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2001.

Website of the Cracked Cookies (chapter book), illustrated by Jeff Shelly, Dutton (New York, NY), 2001.

Why the Snake Crawls on Its Belly, illustrated by Allen Davis, Pitspopany Press (New York, NY), 2001.

(Reteller) The Erie Canal Pirates, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2002.

The Brass Serpent, illustrated by Joanna Miller, Pitspopany Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(Reteller) Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2003.

Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow: Stories about Saints and Animals, illustrated by John Winch, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2003.

(And compiler) Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

(Reteller) Hayyim's Ghost (based on a story by Beatrice Silverman Weinreich), illustrated by Ari Binus, Pitspopany Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(Reteller and adaptor) Don Quixote and the Windmills (based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra), illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2004.

(Reteller) The Castle of the Cats, illustrated by Katya Krenina, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2004.

Cactus Soup, illustrated by Phil Huling, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2004.

(Reteller) The Spider's Gift: A Ukranian Christmas Story, illustrated by Katya Krenina, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.

A Horn for Louis, illustrated by James Bernardin, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

(Reteller and adaptor) The Hero Beowulf, illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Farrar, Strauss (New York, NY), 2005.

(Reteller) The Lady in the Blue Cloak: Legends from the Texas Missions, illustrated by Susan Guevara, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2006.

(Reteller) The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska, illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2006.

(Adaptor) Blackbeard's Last Fight, illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Farrar, Strauss (New York, NY), 2006.

(Adaptor) The Three Cabritos (based on the story by Peter Asbjärnsen), illustrated by Stephen Gilpin, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2007.

Stormy's Hat, illustrated by Andrea U'Ren, Farrar, Strauss (New York, NY), 2007.

(Adaptor) Rip Van Winkle's Return (based on the story by Washington Irving), Farrar, Strauss (New York, NY), 2007.

A Picture for Marc, illustrated by Matthew True, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

The McElderry Book of Greek Myths, illustrated by Pep Monserrat, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2007.

The Great Texas Hamster Drive: An Original Tale, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2007.

OTHER

Contributor to periodicals, including Ladybug and Cricket.

Sidelights

The award-winning author of dozens of picture books and novels, Eric A. Kimmel is well known for his adaptations or retellings of folktales from around the world, especially Yiddish tales. Kimmel blends a sardonic wit with traditional storyteller motifs such as mistaken identities, tests of courage and intelligence, wise fools, and tricksters. The result, a long list of titles which both entertain and teach, includes Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, The Greatest of All: A Japanese Folktale, Anansi and the Talking Melon,Baba Yaga: A Russian Folktale, Bearhead: A Russian Folktale, The Four Gallant Sisters, Gershon's Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year, and Cactus Soup. The last, an adaptation of the well-known folktale "Stone Soup," is an example of the author's originality; it is given new life through Kimmel's decision to set the story amid the Mexican Revolution. In addition to such retellings, Kimmel has also penned contemporary novels for young readers, such as One Good Tern Deserves Another, and chapter books such as Website of the Warped Wizard.

"I've been a storyteller for [more than] twenty years," Kimmel once noted. "When you stand in front of an audience of a hundred people or more, you learn very quickly what works and what doesn't. Folktales are oral stories, so it's important for the writer to be firmly rooted in oral traditions." In addition to being rooted in the oral tradition, Kimmel is also rooted in a multicultural one. Born in 1946, he was raised in an immigrant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, where, as he once commented, "our neighbors were Armenian, Italian, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Irish, and German. You could hear five different languages in a walk around the block." Kimmel spoke Yiddish as a child, thanks in part to the influence of his grandmother, an European immigrant and an important influence on his writing. Coming from western Ukraine and speaking five languages, she was full of stories.

More reader than athlete, as a child Kimmel was drawn to the books of Dr. Seuss, and his illustrated copy of the collected stories of the Brothers Grimm was read over and over "until it fell to pieces." "That's how I came to be a storyteller," he added, "telling other kids stories that I remembered from Grimm and from my grandmother."

In college, Kimmel majored in education and taught at the college level for many years, leaving his writing and story-telling to his spare time. In 1974 he published his first book, the children's novel The Tartar's Sword, and two decades later he left teaching to write full time. Working as a storyteller in schools, parks, and libraries, Kimmel adapted his narration skills to his written tales. "When I write a story," he explained for Scholastic's Author's Online Library, "I'm very aware of [spoken] rhythms, and I try to capture in my writing the experience of telling. And that's also important because a picture book, which most of my books are, is usually read aloud to an audience…. So, when I write a story, I

read it aloud over and over again many times, trying to capture the music and rhythm of the words. So you might say that what I'm trying to do is capture in written words the experience of listening to the spoken word."

Kimmel's first picture books include Why Worry?, a humorous tale about a neurotic cricket and a carefree grasshopper, and Nicanor's Gate, a legend about the building of the Second Temple. However, as the author once noted, most of his earliest titles seemed to "sink without a trace." His big break came in the form of a request to stand in for Nobel Prize-winner Isaac Bashevis Singer and write a Hanukkah story. Searching in his pile of rejections, Kimmel selected a tale based on a folkloric character, the storyteller and wanderer Hershel Ostropoler, and produced Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Relating how Hershel gets rid of goblins who are haunting a synagogue and keeping the locals from celebrating Hanukkah, the picture book "is welcome both as a Hanukkah story and as a trickster tale," noted Horn Book critic Hanna B. Zeiger.

Although he had only published a handful of books in the eight years prior to Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, since that book appeared it has been joined on library shelves by numerous other volumes by Kimmel that explore folklore from around the world. Hershel is reprised in one of these titles, The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol, which includes ten adventures of the wandering storyteller, a man described as the "Jewish first cousin of tricksters like Brer Rabbit and Till Eulenspiegel" by Rodger Kamenetz in the New York Times Book Review. "Kimmel has a good ear, makes clever use of repetition and knows how to structure a story that has a good joke, with a hearty punch line," Kamenetz concluded.

The Chanukkah Guest, one of several holiday books by Kimmel, features a story of mistaken identity in which a bear is taken for a rabbi by a nearsighted woman.

"Festivity, generosity and cooperation are all celebrated in this wintry holiday tale that children of all religions will enjoy," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A more unusual Hannukah story is the focus of A Horn for Louis, which melds the childhood of noted jazz musician Louis Armstrong with the Jewish holiday to create what a Kirkus Reviews writer deemed a "warm Hanukkah tale with a whiff of old New Orleans." In A Hanukkah Treasury, Kimmel brings together a potpourri of holiday information and tales and poems that a contributor for Publishers Weekly praised for including "more than enough material to keep a family going for eight days and nights." Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion contains songs, poems, and stories compiled by Kimmel that "gloriously celebrates the Passover Seder, an evening of observances, history, remembrances, and family sharing," according to School Library Journal contributor Susan Pine.

In The Jar of Fools: Eight Hanukkah Stories from Chelm Kimmel transports readers to the legendary Yiddish town of fools, resulting in a "true gem," according to a reviewer for School Library Journal. A kindhearted fool is also the focus of Onions and Garlic: An Old Tale, adapted from a Jewish folktale about the poor merchant Getzel, who ultimately makes good while his acquisitive older brothers are left short. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews observed that Kimmel "retells the Jewish folktale … with lively dialogue and a comic twist at the end." Less comic is Gershon's Monster, a story celebrating the Jewish New Year that is based on a Hasidic legend concerning Rosh Hashanah. In this tale, Gershon the baker finally repents his wicked ways when his sins threaten the lives of his beloved twin children. "The story will achieve its full impact when children, with adult help, begin to understand why it is so important to recognize the wrongs they've committed and try to right them," wrote Booklist critic Ilene Cooper.

Inspired by his grandmother's stories, many of Kimmel's retellings take place in Russia and Eastern Europe. In Baba Yaga he retells a well-known Russian folktale replete with an evil stepmother and the sweet stepdaughter who outwits her and the local witch, Baba Yaga. "This engrossing story is both fanciful and suspenseful," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Kimmel presents another Russian folktale in Bearhead, about a half man/half bear who is raised by a human and grows into the wise fool of popular folk legend. "Kimmel's lively text plays up the broad, almost slapstick humor of the story," remarked Denise Anton Wright in a review of Bearhead for School Library Journal. The Castle of the Cats, a story from Latvia, brings its story of the youngest son of a farmer gives up his contest for the family lands in favor of true love. Reviewing the picture book in School Library Journal, Grace Oliff noted that, due to his "true storyteller's voice," Kimmel "keeps the action moving at an energetic pace without sacrificing images or details." In Billy Lazroe and the King of the Sea: A Tale of the Northwest he transplants a Russian folktale to his own part of the world, setting

his retelling in Oregon at the turn of the twentieth century. "Kimmel's lyrical text … has a strong sense of frontier adventure," noted Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman, while a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Kimmel "lets the creative juices flow in his Oregonian version of an old Russian seafaring tale."

One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes was originally told to Kimmel by his grandmother; it is the story of a young girl, cast into slavery, who, with the help of a magic goat, is finally freed to marry a prince. Further Ukrainian influences are found in The Birds' Gift, an Easter story that deals with the origin of the intricate process of decorating eggs for the spring holiday. "Filled with warmth, the story is illustrated with charming folk-art paintings," commented Patricia Pearl Dole in School Library Journal. "Kimmel reserves the full force of his storytelling for folkloric rather than religious elements," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.

Kimmel's beloved Brothers Grimm have provide him with a deep well of potential retellings. In The Four Gallant Sisters he adapts "The Four Artful Brothers" into a story that is "real reading pleasure," according to Linda Boyles in School Library Journal, the critic adding that Kimmel "couches his adaptation in the strong direct language of a master storyteller." His retelling of another Grimm story in The Goose Girl is "polished," according to Booklist reviewer Janice Del Negro. Simi- larly, Iron John: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm is a "seamless" retelling, as a reviewer for Publishers Weekly described the picture book. According to another reviewer from that magazine, Kimmel's dramatic retelling "flows from scene to scene with a clear sense of adventure and romance and an underlying sense of mystery." In School Library Journal, Grace Oliff dubbed Kimmel's Seven at One Blow: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm a "thoroughly enjoyable retelling of a traditional tale" that includes "only minor deviations from the original Grimm story."

Three Sacks of Truth: A Story from France employs the familiar motif of a suitor who must pass tests to win the hand of the fair princess. "In this crisp and sprightly interpretation, storyteller Kimmel takes full advantage of the plot's sly humor," wrote Penny Kaganoff in a review for Publishers Weekly. Other European tales retold by Kimmel include the Hungarian folktale The Valiant Red Rooster, Count Silvernose: A Story from Italy, Squash It!: A True and Ridiculous Tale, from Spain, and Easy Work!: An Old Tale, a Norwegian folktale transplanted to America. In Count Silvernose, ugly Assunta comes to the rescue of her beautiful sisters, using her skill of cleverness in a story that Booklist reviewer Susan Dove Lempke noted "combines humor and suspense, pitting good against evil and delivering a magnificently satisfying conclusion." Reviewing Squash It!, Kimmel's adaptation of a Spanish tale of a flea and a royal louse, a contributor for Kirkus Reviews wrote that the story is peppered with "judiciously chosen details" and "is good for reading aloud to kids who relish a bit of grossness in their story-hour diet." In addition to European folktales, Kimmel mines literature in Don Quixote and the Windmills, which is based on Miguel Cervantes' famous novel, and The Hero Beowulf, his retelling of the ancient Anglo-Saxon epic.

Other published books by Kimmel range ever farther a-field, drawing from Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Mexican, and South American folklore. Teaming up with illustrator Will Hillenbrand, his retelling of The

Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: A Story from the Arabian Nights "captures the flavor" of the well-known original, according to Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan. Turning to Asia, Kimmel features a mouse living in Japan's imperial palace in The Greatest of All and presents tales of Japanese derring-do in Sword of the Samurai: Adventure Stories from Japan and Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan. "Reluctant readers looking for a short book of high adventures will be especially pleased," noted Karen Morgan in a Booklist review of Sword of the Samurai, while Barbara Scotto wrote in School Library Journal that readers "who delight in stories of knights will be happy to discover" Kimmel's Asian tales. Enhanced by animé-style illus- trations by Mordicai Gerstein, Three Samurai Cats brings to life a Zen-inspired tale about a rapacious rodent and three warriors. "Humor, wisdom and excitement make this offbeat tale a winner," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor of Kimmel's entertaining story. In his Ten Suns: A Chinese Legend, in which "narrative and the dramatic illustrations … work wonderfully together to create a beautiful tale of Chinese gods, misuse of power, and heroism that restores the faith of a people," according to Booklist contributor Helen Rosenberg. Kimmel adapts a story from the Chinese zodiac in The Rooster's Antlers, which follows the Jade Emperor as he selects twelve animals to represent the years in his calendar.

Closer to home, Kimmel adapts an Aztec legend in The Two Mountains to explain the formation of two mountains overlooking the Valley of Mexico. "Youngsters are likely to find the connection between the story and the geological formations intriguing," wrote a contributor for Publishers Weekly, "and its parallels with Adam and Eve may make for some lively discussion." More Aztec lore is served up in Montezuma and the Fall of the Aztecs. Cooper, reviewing the title in Booklist, called the book a "good introduction to a pivotal event in the Americas."

U.S. history and folklore is also a rich resource for the storyteller. In the title tale from The Lady in the Blue Cloak: Legends of the Texas Missions he focuses on a female figure known to appear to the Tejas Indians living near the location of the Mission of San Francisco de los Tejas in the late seventeenth century; other stories recount the origins of other Catholic missions established by Spanish colonists in the region that is now Texas. Although Kimmel's stories feature what some might perceive as "a mostly uncritical picture of the Christian mission experience," Gillian Engberg concluded in Booklist that the stories collected in The Lady in the Blue Cloak "flow easily" and focus on a topic rarely covered in children's literature. Moving to safer terrain, Kimmel presents what a Kirkus Reviews critic characterized as a "rousing original tale of battle between canal pirates and a crew of mail carriers" in The Erie Canal Pirates. Based on a ballad dating from the early 1800s, his story finds a band of river pirates vanquished by Captain Flynn beneath the rushing waters of Niagara Falls. Kimmel recasts the ballad as a "joyous and good-hearted folktale, according to Booklist contributor Roger Leslie, the critic noting that in an author's note the storyteller clarifies his geographical distortions for more map-smart young readers. A band of scraggly pirates also makes little headway in Blackbeard's Last Fight, which is based on a true story from North Carolina. Kimmel's version takes place in 1718 and, as narrated by a young cabin boy, follows Lieutenant Maynard's successful efforts to vanquish the troublesome Blackbeard. Animated by sword fights, musket-fire, and a chorus of hearty "arggh"s, the story was praised as "an exciting and satisfying read" by School Library Journal contributor Kara Schaff Dean and "ex-

citing fare for pirate fans—as well as a discussionprovoking case study in international relations" by a Kirkus Reviews writer.

"I'm always looking for good stories," Kimmel once commented. "But I have no hesitation about making changes if I feel for some reason the original doesn't work, or if I can think of a way to make it better. There is no ‘authentic’ version. Stories evolve over centuries as tellers add and subtract. I think of myself as one link in a long, long chain."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Children's Books and Their Creators, edited by Anita Silvey, Houghton, Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Tuning Up: A Visit with Eric Kimmel, Richard C. Owen (New York, NY), 2005.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 1992, pp. 596, 598; January 15, 1995, review of Iron John: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm, p. 863; March 1, 1995, p. 1245; October 15, 1995, Janice Del Negro, review of The Goose Girl: A Story from the Brothers Grimm, pp. 398, 400; Decem- ber 15, 1995, p. 715; March 15, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Count Silvernose: A Story from Italy, p. 1263; November 1, 1996, p. 503; December 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: A Tale from the Arabian Nights, p. 667; December 15, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Billy Lazroe and the King of the Sea: A Tale of the Northwest, p. 730; May 1, 1997, Helen Rosenberg, review of Ten Suns: A Chinese Legend, p. 1520; September 15, 1997, p. 238; April 15, 1998, pp. 1448-1449; September 1, 1998, p. 133; March 15, 1999, Karen Morgan, review of Sword of the Samurai: Adventure Stories from Japan, p. 329; April 15, 1999, p. 1533; December 15, 1999, p. 787; January 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Montezuma and the Fall of the Aztecs, pp. 910, 914; May 1, 2000, p. 1678; September 1, 2000; p. 133; October 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Gershon's Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year, p. 362; April 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Don Quixote and the Windmills, p. 1446; October 15, 2002, Roger Leslie, review of The Erie Canal Pirates, p. 412; April 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow: Stories about Saints and Animals, p. 1392; February 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion, p. 1056; September 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Cactus Soup, p. 241; October 15, 2004, Julie Cummins, review of The Castle of the Cats, p. 410; February 1, 2006, Nancy Kim, review of A Horn for Louis, p. 68; March 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Blackbeard's Last Fight, p. 100; May 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska, p. 86; October 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of The Lady in the Blue Cloak: Legends from the Texas Missions, p. 65.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1995, Roger Sutton, review of One Good Tern Deserves Another, p. 169; March, 2004, Betsy Hearne, review of Wonders and Miracles, p. 282; July-August, 2004, Karen Coats, review of Don Quixote and the Windmills, p. 472; April 15, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Hero Beowulf, p. 1452; June, 2006, Elizabeth Bush, review of Blackbeard's Last Fight, p. 459; September, 2006, Maggie Hommel, review of The Frog Princess, p. 20; January, 2007, Elizabeth Bush, review of The Lady in the Blue Cloak, p. 219.

Horn Book, January-February, 1990, Hanna B. Zeiger, review of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, pp. 52-53; January-February, 1991, p. 57; November-December, 1991, p. 721; September-October, 1995, p. 620; January-February, 1996, p. 83; January-February, 1997, p. 72; July-August, 1997, p. 467; September-October, 2000, p. 587; July-August, 2003, review of Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan, p. 470; January-February, 2005, Betty Carter, review of Cactus Soup, p. 103.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1996, review of Onions and Garlic, p. 449; May 15, 1997, review of Squash It!, p. 801; November 1, 1998, p. 1600; September 1, 2002, review of The Erie Canal Pirates, p. 1312; April 15, 2003, review of Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow, p. 608; January 15, 2004, review of Wonders and Miracles, p. 85; March 15, 2004, review of Don Quixote and the Windmills, p. 272; September 1, 2004, review of Cactus Soup, p. 868; October 15, 2004, review of The Castle of the Cats, p. 1008; May 1, 2005, review of The Hero Beowulf, p. 540; November 15, 2005, review of A Horn for Louis, p. 1234; March 1, 2006, review of Blackbeard's Last Fight, p. 232; May 1, 2006, review of The Frog Princess, p. 461; October 1, 2006, review of The Lady in the Blue Cloak, p 1017.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 25, 1998, p. 7; December 6, 1998, Anne Connor, review of A Hanukkah Treasury, p. 4.

New York Times Book Review, April 12, 1992, p. 28; October 22, 1995, p. 41; December 17, 1995, Rodger Kamenetz, review of The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol, p. 28; June 16, 1996, p. 33; October 13, 1996, p. 26; December 8, 1996, p. 78; May 17, 1998, p. 26; December 3, 2000, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, November 9, 1990, review of The Chanukkah Guest, p. 57; May 3, 1991, review of Baba Yaga, p. 71; August 2, 1991, p. 73; April 19, 1993, Peggy Kaganoff, review of Three Sacks of Truth, p. 60; March 4, 1996, review of Iron John, p. 67; September 16, 1996, review of The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, p. 82; November 4, 1996, review of Billy Lazroe and the King of the Sea, p. 75; March 10, 1997, p. 69; October 6, 1997, p. 53; March 23, 1998, p. 95; September 28, 1998, review of A Hanukkah Treasury, p. 52; February 22, 1999, review of The Birds' Gift, p. 94; October 4, 1999, p. 75; February 7, 2000, reviews of Two Mountains, p. 84, and Montezuma and the Fall of the Aztecs, p. 86; August 28, 2000, p. 35; January 22, 2001, review of Website of the Warped Wizard, p. 324; February 19, 2001, review of Robin Hook, Pirate Hunter!, p. 90; February 26, 2001, p. 85; March 17, 2003, review of Three Samurai Cats, p. 76; November 8, 2004, review of Cactus Soup, p. 54; August 28, 2006, review of The Lady in the Blue Cloak, p. 58.

School Library Journal, November, 1990, p. 94; October, 1991, Denise Anton Wright, review of Bearhead, p. 110; May, 1992, Linda Boyles, review of The Four Gallant Sisters, p. 105; March, 1995, p. 198; May, 1995, p. 100; May, 1998, p. 134; June, 1998, p. 130; December, 1998, Grace Oliff, review of Seven at One Blow, p. 106; June, 1999, Barbara Scotto, review of Sword of the Samurai, p. 132; July, 1999, Patricia Pearl Dole, review of The Birds' Gift, p. 86; October, 1999, p. 138; March, 2000, pp. 209, 228; April, 2000, p. 121; October, 2000, review of Jar of Fools, pp. 64-65, 148; May, 2003, Harriett Fargnoli, review of Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow, p. 137; February, 2004, Susan Pine, review of Wonders and Miracles, p. 166; April, 2004, Ann Welton, review of Don Quixote and the Windmills, p. 116; October, 2004, John Sigwald, review of Cactus Soup, p. 144; November, 2004, Grace Oliff, review of The Castle of the Cats, p. 126; April, 2005, Patricia Lothrop, review of The Hero Beowulf, p. 154; February, 2006, Mary Elam, review of A Horn for Louis, p. 120; May, 2006, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Blackbeard's Last Fight, p. 91; June, 2006, Kirsten Cutler, review of The Frog Princess, p. 136; October, 2006, S.K. Joiner, review of The Lady in the Blue Cloak, p. 114.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1995, Marian Rafal, review of One Good Tern Deserves Another, p. 24.

ONLINE

Author's Online Library,http://teacher.scholastic.com/ (June 12, 2001).

Meet Authors and Illustrators,http://www.childrenslit.com/ (February 7, 2007), "Eric A. Kimmel."