MacLean, Christine Kole
MacLean, Christine Kole
Born in MI; married; children: one son, one daughter. Education: B.A. (English literature).
Home—Holland, MI. E-mail—[email protected]
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms, illustrated by Mike Reed, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
Mary Margaret and the Perfect Pet Plan, illustrated by Vicki Lowe, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
Everybody Makes Mistakes, illustrated by C.B. Decker, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
How It's Done (young-adult novel), Flux (Woodbury, MN), 2006.
Mary Margaret, Center Stage, illustrated by Vicki Lowe, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
Mary Margaret Meets Her Match, illustrated by Vicki Lowe, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.
Mary Margaret Christmas, illustrated by Vicki Low, Dutton (New York, NY), 2008.
Christine Kole MacLean is the author of a number of children's books, including Everybody Makes Mistakes and Mary Margaret and the Perfect Pet Plan, as well as of the young-adult novel How It's Done.
How It's Done examines the complex relationship between a younger woman and an older man. Raised in a conservative home by a fundamentalist Christian father and a timid mother, eighteen-year-old Grace Passedge longs for independence and excitement. When she meets Michael Irving, a worldly college professor, Grace falls head-over-heels in love and agrees to marry the man, only to discover that their differences are greater than she imagined. Discussing the theme of her novel in an interview for the Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central Web site, MacLean stated: "There are no shortcuts to finding yourself. It's messy, complex, difficult work—and you are the only person who can do it."
MacLean published her first work for young readers, Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms, in 2002. In this story, a lively toddler becomes so involved in creating imaginary spaceships to launch and fires to douse that he ignores his mom's pleas for a hug. "MacLean really captures how single-minded children can sometimes be," remarked Booklist critic Ilene Cooper, and Joy Fleishhacker, writing in School Library Journal, observed that the mother's "recurrent request makes a familiar refrain that adds a bit of humor to the story and helps to connect the child's flights of fancy to the everyday world."
In Everybody Makes Mistakes young Jack tries to explain his way out of trouble by noting that even adults make errors, such as the time Jack's teacher sat on his snack. Jack's mom is unwilling to listen, however, especially after Jack performs an unsightly makeover on his little sister on the day of a family wedding. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews deemed Everybody Makes Mistakes "entertaining and clever," and Booklist critic Hazel Rochman predicted that readers "will laugh about Jack and about their own embarrassing moments."
In MacLean's chapter book Mary Margaret and the Perfect Pet Plan, the author introduces an irrepressible nine year old with a seemingly limitless supply of energy. When Mary Margaret spots her neighbor's new puppy, she decides she must have a pet for herself. Although she concocts what seems to be a foolproof, three-step plan to raise the money needed for purchase, Mary Margaret's scheme has a couple of flaws: her father is allergic to pet dander and her frazzled and pregnant mother does not need another distraction. Calling the story's young heroine "lively, spirited, and full of energy," Terrie Dorio added in School Library Journal that "all of the characters are well drawn and the narrative sparkles with humor."
Readers reunite with Mary Margaret in Mary Margaret, Center Stage, which follows the fourth grader's efforts to land the lead role in the school play. When a fellow classmate is chosen to play Cinderella, however, Mary Margaret becomes even more determined to get her time in the spotlight. According to Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper, "the action is nonstop and the embellishments are fun, especially the relationship between Mary Margaret and her brother." In another book in the series, Mary Margaret Meets Her Match, the youngster learns a valuable lesson when she is paired with an uncooperative horse while vacationing at a dude ranch, resulting in a story that a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted "is sure to make cowgirls cheer."
On her home page, MacLean noted that perseverance and stamina are the keys to her success as an author, even when her work seems less than satisfactory. "I have to remember that losing faith and flailing and mucking about are all part of my writing process," the
author remarked, "and I have to believe that it will all lead somewhere."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2004, Timnah Card, review of Mary Margaret and the Perfect Pet Plan, p. 428; April, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Mary Margaret, Center Stage, p. 365.
Booklist, November 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms, p. 611; May 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Everybody Makes Mistakes, p. 1666; February 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Mary Margaret, Center Stage, p. 50.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Even Fire-fighters Hug Their Moms, p. 1314; May 1, 2004, review of Mary Margaret and the Perfect Pet Plan, p. 444; May 15, 2005, review of Everybody Makes Mistakes, p. 592; March 1, 2006, review of Mary Margaret, Center Stage, p. 236; February 1, 2007, review of Mary Margaret Meets Her Match.
School Library Journal, October, 2002, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms, p. 120; July, 2004, Terrie Dorio, review of Mary Margaret and the Perfect Pet Plan, p. 109; July, 2005, Roxanne Burg, review of Everybody Makes Mistakes, p. 78; June, 2006, Tina Zubak, review of Mary Margaret, Center Stage, p. 122.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), September 8, 2002, review of Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms, p. 4.
Christine Kole MacLean Home Page,http://www.christinekolemaclean.com (January 21, 2007).
Not Your Mother's Book Club Online,http://community.livejournal.com/notyourmothers/ (September 5, 2006), interview with MacLean.
Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central Web site,http://www.yabookscentral.com/ (January 21, 2007), "Christine Kole MacLean Talks to Marla Arbach about How It's Done."