Mannis, Celeste Davidson

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Mannis, Celeste Davidson


Born in Los Angeles, CA. Education: University of Southern California, B.A. (history and history of art), M.B.A.; also studied at University of London.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Viking, Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. E-mail—[email protected].


Author of children's books and photographer.

Awards, Honors

National Council for the Social Studies Notable Trade Book designation, Parents' Choice award, and International Reading Association Award for Best Picture Book, all 2003, and Book Sense Book Pick, 2005, all for One Leaf Rides the Wind; Children's Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People designation, National Council of Teachers of English Notable Children's Book designation, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award, California Readers Collection listee, and Children's Literature Choice listee, all 2004, all for The Queen's Progress; Southern California Booksellers Award for Best Children's Book, and Cornerstones of Science Award nomination, both 2006, both for Snapshots.


One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

The Queen's Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Julia Morgan Built a Castle, illustrated by Miles Hyman, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

(And photographer) Snapshots: The Wonders of Monterey Bay, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

Who Was William Shakespeare?, illustrated by John O'Brien, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2006.


Celeste Davidson Mannis is a student of art and history, and she combines her insight and learning in these subjects with a talent for capturing the imagination of young readers in books ranging from the award-winning One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden to the nonfiction titles Julia Morgan Built a Castle and Who Was William Shakespeare? In addition to her skill as a writer, Mannis showcases her photographic abilities in Snapshots: The Wonders of Monterey Bay, a pictorial profile of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary located on the Pacific coast in central California. Praising Mannis's photographs as "stunning," Christine Markley noted in School Library Journal that "the images are so crisp that readers will be tempted to reach out and touch the animals."

In One Leaf Rides the Wind Mannis describes the experiences of a young Japanese girl as she walks in a garden. From a single leaf, her attention moves to two stone temple dogs, and then to three bonsai trees, and so on. In line with the book's Japanese focus, ten haiku poems serve as a simple, rhythmic, and descriptive text. Describing the work as "an introduction to haiku and aspects of Japanese culture," School Library Journal reviewer Marilyn Taniguch praised Mannis's picture book as "elegantly and respectfully presented," and featuring "pleasing and evocative pen-and-ink and watercolor art" by Susan Kathleen Hartung. Noting the "elegantly spare design" of One Leaf Rides the Wind, a Publishers Weekly reviewer also viewed the book as a useful cross-cultural offering, while in Kirkus Reviews a writer deemed it "a lyrical counting book with arresting illustrations."

Enhanced with what a Publishers Weekly contributor described as "sumptuously detailed illustrations" by Bagram Ibatoulline, The Queen's Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet also adds a sophisticated element to a classic picture-book format. Alternating prose and poetry, Mannis's fact-filled text recounts the travels of Queen Elizabeth I of England as she takes a summer tour of her kingdom, visiting her subjects, hunting, and dining while also been cautious of those who would do her harm. The illustrations add context to Mannis's story, giving readers an insight into Elizabeth's historic age, while the author's use of antiquated vocabulary studs a "narrative so interesting that [readers] … are not likely to be deterred by it," according to Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan in School Library Journal. Praising The Queen's Progress as a "brilliant story," Stacey Haley wrote in Childhood Education that the text and pictures present an "in-depth historical content for curious minds."

Mannis revisits the age of Elizabeth in Who Was William Shakespeare?, which focuses on the life of the playwright whose works have been produced around the world for hundreds of years. She follows the young writer as he leaves his home in Stratford-on-Avon to seek success on the London stage. Joining an acting troupe called the King's Men, Shakespeare achieves success and sees many of his works produced on the stage of the famous Globe Theater. In another biographical work, Mannis profiles one of the most well-known women architects of the twentieth century. Julia Morgan Built a Castle follows a young Morgan from her childhood in San Francisco, California to the career that allowed her to realize her dreams of becoming an architect. One of the first women to be accepted for training at Paris's prestigious École des Beaux Arts, Morgan returned to California where she became the state's first licensed female architect. Among the hundreds of buildings she designed prior to her death in 1957, the most famous was San Simeon, which Morgan designed for well-known newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Queen's Progress: An Elizabethan Alphabet, p. 1394.

Childhood Education, spring, 2005, Stacey Haley, review of The Queen's Progress, p. 168.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of One Leaf Rides the Wind: Counting in a Japanese Garden, p. 1136; May 15, 2003, review of The Queen's Progress, p. 753; May 1, 2006, review of Snapshots: The Wonders of Monterey Bay, p. 462.

Publishers Weekly, September 2, 2002, review of One Leaf Rides the Wind, p. 75; April 28, 2003, review of The Queen's Progress, p. 69.

School Library Journal, October, 2002, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of One Leaf Rides the Wind, p. 149; May, 2003, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of The Queen's Progress, p. 138; June 1, 2006, review of Snapshots, p. 138.


Celeste Davidson Mannis Home Page, (October 15, 2006).

Children's Authors Network, (September 19, 2000), "Celeste Davidson Mannis. "