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Manuel, Lynn 1948-

Manuel, Lynn 1948-

Personal

Born January 21, 1948, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Clarence Earl (a steelworker) and Verna Mary Maycock; children: Jennifer Vallee, David. Education: McMaster University, B.A. (history), 1969; Ontario Teacher Education College, B.Ed., 1975; University of British Columbia, M.F.A. (creative writing), 1993.

Addresses

Home—White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

Career

Writer and proofreader.

Member

Writer's Union of Canada, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers.

Awards, Honors

Our Choice designation, Canadian Children's Book Center, 1997-98, for The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, 1998-99, for Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat, and 2003, for The Lickety-Split Princess.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Mystery at Cranberry Farm, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault, Gage Educational Publishers (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

Mystery of the Ghostly Riders, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault, Gage, Educational Publishers (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1985.

The Ghost Ships That Didn't Belong, illustrated by Paul McCusker, Gage Educational Publishers (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1987.

Return to Cranberry Farm, illustrated by Rob Johannsen, Gage Educational Publishers (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), 1990.

The Princess Who Laughed in Colours, illustrated by J.O. Pennanen, Penumbra Press (Manotick, Ontario, Canada), 1995.

The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, illustrated by Robin Spowart, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.

Fifty-five Grandmas and a Llama, illustrated by Carolyn Fisher, Gibbs Smith Publisher (Layton, UT), 1997.

Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat, illustrated by Janet Wilson, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

The Cherry Pit Princess, illustrated by Debbie Edlin, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1997.

The Lickety-Split Princess, illustrated by Debbie Edlin, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 2001.

The Christmas Thingamajig, illustrated by Carol Benioff, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.

Camels Always Do, illustrated by Kasia Charko, Orca Book (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2004.

The Trouble with Tilly Trumble, illustrated by Diane Greenseid, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2006.

The Summer of the Marco Polo, illustrated by Kasia Charko, Orca Book (Custer, WA), 2007.

Sidelights

Lynn Manuel became a writer after moving to British Columbia, Canada, in the late 1970s. In mysteries such as The Ghost Ships That Didn't Belong, Mystery at Cranberry Farm, and Return to Cranberry Farm, as well as in The Cherry Pit Princess and its sequel, The Lickety-Split Princess, she introduces young protagonists whose imaginations and curiosity lead them into all sorts of page-turning adventures. Manuel spins wordplay, riddles, and tall tales into engaging stories geared for elementary-grade readers, and her skills as a writer have extended to picture-books such as The Night the Moon Blew Kisses and Camels Always Do. The latter, a "fun yet informative" book that was praised by Resource Links reviewer Victoria Pennell for providing young children with "a glimpse into an unusual and probably little-know incident in [nineteenth-century] Canadian history."

In Manuel's The Cherry Pit Princess, readers meet Dagney Comfort, a third grader who remains devoted to best friend Anna, even though Anna and her family have moved away. Although she makes a new friend in the artistically inclined Megan Canary, loyal Dagney believes that she must always hold Anna in highest regard. Then, during a summer holiday spent with Megan at her Aunt Allie's orchard, Dagney learns that each friend is unique and all can hold special places inside one's heart. The girls' adventures continue in The Lickety-Split Princess, as dreams of fame inspire Dagney and Megan to enter a local writing contest. At first confident that Dagney's vivid imagination will fuel their fiction, the girls find themselves without an ending and cast about for ways to jump-start Dagney's talent for storytelling as the contest deadline draws near. Praising Manuel for creating two "imaginative, light-hearted but thoughtful" protagonists in Dagney and Megan, Re-source Links reviewer Janice Flander praised The Cherry Pit Princess as a good choice for beginning chapter-book readers who enjoy stories about "friendships, imagination and enterprise."

In The Ghost Ships That Didn't Belong Manuel takes confident readers on a spine-tingling adventure. Based on a true incident that took place during the Canadian Cariboo gold rush of the nineteenth century, the story introduces two ten-year-old cousins who encounter a group of glowing sailing ships in a field near their grandparents' house. Meeting with a spooky old woman who is the only other person able to see the ghostly flotilla, the children find themselves in a race against time as they attempt to solve a mystery before the ships bear down upon them. Gisela Sherman stated in Canadian Children's Literature that, with The Ghost Ships That Didn't Belong Manuel creates "an exciting modern ghost story, with vivid descriptions, some nice light spots and bits of history slipped in smoothly."

Manuel's first picture book, The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, follows a little girl and her grandmother as they take a walk on a snowy, moonlit night. The child blows kisses to the moon and the moon responds with snowflake kisses. Manuel's "text is fresh and gentle," noted Anne Louise Mahoney in a review for Quill & Quire, and School Library Journal, contributor Ruth K. MacDonald dubbed The Night the Moon Blew Kisses "a mystical, marvelous nighttime tour of a winter landscape."

In another picture book by Manuel, the whimsically titled Fifty-five Grandmas and a Llama, young Sam wishes desperately for a grandmother. Finally placing an ad in the newspaper, the boy gets more than he bargains for when fifty-five potential grandmas show up, one even toting a llama! "The lesson that too much of a good thing is not a good thing packs a big comic wallop here," asserted Pam McCuen in her review of Fifty-five Grandmas and a Llama for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Manuel focuses on yet another unusual woman in the entertaining The Trouble with Tilly Trumble. As brought to life in colorful paintings by Diane Greenseid, her unconventional protagonist is frustrated in her search for the perfect cozying-up-by-the-fireside chair. Finally, a scruffy stray dog adopts Tilly and warms up her cluttered home with his waggy-tailed presence. Praising "Tilly's whimsical lifestyle" and her grudging affection for her new houseguest, Shelle Rosenfeld added in Booklist that Manuel creates "a touching story of finding comfort when one least expects it." The Trouble with Tilly Trumble was described by School Library Journal Elaine Lesh Morgan as "a satisfying story of two unique individuals finding one another" that is given added impact by Manuel's "descriptive" and "creative" text.

The sadness of a young girl following the death of a beloved relative is the focus of The Christmas Thingamajig, a picture book in which "Manuel's warm, lyrical text ably touches on grief's complicated emotions," according to Booklist critic Townsend-Hudson. Praising Manuel's inclusion of an "upbeat ending" in her poignant tale, Linda Israelson added in her School Library Journal review that The Christmas Thingamajig is sure to "resonate with children … who have experienced a similar loss."

Growing up in Canada, Manuel was captivated by the stories of well-known Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Montgomery's The Story Girl and The Golden Road were among her favorite books. As the author later explained to SATA, "I knew that I wanted to write a picture book for children about Maud's life, especially the period when she was working on Anne of Green Gables. My problem was how to write an interesting and accurate account of such a lonely time. Maud lived a very isolated life while she was caring for her elderly grandmother in Cavendish, on Prince Edward Island. She was often deeply depressed." During her research, Manuel revealed, she "came to see how much [Montgomery's] … gray cat Daffy meant to her, and how constant was her love for him. That was when I decided to write about this time of her life through the eyes of her cat. In that way, the loneliness could be kept in the background, and the focus of the story could be Maud and her cat Daffy." According to Resource Links contributor Isobel Lang, in the picture book Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat Manuel achieves success at "the difficult task of weaving a winsome tale" from her in-depth research, providing "children and adults alike" a revealing look at the life of "an icon of Canadian literature."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2002, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of The Christmas Thingamajig, p. 246; April 15, 2006, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The Trouble with Tilly Trumble, p. 53.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 1997, Pam McCuen, review of Fifty-five Grandmas and a Llama, pp. 402-403.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 2004, Anne Hutchings, review of Camels Always Do, p. 479.

Canadian Children's Literature, number 53, 1989, Gisela Sherman, review of The Ghost Ships That Didn't Belong, pp. 71-73.

Canadian Review of Materials, April 10, 1998, review of Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat; September 21, 2001, review of The Lickety-Split Princess, p. 1621.

Horn Book, November, 1997, review of Lucy Maude and the Cavendish Cat, p. 706.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1996, review of The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, p. 827; November 1, 2002, review of The Christmas Thingamajig, p. 1621; March 15, 2006, review of The Trouble with Tilly Trumble, p. 295.

Publishers Weekly, July 15, 1996, review of The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, p. 73.

Quill & Quire, October, 1996, Anne Louise Mahoney, review of The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, p. 46.

Resource Links, February, 1998, review of The Cherry Pit Princess, p. 112; June, 1998, review of Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat, pp. 3-4; October, 2001, Zoe Johnstone Guha, review of The Lickety-Split Princess, p. 19; April, 2004, Victoria Pennell, review of Camels Always Do, p. 6.

School Library Journal, November, 1996, Ruth K. MacDonald, review of The Night the Moon Blew Kisses, p. 88; April, 1997, Kathy Piehl, review of Fifty-five Grandmas and a Llama, pp. 113-114; October, 2002, Linda Israelson, review of The Christmas Thingamajig, p. 61; November, 2004, Julie Roach, review of Camels Always Do, p. 112; December, 2006, Elaine Lesh Morgan, review of The Trouble with Tilly Trumble, p. 108.

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