Noble, Trinka Hakes 1944-

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Noble, Trinka Hakes 1944-

Personal

Born 1944, in MI. Education: Michigan State University, B.A., 1967; also attended Parsons School of Design, New School for Social Research (now New School University), Greenwich Village Workshop, and New York University.

Addresses

Home—Bernardsville, NJ. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Children's author and illustrator. Has taught art in Michigan, Virginia, and Rhode Island. Member, Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature.

Awards, Honors

Notable Book designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1980, and Golden Sower Award Honor designation, Nebraska Library Association, and Children's Choice Book designation, International Reading Association (IRA)/Children's Book Council, both 1981, all for The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash; named Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters in the state of New Jersey, 2002, for lifetime work in children's books; Teacher's Choice designation, IRA, 2005, for The Scarlet Stockings Spy; Independent Publisher Book Award, 2007, for The Last Brother.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

The King's Tea, Dial (New York, NY), 1979.

Hansy's Mermaid, Dial (New York, NY), 1983.

Apple Tree Christmas, Dial (New York, NY), 1984, reprinted, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2005.

FOR CHILDREN

The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Dial (New York, NY), 1980.

Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Dial (New York, NY), 1984.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, illustrated by Tony Ross, Dial (New York, NY), 1987.

Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Dial (New York, NY), 1989.

Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Dial (New York, NY), 2003.

The Scarlet Stockings Spy, illustrated by Robert Papp, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2004.

One for All: A Pennsylvania Number Book, illustrated by Lisa Papp, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2005.

The Legend of Michigan, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2006.

The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale, illustrated by Robert Papp, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2006.

The Legend of the Cape May Diamond, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2007.

The Pennsylvania Reader, illustrated by K.L. Darnell, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2007.

The Orange Shoes, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger, Sleeping Bear Press (Chelsea, MI), 2007.

Several of Noble's books have been translated into Spanish.

ILLUSTRATOR

Mary Calhoun, The Witch Who Lost Her Shadow, Harper (New York, NY), 1979.

Susan Pearson, Karin's Christmas Walk, Dial (New York, NY), 1980.

Marilyn Singer, Will You Take Me to Town on Strawberry Day?, Harper (New York, NY), 1981.

Adaptations

Five of Noble's stories were recorded on audiocassette as The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash and Other Stories, read by Sandy Duncan, Caedmon, 1986.

Sidelights

The author of The King's Tea, Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk, and The Orange Shoes, among others, Trinka Hakes Noble has written and illustrated many books for children. In addition to writing and illustrating her own work, Noble has contributed her artistic talents to the works of other authors, including Marilyn Singer, Susan Pearson, and Mary Calhoun.

Raised on a farm in a rural area of Michigan, Noble was one of seven children. Her early schooling consisted of classes in a one-room schoolhouse that drew children of all ages together from miles around. In the fifth grade, her last year of attending school there, she was the only student working at her grade level. Art always fascinated her; "The earliest memory I have of wanting to be an artist is the smell of crayons," Noble wrote on her home page. "Our crayons were kept in an old cigar box along with assorted Tinkertoys, odd checkers, and Monopoly pieces. They were broken, chewed, and well used. You couldn't even recognize the different colors, so you had to test each color first by drawing on the cigar box lid. That lid was a work of art in itself. But the smell when you opened the lid … ahhh … and a nice sheet of manila construction paper … and life's requirements were met!"

After graduating from high school, Noble worked for a year to save up enough money to attend art classes at Michigan State University. After graduating from college, she put her art training to use by teaching at schools in Michigan, Virginia, and Rhode Island before settling down in the New York City area. In New York, Noble was fortunate to study illustration with artist Uri Shulevitz at his advanced workshop in Greenwich Village, and she supplemented that education with classes at the New School for Social Research.

Noble's first published book, the self-illustrated The King's Tea, was praised by a Publishers Weekly critic for its incorporation of "the snowballing effects that children love." In the book a cup of tea prepared for the king's breakfast is ruined when soured milk is added; this in turn ruins the king's mood, and the negative effects spread throughout the kingdom as everyone from the tea steward to the milk cows in the field pass along the blame. Fortunately, by lunchtime the problem is solved—a rain shower has sweetened the buttercups eaten by the milk cows, who in turn provide sweeter milk for tea. Reviewers particularly praised Noble's earth-toned watercolor washes. Horn Book reviewer Kern M. Klockner noted that in her "gentle" artwork the author/illustrator "captures the rough features and peasant clothing of her characters, giving careful attention to detail." Donnarae MacCann commented in Wilson Library Bulletin that Noble's technique of "radically [varying] the size of objects in her illustrations … adds a subtly comic aspect to many scenes, without the use of conventional cartoon devices."

Hansy's Mermaid takes place in Holland and is the story of a mermaid who is stranded in a pool left after a spring flood of the Zuider Zee river. Discovered by the Klumperty family, the mermaid, Seanora, is quickly dressed and taken under the wing of the Klumperty sis-

ters, who decide that the best thing for their new friend would be to become as expert at sewing, butter churning, and cheese making as they are. Kept from her home in the sea, Seanora's unhappiness is detected by the family's young son, Hansy. While he brings her seaweed and helps her to participate in winter sports such as skating despite the fact that she has no legs, Hansy realizes that the landlocked mermaid will never be happy in the human world. Ultimately, he helps Seanora return to her home in the sea. Praising Noble's soft pencil drawings and the "fairy tale quality" of her text, Jonni Moore deemed Hansy's Mermaid a "thoroughly satisfying fantasy" in her School Library Journal assessment. Horn Book reviewer Ann A. Flowers also praised the book as "sensitive, imaginative, and thoughtful."

In Apple Tree Christmas the joys of a rural childhood are reflected by Noble in both prose and illustrations. Taking place in 1881, the story revolves around young Katrina's love for a local apple tree that succumbs to the extreme cold of a Michigan winter. After the tree falls, the girl realizes that her sadness is shared by every person in her family, each of whom loved the tree for a different reason. On Christmas Day, Father surprises each of the sisters with gifts he has crafted from the tree's wood, including a drawing table for budding artist Katrina. Praising the tale for its evocation of the family-centered holiday spirit of years past, School Library Journal reviewer Elizabeth M. Simmons dubbed Apple Tree Christmas a "quiet, quaint story that will be enjoyed by children who love a touch of the old-fashioned," while a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books writer praised Noble for her use of "period detail and some evocative watercolor paintings."

In The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash Noble introduces her popular young protagonist and his pet boa constrictor. In this story, a young girl named Meggie quietly relates what happens when Jimmy decided to bring his pet snake along on a class field trip to a local farm. In typical Noble fashion, confusion and fun are the result: pigs board the school bus and eat everyone's lunch, raw eggs become missiles in the hands of gleeful children, and the hungry snake makes away with the laundry, all of which is highlighted in colorful fashion through the illustrations of Steven Kellogg. Reviewing the work in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, a critic described The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash as "total nonsense, [and] great fun," adding that Noble's "bland delivery is in effective contrast with the zany events, each strengthening the other." A Booklist contributor echoed this praise, calling the picture book "a top-notch choice that children will not want to put down."

Jimmy and his boa have appeared in several more collaborations between Noble and Kellogg, each told with what School Library Journal contributor Cynthia K. Leibold described as Noble's "now familiar droll … style." In Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back the pet snake makes a fussy garden-club party a memorable event through his entrance disguised as a flowery hat on the head of Meggie's mother. Not surprisingly, the genteel mood of the party quickly evaporates after the boa decides to uncurl and go in search of a light lunch. Meggie's mother is ultimately banished from the garden club, while the boa finds a new best friend in Miss Peachtree's pet poodle.

"The return of Jimmy and his boa is reason to cheer," proclaimed School Library Journal reviewer Trev Jones in announcing the publication of Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash, "for the action is as frenzied, frantic, and wacky as before." This time out, a birthday outing to SeaLand serves as the spark to a host of outrageous events, and by story's end everyone in the party has taken a plunge into the whale tank, frolicked with penguins, and dodged hungry sharks. Jones went on to praise Noble for her skill in "captur[ing] the logic of children and the way in which they tell a story" by leaving out the crucial bits until someone directly asks them "why?"

Jimmy and his reptilian pal create chaos for a group of dancers in Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk, "a highly entertaining treat to share with young (and old) children," remarked Mary Elam in School Library Journal. When Miss Peachtree commandeers the gymnasium for her dance class, Jimmy insists on waltzing with his pet snake, which quickly winds up tangled with other unlikely participants, including the school basketball coach and a group of rabbits. A critic in Kirkus Reviews deemed the work "another slam-dunk for Jimmy fans."

Set in Philadelphia in 1777, The Scarlet Stockings Spy focuses on Maddy Rose, a young girl who devises a system to communicate with her brother, a soldier in General George Washington's colonial army. By hanging her petticoats and brightly colored stockings from a clothesline, Maddy is able to point out the location of suspicious vessels docked in the harbor. The system works well, until Maddy's brother fails to appear one night. Describing the tale as "well told in simple descriptive language," School Library Journal reviewer Susan Scheps added that young readers "with little knowledge of this period in American history will gain some background from Noble's story."

Based on her own family's history, Noble's The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale centers on eleven-year-old Gabriel, who joins the Union Army as a bugler so he can remain close to his last surviving brother, Davy. After marching to Gettysburg, Gabe meets a Confederate bugle boy named Orlee, and they strike up an unlikely friendship before the three-day battle commences. According to Christine Markley in School Library Journal, the story "resonates with courage and fear, love and loyalty."

In The Orange Shoes, a work with autobiographical overtones, young Delly Porter walks barefoot to her one-room schoolhouse each day. After her teacher announces a "Shoebox Social" to raise funds for art supplies, Delly receives a new pair of leather shoes from her father, despite the family's meager finances. The youngster is devastated when several of her classmates try to ruin the footwear, however, and she attempts to use her artistic skills to hide the damage. Noble's "warm, heartfelt story" drew praise from School Library Journal critic Andrea Tarr.

Discussing the importance of her work on the Powell's Books Web site, Noble stated: "We've all heard the expression that ‘less is more,’ or can be. But to truly understand this abstract concept requires life experience." "This is where children's literature comes in," Noble continued. "If a character in a story can believably illustrate the concept of less is more, then it becomes believable and understandable to the young reader, but only if they make an honest connection with the character. In other words, young readers can gain life experience through a character's story, even when they have not experienced something similar in real life."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 1981, review of The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, p. 625; April 1, 1987, Ilene Cooper, review of Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, p. 1208; August, 2003, Michael Cart, review of Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk, p. 1990; February 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of The Scarlet Stockings Spy, p. 959; September 1, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale, p. 139.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1981, review of The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, p. 158; July, 1983, review of Hansy's Mermaid, p. 215; October, 1984, review of Apple Tree Christmas, p. 33.

Horn Book, December, 1979, Kern M. Klockner, review of The King's Tea, p. 656; February, 1981, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, p. 44; October, 1983, Ann A. Flowers, review of Hansy's Mermaid, p. 564; November, 1989, Ethel R. Twichell, review of Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash, p. 763.

Junior Bookshelf, August, 1987, review of Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, pp. 165-166.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1980, review of The King's Tea, p. 212; February 15, 1987, review of Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, p. 303; August 15, 2003, review of Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk, p. 1077; August 1, 2007, review of The Orange Shoes.

New York Times Book Review, January 13, 1985, review of The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 1982, review of The King's Tea, p. 63; May 25, 1984, review of Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back, p. 60; August 12, 1988, review of Apple Tree Christmas, p. 462.

School Library Journal, October, 1979, Carolyn K. Jenks, review of The King's Tea, pp. 143-144; January, 1981, p. 54; September, 1983, Jonni Moore, review of Hansy's Mermaid, p. 110; September, 1984, Cynthia K. Leibold, review of Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back, p. 108; October, 1984, Elizabeth M. Simmons, review of Apple Tree Christmas, p. 174; November, 1989, Trev Jones, review of Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash, p. 91; September, 2003, Mary Elam, review of Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk, p. 186; July, 2005, Susan Scheps, review of The Scarlet Stockings Spy, p. 79; December, 2006, Christine Markley, review of The Last Brother, p. 110; September, 2007, Andrea Tarr, review of The Orange Shoes, p. 173.

Times Literary Supplement, July 24, 1981, Kicki Moxon Browne, review of The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, p. 840.

Wilson Library Bulletin, November, 1979, Donnarae MacCann, review of The King's Tea, pp. 183, 205.

ONLINE

Powell's Books Web site,http://www.powells.com/ (February 1, 2009), Trinka Hakes Noble, "Less Is More, Sometimes."

Trinka Hakes Noble Home Page,http://www.trinkahakesnoble.com (February 1, 2009).