Rodman, Mary Ann
Rodman, Mary Ann
Born March 26, in Washington, DC; married; husband's name Craig; children: Lily. Education: Lenoir-Rhyne College, B.A. (theater arts); University of Tennessee-Knoxville, M.L.S.; Vermont College, M.F.A. (writing). Hobbies and other interests: Antiques, listening to music, cycling, photography.
Home—Alpharetta, GA. E-mail—[email protected].
Author and writing instructor. Has also worked as a school media specialist and university librarian.
Choice selection, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), Notable Book for Children selection, American Library Association, and Notable Trade Book in
Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, all for Yankee Girl; CCBC Choice selection, Charlotte Zolotow Award, Bank Street College of Education Best Book designation, and Ezra Jack Keats Award, New York Public Library/Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, all 2006, all for My Best Friend.
Yankee Girl, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.
My Best Friend, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
First Grade Stinks!, illustrated by Beth Spiegel, Peachtree Publishers (Atlanta, GA), 2006.
Jimmy's Stars, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2008.
Short fiction anthologized in Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories about Beauty, Amulet (New York, NY), 2007.
Mary Ann Rodman, a former school librarian, is the author of My Best Friend, a 2005 picture book that garnered both the Charlotte Zolotow Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Award. Rodman has also published First Grade Stinks!, another work for young readers, as well as the critically acclaimed middle-grade novel Yankee Girl.
Rodman developed an early interest in the written word. "I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer," she remarked on her Web site. "I also don't remember when I didn't know how to read. My mom says I taught myself to read at age three, from TV commercials (back in the days when TV commercials had writing on the screen.)" Rodman recalled that she penned her first story at the age of seven, using a clothes hamper in the family bathroom as her desk. In high school, she became a reporter for her local paper and completed a number of award-winning short stories. Rodman stopped writing seriously, however, after beginning her career as a librarian. When her husband was transferred to Bangkok, Thailand, in 1997, she started her first book, Yankee Girl, and enrolled in a low-residency master's degree program at Vermont College. "It was the making of me as a writer," Rodman told Publishers Weekly interviewer Lynda Brill Comerford. "I can't stress enough the importance of having a
support group. The people I met in Vermont continue to be my best friends and critiquers."
Set in 1964, the semi-autobiographical Yankee Girl concerns sixth-grader Alice Ann Moxley, the daughter of an FBI agent who moves with her family from Chicago to Mississippi, just as her new school is about to be integrated. Dubbed "Yankee Girl" by the other students, Alice Ann witnesses the cruel treatment her African-American classmate, Valerie, receives at their hands. As the school year progresses, Alice Ann is torn between her desire to be accepted by the popular crowd and her friendship with Valerie. A Kirkus Reviews critic observed that Rodman's "novel is rich in detail and lively writing," and Susan Oliver remarked in School Library Journal that "the dialogue and narrative flow naturally." According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "Rodman shows characters grappling with hard choices, sometimes courageously, sometimes willfully, sometimes inconsistently, but invariably believably."
My Best Friend, which centers on six-year-old Lily's attempts to impress an older girl, is based on Rodman's experiences as a parent. As the author told Cooperative Children's Book Center online interviewer Andrea Schmitz, "my daughter was in a playgroup in Bangkok that met every week, and she had her best friend all picked out, just like the Lily in the story. Unfortunately, this little girl, who was a year older, wanted nothing to do with her … unless her own friends happened to be away." My Best Friend received strong reviews. "Rodman is attuned to the feelings of young children," stated a contributor in Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal critic Catherine Threadgill described the work as "simple but powerful," adding that it "speaks to the yearning outsider in every child."
In First Grade Stinks!, Haley discovers, much to her dismay, that she must leave the joys of kindergarten behind and adjust to a new teacher and new routines. When the young girl suffers a meltdown in the classroom, Ms. Gray helps the youngster overcome her fears. "Rodman's humorous tale serves as a gentle reminder to search for the silver lining," noted a contributor in Kirkus Reviews. Stephanie Zvirin, writing in Booklist, called First Grade Stinks! "an important book for kids making a pretty tough transition."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Yankee Girl, p. 1204; March 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of My Best Friend, p. 1299; August 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of First Grade Stinks!, p. 96.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2004, Karen Coats, review of Yankee Girl, p. 435; July-August, 2005, review of My Best Friend, p. 509; September, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of First Grade Stinks!, p. 31.
Horn Book, July-August, 2005, Michelle Martin, review of My Best Friend, p. 456.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of Yankee Girl, p. 276; May 1, 2005, review of My Best Friend, p. 545; September 1, 2006, review of First Grade Stinks!, p. 912.
Publishers Weekly, April 12, 2004, review of Yankee Girl, p. 66; June 28, 2004, Lynda Brill Comerford, "Flying Starts," p. 19.
School Library Journal, April, 2004, Susan Oliver, review of Yankee Girl, p. 161; May, 2005, Catherine Threadgill, review of My Best Friend, p. 95; August, 2006, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of First Grade Stinks!, p. 96.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2005, review of Yankee Girl, p. 443.
Cooperative Children's Book Center Web site,http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/ (June 1, 2006), Andrea Schmitz, "Stories from Real Life: An Interview with Mary Ann Rodman."
Mary Ann Rodman Home Page,http://www.maryannrodman.com (November 10, 2007).