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Siebert, Diane 1948-

Siebert, Diane 1948-


Born 1948; married.


Home—Crooked River Ranch, OR.


Children's book author and poet. Active in volunteer work for environmental causes.

Awards, Honors

Notable Children's Trade Book in Social Studies designation, National Council of Social Studies/Children's Book Council (NCSS/CBC), 1988, and International Reading Association (IRA) Teachers Choice designation, 1989, both for Mojave; Notable Children's Trade Book in Social Studies designation, NCSS/CBC, 1989, and Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts designation, 1990, both for Heartland; Notable Children's Trade Book in Social Studies, NCSS/CBC, and Children's Book of the Year designation, Library of Congress, both 1990, and Notable Children's Book designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1991, all for Train Song; IRA Teachers' Choice designation, Notable Children's Trade Books in Social Studies designation, NCSS/CBC, and Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children designation, National Science Teachers Association/CBC, all 1991, and John and Patricia Beatty Award, California Library Association, all for Sierra; Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor citation, 2007, for Tour America.


Truck Song, illustrated by Byron Barton, Crowell (New York, NY), 1984.

Mojave, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Crowell (New York, NY), 1988.

Heartland, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Crowell (New York, NY), 1989.

Train Song, illustrated by Mike Wimmer, Crowell (New York, NY), 1990.

Sierra, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Crowell (New York, NY), 1991.

Plane Song, illustrated by Vincent Nasta, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Cave, illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Mississippi, illustrated by Greg Harlin, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Motorcycle Song, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Rhyolite: The True Story of a Ghost Town, illustrated by David Frampton, Clarion (New York, NY), 2003.

Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2006.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, illustrated by Marc Burchkhardt, Mondo Publishing (New York, NY), 2007.


The career of award-winning author Diane Siebert has been inspired by an amazing ten-year trip she and her husband took during the 1970s. As she explained in an interview for the Chronicle Books Web site, "In 1971, my husband and I hatched a plan: we would sell whatever possessions we could, buy two motorcycles, and spend the summer seeing America. And that's exactly what we did." Along their way they encountered many adventures, countless new friends, and a newfound "appreciation for America's big cities and rural towns, its scenic wonders, and its wildlife and natural resources." When she arrived at camp at the end of each day, Siebert added, "no matter what, I wrote in my journal, and the poems, prose, and music scribbled on those pages eventually turned into poetry and children's books."

In her rhyming texts, Siebert focuses on the uniquely varied landscapes that make up the United States of America. She has worked with such noted illustrators as Wendell Minor, Mike Wimmer, and Stephen T. Johnson, creating large-format books that capture the vastness of the western plains as well as the bustle of Eastern communities. Turning to a narrative format, Siebert's rhyming text takes readers on a journey across the North American continent in Train Song, Truck Song, Plane Song, and Motorcycle Song. A rural mystery in an ephemeral western mining town is brought to light in Rhyolite: The True Story of a Ghost Town, while a vast natural panorama is revealed in Siebert's highly praised Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art.

In Mojave, one of Siebert's early works, she teams with Minor to evokes a stark yet beautiful desert ecosystem in verse and art. Another collaboration with Minor, Heartland, turns to the rich farmland of the nation's middle west, while Sierra finds the author and illustrator focusing on the Sierra Nevada mountains that run through California and Nevada. In a review of Sierra for Publishers Weekly, a contributor compared Siebert's "stately" text to the writing of nineteenth-century poet Walt Whitman. Citing the "impressive paintings" contributed by Minor, the reviewer concluded that Sierra "celebrates nature with awe and respect."

A pairing of Siebert's poems with unique collage art by Johnson, Tour America takes readers from state to state, and features well-known sites as well as areas off the beaten path of all but the most curious travelers. Exciting events such as the running of the Kentucky Derby or a view of Alaska's awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis are interspersed with more reflective moments, as the author ponders a gnarled stand of centuries-old Bristlecone pine trees in Nevada, or looks out over South Dakota's arid Badlands. Praising Tour America as a "distinguished" blend of "poetry, geography, art, and history," School Library Journal contributor Lee Bock added that Siebert's "striking word choices … reflect the essence of each subject." Johnson's "evocative" illustrations feature an "engaging diversity of approaches and styles [that] meshes well with the variety of forms Siebert employs [in her verse]," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer.

A town in the Nevada desert that grew in population from two to 10,000 during only a few years in the early 1900s is the focus of Rhyolite. When word reached civilization in 1904 that two prospectors had discovered gold in southwest Nevada, a migration quickly occurred, making Rhyolite a boomtown that soon boasted three newspapers, an ice-cream parlor, and even an opera house before fading into obscurity after the claim played out. In his Horn Book review of the picture book, Peter D. Sieruta praised "Siebert's well-cadenced couplets," and noted that David Frampton's warm-toned woodcut illustrations "capture the sunbaked Western landscape." The author's "insistent beat seems perfectly pitched for this brief history," maintained a Publishers Weekly contributor, while in School Library Journal Ginny Gustin called the Siebert/Frampton collaboration "a wonderful example of a well-crafted picture book." "An unusual treatment of an unusual subject breathes new life into

narrative poetry in picture book form," announced a Kirkus Reviews writer, dubbing Rhyolite "almost perfect."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Mississippi, p. 1398; February 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Motorcycle Song, p. 944; April 15, 2003, Kathleen Odean, review of Rhyolite: The True Story of a Ghost Town, p. 1474; June 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art, p. 65.

Horn Book, July-August, 2003, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Rhyolite, p. 486.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2002, review of Motorcycle Song, p. 109; April 1, 2003, review of Rhyolite, p. 540; May 15, 2006, review of Tour America, p. 524.

Publishers Weekly, August 10, 1990, review of Train Song, p. 443; March 15, 1991, review of Sierra, p. 57; May 24, 1993, review of Plane Song, p. 85; July 17, 2000, review of Cave, p. 192; May 14, 2001, review of Mississippi, p. 80; March 10, 2003, review of Rhyolite, p. 72.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, Lee Bock, review of Cave, p. 136; June, 2001, Lee Bock, review of Mississippi, p. 141; April, 2002, Lee Bock, review of Motorcycle Song, p. 158; May, 2003, Ginny Gustin, review of Rhyolite, p. 142; June, 2006, Lee Bock, review of Tour America, p. 186.


Chronicle Books Web site, (June 15, 2008), interview with Siebert and Stephen T. Johnson.

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