Speck, Katie

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Speck, Katie


Born in New Orleans, LA; married; children: a daughter.


Home—Kansas City, MO. E-mail—[email protected].


Children's book author.


Maybelle in the Soup, illustrated by Paul Rátz de Tagyos, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.

Maybelle Goes to Tea, illustrated by Paul Rátz de Tagyos, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2008.


When Katie Speck was a girl, cockroaches overran her Mississippi Gulf home. She learned to tolerate these insects with the help of her grandmother. The older woman named each cockroach that scuttled across the floorboards "Maybelle," and she told her granddaughter funny stories about Maybelle and her world. Years later, Speck shared these quirky Maybelle stories with her own daughter, and when her daughter was grown she finally decided to write them down. "I'd always wanted to be a writer," she admitted on her home page. "But wanting to be a writer and writing are different things…. I snuck up on the process by writing on three-by-five index cards to avoid large, empty expanses. The end result was Maybelle in the Soup."

Brought to life in entertaining pen-and-ink-and-watercolor illustrations by Paul Rátz de Tagyos, Speck's chapter book Maybelle in the Soup finds Maybelle the cockroach happy in her home under the refrigerator in the very tidy home of Mr. and Mrs. Peabody. With her best friend Harry the flea, Maybelle is supposed to keep out of sight during the daytime. However, when the Peabodys host an extra-special dinner for snooty Mrs. Snodgrass, the insects decide to risk detection in order to sample the fancy fare where it sits on the dining table. Maybelle returns in Maybelle Goes to Tea, as the pearl-wearing cockroach joins Maurice the house fly in an exciting escapade that enlivens Mrs. Peabody's sedate Ladies' Spring Tea.

Writing in Horn Book, Betty Carter commented that Rátz de Tagyos's illustrations for Maybelle in the Soup "reinforce the humor and reveal the action" in the tale, while Booklist contributor Suzanne Harold praised the "clear, simple language and … fast-moving plot" in Speck's "fun and original" tale. The author's read-aloud "story of friendship and wishful dreaming will engage readers," predicted School Library Journal critic Cheryl Ashton, the reviewer recommending Maybelle in the Soup to reluctant readers with "a penchant for the buggy side of life."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 2007, Suzanne Harold, review of Maybelle in the Soup, p. 49.

Horn Book, November-December, 2007, Betty Carter, review of Maybelle in the Soup, p. 687.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2007, review of Maybelle in the Soup.

School Library Journal, December, 2007, Cheryl Ashton, review of Maybelle in the Soup, p. 100.


Katie Speck Home Page,http://www.katiespeck.com (December 20, 2008).