Spurr, Elizabeth

views updated

Spurr, Elizabeth

Personal

Married Reginald Spurr (a copywriter; deceased); married Jim McCoy; children: five children. Education: University of Southern California, B.A. (journalism).

Addresses

Office—Box 276, Cayucos, CA 93430. E-mail[email protected]

Career

Madison Avenue, New York, NY, copywriter; freelance writer.

Writings

Mrs. Minetta's Car Pool, illustrated by Blanche Sims, Atheneum Books (New York, NY), 1985.

The Biggest Birthday Cake in the World, illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1991.

The Gumdrop Tree, illustrated by Julia Gorton, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1994.

Lupe & Me, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1995.

The Long, Long Letter, illustrated by David Catrow, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1996.

Mama's Birthday Surprise, illustrated by Felipe Dávalos, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1996.

Disney's Christmas Storybook, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Two Bears beneath the Stairs: A Lift-the-Flap Counting Book, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2002.

Surfer Dog, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.

A Pig Named Perrier, illustrated by Martin Matje, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2002.

Farm Life, illustrated by Steve Bjórkman, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2003.

(Adaptor) Lucretia P. Hale, The Peterkins' Christmas, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2004.

Halloween Skyride, illustrated by Ethan Long, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.

(Adaptor) Lucretia P. Hale, The Peterkin's Thanksgiving, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.

Pumpkin Hill, illustrated by Whitney Martin, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2006.

Sidelights

Elizabeth Spurr, a precocious writer, was publishing a neighborhood newspaper, Ducky Doings, at age ten, selling her paper for ten cents a copy. Continuing that tradition, she has established a reputation for her entertaining picture books, among them The Long, Long Letter, Pumpkin Hill, and A Pig Named Perrier, each featuring illustrations by talented artists, such as David Catrow, Martin Matje, and Whitney Martin. Reviewing A Pig Named Perrier, Holly T. Sneeringer noted in School Library Journal that Spurr spins a story "with character and cadence."

As a child growing up in California, Spurr spent much of her time at the Glendale Public Library, often leaving the library with stacks of books. Spurr retained her love of words into her teen years, editing her high school newspaper. Attending college at the University of Southern California, she graduated with a degree in journalism, then worked briefly for a daily newspaper. She then moved into advertising and began work as a copywriter. After marrying Reginald Spurr, a fellow copywriter, she had five children who provided the fodder for her career in children's literature. Widowed at an early age, she is now married to Jim McCoy. As

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Spurr commented on her home page, the life of a children's writer is "ideal" and added: "I can imagine no happier pursuit than helping children learn the joy of reading."

Spurr's picture book Farm Life was acknowledged by Booklist contributor Ellen Mandel as an "innovative concept book." Farm Life visits a variation of farm houses and its assortment of animals. Spurr utilizes rhyming texts to keep young readers' attention, and the book's illustrations follow along, offering an exciting array of colors. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly concluded that Farm Life serves as a "bountiful harvest of concepts and images," while in Kirkus Reviews a contributor regarded the tale as idealized, heartwarming and "a natural story-time companion."

In The Peterkins' Christmas and The Peterkins' Thanksgiving Spurr draws two stories from the nineteenth-century children's book The Peterkins Papers, written by Lucretia R. Hale. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer called Spurr's first adaptation a "time-proven gem, polished to a new shine, [which] makes for a fun read," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor depicted The Peterkins' Christmas as a "quietly humorous story." The Peterkins family is a loveable group whose members get into a series of conundrums through a shared lack of wit. Tanking the vantage point of Elizabeth Eliza, the daughter of the Peterkins clan, Spurr guides readers through the family's daily obstacles. The Peterkins, for instance, buy a Christmas tree that is too tall for their house, then hire a carpenter to raise their ceiling. When the piano faces the wall, the Peterkins find that the only solution is to play the piano through an open window. Fortunately, the major problems in the Peterkins family are solved when their friend, the "Lady from Philadelphia," sends the Peterkins a special gift.

Spurr revisits the Peterkins family at turkey time in The Peterkins' Thanksgiving. The Peterkins are puzzled when the main course of their Thanksgiving dinner becomes stuck in the dumb waiter. As a result, the family goes hungry, and remain clueless as what to do until a carpenter makes a visit to the house and solves the family's dilemma. "The hapless Peterkins will have children screaming with laughter," noted a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.

In Halloween Sky Ride Spurr writes about, Mildred, a witch who is riding on her broomstick to the yearly Witches' Wobble. However, Mildred is delayed from the party when she picks up a few unexpected passengers, including a black cat, a gangly skeleton, and a mummy. By the time Mildred and her broomstick passengers reach the party, the food has already been eaten. Mildred and her friends then decide to go trick-or-treating to fill their bellies, and in the process they are invited to a children's party. In conveying her story, Spurr uses her stylistic rhyming, and Wendy Woodfill, writing in School Library Journal, noted that the author's tale "moves the story quickly."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2003, Ellen Mandel, review of Farm Life, p. 1334.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Farm Life, p.147; November 1, 2004, review of The Peterkins' Christmas, p. 1049; October 1, 2005, review of The eterkins' Thanksgiving, p. 1090.

Publishers Weekly, January 20, 2003, review of Farm Life, p. 250.

School Library Journal, July, 2002, Holly T. Sneeringer, review of A Pig Named Perrier; August, 2005, Wendy Woodfill, review of Halloween Sky Ride, p. 106.

ONLINE

Elizabeth Spurr Home Page, http://www.elizabethspurr.com (June 5, 2006).