Tinkham, Kelly A.

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Tinkham, Kelly A.


Born in MI; married Mark Tinkham, May, 1987; children: Justin, Jared. Education: Valley Forge Christian College, degree (missions); studied writing at Institute of Children's Literature. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting cobalt Depression glass, reading children's books, spending time with family and friends.


Home—Newaygo, MI. E-mail—[email protected].


Children's author and librarian. Newaygo Area District Library, Newaygo, MI, librarian. Presenter at schools and libraries.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Awards, Honors

Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, Bank Street College Best Book designation, and Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice, all 2008, all for Hair for Mama.


Hair for Mama, illustrated by Amy June Bates, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.


Kelly A. Tinkham is a children's author whose favorite place to spend time is the local library where she works as a librarian. "I have always loved reading books," she

told SATA. "To step into that imaginary world with the main characters and to see the world through their eyes is cool! Some of my favorite books are The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Blue Willow, and Pippi Longstocking. As an author, I love to create the magical world for my readers to dive into and enjoy."

Hair for Mama, Tinkham's first book for young readers, has been praised by reviewers for addressing a difficult subject with warmth and sensitivity. "The idea for Hair for Mama came from my son, Justin," the author

explained. "When I was explaining to him that I would lose my hair from chemotherapy, he promised to give me his hair. Eventually he and the other important guys in my life all shaved their heads for me! It is my hope that Hair for Mama will help other families experiencing cancer to open the lines of communication and pull together to face the future in hope."

In Hair for Mama readers meet Marcus Carter, an eight-year-old boy whose mother has cancer. Because she is being treated through chemotherapy, Marcus's mama loses her hair. When October comes and the family looks forward to taking their annual family photograph to share with friends, Mama feels self-conscious and does not want to be included in the picture. At first Markus tries to help his mother by finding her a wig, but when this doesn't work he makes a personal sacrifice that helps everyone in the Carter family recognize how important it is to participate in the family picture and preserve the tradition it represents. Praising the watercolor-and-pencil illustrations contributed by artist Amy June Bates for "matching the depth of emotions perfectly," a Kirkus Reviews writer described Hair for Mama as "a realistic look at a strong family facing cancer." Judith Constantinides, reviewing Tinkham's story in School Library Journal, noted that the "beautifully written" text provides readers with "a simple, sensitive, and articulate look at an illness through the eyes of a [loving] child," while in Booklist GraceAnne A. DeCandido observed that, while "straightforward and sweet," Hair for Mama is also "heart-wrenching" in its realism and lack of sentimentality.

Tinkham's advice for anyone who wants to become a writer: "Read many good books and try to see how the writers drew you into their stories; write about what you are interested in because your enthusiasm will shine; don't be afraid to revise your stories—the greatest part of writing is revising!"

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 1, 2007, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Hair for Mama, p. 61.

Horn Book, July-August, 2007, Robin Smith, review of Hair for Mama, p. 387.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Hair for Mama.

School Library Journal, July, 2007, Judith Constantinides, review of Hair for Mama, p. 86.


Kelly A. Tinkham Home Page,http://www.kellyatinkham.com (March 15, 2008).