Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth 1948–
Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth 1948–
Born May 16, 1948, in New York, NY; daughter of John and Alexine Wallace; married Peter E. Banks (a high school teacher). Education: University of Connecticut, B.A., M.A. (child development). Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, hiking, camping, theater, museums, gardening, bike riding.
Home—Branford, CT. Agent—Sterling Lord Literistic, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012.
Author. Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT, director of Volunteer Services, coordinator of Child Life Program; preschool teacher, day-care teacher, and consultant, 1972-92. A Better Chance and Read to Grow (ABC; Connecticut literacy program), volunteer.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Honors award, National Parenting Publications honors award, 1995, for Snow; Gold award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, 2000, both for Rabbit's Bedtime; Best Book of the Year citation, Bank Street College of Education, 2000, for Apples, Apples, Apples, 2001, for Count down to Clean Up!, 2002, for Pumpkin Day!, 2003, for Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!; ForeWord award, 2001 for A Taste of Honey; Best Books recommendation, Association of Booksellers, and International Honor Book designation, Society of School Librarians, both 2003, both for Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!; International Honor Book designation, Society of School Librarians, and Children's Book Council Showcase Nonfiction Picture Book designation, both 2004, both for Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!; Best Children's Books for Family Literacy award, 2005, and Connecticut Book Award for Best Illustrator, and Best Books for Babies honor, Beginning with Books, both 2006, all for Alphabet House; National Parenting Publications Honors Award, 2007, for Shells! Shells! Shells!; Mockingbird Award, and Kids' Wings Award, both 2008, both for Look! Look! Look!
SELF-ILLUSTRATED PICTURE BOOKS
Snow, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Rabbit's Bedtime, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999, bilingual edition, with Spanish translation by Annie Garcia Kaplan, published as Hora de dormir del conejo/Rabbit's Bedtime, 2000.
Tell-a-Bunny, Winslow Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2000.
Apples, Apples, Apples, Winslow Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2000.
Paperwhite, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.
A Taste of Honey, Winslow Press (Delray Beach, FL), 2001.
Count down to Clean Up!, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.
Pumpkin Day!, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2002.
Recycle Every Day!, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2003.
Baby Day!, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2003.
The Valentine Express, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2004.
Alphabet House, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2005.
The Kindness Quilt, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Linda K. Friedlaender) Look! Look! Look!, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2006.
Shells! Shells! Shells!, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2007.
Fly, Monarch! Fly!, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2008.
Author's original art and writings are archived at the Northeast Children's Literature Collection, Dodd Center, University of Connecticut.
Nancy Elizabeth Wallace is an author and illustrator noted for her colorful cut-paper collage art. Her first picture book, Snow, was warmly received by critics who praised both the nostalgic, fun-loving story and Wallace's illustrations. In this story, a grandfather rabbit recalls the fun he and his brother had long ago, when the first snow of the winter finally arrived. Wallace was praised for her ability to "capture … the quiet magic and cozy charm of a cold, snowy day with loved ones," by Roni Schotter in the New York Times Book Review. Likewise, Patricia Pearl Dole, writing in School Library Journal, noted that Wallace's illustrations, characterized by bright colors, spare shapes, and an auspicious use of white space, "gives a feeling of primitive exuberance to the pictures."
In Rabbit's Bedtime Wallace tells the story of a young rabbit preparing for bed and recalling the day's events in a simple rhyme. The action "is impressively captured in Wallace's distinct cut-paper artwork," remarked a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. Although School Library Journal critic Sue Sherif described the overall effect of the book almost too sweet, "the clean design and the book's small, square format make it a likely success," she added. Another rabbit is cast in Tell-a-Bunny, in which Sunny the bunny asks her friends to spread the word about a surprise party she is planning for friend Earl. With each phone call, the facts about the party get more and more mixed up, and on the day of the party Sunny's guests arrive at her house at six in the morning rather than at six at night. "Whether or not kids are familiar with ‘telephone,’ they'll recognize the humorous confusion that miscommunication can bring," observed Steven Engelfried in a review of Tell-a-Bunny for School Library Journal.
In Apples, Apples, Apples Wallace adds a recipe for applesauce, instructions for making prints from apples, famous apple sayings, and an apple song to a story about a bunny family that goes to an apple orchard. Additional information about growing apples and the history of the fruit are planted within the book's illustrations, engaging the interest of older readers as well. "Bold shapes and monochromatic backgrounds keep the pictures clean and uncluttered," remarked Joy Fleishhacker in School Library Journal, and Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper praised Wallace's "wonderful paper-cut artwork."
Wallace's artwork and the innate attractions of the natural world work their magic in Paperwhite, as a young friend and an old friend plant a narcissus bulb in the dead of winter. Awaiting the arrival of the flower's bloom in spring, they make cookies and knit scarves, string beads, and play the piano. As in her other stories, Wallace's illustrations add further dimensions to her text; here they show the passing days through subtle changes in the light as little Lucy Rabbit arrives each day at 4:30. Praised by School Library Journal contributor Wendy Lukehart as "a lovely paean to the simple acts shared by friends," Paperwhite celebrates "both the wonders of nature and the pleasures of a loving intergenerational friendship," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor.
Like Apples, Apples, Apples and Paperwhite, A Taste of Honey instructs preschoolers while also entertaining them. In this story, young Lily Bear asks question after question of Poppy Bear. Along with Wallace's readers, Lily learns where honey comes from, starting with the jar on the shelf and leading inevitably back to bees. Sidebars allow the author to include additional information, but the main text and the colorful cut-paper illustrations are designed with preschoolers in mind. The result is "a picture book well designed to explain and entertain," according to Carolyn Phelan in Booklist.
In Shells! Shells! Shells! Buddy Bear and his mother visit the seashore, where Buddy learns what sort of creatures once occupied the many different shells deposited by the tide. Buddy returns in Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!, as a walk during a fall day generates a wealth of information about the colorful leaves that float from the sky. Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! finds the young cub the recipient of a special gift from his plant-loving grandfather: five craft projects that involve seeds of all sorts.
Praising Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! as "clearly written and brightly illustrated," Carolyn Phelan wrote in Booklist that Wallace's activity-filled picture books "will be an appealing addition to classroom units on seeds and germination." "Wallace successfully blends fiction and nonfiction, art and informational text" in Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!, according to School Library Journal contributor Rachel G. Payne, the critic adding that Buddy's "lively curiosity" will inspire young children to ask their own questions.
Alexander, Kiki, and Kat, three spunky mouse characters, star in another book by Wallace that has an echoing title. In Look! Look! Look! the tiny rodents give a mini-lesson in art appreciation as they isolate and explore the different elements in a classic painting. In Kirkus Reviews, a reviewer called Look! Look! Look! "an accessible book, packed with learning opportunities," while School Library Journal contributor Andrea Tarr predicted that Wallace's entertaining volume "encourages originality while inspiring creativity."
Wallace introduces young children to civic-mindedness in the picture books Count down to Clean Up! and Recycle Every Day!, both of which feature her characteris- tic bunny characters. In the first book, ten bunnies, each with a unique color and sporting a clue as to its special interest, travel down the street. Although each bunny disappears into a shop along the way, all ten convene at a nearby park armed with the supplies they have acquired to help them perform their unique role in a group fix-up project. "Children will delight in figuring out who went where and who got what," predicted GraceAnne A. DeCandido in her Booklist review of Count down to Clean Up! Noting that Wallace makes use of found paper in her illustrations, Roxanne Burg concluded in School Library Journal that the author/illustrator "has cleverly combined the medium with a message of caring for the local community and its resources."
In Recycle Every Day! readers meet a young bunny named Minna. Because Minna hopes to win a poster contest about recycling, she talks with her parents to find out what sorts of things go into the activity. From composting to reusing and repairing to donating used clothing, the girl finds a wealth of subjects to include in her artwork. Noting that Wallace's "story is a vehicle for the Be Green message," a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted that "young readers won't mind," due to the games and recycling facts and challenges the author includes in the book. The Kirkus Reviews writer concluded that Recycle Every Day! provides readers with an "excellent introduction to this increasingly important subject," while in Booklist, Julie Cummins predicted that the book, with its simple story and cut-paper art, "will encourage children to make the world a cleaner, greener place." Minna returns in several other titles by Wallace, among them The Kindness Quilt, which inspires young readers with its focus on the little gestures that make "a better world," according to Cooper.
The seasonal picture book Pumpkin Day! celebrates a favorite autumn activity through the eyes of a loving rabbit family. During a day spent in a pumpkin field, the flop-eared family members learn about the different kinds of pumpkins and how they are grown. Soon pumpkins are carved into jack-o-lanterns, the seeds baked, and pumpkin muffins consumed. Wallace's illustrations include pumpkin facts on signposts and she includes a recipe so that readers can bake up pumpkin muffins at their own home. "The origami-and-paper collages placed against pure backgrounds are the best Wallace has done to date," concluded Cooper in her Booklist review of Pumpkin Day! In Kirkus Reviews a critic noted that, with "a bit of science" and "a dab of folklore," the author-illustrator crafts an "inviting" fall storytime offering. Another seasonal picture book, The Valentine Express, introduces the history and traditions surrounding the late-winter holiday, combining a simple story featuring Minna the rabbit with project ideas that will have "crafty youngsters … run[ning] for the scissors, glue and construction paper," according to a Publishers Weekly critic.
Wallace once told SATA: "I keep a quote by Joseph Campbell on my desk: ‘If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there the whole while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.’
"I had worked for years at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) on Pediatrics as a child-life specialist (therapeutic play) and coordinator of the program. We used play, art, music, creative writing, medical play, and puppetry to help infants, toddlers, preschool and school age children, and adolescents to cope with the stress of being in the hospital. These experiences gave children an important sense of normalcy, choice, and control, and the opportunity to express their thoughts, fears, fantasies, and misconceptions. In this acute-care setting, we worked with pediatric patients with burns, cardiac problems, spinal column injuries, cancer, and cystic fibrosis. I prepared children for surgery, medical tests, even to have limbs amputated; and provided play for children up to within hours of their death. I burned out.
"Next came Volunteer Services, administering the YNHH program with over one thousand volunteers, many in highly sophisticated patient support and educator roles. While I was director, we initiated a creative arts program; it won an American Hospital Association Award. Musicians visited patients' bedsides in the intensive-care units, art docents brought prints to patients and gave mini lectures, and comedians brought laughter to the AIDS floor. The power of the arts was clear to me. But it was one of those eighty-hour-a-week positions with no boundaries; there was always more, more, more that could be done. There was little time or energy for my family and friends. I needed to find better life balance.
"So, I registered for two adult education courses; a three-session Scherenschnitte class (a traditional form of paper cutting) and for what I thought was a ten-session children's-book-writing course. The emphasis would be on illustration; the other students were all artists! I thought, ‘Okay, well, I'll try cutting paper for my illustrations.’ After submitting an assignment, the instructor told me, ‘You've found your medium.’
"I sent my work out and received rejections. Then one project was picked out of the ‘slush pile’ and at the first meeting with the editor, Snow was accepted on the spot. Because I was now a published author I was hired by LEARN to be an author-in-residence to work with inner-city and suburban school children, helping them to write and illustrate their own books.
"Because I was a children's book author and had worked at Yale-New Haven Hospital, when a committee with a vision of creating a Books for Babies literacy program formed in 1998, I was invited to join them and to write ‘the book’! Rabbit's Bedtime, illustrated with cut paper, is about balance and taking time to do the important little BIG things in life. Rabbit's Bedtime—or the bilingual version, Hora de dormir del conejo/
Rabbit's Bedtime—is given to every newborn at three Connecticut hospitals; and Read to Grow keeps growing!"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 1995, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Snow, p. 565; May 15, 2000, Helen Rosenberg, review of Tell-a-Bunny, p. 1750; October 15, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Apples, Apples, Apples, p. 448; November 15, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Paperwhite, p. 651; January 1, 2001, Isabel Schon, review of Hora de dormir del conejo/Rabbit's Bedtime, p. 973; February 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Taste of Honey, p. 1142; September 15, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Count down to Clean Up!, p. 233; August, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Pumpkin Day!, p. 1963; February 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Baby Day!, p. 1078; April 1, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of Recycle Every Day!, p. 1404; November 1, 2003, Karin Snelson, review of Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!, p. 507; January 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, p. 870; April 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!, p. 1449; November 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Valentine Express, p. 594; November 1, 2005, Karen Hutt, review of Alphabet House, p. 54; Look! Look! Look!, p. 94; October 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of The Kindness Quilt, p. 61; May 15, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Shells! Shells! Shells!, p. 53.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2000, review of Paperwhite, p. 124; October, 2002, review of Pumpkin Day!, p. 84; April, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Look! Look! Look!, p. 376.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1995, review of Snow, p. 1360; September 1, 1999, review of Rabbit's Bedtime, p. 1423; August 1, 2001, review of Count down to Clean Up!, p. 1134; August 1, 2002, review of Pumpkin Day!, p. 1146; February 1, 2003, review of Baby Day!, p. 242; March 1, 2003, review of Recycle Every Day!, p. 401; August 15, 2005, review of Alphabet House, p. 924; March 1, 2006, review of Look! Look! Look!, p. 242; August 1, 2006, review of The Kindness Quilt, p. 797; February 15, 2007, review of Shells! Shells! Shells!
New York Times Book Review, November 12, 1995, Roni Schotter, review of Snow, p. 42.
Publishers Weekly, November 6, 1995, review of Snow, p. 93; June 26, 2000, review of Apples, Apples, Apples, p. 74; September 4, 2000, review of Paperwhite, p. 107; March 19, 2001, review of A Taste of Honey, p. 99; December 6, 2004, review of The Valentine Express, p. 59.
School Library Journal, December, 1995, Patricia Pearl Dole, review of Snow, p. 93; November, 1999, Sue Sherif, review of Rabbit's Bedtime, p. 132; May, 2000, Steven Engelfried, review of Tell-a-Bunny, p. 156; September, 2000, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Apples, Apples, Apples, p. 211; October, 2000, Wendy Lukehart, review of Paperwhite, p. 141; June, 2001, Janet M. Bair, review of A Taste of Honey, p. 141; October, 2001, Roxanne Burg, review of Count down to Clean Up!, p. 133; November, 2002, Melinda Piehler, review of Pumpkin Day!, p. 140.
Teaching Children Mathematics, January, 2002, David Whitin, review of Paperwhite, p. 299; November, 2002, Melinda Piehler, review of Pumpkin Day!, p. 140; March, 2003, Gay Lunn Van Vleck, review of Baby Day!, p. 210; April, 2003, Carolyn Janssen, review of Recycle Every Day!, p. 142; September, 2003, Rachel G. Payne, review of Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!, p. 193; December, 2003, Deborah Rothaug, review of The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, p. 140; June, 2004, Sandra Welzenbach, review of Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!, p. 121; December, 2004, review of The Valentine Express, p. 123; October, 2005, Susan E. Murray, review of Alphabet House, p. 131; March, 2006, Andrea Tarr, review of Look! Look! Look!, p. 204; November, 2006, Maren Ostergard, review of The Kindness Quilt, p. 115; May, 2007, Lynn K. Vanca, review of Shells! Shells! Shells!, p. 111.
Balkin Buddies Web site,http://www.balkinbuddies.com/ (January 15, 2008), "Nancy Elizabeth Wallace."
Winslow Press Web site,http://www.winslowpress.com/ (January 10, 2008), "Nancy Elizabeth Wallace."