Whitehead, Kathy 1957-

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Whitehead, Kathy 1957-

Personal

Born March 27, 1957, in Austin, TX; daughter of Steve and Jean McFaull; married Bill Whitehead (a petroleum engineer) July 18, 1981; children: Jeffrey, Stephanie. Education: Sam Houston State University, B.A.; Texas A & M University, M.Ed. (educational administration). Religion: Baptist.

Addresses

Home—College Station, TX. E-mail—[email protected]ead.com.

Career

Author. Commercial Union Assurance Co., Shreveport, LA, insurance adjuster, 1979-80; Caldwell School District, Caldwell, TX, kindergarten teacher, 1980-81; College Station School District, College Station, TX, fourth-grade teacher, 1981-86, substitute teacher, 1995-2003.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (Brasos Valley regional advisor, 1998-2002, assistant regional advisor, 2003—).

Writings

Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July, illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2005.

Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2008.

Sidelights

Educator and author Kathy Whitehead made her publishing debut with the children's book Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July, an account of an Independence Day celebration as it is held Texas style. In Whitehead's story, a young boy attending the annual

parade with his family is told to keep an eye out for his Uncle Louie, who will be appearing in the parade. The boy searches the many faces in the crowd, with no luck, until he spies his uncle behind the wheel of a car with an image of the Statue of Liberty painted on its hood. Linda Staskus, reviewing the book for School Library Journal, called Whitehead's debut "a solid addition to holiday collections" and noted of Pablo Torrecilla's boldly hued, digitally enhanced illustrations that "the crowd is as visually interesting as the parade."

Whitehead told SATA: "I began writing when my children were preschoolers. Stories would pop into my head while I sat outside watching my kids play together. Writing became a daily priority, while my children napped or were at preschool. With my background as a classroom teacher, I was already familiar with children's literature and its ability to enrich kids' lives. Reading a story aloud to my class was always one of my favorite parts of the school day.

"Having spent most of my time teaching fourth grade, I started writing middle-grade novels first. Ideas for picture books waited their turn while I spent time reading and studying novel writing. When I finally tried out my picture-book ideas, I felt more prepared to explore that format by using the building of novel writing. Through my picture books I hope to illuminate a topic or person so a reader can gain a greater connection and appreciation of the world around them.

"My purpose behind writing Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July was to share the joy of the holiday through a Texas parade. The celebration of our nation's independence through individual expressions such as music, dance, and the elaborately painted low-rider cars seemed to highlight both our nation's varied roots and unified desire for freedom.

"I wrote Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter to help children better understand the life struggles and art of primitive artist Clementine Hunter.

I found Hunter's story of determination to develop her art fascinating, along with her artwork of plantation life in Louisiana and the stories behind each one. At the age of six, I developed an artist friend of my own, a neighbor who always managed to spare some time to visit with a small child and share her work-in-progress. I was fortunate to have the ongoing experience of seeing an artist's work in different stages of completion at such an early age.

"One of my favorite picture books is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It remains one of my children's favorite childhood book memories—a shimmering blend of text and pictures that gave them the feeling they'd experienced a snowy day despite their snow-less upbringing in central Texas. There are so many shining examples of children's literature today—what a blessing for children to experience the bounty of so many talented voices."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July, p. 1667.

School Library Journal, May, 2005, Linda Staskus, review of Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July, p. 103.

ONLINE

Cynsations Web site,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (January 16, 2007), "Kathy Whitehead."

Kathy Whitehead Home Page,http://www.kathywhitehead.com (January 16, 2007).

SCBWI Houston Web site,http://www.scbwi-houston.org/ (January 16, 2007), "Kathy Whitehead."

About this article

Whitehead, Kathy 1957-

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