Award winning author, Wendie Old, has written eight biographies, several picture books, and two books about holidays. Her awards include: ALA Notable books, Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor book, Oppenheim Gold Toy Portfolio Best Book Award, ABC Best Books for Children, and many others. In addition to writing, she is a children’s librarian in Harford County Public Library (Maryland), and is an experienced presenter and storyteller. She gives a lively presentation about black cats, groundhogs, musicians, inventors, and sharing the odd things that happened while researching and writing her books.
The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun
Old and Billin-Frye have packed this collaboration with lots of “Facts and Fun” about the origins and history of Halloween. The picture book format should not mislead anyone; this work is text-dense and divided into nine chapters, including “The Tale of the Jack-o’-Lantern,” “Witches,” and “Why Do We Wear Costumes and Trick-or-Treat?” Each chapter is typically a couple of pages in length and illustrated with full-page pictures or insets that clearly support the text. The colorful cartoon-like drawings are gentle–not even Frankenstein appears threatening. Little jokes are inserted along the way, such as “What is an October hog dog called? A Hallowienie.” The light-hearted approach makes this book useful with young listeners, while the detailed information will hold the interest of older readers. Some of the historical facts could be quite grim but are well-handled, with the facts delivered in straightforward prose. She does not gloss over subjects such as the deaths of many “witches” or of the vile actions of the real Vlad Dracula III, but she does not dwell on the gruesome details either. The explanations are suitable for writing reports or filling in the gaps of Halloween lore. Parents and teachers will appreciate the information, as well as the directions for party games, recipes, safety tips, and riddles included in the backmatter. This is an excellent addition to the body of Halloween literature. Like the author’s and illustrator’s previous collaboration, The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun, this is well worth adding to any collection. 2007, Albert Whitman, $15.95. Ages 4 to 9. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children’s Literature).
The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun
Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Groundhog Day? After all, just where did the idea come from that a little old groundhog, asleep underground all winter, would suddenly wake up every year on February 2nd and accurately predict whether spring will come early or late? And why do people all over the globe take such an interest in it? This informative book clues us in to the history and the legends that surround Groundhog Day and the most famous weather-predicting groundhog of them all, Punxsutawney Phil. To top it off, a science lesson on the seasons, background on groundhogs and their hibernating habits, silly riddles, and fun suggestions on how to celebrate this annual event are all provided along with fun and lively illustrations. From A to Z, as the title suggests, you will be sure to get all the facts and fun you could ever imagine about this well-known but often misunderstood holiday. 2004, Albert Whitman and Company, $15.95. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Sheree Van Vreede (Children’s Literature).
To Fly: The Story of the Wright Brothers
Well-conceived and evocatively illustrated, this picture book biography presents the two bicycle repairmen brothers from Dayton, Ohio, as two friends intent on pushing the boundaries of flight. A catchy poem by Beverly McLoughland opens the book and ends with “Scoffed and scorned/Their dreams of flight/But we were wrong/And they were Wright.” Old’s very readable text faces a square page of Parker’s loose-lined watercolors and the pair’s many setbacks are chronicled while their excitement in discovery and their willingness to tinker prevails. Index, flight timeline, further reading, and source notes for Wright brother quotes are included. It is a perfectly fine book, one of the best biographies of the Wright brothers available for this age group, and also one that pairs well with other picture book biographies of early pioneers of flight, such as Nikki Grimes’s Talkin’ About Bessie (Orchard, 2002), which presents Bessie Coleman’s career as the first African-American woman licensed to fly. 2002, Clarion, $16.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).
Wendie has written over forty-five books and has created presentations that share the odd things she has learned while writing books.
- Preschool and kindergarten: focus on picture books and stories
- Older children: adventures doing research and discusses the process of writing a book, from idea to publication
- Adults: adventures doing research and discusses the process of writing a book, from idea to publication. Brings a groundhog, a cat, and the Wright Brother’s Airplane. Will require a microphone, two tables for displays, and a transparency projector
Fee: $1,000 per day (3 presentations) plus travel expenses if over 50 miles from Baltimore, Maryland.
To learn more about Wendie Old and her publications please visit www.wendieold.com.
To read Wendie’s blog please visit wendieold.blogspot.com.