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Karen Hesse (1952-) - Sidelights

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Author Karen Hesse has garnered an impressive list of awards for her work, including a prestigious Newbery award, the Scott O'Dell Award, and two Christopher awards. In 2002 she added to those with a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" fellowship of $500,000 over five years, a no-strings-attached award that allows recipients to use the grant in whatever manner they see fit. Hesse was the second children's author ever to receive a MacArthur fellowship, granted to people who, as Debra Lau Whelan noted in School Library Journal, "lift our spirits, illuminate human potential, and shape our collective future." The grant could not have found a worthier recipient than Hesse, author of a number of notable works that have, as the Foundation noted in its presentation, "expand[ed] the possibilities of literature for children and young adults." Responding to the award, Hesse commented in Children's Literature, "I was stunned when I heard, and I continue to be stunned. I just hope that this brings recognition to the entire field of children's literature, where such extraordinary work is being done."

"A profound and visceral sense of place is one of the qualities that is most memorable about Karen Hesse's writing," maintained Brenda Bowen in Horn Book on the occasion of Hesse's win of the 1998 Newbery Medal. This "sense of place" encompasses not only landscape—physical locations from Russia to Vermont to Oklahoma—but also spaces in the heart and mind. Whether taking on questions of death and hope in Phoenix Rising, of the meaning of being human and its relationship to language in The Music of Dolphins, or of the tenacity of the human spirit in her Newbery Medal-winning Out of the Dust, Hesse explores her chosen emotional terrain with a sure hand. History is also part of Hesse's sense of place. Her historical novels, including Letters from Rifka and Out of the Dust, have transported readers to Russia, Belgium, and the United States in the early 1900s to the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Hesse was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952. She developed a love for reading at an early age, and often spent time at the Enoch Pratt Free Library near her house, where, "beginning with Dr. Seuss, I read my way through the picture books, the shorter chapter books, and finally the novels," as she recalled in an essay for Something about the Author Autobiography Series (SAAS.) As Hesse neared the teenage years, she began to read adult novels. One of these was John Hersey's Hiroshima, a book "that changed my life," she remembered. "The courage, the profound compassion, dignity, and humanity of the Japanese people in the face of such unfathomable destruction helped me see the world in a way I never had before. When I closed the covers of Hiroshima, I closed the door on my childhood." The impact of this book would later be echoed in her own novel about nuclear disaster, Phoenix Rising.

In high school Hesse became interested in acting. Though her grades were poor in her freshman and sophomore years, they improved in her last two years of high school. With the help of an enthusiastic drama teacher, she was admitted to Towson State College. However, her studies were cut short after just two years when she met her future husband. In 1971 the young couple eloped, and soon after that Hesse's husband was shipped out with the Navy to the Mediterranean.

Hesse lived in Norfolk, Virginia, while she waited for her husband's return. She also finished her undergraduate work, transferring to the University of Maryland, where she helped to pay her way by working in the university library. During this time she began writing and giving readings, gaining a reputation for herself as a poet. Upon graduation, Hesse worked for a time as a leave-benefit coordinator for her alma mater, but mostly she took work that was close to books and words: as an advertising secretary, a typesetter, and a proofreader. Upon settling in Vermont, Hesse and her husband had two children, one born in 1979 and one in 1982; both were born at home. Hesse's poetry was put on hold by motherhood, but soon she was experimenting with writing books. "It was typesetting that led me to believe I could succeed as a children's book writer," she noted in SAAS. "Some of the work I set struck me as very unsatisfying. I thought I could write at least as well if not better."

Hesse's editor, Brenda Bowen, recalled in Horn Book receiving an early attempt by the Newbery winner: the story of a family's encounter with Bigfoot. "The story was not credible, but the time and place were palpable," Bowen commented. "The voice was something to remember. I thought: This is a writer." Bowen also recalled the fledgling writer's intriguing address: Star Route in Vermont. When several years later Bowen received another submission from Star Route, she was eager to see the new work. Enclosed were story ideas for picture books, one of them titled "Wish on a Unicorn." While Bowen liked the story, she felt it needed to be fleshed out. The result was Hesse's first novel, Wish on a Unicorn. According to Bowen, it "held in it so many seeds of [Hesse's] later work: an underprivileged family; a child who has had to shoulder more responsibility than she should; a longing to fix things for people who can't fix them for themselves. And that strong sense of place."

Sixth-grader Maggie, the protagonist of Wish on a Unicorn, loves her younger brother, Mooch, and her slightly brain-damaged sister, Hannie, but sometimes feels overwhelmed with the responsibility of looking after them while their single-parent mom works nights. At school, all three of them are bullied, especially when Hannie wets herself. As a result, Maggie is afraid that she will never have friends. When Hannie finds a dirty stuffed unicorn, she believes that the toy animal has magical powers to grant wishes. In spite of herself, Maggie also begins to believe in the powers of the unicorn, and some wishes even come true, though not necessarily in the way she hoped. Eventually a family crisis—the disappearance of Hannie and her unicorn—crystallizes the importance of family for Maggie. Reviewing this debut novel in Horn Book, Nancy Vasilakis noted that "Hesse has written a compassionate story of a family who have little in the way of worldly goods but who are rich in solidarity and spirit." Vasilakis also observed that the "use of the unicorn as a symbol of this family's essential strength is understated and effective."

Hesse's next book drew its inspiration from her own family's history. Based on the experiences of her great aunt, Letters from Rifka tells of the adventures of a young Jewish girl and her family. The letters referred to in the title, written in the margins of a book of famed nineteenth-century Russian writer Alexander Pushkin's poetry, are penned by young Rifka to her cousin Tovah. Fleeing the harsh conditions for Jews in Russia in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, Rifka's family first crosses into Poland in 1919. There they are humiliatingly examined by a doctor and are stricken with typhus. They survive, make their way to Belgium, and then sail for America. However, Rifka catches ringworm while trying to help a fellow passenger on the way to Warsaw, and she is denied passage on the ship. She lives with a Belgian family while she recovers, and when she finally leaves to join her family in America, Rifka survives a storm at sea and then is detained by immigration officials at Ellis Island because of the baldness caused by ringworm. During her weeks of detainment, she befriends a young Russian boy who is in a similar predicament. At her hearing, Rifka makes an eloquent plea on behalf of both herself and her new friend. Finally reunited with her family, she begins a new life.

Hesse's second book was enthusiastically received by reviewers. Writing in Horn Book, Hanna B. Zeiger commented that this "moving account of a brave young girl's story brings to life the day-to-day trials and horrors experienced by many immigrants as well as the resourcefulness and strength they found within themselves." Writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Betsy Hearne observed that while many novels have focused on the immigration experiences of the Jews of Russia, Letters from Rifka "is vivid in detailing the physical and emotional toll exacted for passage."

Hesse followed that novel with a pair of well-received picture books, Poppy's Chair and Lester's Dog, as well as two chapter books, Lavender and Sable. She returned to books for older readers with Phoenix Rising, a futuristic tale of nuclear disaster and its after-effects. After a nuclear power plant spreads radiation throughout New England, thirteen-year-old Nyle and her grandmother continue tending their sheep on a Vermont farm, wearing protective masks and hoping that the winds keep the contamination away. Then two evacuees arrive from Boston: fifteen-year-old Ezra and his mother, who stay in the back bedroom on the farm—the same room where Nyle's mother and grandfather died. Nyle is afraid of intimacy and keeps her distance at first from the deathly ill Ezra. However, she slowly goes beyond her own fear and self-protectiveness, and comes to love the radiation-stricken youth. She takes care of Ezra until his death, finally learning how to let go of a loved one. "Nyle's emotional growth allows her to face his death with newfound strength," explained Vasilakis in Horn Book. "The story is told in measured, laconic tones," Vasilakis continued, and "by focusing on the love story between the two main characters, Hesse has made this story essentially one of hope and determination."

Catastrophic events are also at the heart of Hesse's fourth novel for older readers, A Time of Angels. However, instead of the future, the reader is transported to the past, to the influenza epidemic that spread throughout the world following World War I. Hannah and her sisters are living in Boston with Tanta Rose, waiting for their parents to return from Europe. Rose is killed by the flu and her sisters are also infected. Evacuated from the city, Hanna, too, comes down with the flu, and ends up in Brattleboro, Vermont, guided by an angel who has saved her life before. She is brought back to health by an old German farmer, a local outcast because of his former nationality. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "Hesse intensifies the apocalyptic mood of Phoenix Rising, palpably recreating the terror in the streets as the influenza spreads," while Hearne commented in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that the author "has taken on a lot here and managed to do justice to it all."

Hesse's fifth novel for older readers, The Music of Dolphins, was described by a Publishers Weekly reviewer as being as "moving as a sonnet, as eloquently structured as a Bell Curve" and one that "poignantly explores the most profound of themes—what it means to be human." The narrator of the tale, Mila, is a so-called feral child who was raised by dolphins. As a four year old, she survives a plane crash off the coast of Cuba and is subsequently nurtured by dolphins for ten years, until her discovery by the Coast Guard. Dubbed "Mila"—"miracle" in Spanish—the girl becomes the subject of a government study. She is taught language and music by a team of scientists, and learns with amazing speed, attempting in turn to teach the scientists dolphin language. But all the while, the call of the wild continues to echo in Mila's head, and she longs to return to her island. "Mila's rich inner voice makes her a lovely, lyrical character," noted Mary Arnold in Voice of Youth Advocates. Arnold went on to call the book a "profound study of being human and the ways in which communication unites and separates human beings."

The same adjectives have been used to describe Billie Jo and the events of Hesse's next novel, Out of the Dust. Hesse worked on the novel for several years, drawing inspiration from a car trip to Colorado in 1993. She was awestruck by the country she saw, amazed by the subtle varieties of color and by the wind that never ceased. It took her years to internalize these feelings, to assimilate them into a creative direction, and meld them with a historical look at the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. Next she saturated herself in research, reading her way through newspapers of the time, getting the feel of the life of those days in details of how people actually lived. Then came characters, Billie Jo and her family, and the format, free verse. Hesse's roots in writing were with poetry; now she returned to those roots. "I never attempted to write this book any other way than in free verse," she noted in her Newbery acceptance speech. "The frugality of the life, the hypnotically hard work of farming, the grimness of conditions during the dust bowl demanded an economy of words."

Hesse's intent was a spare understatement, and that is what the book provides in its glimpse of a bygone way of life. The family barely scrapes together a living, with the father refusing to plant anything but wheat. Yet this crop is destroyed by the winds and dust time after time. Dust is everywhere, in the sills, on the piano keys, in the body: "Daddy came in, / he sat across from Ma and blew his nose. / Mud streamed out. / He coughed and spit out / mud. / If he had cried, / his tears would have been mud too, / but he didn't cry. / And neither did Ma." Billie Jo takes solace in her piano playing, until her mother and infant brother are killed in a kitchen fire. Billie Joe is scarred on her hands and soul, and both her father and Billie Jo bottle up their grief for a time. The young girl becomes an outcast until finally both she and her father build hope out of utter desolation and redefine what it means to be a family.

Reviewers enthusiastically praised Out of the Dust. Booklist contributor Susan Dove Lempke commented that although the story is bleak, "Hesse's writing transcends the gloom and transforms it into a powerfully compelling tale of a girl with enormous strength, courage, and love." Thomas S. Owens, writing in Five Owls, felt that Hesse's novel is more than "vivid storytelling"; it "gives a face to history." Owens concluded that "Out of the Dust seems destined to become [Hesse's] signature work, a literary groundbreaker as stunning as Oklahoma's dust bowl recovery." The 1998 Newbery Medal was presented to Hesse for this vivid historical recreation.

Hesse has continued to build on her reputation for producing historically based novels for children that are both entertaining and informative. In A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, Hesse provides a look at the chaotic life of a young girl during the U.S. Civil War. The character is based on Ida Lewis, who was a Rhode Island light keeper during the civil war years. Written for the "Dear America" series, this historical novel was targeted at middle grade readers. Booklist's Kay Weisman felt that, while "Hesse's writing shines," the plot seems secondary to the history. "Characters seem to exist as a means for furthering a viewpoint," Weisman lamented.

Another historical offering was served up in Stowaway, in which a butcher's apprentice flees eighteenth-century England as a stowaway on Captain James Cook's ship, bound for the South Pacific. Based on the actual story of eleven-year-old Nicholas Young, who was made an official member of the crew once Cook's ship reached Tahiti in 1769, Hesse's book is an "imaginative tale firmly anchored in fact," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. During the course of the three-year voyage, Nick suffers hardships, experiences adventures and disappointments, and comes of age in the pressure-cooker environment created on a ship at sea. William McLoughlin, writing in the School Library Journal, lauded the "author's subtle yet thorough attention to detail [that] creates a memorable tale . . . a virtual encyclopedia of life in the days when England ruled the seas."

Hesse turns readers' attention to the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s with her book Witness. Written in free verse like Out of the Dust, Witness uses various people from a small Vermont town, including victims and victimizers, to tell this tale. Again basing her book on actual events, Hesse employs eleven different voices in five acts to tell this story. These voices are both Klan members and antiracist, and include nine adults and two children. These characters tell what happened to their small town after the arrival of the Klan in 1924. Sides are drawn in this battle, and even those who oppose not only the Klan but also violence feel themselves being caught in the cycle of hate. Then a twelve-year-old African-American girl and a six-year-old Jewish girl take a stand, hoping that the rest of the town will follow their lead. Writing in School Library Journal, Lauralyn Persson called Witness a "remarkable and powerful book," praising the "small details [which] seem just right." Persson further commented, "This is much more than a social tract. It's a thoughtful look at people and their capacity for love and hate." Witness won the 2002 Christopher Award.

Hesse explores significant episodes in Jewish history in The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories of Hannukkah through History. The author employs an unusual dual narrative in The Stone Lamp: She provides a brief description of each episode, accompanied by a first-person account told in verse by a young narrator. Among the events covered are the Crusades, the Inquisition, Kristallnacht, and the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Discussing her approach to the work, Hesse told Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper, "I couldn't write a poem conveying the unique experience of each child if the poem also had to encapsulate the historical event that had been the catalyst for the poem. The poetry would have been stilted, prosaic, and forced." Hesse continued, "The final structure, with its eight-century time line, gave me the greatest latitude to explore the themes of history, tragedy, and hope." According to Horn Book reviewer Susan P. Bloom, the work "echoes the hope embodied in the lights of Hanukkah." School Library Journal contributor Eva Mitnick called The Stone Lamp a "unique and moving book that should be shared year-round."

Aleutian Sparrow, another of Hesse's historical novels written in free verse, concerns the relocation of the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands during World War II. After the Japanese attacked their homeland in 1942, the Aleuts were forced by the United States government to move to resettlement camps on the Alaskan mainland. Vera, the teenage narrator, watches as many of her people die of disease under horrible, crowded conditions for which they were completely unprepared. "Contained in Vera's unrhymed verses are Aleutian traditions, small details of camp life, and hints of racism," observed a critic in Kirkus Reviews. Though some critics believed that Hesse failed to fully develop the character of Vera, other reviewers offered praise for the author's work. As Claire Rosser remarked in Kliatt, Aleutian Sparrow "does add to her impressive body of literature for YAs."

The Cats in Krasinski Square, Hesse's 2004 picture book, also focuses on an episode from World War II. "In her spare yet lyrical narrative, Newbery medalist Hesse relays a haunting story based on an actual incident involving Poland's Warsaw Ghetto," stated a contributor in Publishers Weekly. The book's narrator, a young Jewish girl who has escaped from the ghetto and avoids being detected by the Nazis, plots to smuggle food to her friends through holes in the ghetto wall. The Gestapo learn of her scheme, however, and station dogs along the wall to sniff out contraband. With the help of her sister, the girl rounds up a number of the city's stray cats and uses them to distract the dogs, allowing the much-needed food to reach those in need. According to a critic in Kirkus Reviews, Hesse makes "a grave subject enormously accessible, gently humorous, and affectingly triumphant." Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg called The Cats in Krasinski Square "an empowering story about the bravery and impact of young people" and noted that the author's "clear, spare poetry, from the girl's viewpoint, refers to the hardships suffered without didacticism."

According to Bowen, Hesse is extremely empathic and "makes everyone feel cherished—from the taxi drivers in New York who are startled by such unprovoked kindness; to her family, her publishers, her friends." However, Bowen also pointed out that the author "has a backbone of steel." As for Hesse, her goal in writing is clear. "Ultimately, the most important thing for me is to write the best book I am capable of writing," Hesse said in a Publishers Weekly article. "And get it into the readers' hands. Whatever I can do, to do that, I'll do."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Volume 9, Beacham Publishing (Osprey, FL), 1999, pp. 4829-4844.

Children's Literature Review, Volume 54, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.

St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 25, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998, pp. 117-137.

PERIODICALS

ALAN Review, spring, 1998, p. 50.

Appleseeds, May 2001, Sharron A. Crowson, review of Branching Out, p. 31.

Book, March, 2001, Kathleen Odean, review of Stowaway, p. 86.

Booklinks, September, 1999, Judy O'Malley, "Talking with . . . Karen Hesse," pp. 54-61.

Booklist, March 15, 1991, Hazel Rochman, review of Wish on a Unicorn, p. 1493; July, 1992, Hazel Rochman, review of Letters from Rifka, p. 1931; March 15, 1993, p. 1359; October 1, 1993, Hazel Rochman, review of Lavender, p. 344; May 15, 1994, p. 1674; June 1, 1994, p. 1820; December 1, 1995, pp. 618, 620; October 1, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Out of the Dust, p. 330; November 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Just Juice, p. 492; February 1, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Come on, Rain!, p. 982; October 15, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, p. 444; September 15, 2001, Lolly Gepson, review of A Time of Angels (audiobook), p. 240; September 1, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Witness, p. 108; October 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, The Stone Lamp: Eight Stories of Hanukkah through History, p. 334, and Ilene Cooper, "Tragedy and Hope," p. 335; October 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Aleutian Sparrow, p. 405; October 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of The Cats in Krasinski Square, p. 404.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1992, Betsy Hearne, review of Letters from Rifka, p. 44; November, 1993, p. 84; May, 1994, p. 289; June, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of Phoenix Rising, pp. 321-322; January, 1996, Betsy Hearne, review of A Time of Angels, p. 161; December, 1998, p. 133.

Childhood Education, spring, 2002, Jeanie Burnett, review of Witness, p. 171.

English Journal, Ken Donelson, review of Out of the Dust, pp. 120-121.

Five Owls, May-June, 1996, pp. 116-117; January-February, 1998, Thomas S. Owens, review of Out of the Dust, pp. 60-61; May, 1999, John Peters, review of Come on, Rain, p. 107.

Horn Book, July-August, 1991, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Wish on a Unicorn, pp. 457-458; September-October, 1992, Hanna B. Zeiger, review of Letters from Rifka, p. 585; March-April, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of Lester's Dog, pp. 190-191; July-August, 1994, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Sable, p. 452; September-October, 1994, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Phoenix Rising, p. 599; September-October, 1995, p. 634; January-February, 1998, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Out of the Dust, p. 73; July-August, 1998, Karen Hesse, "Newbery Medal Acceptance," pp. 422-427; July-August, 1998, Brenda Bowen, "Karen Hesse," pp. 428-432; November-December, 1998, p. 73; July, 1999, Leo Landry, review of Come on, Rain!, p. 454; January-February, 2001, review of Stowaway, p. 91; May-June, 2001, Kristi Beavin, review of Stowaway (audiobook), p. 361; November-December, 2001, Christine M. Hepperman, review of Witness, p. 749; November-December, 2003, Susan P. Bloom, The Stone Lamp, p. 765; January-February, 2004, Jennifer M. Brabander, Aleutian Sparrow, p. 82; September-October, 2004, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Cats in Krasinski Square, p. 569.

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, April, 2002, Tasha Tropp Laman, review of Witness, pp. 659-660.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1991, p. 318; February 15, 1993, review of Poppy's Chair, p. 227; April 1, 1994, review of Phoenix Rising, p. 480; August 15, 1996, review of The Music of Dolphins, p. 1235; November 1, 1998, p. 1600; September 15, 2003, review of Aleutian Sparrow, p. 1175; November 1, 2003, review of The Stone Lamp, p. 1317; August 1, 2004, review of The Cats in Krasinski Square, p. 742.

Kliatt, September, 1999, Claire Rosser, review of A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, p. 8; September, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of Aleutian Sparrow, p. 8.

Language-Arts, January, 1999, "Talking about Books: Karen Hesse," pp. 263-271.

Magpies, November, 1998, p. 36; November, 1999, Margaret Kedian, review of Come on, Rain!, p. 6.

New York Times, January 13, 1998, Eden Ross Lipson, "Girls' Stressful Tales Draw Newbery and Caldecott Awards," p. E8.

New York Times Book Review, June 19, 1994, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, June 29, 1992, review of Letters from Rifka, p. 64; August 30, 1993, review of Lester's Dog, p. 95; October 25, 1993, p. 59; October 23, 1995, review of A Time of Angels, p. 70; September 2, 1996, review of The Music of Dolphins, p. 131; August 25, 1997, pp. 72-73; November 3, 1997, p. 50; September 21, 1998, p. 85; November 30, 1998, p. 70; February 8, 1999, Elizabeth Devereaux, "Karen Hesse: A Poetics of Perfectionism," p. 190; October 23, 2000, review of Stowaway, p. 75; January 8, 2001, review of Stowaway (audiobook), p. 33; August 20, 2001, review of Witness, p. 80; September 22, 2003, review of The Stone Lamp, p. 66; September 22, 2003, review of Aleutian Sparrow, pp. 104-105; August 23, 2004, review of The Cats in Krasinski Square, p. 54.

Reading Teacher, May, 1999, interview with Hesse, pp. 856-858.

Reading Today, February-March, 2002, Lynne T. Burke, review of Witness, p. 32.

School Library Journal, July, 1993, p. 61; October, 1993, p. 100; December, 1993, Rita Soltan, review of Lavender, p. 89; May, 1994, Maggie McEwen, review of Sable, p. 114; June, 1994, p. 148; December, 1995, p. 131; November, 1996, Kate McClelland, review of The Music of Dolphins, pp. 120, 123; September, 1997, pp. 131, 217; February, 1998, p. 13; May, 1998, p. 26; October, 1998, p. 100; November, 1999, Shawn Brommer, review of A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, pp. 158-159; November, 2000, William McLoughlin, review of Stowaway, p. 156; September, 2001, Lauralyn Persson, review of Witness, p. 225; February, 2002, Celeste Steward, review of Witness (audiobook), p. 75; November 2002, Debra Lay Whelan, "Karen Hesse Awarded MacArthur Fellowship," p. 23; October 2003, Eva Mitnick, review of The Stone Lamp, pp. 63-64, and Jennifer Ralston, review of Witness, p. 98.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1994, p. 146; February, 1997, Mary Arnold, review of The Music of Dolphins, p. 328; April, 1998, Sarah K. Hetz, review of Out of the Dust, p. 46; October, 1998, Faith Brautigam, review of Just Juice, pp. 100-101; March, 1999, Alicia Eames, review of Come on, Rain!, p. 190; November, 2000, William McLoughlin, review of Stowaway, p. 156; September, 2001, Lauralyn Persson, review of Witness, p. 225.

Voices from the Middle, April, 1997, Ellen Bryant, "Honoring the Complexities of Our Lives: An Interview with Karen Hesse," pp. 38-49.

Washington Post, January 13, 1998, David Streitfeld, "'Rapunzel' and Dust Bowl Tale Win Awards; Paul Zelinsky, Karen Hesse Take Newbery and Caldecott Medals," p. C1.

Writing, October 2001, "Dust Storm (Examining Karen Hesse Poem)," p. 12.

ONLINE

Children's Literature, http://www.childrenslit.com/ (September 25, 2002), "Karen Hesse Awarded MacArthur Fellowship."

Scholastic Author Studies Homepage, http://www2.scholastic.com/ (February 19, 2003), "Karen Hesse's Interview Transcript."

Scholastic Web site, http://www.scholastic.com/ (January, 16, 2002), "Meet Karen Hesse" and "Karen Hesse 1998 Newbery Speech for Out of the Dust."

OTHER

Good Conversation! A Talk with Karen Hesse (video), Tim Podell Productions (Scarborough, NY), 1997.*

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