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Elizabeth MacLeod - Sidelights

review life dinosaurs bake

Elizabeth MacLeod is an author and editor of children's books. A native of Canada, she has written craft books, works of nonfiction, and picture books for young readers. MacLeod has also penned a number of critically acclaimed biographies, including Alexander Graham Bell: An Inventive Life and Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer's Life.

One of MacLeod's first efforts, Dinosaurs: The Fastest, the Fiercest, the Most Amazing, appeared in 1994. In the work, she offers information on more than twenty species of the prehistoric creatures. According to a Resource Links contributor, the book will "whet the appetite of any fledgling dinosaur lover." A more recent volume, titled What Did Dinosaurs Eat? and Other Things You Want to Know about Dinosaurs, examines the size and weight, feeding habits, life span, intelligence, and personalities of several types of dinosaurs. A critic in Kirkus Reviews praised MacLeod's "vivid writing."

Grow It Again, Bake and Make Amazing Cakes, and Bake and Make Amazing Cookies are among the craft books published by MacLeod. Deemed "a promising source of worthwhile, inexpensive projects" by Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan, Grow It Again gives instructions for growing plants from such things as pineapple tops and potato buds. Bake and Make Amazing Cakes provides directions for a variety of theme cakes, including creations shaped like a butterfly, a house, and a rainbow. School Library Journal reviewer Carolyn Jenks remarked that the volume is "just the book for playful bakers." A companion work, Bake and Make Amazing Cookies, was described as a "dandy choice for beginning cooks" by Karen McKinnon in Resource Links.

The 1999 biography Alexander Graham Bell looks at the inventor of the telephone. MacLeod discusses several little-known aspects of Bell's life, including his experiments with flight and his fascination with the Mohawk Indian tribe. Booklist critic Carolyn Phelan noted that "the text reads well, and the extended captions offer In this imaginative take on baking, Elizabeth MacLeod shows readers that there are no limits in the kitchen, especially when cake batter, icing, and imagination are part of the mix. (Cover illustration by June Bradford.) interesting facts." The author of the celebrated children's book Anne of Green Gables is the subject of MacLeod's 2001 biography Lucy Maud Montgomery. Readers will learn that Montgomery "had much in common with her fictitious heroine," observed a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.

MacLeod continues her series of biographical works with The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start, published in 2002. Using archival photographs and reproductions of historical documents, she presents an introduction to the men who made the first controlled, sustained flight. School Library Journal contributor Barbara Buckley stated that few books on the Wright Brothers "can rival this one for clarity of text and variety of illustration." Alfred Einstein: A Life of Genius surveys the life of the great physicist, touching on his early career as an assistant in a Swiss patent office, his landmark scientific discoveries, and his efforts for international peace following World War II. "The lively mix of text, sidebars, photographs, newspaper excerpts, equations, and Einstein's handwritten notes adds up to a format inviting browsing and offering much information to closer readers," wrote a critic in Kirkus Reviews. MacLeod profiles two famous women in Helen Keller: A Determined Life and Marie Curie: A Brilliant Life, both published in 2004. In her work about Keller, "America's First Lady of Courage," MacLeod includes both familiar and little-known events from her subject's life, "smoothly integrated to reveal the struggle, the sadness, and the success Keller experienced over the years," observed Booklist reviewer Stephanie Zvirin. In Marie Curie MacLeod focuses on the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the elements polonium and radium. Carolyn Cutt, writing in Resource Links, dubbed MacLeod's biography of one of the world's most noted female scientists "excellent and informative."

MacLeod commented on her career to SATA: "There are two things that I really like about writing for kids. One is that I get to investigate lots of different topics. The other is that I think wirting for kids is a challenge. They ask really interesting and difficult questions.

"The ideas for my books come from newspapers, Web sites, books, things friends say, the Internet, questions kids ask me when I visit their schools, the radio, TV, magazines—lots of places.

"I read books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet to gather information. These are also all good ways to find experts who can answer any questions I have. I'm always amazed at how willing people are to spend time helping me understand a topic.

MacLeod profiles the American woman whose determination and courage allowed her to transcend her disability and make becoming the first deaf-blind college graduate in the United States only one of her many accomplishments.

"If you think you might like to become a writer, it's a good idea to read a lot and write a lot. If you want to show someone your writing, then do it—but you don't have to. And if the person who reads your writing suggests changes, only make them if you want to. Try writing lots of different things—poems, stories, articles—to figure out what you like writing most."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Appleseeds, December, 2002, Sheila Wilensky, review of The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start, p. 29.

Booklist, December 1, 1998, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Bake It and Build It, p. 665; June 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Grow It Again, p. 1820; April 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer's Life, p. 1462; September 15, 2001, Roger Leslie, review of To the Top of Everest, p. 215; November 1, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Gifts to Make and Eat, pp. 472-473; April 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Wright Brothers, p. 1338; March 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Albert Einstein, p. 1195; March 1, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Helen Keller: A Determined Life, pp. 1204-1205.

Children's Digest, July, 2000, review of Alexander Graham Bell: An Inventive Life, p. 28.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2001, review of What Did Dinosaurs Eat? and Other Things You Want to Know about Dinosaurs, p. 1296; February 15, 2003, review of Albert Einstein, p. 311; August 1, 2004, review of Marie Curie: A Brilliant Life, p. 744.

Publishers Weekly, September 21, 1998, review of I Heard a Little Baa, p. 83; February 26, 2001, review of Lucy Maud Montgomery, p. 88.

Resource Links, June, 1998, review of Dinosaurs: The Fastest, the Fiercest, the Most Amazing, pp. 10-11; October, 1998, review of I Heard a Little Baa, p. 4; April, 1999, review of Bake It and Build It, p. 17; April, 2001, Victoria Pennell, review of Lucy Maud Montgomery, p. 18; June, 2001, Shannon Danylko, review of Bake and Make Amazing Cakes, p. 19; October, 2001, Shannon Danylko, review of What Did Dinosaurs Eat?, p. 27; April, 2002, Victoria Pennell, review of The Wright Brothers, pp. 36-37; April, 2003, Karen McKinnon, review of Albert Einstein, pp. 26-27; April, 2004, Laura Reilly, review of Helen Keller, p. 31, and Victoria Pennell, review of The Kids Book of Great Canadians, pp. 31-32; October, 2004, Karen McKinnon, review of Bake and Make Amazing Cookies, pp. 25-26; December, 2004, Carolyn Cutt, review of Madame Curie, p. 28.

School Library Journal, April, 2001, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Lucy Maud Montgomery, p. 164; June, 2001, Carolyn Jenks, review of Bake and Make Amazing Cakes, p. 139; September, 2001, Be Astengo, review of To the Top of Everest, p. 254; November, 2001, Patricia Manning, review of What Did Dinosaurs Eat?, p. 147; February, 2002, Augusta R. Malvagno, review of Gifts to Make and Eat, pp. 147-148; July, 2002, Barbara Buckley, review of The Wright Brothers, p. 138; May, 2003, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Albert Einstein, p. 174; May, 2004, Donna Cardon, review of Helen Keller, p. 134; November, 2004, Susan Lissim, review of Marie Curie, p. 169.

ONLINE

Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers Web site, http://www.canscaip.org/ (February 1, 2005), "Elizabeth MacLeod."

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