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Ferida Wolff (1946-) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

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Born 1946, in Brooklyn, NY; Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1967, M.S., 1970; Rosemont College, certificate in holistic studies, 1992.

Career

Freelance author and lecturer. Yoga teacher and elementary-school teacher; Philadelphia Writer's Conference, panelist, 1990, judge of juvenile fiction, 1992, leader of workshop on juvenile writing, 1993, 2003. Philadelphia Book Festival, panelist, 2002.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Author's Guild, Philadelphia Children's Reading Round Table, Penn Laurel Poets.

Honors Awards

Sydney Taylor Honor Book citation, c. 1989, for Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues (young-adult novel), Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

The Woodcutter's Coat, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, Joy Street Books (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Dolores Kozielski) The Toothless Vampire and Ninety-nine Other Howl-oween Riddles, Dell (New York, NY), 1992.

Seven Loaves of Bread, illustrated by Katie Keller, Tambourine Books (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Dolores Kozielski) The Halloween Grab Bag: A Book of Tricks and Treats, illustrated by David Neuhouse, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Dolores Kozielski) On Halloween Night, illustrated by Dolores Avendano, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

The Emperor's Garden, illustrated by Kathy Osborn, Tambourine Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Dolores Kozielski) Spitballs and Spaghetti: Over 150 Lunchroom Jokes, illustrated by Daryll Collins, Bantam Doubleday Dell (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Dolores Kozielski) The Bald Beagle: Nature-ly Funny Jokes and Riddles, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.

A Weed Is a Seed, illustrated by Janet Pedersen, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1996.

(With Dolores Kozielski) Fee, Fi, Fo, Fumble: Fairytale Jokes and Riddles, illustrated by Dan Piraro, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

A Year for Kiko, illustrated by Joung Un Kim, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1997.

(With Dolores Kozielski) Halloween Fun for Everyone, illustrated by Judy Lanfredi, Beech Tree Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Watch out for Bears!: The Adventures of Henry and Bruno, illustrated by Brad Sneed, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

It Is the Wind, illustrated by James Ransome, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Harriet May Savitz) Is a Worry Worrying You?, illustrated by Marie le Tourneau, Tanglewood Press (Terre Haute, IN), 2005.

OTHER

Listening Outside, Listening Inside, Universal Vision, 1999.

The Adventures of Swamp Woman: Menopause Essays on the Edge, Authorhouse, 2004.

Contributor to numerous publications, including Berkshire, Children's Magic Window, Highlights for Children, Ladybug, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Reader's Digest. Contributor to books, including "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and "Chocolate for the Woman's Soul" series, and to calendars and other publications.

Sidelights

Even though she loved to read and write as a child, Ferida Wolff did not grow up with dreams of becoming an author. However, during the course of working as a school teacher and yoga instructor, and while raising her own children, she was inspired by incidents that occurred around her to write several articles that were published in magazines and newspapers. Eventually, her daughter's experiences training as a dancer captured Wolff's imagination, and the 1989 young-adult novel Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues was the result. Since then, other story ideas have percolated in Wolff's imagination, and picture books such as It is the Wind, The Emperor's Garden, and A Weed Is a Seed have been the result.

The Emperor's Garden takes place in China, in a town where all the citizens live without argument or anger. However, things change when the villagers work together to create a garden for their emperor. When it comes time to name the garden, each villager wants the name to reflect the specific work he or she has contributed; for example, the pond-digger wants it to be known as a water garden, while the bricklayer wants the garden named for its intricate brick steps. Fortunately, the emperor is a person of wisdom, and the name he ultimately bestows upon the garden returns peace to the village. In Booklist Ellen Mandel praised the book, writing that "Wolff's agreeable text" makes The Emperor's Garden "a most pleasing read-aloud."

Both A Weed Is a Seed and It Is the Wind deal with the natural world. In A Weed Is a Seed Wolff focuses on moths, earthworms, a summer breeze, and the smells of summer as she lists things both good and bad that can be found in the out-of-doors. "Optimism runneth over" in the book's rhyming text, creating what a Publishers Weekly contributor called "a page-turning guessing game" for young listeners. A breezy summer night is the focus of It Is the Wind, dubbed "a visual and onomatopoetic triumph" by a Kirkus Reviews critic. Noting the "artful use of repetition" in Wolff's soothing text, the critic also praised the book's "luminous, realistic watercolors," created by James Ransome to reflect the moonlit rural setting in shades of dusky green and brown.

Wolff once told SATA: "I knew two things growing up: I wanted to write, and I loved to read, particularly children's books. What I didn't know was why I had such a passion about them. As I got older and all my friends were taking books from the adult section of the library, I quietly slipped my choices from the children's shelves between the books they would understand. As a teacher I had good reason for being in the juvenile section—as a mother, too. But I was really getting those books for myself.

"Then one day, as I was reading E.B. White's Charlotte's Web to my daughter, we came to the chapter about Charlotte's death. Neither of us were spider lovers, but we both cried mightily. I realized that I wanted people to cry like that over my books, or laugh, or wonder. And I knew that children were still free enough to embrace the experience."

Regarding her career as a writer, Wolff wrote on her home page: "Someone once said that there is nothing new to write about in the world. I think that everything is new to all of us all the time because we see things in different ways. I like to share how I see things. And because each day is unique, special in its own way, there is always much to write about. It is a privilege and a joy for me to be able to write about everything at to call myself Author."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 1994, Stephanie Zvirin, review of On Halloween Night, p. 2053; December 1, 1994, Ellen Mandel, review of The Emperor's Garden, p. 688; December 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of A Year for Kiko, p. 704.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1993, p. 197.

Horn Book, November, 1992, p. 753.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of It Is the Wind, p. 361; May 1, 2005, review of Is a Worry Worrying You?, p. 549.

Parents, May, 1993, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, October 19, 1992, p. 76; August 8, 1994, review of The Emperor's Garden, p. 436; September 19, 1994, review of On Halloween Night, p. 25; April 15, 1996, review of A Weed Is a Seed, p. 67.

School Library Journal, July, 1989, p. 93; January, 1993, p. 88; September, 1994, Lauralyn Persson, review of On Halloween Night, p. 202; December, 1994, John Philbrook, review of The Emperor's Garden, p. 115; April, 1996, Carolyn Jenks, review of A Weed Is a Seed, p. 122; October, 1997, Dawn Ibey, review of A Year for Kiko, p. 113; December, 1999, Anne Knickerbocker, review of Watch out for Bears!, p. 114.

Wilson Library Bulletin, March, 1993, p. 82.

ONLINE

Ferida Wolff Home Page, http://www.feridawolff.com (September 17, 2005).

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