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Ted Staunton (1956–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

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Born 1956, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Education: University of Toronto, B.A., B.Ed. Hobbies and other interests: Playing guitar, basketball, running.

Addresses

Agent—Transatlantic Literary Agency, 72 Glengowan Rd., Toronto, Ontario M4N 1G4, Canada.

Career

Children's book writer and musician. Performer with group Born Yesterday. Parks and Recreation Department, City of Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada, community programmer, 1974–80; St. Michael's College Library, University of Toronto, Ontario, library technician, 1983–84; Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Toronto, education officer, 1984–85; full-time writer and speaker, 1985–.

Member

Writers' Union of Canada, Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, Canadian Children's Book Centre.

Honors Awards

Puddleman and Taking Care of Crumley, named "Our Choice" selections, Canadian Children's Book Centre; Silver Birch Award shortlist, 1999, and Hackmatack Award shortlist, 2000, both for Hope Springs a Leak; Canadian Literature Association Outstanding Children's Book of the Year nomination, c. 2000, for Two False Moves.

Writings

PICTURE BOOKS

Puddleman, illustrated by Maryann Kovalski, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1983, revised edition illustrated by Brenda Clark, 1988.

Taking Care of Crumley, illustrated by Tina Holdcroft, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1984.

Simon's Surprise, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1986.

Miss Fishley Afloat, illustrated by Eric Parker, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1990.

Anna Takes Charge, illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, 1993.

"MORGAN" SERIES

Morgan Makes Magic, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 1997.

Morgan and the Money, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 1998.

Morgan's Secret, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2000.

Great Play, Morgan!, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2001.

Morgan's Birthday, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2002.

Morgan's Pet Plot, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2003.

Morgan Makes a Splash, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2004.

Morgan Makes a Deal, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2005.

"KIDS FROM MONKEY MOUNTAIN" SERIES

Two False Moves, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2000.

Forgive Us Our Travises, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2000.

The Monkey Mountain Monster, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2000.

Princess, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2001.

Second Banana, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2001.

Trouble with Girls, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2002.

Stinky, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2002.

"MAGGIE AND CYRIL" SERIES

Maggie and Me, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1986, revised edition illustrated by Jacqui Thomas, Penguin, 1989.

Greenapple Street Blues, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1987.

Mushmouth and the Marvel, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1988.

Great Minds Think Alike, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1989.

Taking the Long Way Home, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 1992.

NOVELS

Hope Springs a Leak, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1998.

Sounding Off, Red Deer Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 2004.

OTHER

(Reviser and editor) Maggie Della Leigh-Burton, Grandma Burton's Book: Memoirs of Earlier Days in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Saskatchewan, Iona Private Press, 1981.

(Illustrator) John Rodgers, Birdwatching for Young Canadians, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

The Dreadful Truth: Confederation, illustrated by Graham Pilsworth, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2004.

The Dreadful Truth: Building the Railway, illustrated by Brian Goff, Formac (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Writers on Writing: Guide to Writing and Illustrating Children's Books, edited by David Booth, Overlea House, 1989; and Everybody's Favourites: Canadians Talk about Books That Changed Their Lives, compiled by Arlene Perly Rae, Viking, 1997.

Author's books have been translated into French.

Adaptations

Staunton's works have been adapted as sound recordings.

Sidelights

Ted Staunton's work appeals to children ranging from preschool age to middle graders. Audiences relate to Staunton's stories about familiar childhood experiences that feature action, humor, and authentic dialogue. Through the medium of story he delves into the nature of special relationships and connects with his young audience through authentic dialogue.

Staunton infuses his writing with the uncanny ability to remember what it was like to be a kid. His first book, Puddleman, takes readers into the fantasy life of a preschooler named Michael who loves to play in the mud but does not like the real-life problems that result. As Jan Marriott wrote in Quill & Quire, "These are all emotions and situations with which most young children can readily identify."

Staunton has also penned a series of stories about the everyday escapades of grade-school friends Maggie and Cyril. Taking Care of Crumley reveals the friends' plot to teach a lesson to Cyril's nemesis, the schoolyard bully. Using realistic playground banter, Staunton captures "the terror as well as the pleasure of ultimate social justice," according to Joan Yolleck in Quill & Quire. Cyril and Maggie are back at school in Maggie and Me, which Nancy Gifford recommended for its "humorous tone … dialogue and action" in her review for School Library Journal. Gifford described the variety of classmates Staunton includes as "some bossy, some bullies, some leaders (Maggie), and some followers (Cyril)"—someone with whom everyone can identify.

Staunton energizes his "Maggie and Cyril" series by moving the story along at a brisk pace. Taking the Long Way Home, the fifth "Maggie and Cyril" book "lays each plot development on top of the previous one to make a precarious structure" designed to keep readers "holding their breath until the last scene," according to Canadian Review of Materials contributor Alison Mews. In the end, however, Staunton's popular characters manage to help each other and solve their individual predicaments. Reviewer Andre Gagnon voiced his opinion of the series in Canadian Review of Materials: "Staunton's ability to build an episode with quick, funny, unforced dialogue and situations to which children can relate puts this series well above others." Great Minds Think Alike chronicles another Maggie and Cyril episode and takes place during summer vacation. This time, Cyril worries about losing his best friend as he searches for adventure. Writing for Quill & Quire, Ann Gilmore concluded that this edition to the series is for those who "regard fairy tales as psychologically nurturing and growth-enhancing," and determined it a "wonderful addition to the genre."

Titles such as Simon's Surprise introduce readers to new characters with their own set of childhood dilemmas to solve. After being told "when you're bigger" once too often, Simon sets out to prove he's BIG In Staunton's chapter book, arch enemies Nick and Lindsay are forced to get along when their science teacher assigns them to work together on a team project. (Cover illustration by Roger Lafontaine.)enough NOW. Early one morning, before his parents awaken, Simon decides to wash the family car by himself. In Canadian Children's Literature, reviewer Mary Rubio commented that the text and illustrations work together to capture the parents' "dazed and dumbfounded looks," as well as "proud little Simon standing amid his mess."

Staunton joins illustrator Eric Parker in speeding up the tempo in Miss Fishley Afloat. According to Canadian Review of Materials reviewer Patricia Butler, in the novel "wacky events … take place at such a rapid pace, two readings are necessary to feel that the story has been understood." Sarah Ellis, in her review for Quill & Quire described the sea-faring tale as "outrageous, heaping surprise upon coincidence" and the "cartoon-style pictures are energetic and jaunty. The writing is bombastic."

Staunton's "Morgan" series for young readers chronicles the adventures of third-grader Morgan and his classmates, including Aldeen Hummel, who Morgan thinks of as the Godzilla of Grade Three. While the books in the "Morgan" series focus on the title character, the students in the "Kids from Monkey Mountain" series each get a chance to tell a story from their own perspective. Instead of following the same character from book to book, installments in the "Kids from Monkey Mountain" saga focus on a different student each time, with classmates alternating as minor characters. In the first book in the series, Two False Moves, Nick finds out that Lindsey's family might be buying the house his family is renting. Nick immediately targets Lindsey in verbal warfare, and she jibes right back. When their teacher, oblivious to the conflict, pairs Nick and Lindsey together on a project, each learns that there is more to the other than previously realized. Travis is the star, and class-clown, of Forgive Us Our Travises, while Second Banana stars Ryan, a kid with an annoying laugh and a determination to gain new friends. Reviewing Second Banana, Cora Lee wrote in Resource Links that "Staunton tells a story that moves like an energetic seven-year-old…. His characters are immensely believable, their problems realistic." John Peters, writing in Booklist, considered the books in the series "light-weight, comfortably predictable episodes."

The "Kids from Monkey Mountain" series continues with Princess, a story about Mary Beth, who strives to be herself even as her mother tries to mold Mary Beth into a princess. "The real-life problems in this novel, combined with the believable characters," make the book "an excellent novel," according to Joanne de Groot in Resource Links. Jeff is the star of Trouble with Girls, as he and friend Nick—Two False Moves—face off against members of EGG, the school's "Evil Girl Group." Janice's loud attitude makes everyone think she is secure in who she is, but in Stinky, her contact with a skunk helps her come to terms with her own insecurities and learns to just be herself. The book is "particularly good for students who are struggling with their self-esteem," commented Wendy L. Hogan in Resource Links. Laura Reilly, writing for the same journal, wrote of Trouble with Girls that "this book and others in the series are highly recommended."

Along with his series books, Staunton is also the author of two longer novels for young adults. Sounding Off, a sequel to Hope Springs a Leak, focuses on Sam, a too-skinny, too-tall, fourteen-year-old high-school student whose father is also one of his teachers. Just when Sam thinks things cannot get worse in his life, he is drawn into the middle of a controversy about banning a book by a local author. The narrative "veer[s] between slap-stick and serious sometimes at dizzying speed," reported Margaret Mackey in Resource Links. Kliatt reviewer Joseph DeMarco noted that "Sam is a teen with whom YAs would identify."

Staunton has also written books about Canadian history, including The Dreadful Truth: Confederation, the story of how Canada became a country. He describes the living conditions in Canada during the time of confederation and reveals details about the people involved with the country's founding. "Staunton has garnered many fascinating tidbits of information about these great men that reveal their humanity," wrote Joan Marshall in Resource Links.

Readers interested in linking Staunton to his characters do not have to look far. In Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators, Staunton told Allison Gertridge: "The character of Cyril is based on me when I was in grade school. I was a very shy and retiring type like Cyril. But more than the things that happen to Cyril, it's Cyril's outlook or his desires that echo mine." However reminiscent his books may be of his own "normal" and "stable" childhood, Staunton avoids oversimplification and overdoses of sweetness and light. "I'm not interested in writing about nice things or role models, or being cute. I'd rather explore what happens when things go slightly wrong," he told a writer for the Canadian Children's Book Centre. "I tend to prefer it when kids can't quite answer their own problems because, after all, who really can?"

At age fourteen, Sam wonders if he will make it to age fifteen; while crushing on a young country singer, his efforts to impress constantly backfire in Staunton's young-adult novel set in Canada. (Cover design by Erin Woodward.)

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Canadian Children's Book Centre, 1994.

Gertridge, Allison, Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators, Scholastic Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2001, John Peters, review of Two False Moves, p. 1138.

Books for Young People, October, 1988, p. 17.

Books in Canada, March, 2003, review of Trouble with Girls, p. 46.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1998, review of Morgan and the Money, p. 522; 2000, reviews of Morgan's Secret, The Monkey Mountain Monster, and Two False Moves, p. 504; 2002, review of Trouble with Girls, Stinky, and Morgan's Birthday, p. 518.

Canadian Children's Literature, 1987, Mary Rubio, review of Simon's Surprise, p. 105.

Canadian Review of Materials, March, 1989, Andre Gagnon, review of Mushmouth and the Marvel, p. 53; November, 1990, Patricia L.M. Butler, review of Miss Fishley Afloat, p. 272; November, 1992, Alison Mews, review of Taking the Long Way Home, p. 306; November 28, 1997, review of Morgan Makes Magic; January 5, 2001, review of Morgan's Secret.

Kliatt, May, 2005, Joseph DeMarco, review of Sounding Off, p. 31.

Quill & Quire, January, 1984, Jan Marriott, review of Puddleman, p. 28; November, 1984, Joan Yolleck, review of Taking Care of Crumley, pp. 12-13; August, 1986, p. 38; September, 1989, Anne Gilmore, review of Great Minds Think Alike, pp. 23-24; August, 1990, Sarah Ellis, review of Miss Fishley Afloat, p. 14; September, 2000, review of Two False Moves, p. 63; December, 2001, review of Princess, p. 25.

Resource Links June, 1999, review of Morgan and the Money, p. 10; June, 2000, review of Morgan's Secret, p. 7; October, 2001, Mavis Holder, review of Great Play, Morgan!, p. 12; December, 2001, Cora Lee, review of Second Banana, and Joanne de Groot, review of Princess, p. 21; April, 2003, Wendy L. Hogan, review of Stinky, p. 21, and Laura Reilly, review of Trouble with Girls, p. 52; December, 2004, Margaret Mackey, review of Sounding Off, p. 39; February, 2005, Joan Marshall, review of The Dreadful Truth: Confederation, p. 49.

School Library Journal, August, 1985, p. 58; July, 1990, Nancy A. Gifford, review of Maggie and Me, p. 79; August, 2001, Linda Beck, review of Forgive Us Our Travises and The Monkey Mountain Monster, p. 162; January, 2003, review of Morgan's Birthday, p. 97; January, 2005, Karyn N. Silverman, review of Sounding Off, p. 136.

ONLINE

Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers Web site, http://www.canscaip.org/ (January 20, 2006), "Ted Staunton."

Ted Staunton Home Page, http://tedstauntonbooks.tripod.com (January 20, 2006).

Transatlantic Literary Agency Web site, http://www.tla1.com/ (January 20, 2006), "Ted Staunton."

Writers' Union of Canada Web site, http://www.writersunion.ca/ (January 20, 2006), "Ted Staunton."

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