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Barry Jonsberg (1951–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

miss payne calma kiffo

Born 1951, in Liverpool, England; Education: Liverpool University, bachelor's and master's degrees (English).

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Allen & Unwin, 9 Atchinson St., Sydney, New South Wales 2065, Australia.

Career

Writer; lecturer at English colleges until 1999; high-school teacher in Australia.

Honors Awards

Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year shortlist, 2005, for The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull; Adelaide Festival Award for Best YA Book, 2006, for It's Not All about YOU, Calma!

When Calma and friend Kiffo suspect an unpopular teacher of dealing drugs, their involvement in the teacher's life brings about tragic consequences in Jonsberg's YA novel. (Cover illustration by Getty Images Inc.)

Writings

The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2004, published as The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.

It's Not All about YOU, Calma!, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2005, published as Am I Right or Am I Right?, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

Dreamrider, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.

Work in Progress

The third and last book in the "Calma Harrison" series.

Sidelights

An English-born Australian teacher and children's book author, Barry Jonsberg began writing while in school pursuing his master's degree as a preparation to teaching on the college level. Although the work that resulted, a paper titled Defoe and Casuistry: A Consideration of Morality in the Writings of Defoe, was not exactly a riveting read—Jonsberg himself referred to it as "mind-numbingly dull" in his Allen & Unwin online biography—after moving to Australia with his family in 1999 he began work on a fictional novel titled Nativity. Although Nativity sparked the interest of Allen & Unwin editors, it was not considered publishable. In the meantime, however, a character from this first work had inspired Jonsberg to begin a second novel, this time for young adults. In 2004 Jonsberg's first published work, The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull, appeared and the book has also been released in the United States under the title The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne.

The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne focuses on the relationship between Calma Harrison, a good student and budding writer, and her friend, the disillusioned, troubled Kiffo. After Kiffo causes their high-school English teacher to quit through his behavior, the replacement, Miss Payne, proves to be a less-easy target for the angry young man. Determined to discover the chinks in Miss Payne's armor, Calma and Kiffo stake out "the Pitbull"'s home, hoping to discover the reason for their teacher's strange late-night comings and goings. Although they suspect that Miss Payne is somehow involved with dealing drugs, as their investigation continues a tragedy ensues that causes Calma to rethink her actions as well as her relationships. A Kirkus Reviews critic dubbed the novel "a great read,", while Myrna Marler noted in Kliatt that the "book is not for the fainthearted." In Publishers Weekly the reviewer praised Calma as a "smart, sassy narrator," and deemed The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne a "memorable first novel."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Kliatt, May, 2005, Myrna Marler, review of The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne, p. 14.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2005, review of The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne, p. 684.

Magpies, September, 2005, Jo Goodman, "It's Not All about You, Calma!," p. 42.

Publishers Weekly, July 11, 2005, review of The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne, p. 94.

School Librarian, summer, 2005, Lynda Waterhouse, review of The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pit Bull, p. 102.

School Library Journal, July, 2005, Miranda Doyle, review of The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne, p. 104.

ONLINE

Allen & Unwin Web site, http://www.allenandunwin.com/ (October 30, 2005), "Barry Jonsberg."

Barbara M. Joosse (1949-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights [next] [back] Dola de Jong (1911-2003) Biography

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