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Valerie Tripp (1951–) Biography - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

pleasant middleton story illustrated

Born 1951, in Mount Kisco, NY; Education: Yale University, B.A. (with honors), 1973; Harvard University, M.Ed., 1981. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, hiking, conversation.

Career

Little, Brown (publisher), Boston, MA, staff member, 1973; Addison-Wesley, Menlo Park, CA, writer in language-arts program, 1974–80; freelance writer, 1981–. Lecturer.

Honors Awards

Children's Choice Award, International Reading Association, 1987, for Meet Molly: An American Girl; named March of Dimes Mother of the Year.

Writings

"AMERICAN GIRLS COLLECTION" SERIES

Meet Molly: An American Girl, illustrated by C.F. Payne, vignettes by Keith Skeen and Renee Graef, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1986.

Molly Learns a Lesson: A School Story, illustrated by C.F. Payne, vignettes by Keith Skeen and Renee Graef, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1986.

Molly's Surprise: A Christmas Story, illustrated by C.F. Payne, vignettes by Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1986.

Happy Birthday, Molly!: A Springtime Story, illustrated by Nick Backes, vignettes by Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1987.

Happy Birthday, Samantha!: A Springtime Story, illustrated by Robert Grace and Nancy Niles, vignettes by Jana Fothergill, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1987.

Changes for Samantha: A Winter Story, illustrated by Luann Roberts, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1988.

Changes for Molly: A Winter Story, illustrated by Nick Backes, vignettes by Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1988.

Molly Saves the Day: A Summer Story, illustrated by Nick Backes, vignettes by Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1988.

Samantha Saves the Day: A Summer Story, illustrated by Robert Grace and Niles, vignettes by Luann Roberts, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1988.

Meet Felicity: An American Girl, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, vignettes by Luann Roberts and Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1991.

Felicity's Surprise: A Christmas Story, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, vignettes by Luann Roberts and Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1991.

Felicity Learns a Lesson: A School Story, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, vignettes by Luann Roberts and Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1991.

Changes for Felicity: A Winter Story, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, vignettes by Luann Roberts and Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1992.

Felicity Saves the Day: A Summer Story, illustrations by Dan Andreasen, vignettes by Luann Roberts and Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1992.

Happy Birthday, Felicity!: A Springtime Story, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, vignettes by Luann Roberts and Keith Skeen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1992.

War on the Home Front: A Play about Molly, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Addy's Theater Kit: A Play about Addy for You and Your Friends, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Kirsten's Theater Kit: A Play about Kirsten for You and Your Friends, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Molly's Theater Kit: A Play about Molly for You and Your Friends, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Felicity's Theater Kit: A Play about Felicity for You and Your Friends, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Samantha's Theater Kit: A Play about Samantha for You and Your Friends, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Actions Speak Louder than Words: A Play about Samantha, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1994.

Five Plays for Girls and Boys to Perform: Teacher's Guide and Scripts, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1995.

Meet Josefina: An American Girl, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1997.

Josefina Learns a Lesson: A School Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1997.

Josefina's Surprise: A Christmas Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1997.

Josefina's Theater Kit: A Play about Josefina for You and Your Friends, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1998.

Josefina Saves the Day: A Summer Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1998.

Happy Birthday, Josefina! A Springtime Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1998.

Changes for Josefina: A Winter Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1998.

Changes for Samantha: A Winter Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1998.

Six Plays for Girls and Boys to Perform: Teacher's Guide and Scripts, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1998.

Felicity's New Sister, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1999.

Molly Takes Flight, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1999.

A Reward for Josefina, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1999.

Samantha's Winter Party, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1999.

Meet Kit: An American Girl, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Kit's Surprise: A Christmas Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Again, Josefina! Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Felicity's Dancing Shoes, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Kit Saves the Day, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Molly and the Movie Star, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Samantha Saves the Wedding, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Molly Marches On, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Felicity Takes a Dare, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Happy Birthday, Kit! A Springtime Story, 1934, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Josefina's Song, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Samantha and the Missing Pearls, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

(With Susan S. Adler and Maxine Rose Schur) Samantha's Story Collection, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Felicity's Story Collection, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Kit's Story Collection, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Molly's Story Collection, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Changes for Kit!: A Winter Story, 1934, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Felicity Discovers a Secret, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2002.

Just Josefina, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2002.

Kit's Home Run, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2002.

Molly's A+ Partner, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2002.

Samantha's Blue Bicycle, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2002.

Kit's Tree House, illustrated by Walter Rane, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Molly's Puppy Tale, illustrated by Nick Bakces, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Thanks to Josefina, illustrated by Jean-Paul Tibbles, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Nellie's Promise, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI) 2004.

"HOPSCOTCH HILL SCHOOL" SERIES

Bright, Shiny Skylar, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Hallie's Horrible Handwriting, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Thank You, Logan, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Teasing Trouble, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI) 2004.

Good Sport Gwen, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI) 2004.

The One and Only Delaney, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2005.

Lindy's Happy Ending, illustrated by Joy Allen, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2005.

The Fair-Share Pair, illustrated by Renate Lohmann, Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 2005.

"JUST ONE MORE" SERIES

The Singing Dog, illustrated by Sandra Kalthoff Martin, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Baby Koala Finds a Home, illustrated by Sandra Kalthoff Martin, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1987.

The Penguins Paint, illustrated by Sandra Kalthoff Martin, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Squirrel's Thanksgiving Surprise, illustrated by Sandra Kalthoff Martin, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Sillyhen's Big Surprise, illustrated by Sandra Kalthoff Martin, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Happy, Happy Mother's Day!, illustrated by Sandra Kalthoff Martin, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1989.

OTHER

An Introduction to Williamsburg (nonfiction), Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1985.

Home Is Where the Heart Is (play), Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1990.

Actions Speak Louder than Words (play), Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1990.

War on the Homefront (play), Pleasant Co. (Middleton, WI), 1990.

Tripp's books have been translated into Spanish.

Sidelights

Valerie Tripp has written numerous novels in the Pleasant Company's popular "American Girls Collection" series, and focuses her writing on historical fiction for girls between ages seven and twelve. The "American Girl" books are subdivided into smaller sequences, each of which focuses on a particular girl living in a unique period of American history: Felicity lives in 1774, Josefina lives in 1824, Samantha lives in 1904, Kit in 1934, and Molly in 1944. Whether following a young His-Tripp's historical novels for Pleasant Company include Nellie's Promise, which introduces a young Irish immigrant who moves in with a New York family and prepares to start a new life. (Illustration by Dan Andreasen.)panic girl living in early-nineteenth-century New Mexico as Josefina does, or the day-to-day life under the shadow of World War II as lived by Molly, Tripp's books are noted for their accuracy and engaging main characters. Each book also includes a section of factual information about the time period of the story.

Tripp grew up in a large family, sandwiched between two older sisters and one younger sister and brother. The Tripp children were a close-knit group, spending their free time playing games, riding bikes, and, when winter came, sledding and ice skating. "We were a noisy, rambunctious, rag-taggle bunch," the author explained in a Pleasant Company press release, adding that their favorite activity was reading. In fact, Tripp learned to read while playing school with her older sisters, and she, in turn, taught her younger siblings. Tripp's parents were also a strong influence on the future writer, as they kept the children well supplied with books.

Tripp retains vivid and mostly fond memories of school, even though, as she admitted: "I was terrible at multiplication." Despite this shortcoming, she achieved good grades and, as one of the first women to be admitted to Yale University, graduated from college with honors in 1973. Involved in education throughout her Yale years, Tripp found a job with the Boston-based Little, Brown, and Co., then moved to Addison-Wesley, where she wrote songs, stories, and skills exercises for the publisher's Pre-K to sixth grade reading program. In 1981, Tripp received her master's degree in education from Harvard University. With a specialty in reading education and writing for children, she went on to develop educational programs for publishers such as Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan, and Harcourt.

While working on the editorial staff at Addison-Wesley, Tripp had become friends with Pleasant Rowland, an editor who shared Tripp's belief that modern young girls were being rushed through an all-too-brief childhood: as soon as they gain the ability to read independently and use reading as a way to transport themselves into a variety of situations and settings via their imagination, girls are discouraged from reading. Tripp and Rowland wanted to create a series of books for girls that are set during interesting eras of America's past. Darci Glass-Royal, in an article for the Washington Parent Online, explained that Rowland's ultimate business enterprise, Pleasant Company, "was created to portray history from the perspective of a young heroine the same age as their readers."

Pleasant Company's first "American Girl" books, which were written by Tripp, focus on young women growing up during different periods in American history. Carolyn Phelan, reviewing the series for Booklist, noted that the books are "short, fast-moving, and involving stories." Among the girls Tripp has written about are Molly, a nine year old whose father serves in England during World War II; Samantha, an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City; Felicity, who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, during the outbreak of the American Revolution; and Kit, who lives in Cincinnati during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Although her protagonists range in age and era, their experiences are often based on Tripp's own childhood experiences. For instance, Samantha's adventures in New York City are based on Tripp's memory of family visits to the city, "to see a Broadway show, or go to a museum or a concert or the ballet," as she remarked. "When I was writing Happy Birthday, Samantha!, I remembered the feeling of exhilaration of being in the busy, fast-moving, enormous city. I knew just how Samantha felt." Felicity's adventures reflect Tripp's fascination with colonial history and her recollections of visiting Colonial Williamsburg with her family at age ten. Tripp used her experience of attending a concert at the Governor's Palace as the basis for Felicity's night of dance at the same facility. The stories about Kit, which include Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story, Kit Saves the Day, and Happy Birthday, Kit!, are ground in different experiences: memories of a close-knit family able to weather the Great Depression due to ingenuity, resilience, and love for each another.

As the "American Girls" series has expanded, Tripp has found her audience expanding as well; while her initial books were focused on specific girls, her more-recent "Hopscotch Hill School" sequence focuses on a group of children just starting their education experience under the guidance of their teacher, Miss Sparks. In the first novel in the series, Bright, Shiny Skylar, readers meet a spunky, independent-minded young girl who has a difficult time sitting still in class. Teasing Trouble finds Hallie suffering torment from class joker Spencer after she loses two front teeth, and in Lindy's Happy Ending a strong-minded girl's determination to do everything her own way leads to trouble when her own way is not good enough. In Booklist reviews, Phelan noted that, unlike many books on bullying, Teasing Trouble is a "lively telling [that] offers both children's point of view," and Hazel Rochman wrote that Tripp's "Hopscotch Hill" series features "problems and … solutions [that] are real." In a review of Lindy's Happy Ending, School Library Journal reviewer Lynda Ritterman praised the book for its "easy vocabulary, engaging plot," and usefulness as "a perfect bridge to longer chapter books."

Tripp's "Hopscotch Hill School" series for the Pleasant Company is designed for newly independent readers and feature friends Hallie, Spencer, Logan, Skylar, and Gwen. (Illustration by Joy Allen.)

When asked to select a favorite from among her characters by Glass-Royal, Tripp responded: "'I am like a mother with many daughters…. They are all different and, at times, difficult, but I love them all.'" In addition to her writing, Tripp spends a great deal of time researching: visiting historic sites, museums, and archives as well as talking with historians and educators. With dozens of books in print, she also spends much of her time answering the hundreds of letters she receives from readers each year.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 1991, p. 523; April 15, 1992, Candace Smith, "Meet Valerie Tripp: An American Girls Author," p. 1544; May 1, 1992, Carolyn Phelan, reviews of Changes for Felicity: A Winter Story, Felicity Saves the Day: A Summer Story, and Happy Birthday, Felicity! A Springtime Story, p. 1603; October 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, reviews of Meet Josefina: An American Girl and Josefina Learns a Lesson, p. 333; August, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, reviews of Happy Birthday, Josefina! A Springtime Story and Josefina Saves the Day: A Summer Story, p. 2009; September 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, reviews of Meet Kit: An American Girl and Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story, p. 119; August, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Kit Saves the Day, p. 2122; December 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Changes for Kit: A Winter Story, 1934, p. 644; July, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Thank You, Logan and Hallie's Horrible Handwriting, p. 1903; July, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Teasing Trouble, p. 1852.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1991, p. 51.

Publishers Weekly, February 14, 2000, "More Pleasant than Ever," p. 203; October 13, 2003, review of Bright, Shiny Skylar, p. 80.

School Library Journal, January, 1992, p. 116; February, 1992, p. 90; December, 1997, Ann Welton, reviews of Meet Josefina and Josefina Learns a Lesson, p. 102; December, 2000, Debbie Feulner, reviews of Meet Kit and Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story, p. 126; November, 2004, Kristen Oravec, review of Nellie's Promise, p. 119; July, 2005, Lynda Ritterman, review of Lindy's Happy Ending, p. 84.

ONLINE

Children's Literature Web site, http://www.childrenslit.com/ (January 1, 2003).

Pleasant Company Web site, http://www.pleasantcopublications.com/ (February 28, 2006), "Valerie Tripp."

Washington Parent Online, http://www.washingtonparent.com/ (November, 1997), Darci Glass-Royal, "Meet Valerie Tripp."

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