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Betty G. Birney (1947–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

illustrated racine humphrey disney

Born 1947, in St. Louis, MO; (stepEducation: Webster College (now Webster University), B.A. (cum laude), 1969; attended University of Missouri-Columbia, 1970–71. Politics: "Independent." Religion: Presbyterian. Hobbies and other interests: "Reading (of course!), playing piano, computer stuff."

Betty G. Birney

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Atheneum, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

Career

Children's book author, scriptwriter, and author of educational software. Advertising copywriter for agencies in St. Louis, MO, and Chicago, IL; Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, advertising copywriter, 1977–79; Walt Disney Co., Burbank, CA, publicist, 1979–81; freelance television writer, 1982–. Trustee, Humanitas Prize.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, PEN Center USA, Writers Guild of America—West.

Honors Awards

ANDY Award, New York Ad Club; Flair Award, St. Louis Ad Club; Writers' Guild of America Award, 1991, and Pappenheim Award, Jewish Family Services, both for "But He Loves Me"; Humanitas Prize, Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute, 1991, for "Wish upon a Fish" (Camp Candy episode), 1993, for "Big Boys Don't Cry," 1996, for "Fast Forward"; Emmy Award nomination, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1994, for "Big Boys Don't Cry," and 2001, for Madeline; Cybermania '94 award, Academy of In-teractive Arts and Sciences, 1994, for "Berenstain Bears on Their Own"; Gold Apple honor, National Educational Media Network, 1996; Humanitas Prize finalist, 1996, for "Madeline and the Treasure Hunt," 2001, for "Madeline and the Giants"; Daytime Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 2002, for Madeline; Beehive Award nomination, Children's Literature Association of Utah, 2005–06, for The World according to Humphrey; ACE award nomination, for Welcome to Pooh Corner and Too Smart for Strangers; Cine Golden Eagle award, for "It Happened to Me," "But He Loves Me," and "Big Boys Don't Cry"; Golden Cindy award, for "Berenstain Bears on Their Own" and Richard Scarry's Busiest Disc Ever.

Writings

PICTURE BOOKS

What's My Job?: A Riddle Flap Book, illustrated by Lisa Berrett, Simon &Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

Who Am I?: A Riddle Flap Book, illustrated by Lisa Berrett, Simon &Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

Raja's Story, St. Louis Zoo (St. Louis, MO), 1993.

Tyrannosaurus Tex, illustrated by John O'Brien, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Adaptor) Anna Sewell, Black Beauty, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1994.

Meltdown at the Wax Museum (based on Animaniacs cartoon series), Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1995.

Pie's in the Oven, illustrated by Holly Meade, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1996.

Let's Play Hide and Seek, illustrated by Dara Goldman, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

MIDDLE-GRADE NOVELS

The World according to Humphrey, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Friendship according to Humphrey, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.

Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, illustrated by Matt Phelan, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.

"DISNEY" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

(Coauthor) Disney Babies Bedtime Stories, Mallard, 1990.

Disney's Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers: The Rescue Rangers Save Little Red, illustrated by Don Williams, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1991.

(Adaptor) Disney's The Little Mermaid, illustrated by Kerry Martin and Fred Marvin, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The Tale of Chip the Teacup, illustrated by Edward R. Gutierrez and Mones, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Bambi's Snowy Day, illustrated by David Pacheco and Diana Wakeman, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, illustrated by Mones, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

(Adaptor) Disney's Toy Story, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1995.

Walt Disney's Bambi: A Snowy Day, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1998.

"WINNIE-THE-POOH" SERIES; BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY A.A. MILNE

Oh Bother, Somebody's Not Listening, illustrated by Darrell Baker, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1991.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Fibbing, illustrated by Sue DiCicco, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1991.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Grumpy, illustrated by Sue DiCicco, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh: Half a Haycorn Pie, illustrated by Darrell Baker, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh and the Missing Pots, illustrated by Russell Hicks, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Messy, illustrated by Nancy Stevenson, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh and the Little Lost Bird, illustrated by Russell Hicks, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

(Adaptor) Disney's Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Mones, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Oh Bother, Somebody Won't Share, illustrated by Nancy Stevenson, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh: The Merry Christmas Mystery, illustrated by Nancy Stevenson, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Jealous, illustrated by Nancy Stevenson, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Afraid of the Dark, illustrated by Darrell Baker, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Walt Disney's I Am Winnie the Pooh, illustrated by Darrell Baker, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Jealous, illustrated by Nancy Stevenson, Golden Books (Racine, WI), 1997.

Oh Bother, Somebody's Messy, illustrated by Nancy Stevenson, Golden Books (Racine, WI), 1997.

SCRIPTS AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA

Divorce Court (television series), 1986.

Zoobilee Zoo (television series), DIC/PBS, 1986.

Maxie's World (animated television series), DIC, 1987.

(Story editor) Camp Candy (television series), DIC/Saban/NBC/World Vision, 1989.

"But He Loves Me," CBS Schoolbreak Special, Churchill Pictures, 1991.

"Big Boys Don't Cry," CBS Schoolbreak Special, Churchill Pictures, 1993.

The New Adventures of Madeline (animated television series), DIC/ABC/Family Channel, 1995.

(And supervising producer) "Fast Forward," ABC Afterschool Special, Wild Films, 1995.

(With Valerie Red Horse) "My Indian Summer," CBS Schoolbreak Special, Big Daddy Productions, 1995.

Brand Spanking New! Doug (animated television series), Jumbo Pictures/Nickelodeon, 1996.

Mama, Do You Love Me? (video), 1999.

Mary Christmas (made-for-television movie), 2002.

Also author of scripts for live-action television series and special programs, including The Puzzle Place, PBS; Talking with TJ, Hallmark/UBU; It Happened to Me, Boy Scouts of America; Too Smart for Strangers, Disney Channel; Dumbo's Circus, Disney Channel; and Secret Lives, Barry Enright Productions/Syndication. Writer and story editor for Welcome to Pooh Corner, Disney Channel. Author of scripts for animated television programs, including Madeline, Disney Channel/DIC; Book of Virtues, Porchlight/PBS; The Good Samaritan, Sony Wonder; Little Mouse on the Prairie, syndicated; Where's Waldo, Where's Waldo Productions/Goodtimes; Prince Valiant, Hearst/Family Channel; Bobby's World, Film Roman/Fox; Once upon a Forest, Hanna-Barbera; The Chipmunks, Bagdasarian/NBC; Fraggle Rock, Marvel/Henson/NBC; The Moondreamers, Marvel; The Snorks, Hanna-Barbera/NBC; Winnie the Pooh and You, Curious Pictures/Disney Channel; Clifford, Fox/Scholastic; The Little Drummer Boy, Fox; and Inspector Badger, Disney Channel. Author of interactive software for Electronic Arts, Philips, and Sega, including Ethan's Parables, The Crayon Factory, Ber-John O'Brien's watercolor-and-ink illustrations bring to life Tyrannosaurus Tex, Birney's taller-than-tall tale about a T-rex who comes to the rescue of some Texas cattle ranchers.enstain Bears on Their Own, Wacky Tales, Richard Scarry's Busiest Disc Ever, and The Dark Fables of Aesop.

Sidelights

Betty G. Birney is the author of numerous works for children appearing in a variety of formats, including conventional picture books and lift-the-flap books as well as live-action and animated television programs and interactive software. With the launch of cable television's Disney Channel, she also began writing for cartoon and live-action children's television, and has worked on such familiar programs as Fraggle Rock, Zoobilee Zoo, and Brand Spanking New! Doug. Her work on after-school specials and other live-action television programs includes Mary Christmas, which has aired on the PAX network every holiday season since 2002.

Among Birney's books for children is Tyrannosaurus Tex, a humorous story that plays upon the enduring popularity of dinosaurs among young audiences. Called a "modern tall tale" by Elizabeth S. Watson in Horn Book, the story, which features a huge cowboy dinosaur, also relies upon Texas mythology, in which everyone is a cowboy and everything is supersized. Thus Tyrannosaurus Tex shows up one night on the range, and after eating a pot of beans, pot and all, joins the other cowboys around the fire to tell tall tales. That night he saves the others by putting out a fire with his ten-thousand-gallon hat. Birney's alliterative text delighted several reviewers, Claudia Cooper recommending the book as "a tumbleweed-tumbling, rip-roaring good tale" in School Library Journal. Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman cited Tyrannosaurus Tex as "great for reading aloud with the appropriate drawl."

Less a knee-slapping tall tale than a charming feel-good story, Birney's Pie's in the Oven was equally warmly received by critics. When a boy and his grandfather arrive home with a basket full of freshly picked apples, the boy joins his grandmother in spending the day making apple pie. The smell of the pie as it bakes fills not only the boy with delightful anticipation, but draws in aunts, uncles, friends, and even the mail carrier, each of whom is invited to join in the feast. "The narration offers the exuberant youngster's perspective on the events," noted Kathy Piehl in School Library Journal. The simplicity of the story, coupled with Birney's gently rhythmical prose, adds up to a "sweet celebration of family and friends," according to a critic in Kirkus Reviews.

Along with her picture books for young readers, Birney has also written several middle-grade novels. Two of these books feature Humphrey, a very intuitive hamster, as he does his best to solve problems for the humans he cares about. In The World according to Humphrey the savvy rodent is brought by a substitute teacher to Room 26 to become class pet. Unfortunately, the regular teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wants nothing to do with a rodent; fortunately, class members devise a solution: they decide to take turns keeping Humphrey at home. Humphrey's travels to the homes of the different students of Room 26 reveal interesting facts about their lives, and provide the kind-hearted Humphrey the chance to return their kindness by helping a shy girl speak up, helping the lonely janitor of the school find the possibility of love, and even helping the rodent-averse Mrs. Brisbane come to terms with harboring a class pet. "The story deftly avoids triteness while still feeling breezy and acknowledging deeply felt troubles," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, while in Publishers Weekly a critic commented: "Given the perky protagonist['s] mad chipper delivery, middle-grade readers are sure to savor this classroom caper." Of the hamster himself, Booklist critic Shelle Rosenfeld wrote: "Humphrey, a delightful, irresistible character, is big hearted, observant, and creative."

The likeable hamster returns in Friendship according to Humphrey, in which the class mascot has to deal with his jealousy over a new class pet, Og the Frog. The children seem more interested in Og than in Humphrey, and even though the hamster tries to make friends with his reptilian rival, Og seems uninterested. Despite these worries, Humphrey still manages to help out in the lives of the students, coming to terms with Og in the process. "Readers will find that seeing the world from Humphrey's standpoint is mighty satisfying," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, while Debbie Whitbeck noted in School Library Journal that "the theme of friendship is as pervasive as the title implies, making this chapter book a charming read-aloud."

In Birney's The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, set in 1923, eleven-year-old Eben McAllister longs to go out and explore the world beyond his home in Sassafras Springs, Missouri. His father promises him that he can venture out and explore the world if he can first locate seven wonders right in his own backyard. By talking to neighbors and friends, Eben begins to realize that there is plenty to explore right in his own home town. A Publishers Weekly critic considered the tale a "tender and captivating gem of a novel," while Connie Tyrrell Burns in School Library Journal called it "a literary folk story blending down-home narrative and characters with a sprinkling of magical realism." Cindy Do-brez, reviewing the book for Booklist, criticized Birney's "tall tale" as being "a bit heavy on the message and cliche," but felt that "the magic realism of the episodic wonders … provide grist for a solid read-aloud." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that, of the wonders Eben finds in The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, "It's not the objects themselves that are so extraordinary … as much as his neighbors' magical stories that accompany them."

Birney once told SATA: "Some people find it strange that I've worked in so many mediums, from books to TV movies to animation to CD-ROM software. What links these different kinds of projects—and makes my career very interesting to me—is the fact that a story is a story and I am a storyteller. Some stories are better told in a small flap book. Others belong on the big screen. Once I get 'inside the story,' it doesn't matter whether I'm telling the story of a honey-loving bear or an abused teenager; the process of creating characters and plots is really the same and never, ever boring."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Tyrannosaurus Tex, p. 1835; July, 1996, p. 1828; March 1, 2004, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The World according to Humphrey, p. 1188; September 1, 2005, Cindy Dobrez, review of The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, p. 130.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2004, Janice Del Negro, review of The World according to Humphrey, p. 316.

Children's Bookwatch, April, 2004, James A. Cox and Diane C. Donovan, review of The World according to Humphrey, p. 1.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Tyrannosaurus Tex, p. 306.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1996, review of Pie's in the Oven, p. 1147; January 1, 2004, review of The World according to Humphrey, p. 33; January 1, 2005, review of Friendship according to Humphrey, p. 48; June 15, 2005, review of The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, p. 678.

MBR Bookwatch, May, 2005, Vicki Arkoff, review of Friendship according to Humphrey.

Publishers Weekly, January 24, 1994, review of Tyrannosaurus Tex, pp. 54-55; April 28, 1997, review of Pie's in the Oven, p. 77; January 19, 2004, review of The World according to Humphrey, p. 76; August 8, 2005, review of The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, p. 234.

School Library Journal, May, 1994, p. 84; September, 1996, review of Pie's in the Oven, p. 170; April, 2004, Pat Leach, review of The World according to Humphrey, p. 102; Feburary, 2005, Debbie Whitbeck, review of Friendship according to Humphrey, p. 94; August, 2005, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, p. 121.

ONLINE

Betty G. Birney Home Page, http://www.bettybirney.com (March 30, 2006).

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about 5 years ago

i have a school project on her so this infO is sooooo helpful

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12 months ago

hi how many books do you have?pleas send back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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over 1 year ago

U suck