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Wendy Cooling Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights

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Born in England. Education: London University, M.A. (education).

Career

United Kingdom Year of Literature festival, Swansea, Wales, coordinator, 1995; WORDPLAY children's festival, organizer, 1995–; Book House Training Centre, director of course on children's publishing, 1995–; Disney Consumer Products, director of course on children's publishing, 1997; National Literacy Strategy and National Year of Reading, contact person, 1999. Former member of civil service; former secondary-school English teacher in London, England. Worked variously as library director, bookstore manager, and book promoter; advisory teacher with ILEA Resources Support Group. Director of Farms for City Children and Children's Book Foundation. Judge of children's literature awards, including March Award, Mother Goose Award, and National Association for Special Education Needs Book Award. Polka Children's Theatre, member of board. Book consultant and advisor to schools, libraries, and parents; researcher; has appeared on Treasure Islands, BBC Radio 4.

Member

International Board on Books for Young People (chair of British section for three years), National Literacy Association (executive member), Children's Literature Research Centre (member of advisory panel), Poetry Society (member of advisory panel), LISC (member of working party).

Writings

Finding out … How to Find Out, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1989.

Fame!: Who's Who in History at Madame Tussaud's, illustrated by Nick Duffy, Puffin (London, England), 1992.

Sandy the Seal, Trafalgar Square (North Pomfret, VT), 1994.

(With Paul Kropp) The Reading Solution, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1995.

Books to Enjoy, 12-16 (guide), School Library Association (Swindon, England), 1996.

(Reteller) Farmyard Tales from Far and Wide (companion to Forest Tales from Far and Wide, edited by Marleen Vermeulen), illustrated by Rosslyn Moran, Barefoot Books (Bath, Somerset, England), 1998.

An Interview with Jenny Nimmo, Mammoth (London, England), 1999.

Books to Enjoy: With Boys in Mind, School Library Association (Swindon, England), 1999.

More Books to Enjoy, 12-16 (guide), School Library Association (Swindon, England), 2000.

D Is for Dahl: A Gloriumptious A-Z Guide to the World of Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Penguin (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of children's guides for British National Trust. Contributor to periodicals, including Books for Keeps, Junior Education, London Guardian, and Times Educational Supplement.

EDITOR

Paul Jennings, Thirteen! Unpredictable Tales, Viking (London, England), 1995.

Roald Dahl, The Great Automatic Grammatizator, and Other Stories, Viking (London, England), 1996.

The Puffin Book of Stories for Five Year Olds, Puffin (London, England), 1996.

The Puffin Book of Stories for Six Year Olds, Puffin (London, England), 1996.

The Puffin Book of Stories for Seven Year Olds, Puffin (London, England), 1996.

The Puffin Book of Stories for Eight Year Olds, Puffin (London, England), 1996.

Read Me a Story Please, Orion (London, England), 1998.

Roald Dahl, Skin, and Other Stories, Puffin (London, England), 1999.

Football Shorts, Dolphin (London, England), 1999.

Centuries of Stories: New Stories for a New Millennium, HarperCollins (London, England), 1999.

What Fun to Be a Hippo, illustrated by Anthony Lewis, F. Watts (London, England), 2000.

Who Has Seen the Wind?: Poems about the Weather, F. Watts (London, England), 2000.

The Animals' Bedtime Storybook, illustrated by Penny Dann, Orion (London, England), 2000.

Listen to Me!: Winning Short Stories Written by Teenagers, Collins (London, England), 2000.

Mud between the Toes: Poems about Feelings, illustrated by Anthony Lewis, Watts (New York, NY), 2000.

Me!: Poems about Being Born and Growing Older, illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy, Watts (New York, NY), 2000.

Nearly Best Friends: Poems about Relationships, illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy, Watts (London, England), 2000.

Earth-wise Poems about Our World, illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy, Watts (London, England), 2000.

Mirrors: Sparkling New Stories from Prize-Winning Authors, illustrated by Sarah Young and Tim Stevens, Collins (London, England), 2001.

The Kingfisher Book of Stories for Beginning Readers, Kingfisher (London, England), 2001.

The Puffin Book of Stories for Nine Year Olds, illustrated by Steve Cox, Puffin (London, England), 2001.

The Puffin Book of Stories for Ten Year Olds, illustrated by Steve Cox, Puffin (London, England), 2001.

The Puffin Book of Christmas Stories, illustrated by Nick Ward, Puffin (London, England), 2001.

(Author of introduction) The Children's Book of Alphabets, Chicken House (Frome, Somerset, England), 2002.

Ten of the Best: School Stories with a Difference, Collins (London, England), 2002.

With Love: A Celebration of Words and Pictures for the Very Young, Orchard (London, England), 2004, published as Come to the Great World: Poems from around the Globe, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2004.

All the Colours of the Earth: Poems from around the World, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2004, published as Come to the Great World: Poems from around the Globe, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2004.

Editor of It's Christmas, Simply Spooky, and Surprise Surprise, all for Dolphin. Consultant on books, including The Caterpillar That Roared? by Michael Lawrence, Dorling Kindersley (London, England), 2000; series consultant for "NSPCC Happy Kids" series, published by Egmont World (Handforth, England).

EDITOR; "QUIDS FOR KIDS" SERIES

Aliens to Earth, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Animal Stories, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Bad Dreams, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Ghost Stories, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Go for Goal, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Horror Stories, Orion (London, England), 1997.

On the Run, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Soccer Stories, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Spine Chillers, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stars in Your Eyes, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stories of Growing Up, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stories of Hopes and Dreams, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stories of Past and Future, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stories of Strange Visitors, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stories of the Unexpected, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Stories to Keep You Guessing, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Time Watch, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Top Secret, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Weird and Wonderful, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Wild and Free, Orion (London, England), 1997.

Sidelights

In addition to being a children's book author, editor, and reviewer, Wendy Cooling is a well-known consultant in the field of children's literacy, and she often appears as a guest on radio and television programs in her native England to discuss children's literature. Beginning her career in education as a secondary-school English teacher, Cooling left teaching in 1990 to run the Children's Book Foundation, a group that organizes Britain's National Children's Book Week and promotes childhood literacy. After leaving the Children's Book Foundation, Cooling became a freelance consultant and anthologist, and is one of the founders of Britain's Book Start project.

As an anthologist, Cooling has edited several collections of stories for young readers, including The Puffin Book of Stories for Five Year Olds, The Puffin Book of Stories for Six Year Olds, and sequential volumes up to The Puffin Book of Stories for Ten Year Olds. Ann G. Hay, in School Librarian, called The Puffin Book of Stories for Five Year Olds "a delightful collection of old favorites and new." Reviewing the same work, Marcus Crouch observed in Junior Bookshelf that the anthology contains "very fine things" that "have the merit of brevity." Another Junior Bookshelf contributor wrote that "the range of subjects" in The Puffin Book of Stories for Seven Year Olds "is likely to appeal to young juniors," and that The Puffin Book of Stories for Eight Year Olds depicts "an interesting range of people, places, and magical possibilities."

Cooling has also edited a number of entries in the "Quids for Kids" collection of books for children. The series takes its name from "quid," the British slang One of Cooling's many anthologies, Come to the Great World includes a range of verses, carrying willing readers on a rhyming trip around the globe. (Illustration by Sheila Moxley.)term for the British currency measure of one pound. Each of the low-priced books—which cost one pound, or a quid—contains five or six stories centering on a single theme. School Librarian contributor Ruth France applauded the objective of making affordable books available to children, and commented that the volumes' brevity could introduce children "to the world of reading."

Read Me a Story Please, edited by Cooling and illustrated by Penny Dann, is a collection of fifty original and retold tales for young readers and listeners to enjoy at bedtime. Divided into "two-minute tales," "five-minute tales," and "ten-minute tales," the collection makes it easy for parents to determine what stories they will have time for before they turn out the lights. Dann and Cooling worked together on The Animals Bedtime Storybook as well, assembling forty original stories commissioned by Cooling to describe the tales the animals on Noah's ark told each night to while away the forty rainy days they were seabound.

Cooling has also edited several books of poetry for young readers, including Who Has Seen the Wind?: Poems about the Weather, Nearly Best Friends: Poems about Relationships, and All the Colours of the Earth: Poems from around the World. The last, published in the United States as Come to the Great World: Poems from around the Globe, features selected poetry from classic authors, including Robert Louis Stevenson, and less-familiar children's poets, including Rabindranath Tagore, as well as chants from the Maori and Inuit cultures and a jump-rope rhyme from Guyana. Despite the diversity of settings, according to Margaret R. Tassia, writing for School Library Journal, the poems "focus on common issues and concerns of youngsters everywhere." Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman enjoyed the "lively anthology," but pointed out one of the book's flaws: though it collects prose from many areas of the globe, the collection contains "not a single poet from an African country."

Though predominantly an editor and consultant, Cooling also has also authored several titles. Her book Fame!: Who's Who in History at Madame Tussaud's offers biographical sketches on thirty-nine of the well-known people who have been memorialized in wax for the famous London museum. Alasdair Campbell wrote in School Librarian that about half of Cooling's choices are individuals who were politically influential in their time and that the rest "are a mixed bag indeed," and include American actress Marilyn Monroe, American singer and actor Elvis Presley, and noted nineteenth-century mass murderer Jack the Ripper. Campbell noted that "there is certainly food for some thought in these chapters" about the nature of fame.

Having edited some work by noted British writer Roald Dahl, it was a natural move for Cooling to create an alphabet and fact book based on books by the famous children's author. Part biography and part picture book, D Is for Dahl: A Gloriumptious A-Z Guide to the World of Roald Dahl associates each letter of the alphabet with a fun fact about Dahl's life and works. Though Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, found the layout to be confusing, she acknowledged that the book contains "interesting, amusing, and, in some cases, surprising nuggets of information." Anne Chapman, writing for School Library Journal, noted that Cooling's "dictionary-of-sorts is entertaining, insightful, and of particular interest to Dahl's fans…. The writing is clear, wicked, and fun."

Cooling once told SATA: "After a varied early career and two years drifting around the world, I settled down to teaching. I worked in Inner London secondary schools as an English teacher, deputy teacher, and acting head teacher for many years, running libraries, bookshops and help sessions for parents in any spare time. In one of the more exciting times, I worked with a librarian and a media-resources officer to run a library resource center in a secondary school, where the development of autonomous learning was seen as a priority—this at a time when money was not in short supply. I worked for two years as an advisory teacher with the ILEA Resources Support Group, advising schools … on the setting-up of libraries, the development of independent reading, and resource-based learning. I also studied part-time at London University's Institute of Education for an M.A. and wrote a dissertation on the role of the school library in curriculum development.

"At the end of 1990, I left teaching to run the Children's Book Foundation (CBF): talking and writing about children's books and reading, organizing National Children's Book Week, overseeing the annual production of Children's Books of the Year, and working on a range of projects to promote reading.

"One of my most interesting projects with the CBF was Bookstart, which aims to encourage parents to read with their children from a very early age. It is run in cooperation with local health centers and public libraries and involves the gift of a book and a pack about reading to families taking their babies to the clinic for the nine-month health check. I still act as a consultant to Bookstart, and the project, now operating nationwide, has brought many opportunities to speak on radio and at conferences about the importance of pre-school book-related experiences and choosing books. At the other end of the age range, I have discussed teenage reading on BBC Radio 4's Treasure Islands with Michael Rosen, spoken at numerous conferences, run courses on boys and reading and worked with librarians on the selection of teenage fiction.

"I'm now working as a consultant with a range of children's publishers; reviewing books; running in-service training sessions for infant, primary and secondary school teachers and librarians; making presentations at conferences and to parent groups; working with children on special projects having to do with books; writing children's guides for the National Trust and acting as their literary advisor, and editing story collections. In 1995 I was the coordinator of the children's festival for the UK Year of Literature and Writing, held in Swansea—the WORDPLAY children's festival has become an annual event which I continue to organize.

"I have been involved in judging for children's book awards, including the Mother Goose Award (for the most promising new children's picture-book illustrator), the NASEN Special Education Needs Book Award and the Marsh Award for a book in translation. I have [also] been course director of Book House Training Centre's course on children's publishing; this covers all aspects of children's publishing: editorial, rights, design, production, marketing, and bookselling. In 1997 I ran a similar course for Disney Consumer Products; delegates were from all European countries.

"I am, as will be clear from the above, immersed in children's books—producing, reviewing, and promoting them. I am really committed to getting more books and more stories to more children."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Come to the Great World: Poems from around the Globe, p. 1307; August, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of D Is for Dahl: A Gloriumptious A-Z Guide to the World of Roald Dahl, p. 2020.

Books, April, 1997, p. 24.

Junior Bookshelf, June, 1996, Marcus Crouch, review of The Puffin Book of Stories for Five Year Olds, p. 106; December, 1996, review of The Puffin Book of Stories for Eight Year Olds, and The Puffin Book of Stories for Seven Year Olds, pp. 248-249.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2004, review of Come to the Great World, p. 175.

Library Association Record, February, 1997, p. 101.

Magpies, November, 2004, Lyn Linning, review of With Love: A Celebration of Words and Pictures for the Very Young, p. 26.

School Librarian, August, 1992, Alasdair Campbell, review of Fame!: Who's Who in History at Madame Tussaud's, p. 105; August, 1996, Ann G. Hay, review of The Puffin Book of Stories for Five Year Olds, p. 98; August, 1997, Ruth France, review of "Quids for Kids" series, p. 136; summer, 1998, pp. 99-100; autumn, 1998, pp. 129-130; winter, 1999, review of Centuries of Stories, p. 209; spring, 2001, review of Listen to Me!: Winning Short Stories Written by Teenagers, p. 44; winter, 2001, review of Mirrors: Sparkling New Stories from Prize-Winning Authors, p. 210; spring, 2002, review of The Puffin Book of Stories for Ten Year Olds, p. 23; autumn, 2004, Vivienne Smith, review of All the Colours of the Earth, p. 154; winter, 2004, Chris Brown, review of With Love, p. 185.

School Library Journal, April, 2004, Margaret R. Tassia, review of Come to the Great World, p. 130; October, 2005, Anne Chapman, review of D Is for Dahl, p. 184.

ONLINE

Barefoot Books UK Web site, http://www.barefoot-books.com/ (March 29, 2006), profile of Cooling.

HarperCollins Children's Books Web site, http://www.harpercollinschildrensbooks.co.uk/ (March 29, 2006), profile of Cooling.

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