Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: James Heneghan (1930-) Biography - Personal to Rick Jacobson Biography - Personal » Joan Holub (1956-) Biography - Awards, Honors, Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member

Joan Holub (1956-) - Sidelights

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Author and illustrator Joan Holub is both prolific and multi-talented. Her numerous credits include fiction and nonfiction, as an author, an illustrator, or sometimes both. Among Holub's nonfiction works are the "Why Do . . . ?" series, which includes Why Do Cats Meow?, Why Do Dogs Bark?, Why Do Horses Neigh?, and several other titles. These books give children useful information about their respective animals in a simple, easy-to-read format, with "a winning combination of tightly written narrative [and] age-appropriate vocabulary," Pamela K. Bomboy wrote in a School Library Journal review of Why Do Horses Neigh? and Why Do Rabbits Hop?: And Other Questions about Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, and Gerbils. The books use a question-and-answer format, with queries such as "Is a pony a horse?" and "Are horses smart?" Holub works into the text "some surprising facts that children will enjoy, such as the fact that horses sleep only three hours per day," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor in a review of Why Do Horses Neigh?

As an illustrator, Holub contributed to Breakout at the Bug Lab by Ruth Horowitz. The narrator and his little brother accidentally let loose a Madagascar cockroach, a giant hissing bug, in their mother's environmental entomology lab, but with a little help, they successfully recapture him before anything too bad happens. Holub's "curved lines soften the story, forming a comforting cocoon that may just tempt the audience to try out their own reading feelers," a reviewer wrote in Horn Book. Leslie S. Hilverding, writing in School Library Journal, thought that the pictures "have a warm, fuzzy, feel-good look," going on to call Breakout at the Bug Lab "a book in which everything is just right."

As an author, Holub has added many books to Viking's "Easy-to-Read" series, including The Garden That We Grew, The Pizza That We Made, and Scat, Cats! "With its easy vocabulary and rhyming verse," Scat, Cats!, a story about a boy and a girl who rid their house of several mischievous felines but then invite them back in, "is well suited for beginning readers," Louie Lahana wrote in School Library Journal. In a starred review, a Kirkus Reviews contributor called it "a model for the genre: a funny, satisfying story with solid educational underpinnings." In another starred review, The Garden That We Grew was praised by a Horn Book critic, who commented that this story about children raising pumpkins has "the necessary qualities of a beginning reader—simplicity, repetition, predictability, and pictorial cues."

As an author-illustrator, Holub has created many board books and novelty books, including Somebunny Loves Me and Eek-a-Boo! A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book. Another of these works, Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book, was considered "an engaging book for youngsters" by School Library Journal critic Debra Gold. Gold went on call Boo Who? "a wonderful one-on-one choice."

Holub told SATA: "In 1989, I left a lucrative job in Texas and moved to New York because I wanted to work in the children's book field. New York City was exciting and my new job in the book design department at Scholastic was a great learning experience.

"When I left Scholastic, I began freelancing as an illustrator full time. Because of my art background, I'd always primarily focused on art rather than the stories in children's books. But once I began reading children's books, I wanted to write them. It took a lot of reading and about five years before I sold my first book manuscript. Then I sold three manuscripts in three months. In the years since then, I've written and/or illustrated board books, novelty books, easy-to-reads, chapter books, and middle-grade nonfiction. Some people ask why I write so many different kinds of books. My answer is that I write the ideas that come to me. Ideas are easy to come by. The real work is turning an idea into a satisfying book that works from beginning to end.

"I sometimes begin a book with a title. That may be a result of having worked in design/advertising where I watched the copywriters come up with product names or ad headlines. If I think of a phrase that seems funny or striking in some way, I write it down. I keep thinking about it until a story begins to form. Some of my books that began with a title are The Halloween Queen, The Garden That We Grew, and I Have a Weird Brother Who Digested a Fly. Books where the title came after the book was written include Why Do Cats Meow?, Riddle-iculous Math, and Yankee Doodle Riddles: American History Fun.

"My illustration style changes in response to the needs of each book I illustrate. Some examples of the evolution of my style can be seen in 100th Day of School (pencil and watercolor), Boo Hoo? (ink and watercolor), and Somebunny Loves Me (gouache and acrylic). My illustrations can be seen at my Web site."

Describing her early years and how she eventually fell in love with books, Holub continued to SATA: "I loved elementary school and made good grades. English and math were my favorite subjects. My family moved every few years because of my father's job with an oil company. Sometimes it took a while to make new friends because I was shy. (I grew out of it.) I stayed inside a lot, sat at my desk, and drew or read. My family didn't own many books, but my mom took my brother, sister, and me to the public library regularly. She enjoyed and valued books and reading, and through her, I learned to love books."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

ARTnews, December, 2001, review of Vincent van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars, pp. 102-104.

Booklist, February 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Why Do Cats Meow? and Why Do Dogs Bark?, p. 1143; April 15, 2001, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Scat, Cats!, p. 1568; July, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of The Garden That We Grew, p. 2023; November, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of The Pizza That We Made, p. 486; November 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Why Do Horses Neigh?, p. 605; October 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Riddle-iculous Math, p. 406.

Horn Book, July, 2001, review of The Garden That We Grew, p. 452, and review of Breakout at the Bug Lab, p. 452.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2001, review of Scat, Cats!; November 15, 2002, review of Why Do Horses Neigh?, and review of Why Do Rabbits Hop?: And Other Questions about Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, and Gerbils, p. 1695.

Publishers Weekly, October 6, 1997, p. 50; May 29, 2000, review of How to Find Lost Treasure in All Fifty States . . . and Canada, Too!, p. 84; September 25, 2000, review of Eek-A-Boo! A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book, p. 64, review of Light the Candles: A Hanukkah Lift-the-Flap Book, p. 66; February 19, 2001, review of Cinderdog and the Wicked Stepcat, p. 90; November 19, 2001, review of Vincent van Gogh, p. 70; December 17, 2001, review of In the Haunted States of America: Haunted Houses and Spooky Places in All Fifty States . . . and Canada, Too!, p. 94.

School Library Journal, June, 1993, Todd Morning, review of A Boy and His Baseball: The Dave Dravecky Story, pp. 117-118; October, 1997, Debra Gold, review of Boo Who?: A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book, p. 98; February, 1998, Amelia Kalin, review of Pen Pals, p. 85; December, 1998, Carolyn Jenks, review of Hot-Cha-Cha!, p. 88; December, 1999, Anne Knickerbocker, review of Hector's Hiccups, p. 114, and Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of I Have a Weird Brother Who Digested a Fly, p. 120; August, 2000, Donna L. Scanlon, review of How to Find Lost Treasure in All Fifty States . . . and Canada, Too!, p. 200; April, 2001, Leslie S. Hilverding, review of Breakout at the Bug Lab, p. 112; May, 2001, Karen Scott, review of Cinderdog and the Wicked Stepcat, p. 123, and Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Why Do Cats Meow? and Why Do Dogs Bark?, p. 143; August, 2001, Carolyn Jenks, review of The Garden That We Grew, p. 153, and Louie Lahana, review of Scat, Cats!, p. 153; September, 2001, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of In the Haunted States of America, p. 246; November, 2001, Lisa Smith, review of The Pizza That We Made, p. 124; December, 2002, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of Valley of the Golden Mummies, p. 122; February, 2003, Pamela K. Bomboy, review of Why Do Horses Neigh? and Why Do Rabbits Hop?, p. 132; January, 2004, Mary Elam, review of Yankee Doodle Riddles: American History Fun, p. 118.

Virginian Pilot, June 28, 2001, review of Breakout at the Bug Lab, p. E13.

Writer, March, 2000, "Quotes for Writers: They Say . . .," p. 3.

ONLINE

Joan Holub Home Page, http://www.joanholub.com/ (November 10, 2003).

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