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Lois G. Grambling (1927-) - Sidelights

review book abigail tooth

A former teacher and social worker, Lois G. Grambling turned her hand to children's literature after the birth of her first grandchild. As she once told SATA, "as a writer, I was a late bloomer. I never gave much thought to putting pen to paper to express my feelings or to share my experiences until our first grandchild . . . was born in 1984. Then I had someone very important to write to and for." Since the publication of her first book in 1990, Grambling has continued to write for children, penning picture books as well as volumes for children learning to read.


In her Mrs. Tittle's Turkey Farm, a kindly old lady loves her turkeys and takes good care of them. Each turkey has its own name and comfortable sleeping quarters, assigned by Mrs. Tittle. One bird, however, she calls simply Turkey. As Thanksgiving approaches and his fellow creatures begin disappearing one by one, Turkey realizes the fate that may be in store for him, and he begins to frantically work out ways to keep himself from ending up on someone's dinner table. He saves himself by bravely foiling the plans of a would-be thief and earns the amended name Some Tough Turkey—which keeps him from the usual Thanksgiving Day fate because nobody would thinking of buying, or eating, the toughest turkey on the farm.


Grambling creates a tale of paternal protection and love for a child in Daddy Will Be There. Throughout her day's activities, a little girl knows that her father will always be there to protect and watch over her. She plays with her blocks, rides her bike, goes to a birthday party, plays alone in the backyard, and does all the other things that five-year-old girls do—but no matter how long she is away from her daddy, she is always reunited with him. Daddy remains close by or available to provide love, protection, and reassurance. Young readers "will find some level of comfort in this slight but reassuring story" that highlights the loving relationship between father and daughter, observed April Judge in Booklist. Though finding "the atmosphere . . . profoundly melancholic," a Kirkus Reviews critic commented that the author "conjures a world of intimacy" between parent and child. Scott Veale, writing in New York Times Book Review, noted favorably "the book's sweet, pragmatic message about the joys and benefits of having a dad close at hand."


This Whole Tooth Fairy Thing's Nothing but a Big RipOff! is a more humorous offering from Grambling. Annoyed by the Tooth Fairy's tardiness in picking up his lost tooth, Little Hippo utters the exclamation of the book's title just as the Tooth Fairy shows up, cold, wet, and cranky after being caught in a rainstorm. Indignant at Hippo's outburst, the Tooth Fairy enlists him to take care of her final job for the night while she takes a break. With the Tooth Fairy's wings glued to his back, Little Hippo successfully makes the tooth-for-coin exchange with Cub Bear, finding out in the process that he likes helping out the Tooth Fairy and hopes to do it again. Linda M. Kenton, writing in School Library Journal, remarked that "there are some humorous moments that older children will appreciate."

In The Witch Who Wanted to Be a Princess, feisty modern witch Bella yearns to leave behind her small grubby cottage and witchy wardrobe to become a princess, living in a glorious castle and wearing fine jewels and luxurious clothes. Since she was the top graduate in her witch class, turning one thing into another is a snap for her, and she decides to change herself into a princess. But when she tries the spell, she finds out that because of a decreasing population of witches, no one is allowed to turn herself into anything else. The only way to become a princess, Bella reasons, is to marry a prince, which she sets out to do. Through the personal ads, Bella meets and falls in love with Franklyn of Styne (who bears a remarkable resemblance to the monster created by Dr. Frankenstein himself). In a story combining messages of self-esteem, self-acceptance, and inner beauty, Bella gets her wish. Grambling "swoops down on a broomstick of her own and pulls readers aboard for some full-throttle storytelling," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic, while Sally R. Dow, reviewing the book in School Library Journal, called The Witch Who Wanted to Be a Princess an "engaging story."

Grambling offers a story in the classic mode of the tall tale in Abigail Muchmore: An Original Tale. Spirited and active Abigail Muchmore tends to her farm from morning to night, fixing the damage from the constantly blowing West Wind. Not satisfied with what he has already done, West Wind decides to play some tricks on Abigail, blowing her fancy store-bought underwear right off the clothesline and onto a neighbor's farm. Next, the wind blows the pears off Abigail's fruit trees. When West Wind tosses Abigail's beloved dog into the next county, she vows revenge. The old woman lassoes her impish adversary and confines him to the storm cellar under her house. Only when West Wind agrees to return her dog and stop his mischief does Abigail let him go, and the two live peacefully together from then on. While a Kirkus Reviews critic thought the first part of the book was "rather chaotic and difficult to follow," the book's "second half shines," as Abigail confronts and defeats her tormentor. Rosalyn Pierini, reviewing the book in School Library Journal, called Abigail Much-more a "lively, humorous tall tale."

Grambling once told SATA: "My first really vivid childhood memory is that of getting my very own library card—no easy feat for a not quite five-year-old who was definitely not into printing or writing or spelling, yet. With card in hand my enthusiasm was boundless. Suddenly all those books on the library shelves were mine, too! I could take them home and read them. And I did—by the dozens. I've been taking them home and reading them by the dozens ever since. . . .

Abigail Muchmore is exasperated by the antics of Mr. West Wind and schemes to dissipate his powerful force. (From Abigail Muchmore: An Original Tale, written by Grambling and illustrated by Susan Havice.)

"In 1990, my first book, A Hundred Million Reasons for Owning an Elephant, was published. (And believe me, there is nothing more exciting than holding your very first book in your hands!) A Hundred Million Reasons . . . is great fun for reading aloud to groups of kids. It seems to get their imaginative juices flowing. And their reasons for owning an elephant are absolutely marvelous. Much better than mine. Maybe I should rewrite the book?

"That same year, 1990, Elephant and Mouse Get Ready for Christmas was published. I fell in love with Elephant and Mouse and their special relationship. So I wrote Elephant and Mouse Get Ready for Easter and then Elephant and Mouse Celebrate Halloween, both in 1991. Holidays tend to bring out the best in all of us, and Elephant and Mouse in this series, I hope, prove it.

"After completing the 'Elephant and Mouse' series, I felt I wanted to write something absolutely wacky. So I did. And that's when An Alligator Named . . . Alligator was born. Published in 1991, it is an easy reader. I had such fun writing about Alligator that I missed him terribly when the book was completed. So I went out and got myself two alligator eggs. I don't miss Alligator so much now."


Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 15, 1995, Key Weisman, review of Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please!?, p. 935; February 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Happy Valentine's Day, Miss Hildy!, p. 926; May 15, 1998, April Judge, review of Daddy Will Be There, pp. 1631-1632; May 15, 2003, Connie Fletcher, review of Abigail Muchmore: An Original Tale, p. 1670.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1995, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please!?, p. 198.

Christian Science Monitor, March 30, 1995, Karen Williams, review of Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please!?, p. 83.

Horn Book Guide, fall, 1998, Patricia Riley, review of Happy Valentine's Day, Miss Hildy!, p. 312; fall, 2001, Anita K. Burkam, review of Grandma Tells a Story, p. 232; spring, 2002, Anita L. Burkam, review of Big Dog, p. 44; fall, 2002, review of This Whole Tooth Fairy Thing's Nothing but a Big Rip-Off!, p. 329.

Humpty Dumpty, October-November, 1995, review of Mrs. Tittle's Turkey Farm, p. 18.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1998, review of Daddy Will Be There, p. 658; June 15, 2002, review of The Witch Who Wanted to Be a Princess, p. 881; February 15, 2003, review of Abigail Muchmore: An Original Tale, pp. 305-306.

New York Times Book Review, May 17, 1998, Scott Veale, "Patting Dad on the Back," review of Daddy Will Be There, p. 31.

Publishers Weekly, September 19, 1994, review of Mrs. Tittle's Turkey Farm, pp. 26-27; January 23, 1995, review of Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please!?, p. 69; June 1, 1998, review of Daddy Will Be There, p. 48C; June 3, 2002, review of The Witch Who Wanted to Be a Princess, p. 87.

School Library Journal, December, 1994, Martha Topol, review of Mrs. Tittle's Turkey Farm, p. 75; June, 1995, Judy Constantinides, review of Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? Can I? Please!?, p. 81; August, 1996, Ruth K. McDonald, review of Night Sounds, p. 122; June, 1998, Joan Zaleski, review of Daddy Will Be There, p. 106; July, 2001, Linda M. Kenton, review of Grandma Tells a Story, p. 81; December, 2001, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Big Dog, p. 103; July, 2002, Linda M. Kenton, review of This Whole Tooth Fairy Thing's Nothing but a Big Rip-Off!, pp. 90-91; August, 2002, Sally R. Dow, review of The Witch Who Wanted to Be a Princess, p. 156; May, 2003, Rosalyn Pierini, review of Abigail Muchmore: An Original Tale, p. 119.*

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