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Alice (Alison Hart) Leonhardt (1950-) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

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Born 1950, in Baltimore, MD; Education: University of Maryland, B.S.; John Hopkins University, M.S.

Career

Special education teacher, Howard County MD, 1976-94; writer, 1988—; Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave, VA, adjunct instructor, 1995—; courtappointed special advocate for abused children, 1996—.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers Association.

Writings

Wild Cats, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1999.

Mystery of the Vanishing Leopard, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1999.

Why the Ocean Is Salty, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1999.

Ocean Life: Tide Pool Creatures, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

Turtles Big Race, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

Save the Sea Turtles, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

The Princess and the Castle, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

Castles, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2000.

Trash Is Dash, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

Animals You Will Never Forget, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

One Special Dog, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

Alice Leonhardt

Mystery at the White House, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

Presidents, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

Also author of books in the "Nancy Drew Casefiles" series. Contributor to Highlights for Children, Ladybug, and other periodicals.

UNDER PSEUDONYM ALISON HART

Shadow Horse, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Shadow Horse, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

Chase: A Police Story, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.

Rescue: A Police Story, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.

Danger at the Wild West Show ("American Girl History Mystery" series), Pleasant Company (Middleton, WI), 2003.

Fires of Jubilee, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2003.

Return of the Gypsy Witch, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2003.

"RIDING ACADEMY" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM ALISON HART

A Horse for Mary Beth, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.

Andie out of Control, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.

Jina Rides to Win, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.

Mary Beth's Haunted Ride, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.

Andie Shows Off, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.

Jina's Pain-in-the-Neck Pony, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.

The Craziest Horse Show Ever, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.

Andie's Risky Business, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.

Trouble at Foxhall, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.

Foxhunt!, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.

Lauren Rides to the Rescue, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.

Haunted Horseback Holiday, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.

"LINDA CRAIG" SERIES

Kathy in Charge, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

The Riding Club, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

A Horse for Jackie, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

The Glimmering Ghost, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

The Silver Stallion, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

"THOROUGHBRED" SERIES

Melanie's Last Ride, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

A Home for Melanie, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Living Legand, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

The Bad Luck Filly, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Perfect Image, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Team Player, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Racing Image, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Perfect Challenge, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Faith in a Long Shot, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Also author of Christina's Courage, Dead Heat, and Star in Danger.

"NEW ADVENTURES OF MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY" SERIES

The Case of the High Seas Secret, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2001.

The Case of the Jingle Bell Jinx, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2001.

The Case of the Mall Mystery, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2002.

Work in Progress

A historical Civil-War trilogy under pseudonym Alison Hart: Samuel's Horses, Samuel's Journey, and Samuel's Triumph, to be published by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Paperbacks, 2005; a mystery for Pleasant Company, 2005; working title Molly's Mystery for American Girls "Molly" series; Anna's Blizzard, a historical suspense for Peachtree Press, 2005.

Sidelights

Prolific author and educator Alice Leonhardt—who also writes a number of books under the pen name Alison Hart—recognizes literacy as a serious issue in contemporary society. In addition to writing children books such as Rescue, Faith in a Long Shot, and Return of the Gypsy Witch, Leonhardt works as an educator at a community college. With each book she writes, her goal is to capture readers with intriguing plot twists, and drawing them into books they cannot put down.

In Rescue a botched bank robbery unfolds before readers that combines real-life peace officers from the Staunton, Virginia, Police Department and Leonhardt's fictional plot. The skilled officers must negotiate with the young robbers in order to keep the bank employees being held hostage out of danger. In addition to providing an exciting and suspenseful plot, Leonhardt also educates readers by including a glossary of context-specific terms used throughout her text. Roger Leslie, writing in Booklist, called Rescue "A minute-by-minute adventure that is both informative and compelling." Timothy Capehart, while criticizing the lack of character development in his School Library Journal review, agreed that "the simple story is chock-full of facts about modern police work."

Under her popular Alison Hart pseudonym, Leonhardt has moved from penning horse stories and nonfiction into the historical fiction genre. As Hart she is the author of books such as Danger at the Wild West Show and Return of the Gypsy Witch, as well as a 2005 trilogy of historical suspense novels that take place during the U.S. Civil War. Return of the Gypsy Witch showcases the author's ability to keep readers intrigued via a suspense-filled plot that follows detective sisters Allie and Kat as they try to catch a thief. While Kat follows all the rules, Allie is more rebellious and mischievous. However, despite her careful nature, Kat ultimately winds up in danger when her plan to lure the thief into a trap takes an unwanted turn. Its now up to Allie to save her sister and solve the mystery. While the dialogue was felt by some reviewers to be occasionally excessive, John Green in Booklist complimented Hart for her plot's "exciting, but never terrifying, twists and turns."

Leonhardt told SATA: "Reading literacy is a big issue of mine. The statistics in the United States are frightening. According to the Partnership for Reading, 60 percent of school children have difficulty mastering reading. Trained as a special education teacher, I saw this first hand. I knew that children, all children, desperately wanted to read. Most children pick it up naturally. However, the students I taught, although just as desperate to read, struggled mightily with every word. I tried many different techniques to unlock the mysteries of reading. One method that worked was having them read stories that I wrote using their names and personal information. So you can say I started my career as an author writing stories for reading disabled students. The stories weren't works of literary genius, but my students loved them—and slowly, they learned.

"Not only is reading literacy a huge issue, so is reading aliteracy. Aliteracy is defined as the lack of interest in reading. Today I teach college-level students. Like my beginning readers, some continue to struggle with reading. But what really scares me is their lack of interest in reading. One eighteen year old told me he had never read an entire book!

"As an author and a teacher, I constantly question how I, how we, can help get children excited about reading. I haven't found any magic answers, but when I write a book, literacy and aliteracy are very much on my mind. Is my story filled with suspense? Does it hook readers from the first chapter? Can readers relate to my characters? Will the story fill them with a sense of wonder? Will they love reading my book? When young readers tell me they couldn't put my book down, I know I'm on the right track. Obviously, my books will not solve reading literacy problems, but I hope they, and I, can do a small part."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June, 1994, Carolyn Phelan, review of Andie out of Control, p. 1948; July, 1999, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Shadow Horse, p. 1946; April 15, 2000, Roger Leslie, review of Rescue, p. 1542; May 1, 2003, John Green, review of Return of the Gypsy Witch, p. 1529; November 1, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Fires of Jubilee, p. 496.

School Library Journal, September, 1996, Carol Schene, review of Haunted Horseback Holiday, p. 202; October, 1999, p. 152; October, 2000, Timothy Capehart, review of Rescue, p. 161; October, 2003, Farida S. Dowler, review of Danger at the Wild West Show, p. 166.

ONLINE

Hook Online, http://www.readtheHook.com/ (February 6, 2004), Linda Kobert, "All Heart: Children's Author Loves Her Work."

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