Amy Nathan Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1967; Education: Radcliffe College, B.A. (cum laude), 1967; Harvard Graduate School of Education, M.A.T., 1968; Teachers College, Columbia University, M.A., 1980.
Educator, actress, editor, and writer. Teacher in adult education programs in Boston, MA, area, 1968-71; actress in regional theater and Off-Broadway productions, 1971-80; teacher of creative drama at arts programs in Boston, Washington, DC, and New York, NY, 1972-80; Scholastic Magazines, New York, NY, associate editor, 1980-81; Zillions and Consumer Reports for Kids (magazines), associate editor, 1981-94; freelance writer, 1994—.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, Authors League.
Clarion Award, Women in Communication, for Surviving Homework: Tips from Teens; ten Educational Press awards for excellence in educational publishing, 1981-95; Parents' Choice approved nonfiction book, 2000, for The Young Musician's Survival Guide: Tips from Teens and Pros.
Everything You Need to Know about Conflict Resolution, Rosen (New York, NY), 1996.
Surviving Homework: Tips from Teens, illustrated by Anne Canevari Green, Millbrook Press (New York, NY), 1996.
The Kids' Allowance Book, illustrated by Debbie Palen, Walker (New York, NY), 1998.
The Young Musician's Survival Guide: Tips from Teens and Pros, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2001.
Count on Us: American Women in the Military, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2004.
Writer Amy Nathan has enjoyed several occupations, working as an educator, an actress, and as editor of a children's magazine. As a freelance writer of children's books, she has tackled such subjects as conflict resolution, homework, and allowance in a manner that reviewers have praised as clear, entertaining, and informative. Among Nathan's most significant works for young readers are her biographies of women who have served in the American military; they are collected in the volumes Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II and Count on Us: American Women in the Military. Praising the latter work as a "clearly written, well-organized" book, School Library Journal reviewer Lana Miles cited Nathan for creating a volume that is "valuable for research and interesting for browsing." In Publishers Weekly a reviewer maintained that each volume provides young history buffs with a "comprehensive historical account" of an interesting but often unexplored facet of U.S. military history.
Providing a wealth of information "in a straightforward but sympathetic way" is one of the strengths of Nathan's first book for children, Everything You Need to Know about Conflict Resolution, according to reviewer Karen Herc in Voice of Youth Advocates. In this work, the author discusses conflict-resolution programs in schools and the role of peer mediators in resolving disagreements between students. The book also suggests specific steps taken in the conflict-resolution process, such as developing listening skills and avoiding accusations in favor of expressing personal feelings. Nathan also includes a section on resources. Everything You Need to Know about Conflict Resolution was praised by Herc for offering young readers "practical, easily understandable advice" in a number of common situations.
Nathan turns to students themselves for the answers to questions raised in her next two books, Surviving Homework and The Kids' Allowance Book. In Surviving Homework, she organizes her information by complaint rather than by chapter, relaying the responses of 300 high school juniors and seniors to questions about boredom, lack of time, the difficulty of memorizing, and test anxiety. Rosie Peasley noted in her review of Surviving Homework for School Library Journal that "the information is presented in a user-friendly, humorous format that will appeal to young people," while in Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin praised Nathan for including "lots of plain good sense." Jonathan Betz-Zall, who reviewed The Kids' Allowance Book for School Library Journal, also cited Nathan's appealing prose style, and noted stylistic similarities between Zillions magazine—which Nathan edited for over ten years—and the "breezy" style of The Kids' Allowance Book. Drawing on the responses of more than 150 children, in The Kids' Allowance Book Nathan discusses many allowance-related issues, among them: how to convince parents to give an allowance, whether the allowance should be connected to chores, how to negotiate a raise, and how to manage money in general. "With its popular but little-covered topic, logical organization, and attractive style," maintained Betz-Zall, "this book is well worth the investment."
The Young Musician's Survival Guide: Tips from Teens and Pros continues Nathan's list of respected nonfiction titles. In this 2000 title the author interviews eighteen professional musicians—among them Wynton Marsalis and James Galway—as well as student musicians about everything from picking the best instrument and finding the best place to practice to overcoming performance jitters. Praising Nathan for maintaining "an encouraging but honest tone throughout," School Library Journal contributor Renee Steinberg cited the book's photos as well as its slant toward committed, dedicated young musicians.
The role of women during wartime has come under increasing attention as historians increasingly recognize the underreported contributions made by females throughout history. Nathan plays a role in righting the historical record with a pair of books that address the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War. In Count on Us she traces the part women played in the front lines as well in military encampments and on the home front during the War for Independence, the U.S. Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, and more recent outbreaks in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. Through fact-filled essays and sidebars, as well as a selection of photographs and a bibliography, Nathan presents a version of history and is "plainspoken about the hardships and horrors" of wartime, according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. The women in arms who are profiled include the early fighters Deborah Samson, Margaret Corbin, and Tyonajanegen as well as more recent individuals, such as Navy Commander Susan Fink, who have been allowed to wear the official uniform marking them as members of the American military. Engaging biographical profiles "lend Nathan's narrative variety and immediacy," noted Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson, who went on to add that Count on Us "celebrates … pioneering women" who have bravely stepped to the fore in defense of their country during times of crisis.
Biographical and Critical Sources
American Music Teacher, August-September, 2000, Martha Kirkpatrick Smith, review of The Young Musician's Survival Guide, p. 85.
Booklist, June 1, 1997, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Surviving Homework: Tips from Teens, p. 1696; July, 1998, Karen Hutt, review of The Kids' Allowance Book, p. 1876; April 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Young Musician's Survival Guide: Tips from Teens and Pros, p. 1450; December 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II, p. 721; February 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Count on Us: American Women in the Military, p. 1050.
Book Report, November-December, 1996, Pattie Spencer, review of Surviving Homework: Tips from Teens, p. 47.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2004, Krista Hutley, review of Count on Us, p. 335.
Christian Science Monitor, January 27, 1997, Debbie Hodges, review of Surviving Homework: Tips from Teens, p. 12.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of Count on Us, p. 137.
Publishers Weekly, February 2, 2004, review of Count on Us, p. 79.
School Library Journal, January, 1997, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Conflict Resolution, p. 128; July, 1997, Rosie Peasley, review of Surviving Homework: Tips from Teens, p. 110; October, 1998, Jonathan Betz-Zall, review of The Kids' Allowance Book, pp. 157-158; June, 2000, Renee Steinberg, review of The Young Musician's Survival Guide, p. 170; March, 2004, Lana Miles, review of Count on Us, p. 240.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1997, Karen Herc, review of Everything You Need to Know about Conflict Resolution, p. 136.*