Kristine O'Connell George (1954-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1954, in Denver, CO. Education: Colorado State University, B.S., 1976.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Clarion Books, 215 Park Ave., New York, NY 10003.
Writer. Conference speaker and visiting author in schools; poetry consultant for Storytime television program, produced by Public Broadcasting System; University of California-Los Angeles Writers' Program, writing instructor for children's poetry, beginning 1999.
Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, International Reading Association (IRA), 1998; Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, 1998; American Booksellers Association (ABA) Pick of the Lists designation, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Notable Book in the Language Arts designation, and School Library Journal Best Books designation, all 1998, all for The Great Frog Race and Other Poems; New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing listee, 1998, for The Great Frog Race and Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, and 2001, for Book!; Chicago Public Library Best of the Best listee, 1998, for Old Elm Speaks; Golden Kite Award, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 1999; Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry, Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People, 1999, and 2002, for Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems; Oppenheimer Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2001, for Book!; Bank Street College Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and South Dakota Prairie Bud Award nomination, both 2002, both for Little Dog and Duncan; IRA/Children's Book Council Choice designation, William Alllen White Book Award nomination, and South Carolina Junior Book Award nomination, all 2003, all for Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems; Texas Bluebonnet Master List nomination, 2005, for Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems.
The Great Frog Race and Other Poems, illustrated by Kate Kiesler, introduction by Myra Cohn Livingston, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, illustrated by Kate Kiesler, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Little Dog Poems, illustrated by June Otani, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems, illustrated by Kay Kiesler, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Book!, illustrated by Maggie Smith, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems, illustrated by Debbie Tilley, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Little Dog and Duncan, illustrated by June Otani, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2002.
One Mitten, illustrated by Maggie Smith, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems, illustrated by Barry Moser, Harcourt (Orlando, IL), 2004.
Up!, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Fold Me a Poem, illustrated by Lauren Stringer, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
Contributor of stories and poems to anthologies and to periodicals, including Cricket and Spider. Contributor to Children's Writers and Illustrators Market, Writer's Digest Books, 2000.
Kristine O'Connell George is the author of several well-received collections of poetry for young people. In her introduction to George's debut work, The Great Frog Race and Other Poems, Myra Cohn Livingston wrote that it "is not only refreshing but urgent that our children hear poetry resonating with music, keen observation, fresh metaphor and personification, and meaningful flights of imagination.… George promises us that!" Other works by George include the collections Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems and Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems, as well as several picture books that contain a rhyming text. Praising George's picture book Little Dog and Duncan, about a small pup who has to compete for the attention of his young owner when a rambunctious Irish wolfhound comes to play, Joy Fleishhacker noted in School Library Journal that the author possesses a talent for focusing on "ordinary moments and describing them in accessible yet lyrical language, transforming the mundane into the magical."
Born and raised in Colorado, George began her career as a poet to the young after a 1989 writing class taught by author Myra Cohn Livingston. Her first published work was 1997's The Great Frog Race and Other Poems, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer characterized as "an invitation to experience joy and wonder." Many of George's poems reflect her love of the natural world, and everything from tadpoles and wild birds to horses and trees appear throughout her books. Margaret Bush remarked in School Library Journal on the many poetic forms George employs: "Haiku, blank verse, bits of rhyme, and some lovely little bundles of words are sprinkled along in pieces that are descriptive and engaging." Deborah Stevenson likened some of George's "quiet and observant" poems to those of William Carlos Williams in her review for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, adding: "The phraseology is fresh and apt, employing tactile as well as visual conceits, and the subjects are kid-appealing ones indeed."
George uses several poetic forms to celebrate the natural world in her second collection, Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, which Tunie Munson-Benson in Riverbank Review described as "beckoning as irresistibly as a basketful of polished stones." Here George's playful use of language makes music of her observations of the knot-holes in a wooden fence, squirrels playing in a tree, a tree branch that juts out in such as way as to make it a perfect imaginary horse for a small child, and a fisherman who catches a pine tree rather than a fish. A critic for Kirkus Reviews dubbed the book "a lovely, often luminous, collection," while a Publishers Weekly contributor described Old Elm Speaks as "just the right gift for nature lovers."
"Writing the poems for Old Elm Speaks was such a joy!," George noted on her Web site, reflecting the personal connection her writing has for her. "I have always loved trees—their diversity, quiet dignity, and the places they hold in the landscape of my memories. I was the type of child who always noticed trees and I still remember specific trees from homes in Colorado, Texas, Oregon, Ohio, and Idaho.… Many of these poems represent special memories not only of trees, but also places I love." George also draws from her personal experiences in Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems. The book follows the author's family as they watch a pair of hummingbirds hatch youngsters and grow them to maturity in a nest the mother bird built in a potted tree on the patio of the George family's home. After nest-building, tiny eggs hatch, and suddenly every waking hour is spent feeding the tiny hatchlings. It is not long until the tiny birds are old enough to take their first flight, and suddenly, they are gone. In addition to poems describing each stage of the family's observations, George includes notes about the hummingbird, making Hummingbird Nest useful as a reference tool for budding naturalists. "As in the best nature writing, the excitement here is in the particulars that bring readers close up to a universe," noted Hazel Rochman in Booklist, while a Kirkus Reviews critic praised the book as a "smooth, easy-reading glimpse into the natural world," enhanced by realistic watercolor illustrations by Barry Moser.
In the books Little Dog Poems and Little Dog and Duncan, George depicts the life of a small puppy. Little Dog Poems follows dog and owner on their round of daily activities, including a war between the pup and the vacuum cleaner, watching with hopeful fascination as Mom cooks in the kitchen, and playing a game of catch with his young owner. Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin viewed the volume as "a charming way to introduce little ones to the form and feeling of poetry," while Joanna Rudge Long, writing in Horn Book, asserted that Little Dog Poems is especially distinguished by "the author's true understanding of canine behavior and her insight into the happy relationship between dog and child."
Biographical and Critical Sources
George, Kristine O'Connell, The Great Frog Race and Other Poems, introduction by Myra Cohn Livingston, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Appraisal, spring, 1999, pp. 17-18.
Booklist, March 15, 1997, p. 1238; January 1, 1999, review of Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, p. 784; March 15, 1999 Stephanie Zvirin, review of Little Dog Poems; March 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Toasting Marshallows: Camping Poems, p. 1394; January 1, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems, p. 878; February 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems, p. 974; November 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of One Mitten, p. 590.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1997, Deborah Stevenson, review of The Great Frog Race, p. 358.
Creative Classroom, March-April, 1999, p. 36.
Horn Book, March-April, 1999, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Little Dog Poems, p. 216; July-August, 2002, Roger Sutton, review of Little Dog and Duncan, p. 478; January-February, 2003, Martha V. Parravano, review of Swimming Upstream, p. 89.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1997, p. 299; August 1, 1998, review of Old Elm Speaks, p. 1116; September 15, 2001, review of Book!, p. 1358; August 1, 2002, review of Swimming Upstream, p. 1129; March 1, 2004, review of Hummingbird Nest, p. 222.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, review of The Great Frog Race, p. 107: September 14, 1998, review of Old Elm Speaks, p. 68; February 22, 1999, review of Little Dog Poems, p. 94; March 12, 2001, review of Toasting Marshmallows, p. 90; October 1, 2001, review of Book!, p. 60; March 11, 2002, review of Swimming Upstream, p. 74.
Riverbank Review, fall, 1996, Tunie Munson-Benson, review of Old Elm Speaks, p. 41.
School Library Journal, April, 1997, Margaret Bush, review of The Great Frog Race, p. 124; September, 1998, pp. 190-191; May, 1999, p. 106; July, 2001, Luann Toth, review of Toasting Marshmallows, p. 93; March, 2002, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Little Dog and Duncan, p. 212; September, 2002, Kristen Oravec, review of Swimming Upstream, p. 244; April, 2004, Susan Scheps, review of Hummingbird Nest, p. 111; December, 2004, Laura Scott, review of One Mitten, p. 109.
Kristine O'Connell George Web site, http://www.kristinegeorge.com/ (December 2, 2004).*
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