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Jules Older (1940-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

(Lorraine Avery, a joint pseudonym, Michael McBrier, a joint pseudonym)


Born 1940, in Baltimore, MD; Education: University of Vermont, B.A., 1962; New York University, Ph.D., 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, mountain biking, gardening.


Agent—Sally Brady, Hartland Four Corners, VT 05049.


Writer and editor-in-chief of Ski Press and Adventure Press. Worked variously as a ski instructor, medical educator, college counselor, psychology professor, and writing instructor. Regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio.


PEN, National Writers Union, North American Snowsports Journalists, League of Vermont Writers.

Honors Awards

Books of the Year, National Book Guild of Great Britain, 1985, for Jane and the Pirates; runner-up, Other Award, 1986, for Hank Prank in Love; Best resort and travel production, and grand prize (co-recipient), both from International Ski Film Festival, and Vermont Travel and Tourism Recognition of Excellence, all 1995, all for Tales from the Mountain: Mount Snow's First Forty Years; Pick of the Lists, American Booksellers Association, 1997, and Best Books of 1997, Rathbone Children's Book Service, both for Cow; Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Vermont, 1997; four-time winner of Harold Hirsch Award for Excellence in Snowsports Writing; numerous awards and grants for work in the field of psychology, including New York University Department of Psychology's Philip J. Zlatchin Award, and New Zealand Psychological Society Award.


The Pakeha Papers, McIndoe (Dunedin, New Zealand), 1978.

Touching Is Healing, Scarborough House, 1982.

Hank Prank and Hot Henrietta, illustrated by Lisa Kopper, Heinemann (London, England), 1984.

Jane and the Pirates, illustrated by Michael Bragg, Heinemann (London, England), 1984.

Hank Prank in Love, illustrated by Lisa Kopper, Heinemann (London, England), 1985, Scholastic, 1991.

Don't Panic!, illustrated by J. Ellen Dolce, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Who Hates Harold?, illustrated by Bruce Lemerise, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Don't Start!, illustrated by Carolyn Bracken, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(With wife, Effin Older) Hot Henrietta and Nailbiters United, illustrated by Lisa Kopper, Heinemann (London, England), 1987.

(With Effin Older) Little Smugglers, Smugglers' Notch Ski Resort, 1987.

(With Effin Older, under joint pseudonym Michael McBrier) Oliver's Barnyard Blues, illustrated by Blanche Sims, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1987.

(With Effin Older, under joint pseudonym Lorraine Avery) The Runaway Winner, illustrated by Linda Thomas, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1990.

(With Effin Older, under joint pseudonym Lorraine Avery) The Creepy Carousel, illustrated by Linda Thomas, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1990.

(With Effin Older) Hank and Henrietta Take Off, illustrated by Lisa Kopper, Heinemann (London, England), 1991.

Shipwreck!, Octopus (New Zealand), 1991.

Ski Vermont!, Chelsea Green Press, 1991.

Ben & Jerry—The Real Scoop!, illustrated by Lyn Severance, Chapters Publishing, 1993.

Cow, illustrated by Lyn Severance, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1997.

Anita! The Woman behind the Body Shop, illustrated by Lisa Kopper, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1998.

Cross-Country Skiing for Everyone, photography by Effin Older, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg, PA), 1998.

Telling Time: How to Tell Time on Digital and Analog Clocks!, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2000.

Backroad and Offroad Biking, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg, PA), 2000.

Ice Cream, illustrated by Lyn Severance, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2002.

Pig, illustrated by Lyn Severance, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2004.

Also co-author, with Effin Older, of screenplay Tales from the Mountain: Mount Snow's First Forty Years. Contributor of articles to newspapers and magazines, including London Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Guardian, GEO, Hemispheres, New Choices, Skiing, USAir, Powder, and Cross Country Skier. Columnist for Vermont Business.


Something of a celebrity in his home state of Vermont due to his public profile as a radio commentator and newspaper columnist, as well as the editor-in-chief of two of the region's major magazines focusing on winter sports, Jules Older has also found time to write both fiction and nonfiction for younger readers. Published in England and New Zealand as well as in the United States, his books range from the fictional adventures of young boys and girls in Jane and the Pirates, Hank Prank in Love, and Who Hates Harold? to nonfiction picture books about cows, ice cream, and famous entrepreneurs. Several of his books, including Hot Henrietta and Nailbiters United, Little Smugglers, and Hank and Henrietta Take Off, have been collaborations between Older and Older's wife, author and photographer Effin Older.

Older grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended the University of Vermont because, as he once told Something about the Author, "I wanted to see if I could survive in the Frozen North; and … they (then) accepted under-achievers." While at University of Vermont he learned the sport he would frequently write about—and sometimes teach—as an adult: skiing. "As an undergraduate I participated in the historic picketing of Woolworths [Department Store], one of the first attempts at ending racial segregation in the United States. I also helped lead one of the first of the sixties campus protests, in our case, against unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of students. The protest was peaceful, humorous, serious, and successful." Other accomplishments included editing the campus newspaper, the Vermont Cynic, and meeting the woman who would later become his wife.

Older's academic future gained its path from a most unpromising source: a summer job spent working as a ditch-digger. "At first I was a success," he told SATA, "but that success created problems. The company hired another college boy, the owner's nephew, and we spent more time talking than we did digging. By week's end, we were both fired. Now unemployed, and with more than half a summer to go, I signed on as a child care worker at a hospital for disturbed kids. Despite bruised shins, a sore jaw, and some amazing new word combinations in my vocabulary, I got hooked on the helping racket and spent the next few months as a nurse's aide in the locked ward of a psychiatric hospital and as a trainee with disturbed preschoolers. By now I was thoroughly addicted and went on to study clinical psychology at New York University, which eventually gave me a Ph.D."

Time spent in New York City as a student also proved eventful for Older: "I was: a.) arrested for allegedly assaulting the biggest policeman in New York while I was leading a civil rights picket line (I weighed 145 pounds at the time, the cop weighed at least 200, and I've never been that crazy!); b.) given the Philip J. Zlatchen Award for Courage in Serving Humanity; and c.) congratulated by all the local cops and most of my neighbors for hitting an armed junkie with a brick as he was robbing my neighbor's apartment." Not long after his altercation with the armed drug abuser, Older and his wife decided that New Zealand might make a nice change from the bustle of New York.

In New Zealand Older worked for Otago Medical School, coordinating the school's behavioral science course. Not surprisingly, he also pursued several other outside interests. "For three years I hosted American Pie, a weekly radio show on a rock-and-roll station. A critic described it as 'one of the most original and individualistic programmes to be heard in New Zealand.' And, largely through having the right accent at the right time, I played the lead in a TV documentary about the last man to be hanged in New Zealand. I am one of the happy few who have been hung and are still walking. While in New Zealand I was [also] an organizer of a successful day of learning about Maori land rights and was a frequent visitor to the New Zealand Women's Prison. It was a proud moment when the inmates gave me the Good Guy of the Month Award."

Returning to the United States in 1986, Older and his wife moved to Vermont, deciding to make a career shift to freelance writing. In addition to writing children's books and writing on skiing, he has published articles about travel, food, gardening, and working from home. Older has also taught a writing class at his alma mater, and won the University of Vermont teaching award in 1997.Older's first children's book, Hank Prank and Hot Henrietta chronicles the everyday adventures of young Hank and his sister Henrietta. A Junior Bookshelf critic considered the stories of "excellent length for bedtime reading" and complimented their "agreeable authenticity." Similarly, a Books for Keeps reviewer recommended the book for its "super dialogue" and "fresh and tangy" jokes.

In 1997's Cow, Older and illustrator Lyn Severance team up for an entertaining and educational look at dairy cows. Deborah Stevenson, reviewing the book for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books commended the collaborators for the book's "cheerful simplified graphics and ebullient text," while a Publishers Weekly contributor described Cow as a "trivial but amusing offering" that would pair well with a pint of ice cream. Older has since followed Cow with the equally concisely titled Pig, which contains enough pig-related facts to satisfy even the most curious pig enthusiast.

Perhaps because Vermont has a strong dairy industry, Older has published several books that, like Cow, focus on dairy products; specifically one dairy product: ice cream. His first collaboration with Severance, Ben & Jerry—The Real Scoop!, profiles the Vermont-based company that in the 1990s became well-known for their hip-folksy attitude and creation of such flavors as "Cherry Garcia" after Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. The book also benefited from the fact that Severance is the designer of Ben & Jerry ice cream containers, and she brings that same style to her illustrations. Ice Cream, which the duo released in 2002, broadens the presentation of the ice-cream business to cover the history and manufacture of the frozen dessert, as well as all manner of ice-cream lore and trivia. Describing Ice Cream as "lighthearted and informative," School Library Journal contributor Marlene Gawron added that Older's "text is chock-full of facts along with wisecracks," while Ilene Cooper remarked upon the author's "sassy comments" and "irreverent look" at his subject in her positive Booklist review. Praising the book in the New York Times Book Review, Kathleen Krull noted that Ice Cream hits its target audience due to its "bold, brassy, cartoony, wisecracky" style.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 2000, Kathy Broderick, review of Telling Time: How to Tell Time on Digital and Analog Clocks, p. 1246; February 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Ice Cream, p. 1011.

Books for Keeps, November, 1987, review of Hank Prank and Hot Henrietta.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, review of Cow, p. 215.

Junior Bookshelf, April, 1985, review of Hank Prank and Hot Henrietta, pp. 83-84.

New York Times Book Review, May 19, 2002, Kathleen Krull, review of Ice Cream.

Publishers Weekly, August 11, 1997, review of Cow, p. 400.

School Library Journal, March, 2000, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Telling Time, p. 230; May, 2002, Marlene Gawron, review of Ice Cream, p. 142.

Teaching Children Mathematics, May, 2001, Joanne L. Parent, review of Telling Time, p. 549.


Jules Older Web site, http://www.julesolder.com/ (December 2, 2004).*

Additional topics

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