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Gloria Rand (1925-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1925, in San Francisco, CA; Education: Attended University of Washington; attended writing course at King County (WA) night school.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Henry Holt & Co., 115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011.




Salty Dog, illustrated by husband, Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1989.

Salty Sails North, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1990.

Salty Takes Off, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1991.

Prince William, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1992.

The Cabin Key, illustrated by Ted Rand, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1994.

Aloha, Salty!, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

Willie Takes a Hike, illustrated by Ted Rand, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1996.

Baby in a Basket, illustrated by Ted Rand, Dutton/Cobblehill (New York, NY), 1997.

A Home for Spooky, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1997.

Fighting for the Forest, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1999.

Sailing Home: A Story of a Childhood at Sea, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

Little Flower, illustrated by R. W. Alley, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

Mary Was a Little Lamb, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

A Pen Pal for Max, illustrated by Ted Rand, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.


Working in collaboration with her husband, illustrator Ted Rand, Gloria Rand has authored a variety of picture books, from adventure stories based on real-life occurrences to thoughtful works of fiction. Like her book series about a young dog and his master, Rand often focuses on the out of doors, whether it be sea or forest, and frequently casts animal characters, as in Willie Takes a Hike, about a runaway mouse, and Little Flower, which features a pot-bellied pig as its main protagonist. "My stories are usually based on a true happening," Rand once explained to Something about the Author (SATA), adding: "I research carefully with each new manuscript, no matter what the subject. Research usually means meeting interesting people, and that is a plus in life. It also frees me from worrying that I'm going to pass on misinformation to my readers, something I never want to do. I try to keep my writing simple and clear. If I find myself getting wordy, or over-writing, I read some Beatrix Potter, and that usually gets me back on track."

In her picture-book debut, Salty Dog, Rand introduces a young puppy and his human caretaker, Zack. Zack builds sailboats, and at first he brings his new house-mate to work with him each day. In Salty Dog the young pup shows his ingenuity by figuring out how to get by ferry to Zack's boat shop after Zack begins leaving Salty at home because of the dog's increasing size. As the story progresses, so does work on Zack's new sailboat, and at story's end both dog and master sail off for a trip around the world. Salty Dog "offers a pleasing nautical twist on the theme of boy-dog companionship," noted Ellen Mandel in a review for Booklist. Salty Sails North finds a now-fully grown Salty accompanying Zack on a sailing trip to Alaska. Along the way the pair encounter a rough storm, some Tlingit Indian artifacts, unfriendly wildlife, and treacherous icebergs. More high adventure marks the third entry in this series, Salty Takes Off, which takes place in Alaska. On one of his regular airborne jaunts alongside pilot Jarman, Salty falls out of the airplane during a turbulent part of the flight. "The drama and tension are scaled just right for the readaloud audience, who will of course also appreciate the canine protagonist," remarked Roger Sutton in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Likewise, Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan called Aloha, Salty!, in which Zack and Salty are swept overboard during a terrible storm off the coast of Hawaii, "a satisfying adventure for fans of Salty Dog."

Rand's picture books Prince William describes the plight of the animal victims of the 1989 oil tanker spill in Prince William Sound, and centers her story on one seal pup that is rescued by a little girl. The book was praised for engaging children's sympathies without sentimentality and teaching them about ecological damage and human attempts to repair it without sermonizing. Like Prince William, Baby in a Basket is also based on a real-life adventure. A small group traveling in the Alaskan winter of 1917 encounters disaster when a spooked horse overturns the party's sleigh, including a four-month-old infant sleeping in a basket. All narrowly escape to safety except the baby, whose basket is carried away downriver, where it is rescued by fur trappers. "The pacing is steady for scene-setting and swift for the crisis, and the details are well-chosen," commended a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Sometimes the tables turn in life, and animals do the rescuing, as Rand shows in her 2002 picture book, which has its source in an actual event. In Little Flower a house-pig saves the day when her elderly owner, Miss Pearl, has an accident. Trained to roll over and play dead, just like a dog, is something Little Flower usually does at her affectionate owner's command. However, when Miss Pearl falls in her home, the wise and resourceful pot-bellied pig finds her way out of the house and into the street, where she rolls over and plays dead until a car stops and her owner is rescued. Rand's only book to be illustrated by someone other than her husband—in this case R. W. Alley—Little Flower has "flashes of both humor and drama," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer who dubbed the work an "upbeat and poignant tale."

Rand's A Home for Spooky is also based on a real-life rescue, in this case the rescue of a scared and underfed dog. In the story, young Annie finds a stray dog and begins to secretly feed it, for she knows her parents will not allow any further pets in their home. Unfortunately, Annie's scraps are not enough to properly nourish the dog, whom she names Spooky, and he almost dies before Annie can enlist her parents' help to save him. "Worthwhile lessons" about compassion for animals and trusting parents "are bound together in this compelling book," Ellen Mandel concluded of A Home for Spooky in Booklist.

With Willie Takes a Hike Rand weaves what some critics found an exciting drama with a solemn message about the necessity of being properly prepared when hiking. Willie, a small mouse, disobeys his parents and hikes off into the junkyard, the family's new home, and quickly lands himself in trouble. "The message is … well integrated into the story," remarked Virginia Golodetz, adding in her School Library Journal review that "readers will stay involved in the drama." Rand's 1999 picture book Fighting for the Forest also has hikers as central characters, although this time they are a father and son, who discover that their favorite hiking trail is about to be deforested by loggers. In contrast to Willie Takes a Hike and Fighting for the Forest, The Cabin Key trades drama for atmosphere: in the book's simple plot, a young girl opens the door on her family's log cabin in the mountains, a place that, while lacking such modern amenities as heat and running water, is rich with her family's history. "Although there is virtually no plot here, what will hold kids are all the fantasy-building details of a cozy hideaway," contended Sutton in his Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books review.

Rand once told SATA: "I began writing children's picture books … at the suggestion of my husband, book illustrator Ted Rand. Four elements in my background were a decided help. I had worked as a copywriter, saying a lot in small spaces, a requirement for picture books. I had taken one writing class, an extremely good ten-week course at night school. This gave me a sound basis for writing anything. I like to write and I'm a natural exaggerator, which doesn't hurt.

"My advice to aspiring writers: … Have fun writing. Write about what interests you, and if you don't know the subject well, research. Don't talk about writing, write."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 1989, Ellen Mandel, review of Salty Dog, p. 1195; March 1, 1990, p. 1348; November 1, 1994, p. 509; April 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Aloha, Salty!, and Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Willie Takes a Hike, p. 1373; April 1, 1998, Ellen Mandel, review of A Home for Spooky, p. 1333.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1991, Roger Sutton, review of Salty Takes Off, p. 175; March, 1992, p. 191; October, 1994, Roger Sutton, review of The Cabin Key, p. 63.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of Little Flower, p. 344.

Publishers Weekly, December 9, 1988, p. 64; April 13, 1992, p. 58; July 25, 1994, p. 54; October 27, 1997, review of Baby in a Basket, p. 75; February 18, 2002, review of Little Flower, p. 95.

School Library Journal, March, 1990, pp. 199-200; April, 1991, p. 101; November, 1994, p. 89; June, 1996, Virginia Golodetz, review of Willie Takes a Hike, p. 108; August, 2002, Jody McCoy, review of Little Flower, p. 165.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - Personal