3 minute read

Barbara Keevil Parker (1938-)


Barbara Keevil Parker is the author of several children's books, including North American Wolves and Susan B. Anthony: Daring to Vote. Inspired by Parker's interest in wildlife and the outdoors, North American Wolves introduces elementary-grade readers to the everyday world of wild wolves, including their physiology, their habits, and their unique behavior, which includes instinctive territoriality, hunting strategies, and communication techniques. Clear photos depicting the sometimes maligned and controversial animals accompany the text so young researchers can more clearly visualize the topics under discussion. Characterizing the book's introduction as "dramatic," Stephanie Zvirin added in a review of the book for Booklist that the author quickly "gets down to business, clearly and informatively."

Parker told Something about the Author: "I live in the Pacific Northwest and grew up a country girl. We lived on a small lake, and I spend many hours on the lake swimming, fishing, and canoeing, and an equal number of hours hiking in the woods, building secret camps, and learning to appreciate nature.

"In high school, I was deeply involved in journalism—editing the yearbook and writing for the school paper. I changed direction in college and majored in speech and drama with the goal of teaching in that area. Fortunately, I minored in English and American literature, because that's where I found my first teaching job.

"Marriage right after college took me to Evanston, Illinois, where my husband was attending school at Garrett Theological Seminary. During his graduate school years I taught school, and delivered our first child. From Evanston, we moved to Kansas, where two more children were born. Here, when our children were young, I took my first stab at writing children's books. The publishers rejected them. Then I got busy teaching preschool, middle school, and high school. I put aside my writing.

"When all the children were in school, I needed something new for me. I decided to go to graduate school. As a graduate assistant in adult education, I discovered I could write and publish articles about my work. I also studied marriage and family therapy and spent a year at the Menninger Foundation doing an internship in counseling.

"After another move I started my Rhode Island career in a fascinating job at a college. As coordinator of the Center for Economic Education, I collaborated with a local puppeteer to write a play called Dollars and Sense. Armed with puppets and a portable stage, I traveled to schools throughout the state presenting a puppet show to elementary children to get them thinking about basic In Parker's North American Wolves readers learn the truth about this much-maligned creature, and discover how wolves are being saved from extinction in their ever-shrinking natural habitat. (Photograph by Rick McIntyre.) economic concepts. Later I moved away from children to become director of education at a hospital. Here I wrote my first book, published in 1986, about developing courses for use in a hospital setting. In the meantime, we moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Emory University offered a class called Writing for Children, and I enrolled.

"I love animals so one of my early stories was about a wolf. I mailed it to a publisher. They wrote back that they didn't take fiction. Would I be interested in writing a nonfiction book on wolves? Of course I said yes! However, when I sent the manuscript to them, they rejected it. Brokenhearted, I paced around the house and finally mustered up enough courage to call them to ask what was wrong. 'Boring presentation,' they said. 'Well if I can rewrite it and make it more exciting, would you still be interested?' I asked. They agreed. A few months later I had my first children' book contract.

"After ten years in Georgia, we moved back to New England to be near children and grandchildren. New England was home for eight years. In addition to my writing career, I was a marriage and family therapist.

"My husband and I enjoy several hobbies, travel being one of them. We also love toy trains and German nutcrackers. Scattered throughout our houses we have two hundred nutcracker eyes staring at us year-round.

"From my window, I can watch the wind and sun play games on the nearby water. Mt. Baker towers above the hills and water, wearing its gleaming white snow cover year-round. Seeing nature in action right outside my window provides inspiration and an abundance of story ideas. I write every weekday, usually in the morning, however, when I get deep into a manuscript, time stops and I get lost in my writing."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, June 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Susan B. Anthony: Daring to Vote, p. 1758; December 1, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of North American Wolves, p. 681.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerBarbara Keevil Parker (1938-) Biography - Career, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Member, Honors Awards, Writings