Linda Granfield (1950-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1950, in Medford, MA; moved to Canada, 1974, maintaining dual U.S./Canadian citizenship; Education: Studies at Oxford University, 1971; Salem State College, B.A., 1972; Northeastern University, M.A., 1974; attended University of Toronto, 1974-76. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, gardening, needlework, art.
Writer. Worked as an assistant children's librarian and in a book store in Canada, c. 1970s. Quill & Quire, book reviewer for 17 years.
International Board on Books for Young People—Canada, International Reading Association, Writers' Union of Canada, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Friends of the Osborne Collection—Toronto Public Library, Pier 21 Society.
Best Books selection, Ontario Library Association, 1988, and Best Nonfiction for Children, Canadian Library Association, 1989, both for All about Niagara Falls; Frances E. Russell award, IBBY-Canada, 1991; "Pick of the Lists," American Booksellers Association, 1994, for Cowboy and The Make Your Own Button Book; Information Book Award Honor Book, Canadian Children's Literature Roundtables, 1994, for Extra! Extra!, and 2002, for Pier 21; Information Book Award, and Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council (NCSS-CBC), both 1994, and "Quick Picks for Young Adults" selection, American Library Association, 1995, all for Cowboy; Honor Book, Canadian Library Association, and Information Book Award, both 1996, and regional Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association, Red Cedar Nonfiction Award, and Best Books selection, Internationale Jugendbibliothek, all 1997, all for In Flanders Fields; Quill & Quire Best Books designation, 1997, for Amazing Grace; Alcuin Society First Prize Design Award, 1998, for Silent Night; Best Books selection from Ontario Library Association, 1997, and Chicago Public Library and Bank Street College of Education, both 1998, all for Circus; Outstanding selection designation, Parent Council, 2000, for High Flight and Silent Night; Vicky Metcalf Award, 2001, for body of work; Quill & Quire Five Best Children's Books designation, and Canadian Library Association Notable Nonfiction selection, both 2002, both for Where Poppies Grow; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, 2002, for 97 Orchard Street, New York.
All about Niagara Falls: Fascinating Facts, Dramatic Discoveries, illustrated by Pat Cupples, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.
Canada Votes: How We Elect Our Government, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990 5th revised edition, illustrated by Craig Terlson, 2001.
Extra! Extra!: The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Newspapers, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Andrea Wayne Von Konisgslow) The Make-Your-Own-Button Book, illustrated by Andrea Wayne-Von Kongislow, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1994.
Cowboy: An Album, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993, Ticknor & Fields (Boston, MA), 1994.
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae, illustrated by Janet Wilson, Lester Publishing, 1995, Bantam (New York, NY), 1996.
Amazing Grace: The Story of the Hymn, illustrated by Janet Wilson, Tundra Books (Plattsburgh, NY), 1997.
Silent Night: The Song from Heaven, illustrated by Nelly and Ernst Hofer, Tundra Books (Plattsburgh, NY), 1997.
Postcards Talk, illustrated by Mark Thurman, Pembroke, 1997.
The Legend of the Panda, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.
Circus, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997, published as Circus: An Album, DK Ink (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Pat Hancock) Brain Quest Canada: 1,000 Questions and Answers: People, Places, Culture, and Historic Events (card format), illustrated by Kimble Mead, Allen, 1998 revised, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2001.
High Flight: A Story of World War II, illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Tundra Books (Plattsburgh, NY), 1999.
Pier 21: Gateway of Hope, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion, Stoddart (Niagara Falls, NY), 2001.
97 Orchard Street, New York, photographs by Arlene Alda, Tundra Books (Plattsburgh, NY), 2001.
Brass Buttons and Silver Horseshoes: Stories from Canada's British War Brides, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
I Remember Korea: Veterans Tell Their Stories of the Korean War, 1950-53, Clarion (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to magazines, including Cottage Life, Quill & Quire, Owl, and Books in Canada. Also contributor to Terrific Titles for Young Readers and Reading: Lifelong Adventure.
"THE YEAR I WAS BORN" SERIES
The Year I Was Born—1987, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press, 1994.
The Year I Was Born—1988, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press, 1995.
The Year I Was Born—1984, illustrated by Bill Slavin, Kids Can Press, 1996.
An award-winning author born in the United States, Linda Granfield has established a successful career as the author of children's nonfiction in her adopted country of Canada. The winner of the Vicky Metcalf award for her body of work, Granfield has mined the history of both the United States and points north, focusing her attention on the twentieth century in books such as 97 Orchard Street, New York, High Flight: A Story of World War II, and Canada Votes: How We Elect Our Government. Suitable for readers of all ages, her books present a wealth of historical and biographical information, even when dealing with contemporary subjects. Granfield has won praise for her thorough research and for her ability to relate information in an entertaining and engaging fashion.
As a child growing up in New England, Granfield was continuously exposed to that region's rich history. Her love of the past was complemented by her desire to write. As she once told Something about the Author (SATA), "I knew I wanted to be a writer after reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women when I was ten years old. I wanted to be Jo March. My parents took me to her home in Concord, Massachusetts—the visit only made the bug bite harder!"
Primarily educated in Massachusetts, Granfield began her writing career during her doctoral studies at the University of Toronto in Canada, where she met her husband and found work reviewing children's books. Her first book, All about Niagara Falls, focuses on a topic familiar to U.S. and Canadian citizens alike. The book presents information about the geography and history of the area, along with interesting stories, facts, and activities. According to Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, the work is "inviting" and entertains readers as it educates them. A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that the book should be "valuable for school assignments."
Other books soon followed, including a craft book, a book about voting, and a book about newspapers that won special praise from critics. Extra! Extra!: The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Newspapers is a "clever, gossipy, idea-packed volume," according to Judie Porter in School Library Journal. The book explains how newspapers are made, from the way reporters collect stories to the business of operations. Extra! Extra! also provides related activities to help children publish their own newspapers or creatively recycle newspapers. A glossary helps readers understand the newspaper person's vocabulary. Trina Preece, writing in Canadian Review of Materials, noted that Granfield does "a thorough, clear and fascinating job" with Extra! Extra!, while describing the work as "dynamic and fact-packed." Quill & Quire contributor John Lorinc called the volume "clearly a useful reference book for school libraries."
Granfield's highly praised Cowboy: An Album was described by a Kirkus Reviews contributor as an "affectionate tribute to cowboys, in myth and reality." Readers learn why cowboys were needed in the American and Canadian West, and are helped to understand the way they lived. Granfield includes women, Native Americans, and African Americans in her account. According to Deborah Stevenson, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, the "organization is good and the text generally clear." Generously enhanced by scores of photographs, paintings, illustrations, charts, and maps, Cowboy, in the words of Quill & Quire contributor Patty Lawlor, "belongs … in birthday gift-wrap."
Some of Granfield's most highly praised works detail the histories of twentieth-century cultural artifacts and customs. 97 Orchard Street, New York: Stories of Immigrant Life focuses on an immigrant neighborhood by profiling the history of the building that has become the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Recreating the life of the four families who made that building their home near the turn of the twentieth century, Granfield presents a realistic view of life in the tenements through what Kliatt contributor Rhonda Cooper praised as "clearly written narratives" that "will appeal to readers of all ages." Enhanced by photographs by Arlene Alda, as well as by contemporary images, the work is "chock-full of the simple details of everyday life as well as larger tales of human joy and suffering," according to School Library Journal reviewer Alicia Eames.
Another vestige of an earlier time, "In Flanders Fields" is a brief but beloved poem written by Canadian poet and doctor John McCrae. The poem, which communicates the horror and sadness of World War I, is known to English-speaking school children around the world. Granfield, along with illustrator Janet Wilson, set out to make its message even more accessible, and Quill & Quire contributor Sarah Ellis maintained that the pair "succeed admirably." In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae provides more than information about the poem; it tells of the poet's life, describes the conditions of the war on the battlefield and in the hospital, relates how McCrae conceived the poem, explains how the poem affected Canadian society and the Canadian armed forces, and reveals how it led to the poppy tradition observed on Remembrance Day. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, described In Flanders Fields as a "fine introduction to the poem, the man, and the war." Ellis concluded in her Quill & Quire review that it is "hard to imagine this clearly conceived and well-designed book being bettered."
Granfield returns to World War I in Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion, which reviews the history of the battle that so devastated Europe that it was optimistically viewed by contemporaries as the "War to end all wars." From the war's start in August of 1914 to Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, she follows the battles, espionage, training, propaganda, and efforts on the home front, and includes numerous photographs and other illustrations that show the uniforms, weaponry, maps, and other aspects of the war years. She also draws on original document, including correspondence that bring to life the era. In School Library Journal Ann Chapman Callaghan dubbed the volume "a haunting, moving scrapbook of the Great War from a Canadian point of view," while Book Report reviewer Kristin Fletcher-Spear cited Granfield's "straightforward" approach to an important topic. Praising the book for providing "a wealth of information in a very realistic, yet sensitive, manner appropriate for younger audiences," Resource Links contributor Victoria Pennell added that Where Poppies Grow will serve as an effective "catalyst for initiating conversations to help children understand the concept and effects of being at war."
Granfield continues her exploration of twentieth-century warfare with several other volumes. High Flight: A Story of World War II again has its basis in a poem, and focuses on writer John Magee, a pilot who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during wartime at age nineteen and died in 1941. Brass Buttons and Silver Horseshoes: Stories from Canada's British War Brides recounts a more uplifting side to World War II as it collects stories from the women who met and married Canadian servicemen during wartime.
In I Remember Korea: Veterans Tell Their Stories of the Korean War, 1950-53, Granfield again collects personal stories, this time of over thirty men and women who served the U.S. and Canadian military during the early 1950s. As Resource Links contributor Gail Lennon noted, "Korea is often called 'the forgotten war,' and … Granfield has set as her goal changing that situation." Bolstered with a wealth of maps, photographs, timeline, glossary, and other resources, the volume views the war years from several different perspectives, not only the military engagements but also the way it altered life at home, the phases of the war, and the war's aftermath in both Korea and North America. An introduction by Russell Freedman, a veteran of the war who has worked to bring information about the war to light for younger generations, also enhances the work. Praising the book as a useful supplement to texts on the war, Mary Mueller wrote in School Library Journal that the narratives collected in I Remember Korea "describe incredible bravery and sacrifice, humorous incidents, and the tragedies of lost lives and missed opportunities." Noting that the stories reflect "a wide range of attitudes and experiences," Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman added that contributors' "voices ring true."
Because her subject is nonfiction, much of Granfield's time is spent in research, and because she never knows where her next book project might lead, she has amassed a huge collection of articles, notes, ephemera, and contact information on a wide range of topics. "Every book presents new challenges," she once noted in an online interview with David Jenkinson for Canadian Review of Materials, "and it just wouldn't be worth writing at all if those challenges weren't there. I just move on to the next one … and hope I'm touching someone." Admitting to SATA that she reads "everything from scholarly books to the backs of potato chip bags," Granfield advises aspiring young writers to follow her example. "Keep reading. The more you read, the more you develop your own style."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Writing Stories, Making Pictures, Canadian Children's Book Centre, 1994.
Booklist, July, 1989, Carolyn Phelan, review of All about Niagara Falls, p. 1902; February, 1994, p. 1004; November 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of In Flanders Fields, p. 496; January 1, 2000, Randy Meyer, review of High Flight: A Story of World War II, p. 909; February 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of 97 Orchard Street, New York, p. 1011; June 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion, p. 1700; September 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of America Votes: How Our President Is Elected, p. 233; December 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of I Remember Korea: Veterans Tell Their Stories of the Korean War, p. 744.
Book Report, November-December, 2002, Kristin Fletcher-Spear, review of Where Poppies Grow, p. 57.
Books in Canada, February, 1997.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 1994, Deborah Stevenson, review of Cowboy: An Album, pp. 222-223.
Canadian Review of Materials, January, 1994, Trina Preece, review of Extra! Extra!: The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Newspapers, pp. 20-21.
Horn Book, fall, 1994, p. 396; July-August, 1998, Ann A. Flowers, review of Circus, p. 512.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1989, review of All about Niagara Falls, p. 624; February 1, 1994, review of Cowboy: An Album, p. 143; November 1, 2001, review of 97 Orchard Street, New York, p. 1549.
Kliatt, March, 2002, Rhonda Cooper, review of 97 Orchard Street, New York, p. 34.
Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1993, p. 74.
Quill & Quire, July, 1993, John Lorinc, review of Extra! Extra!, pp. 57-58; October, 1993, Patty Lawlor, review of Cowboy: An Album, p. 42; July, 1994, p. 62; December, 1995, Sarah Ellis, review of In Flanders Fields, p. 38; February, 1997.
Resource Links, December, 2001, Shannon Danylko, review of 97 Orchard Street, New York, p. 25; February, 2002, Victoria Pennell, review of Where Poppies Grow, p. 18; April, 2004, Gail Lennon, review of I Remember Korea, p. 28.
School Library Journal, May, 1989, p. 118; January, 1994, p. 121; March, 1994, Judie Porter, review of Extra! Extra!, pp. 228-229; December, 1996, p. 129; December, 2001, Alicia Eames, review of 97 Orchard Street, New York, p. 161; July, 2002, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Where Poppies Grow, p. 135; December, 2003, Dona Ratterree, review of America Votes, p. 168; February, 2004, Mary Mueller, review of I Remember Korea, p. 162; August, 2004, Joyce Adams Burner, review of America Votes, p. 49.
Wilson Library Bulletin, June, 1994, p. 127.
Canadian Review of Materials Online, http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (November, 1999), Dave Jenkinson, interview with Granfield.
Linda Granfield Web site, http://www.lindagranfield.com (May 3, 2005).
Writers Union of Canada Web site, http://www.writersunion.ca/ (May 3, 2005), "Linda Granfield."*.
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