Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff (1957-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1957, in Milwaukee, WI; Education: California State University, Fresno, B.A. (liberal studies), B.A. (Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Theater, the beach, playing the piano, reading, dogs, chocolate, old movies.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Troll Communications, 100 Corporate Dr., Mahwah, NJ 07430.
California State University, Hayward, Education/Extension Department, teacher of drama to educators. Has also worked as an elementary schoolteacher and director of children's plays and drama programs in northern California.
National Organization for Women, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, American Association of University Women, California Writers Club.
Curtain Call (drama games), Incentive Publications (Nashville, TN), 1989.
Explorers (teachers' guide), Frank Schaffer (Torrance, CA), 1994.
Louise the One and Only, illustrated by R. W. Alley, Troll Communications (Mahwah, NJ), 1995.
Wish Magic, illustrated by R. W. Alley, Troll Communications (Mahwah, NJ), 1996.
Help!: My Life Is Going to the Dogs, Troll Communications (Mahwah, NJ), 1997.
Louise the One and Only, Troll Communications (Mahwah, NJ), 1996.
John Muir and Stickeen: An Alaskan Adventure, illustrated by Karl Swanson, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.
(Compiler) The ABC's of Writing for Children: 114 Children's Authors and Illustrators Talk about the Art, the Business, the Craft, and the Life of Writing Children's Literature, Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press (Sanger, CA), 2003.
Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Parent's, San Francisco Chronicle, Instructor, Children's Writer, SCBWI Bulletin, and Writer's Digest. Author of column "Writing for Children," Byline magazine.
Before discovering her true passion for writing children's books, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff spend several years working as a elementary school teacher and children's theatre director. Beginning her writing career while raising her own son, she has produces several works of fiction for young readers, including Help! My Life Is Going to the Dogs, based on her life growing up in the Midwest. In addition to fiction, Koehler-Pentacoff has authored children's nonfiction as well as the guidebook The ABCs of Writing for Children: 114 Children's Authors and Illustrators Talk about the Art, the Business, the Craft, and the Life of Writing Children's Literature.
Her book John Muir and Stickeen: An Alaskan Adventure was described by a Kirkus Reviews critic as a "dramatic retelling" of a memorable experience in the life of noted American naturalist John Muir. Koehler-Pentacoff follows Muir on a day of exploration, the naturalist accompanied by a favorite canine companion. In present tense and accompanied by colored-pencil illustrations by Karl Swanson, the author describes the pair's adventures as they leap across crevasses, endure treacherously cold winds, and navigate a narrow ice bridge to safety. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, called John Muir and Stickeen "an adventure story with a dog but without sentimentality," while a Kirkus Reviews critic summed up the book by stating that the work presents "an engrossing survival tale, and provides unusual insight into Muir's character."
Koehler-Pentacoff once told Something about the Author: "Louise the One and Only originated on a soccer field. I overheard a mother (who is also a teacher) telling another mother that all of her kindergarten students wanted to change their names. A little voice popped into my head, saying 'I'm not Louise.' From that moment, Louise wouldn't leave me alone. I volunteered in my son's kindergarten classroom, so many details and ideas began there.
" Wish Magic is a fantasy about a girl who suddenly finds her wishes coming true. Her brainy brother, Morris, has secretly sprinkled a magic potion on her doughnut. The character of Morris grew out of my cousin, who liked to play tricks on me, and out of my own son, who is scientific and smart. I wrote a 'trick' ending, so the reader must pay attention to both written and illustrated clues.
" Help!: My Life Is Going to the Dogs is based on anecdotes of my early life. I grew up in Wisconsin during the sixties, and we didn't have much money. Our old Chevy had survived many years of wet Wisconsin summers and below-zero winters. Rust framed the car, and the lower side and bottom occasionally flaked away, leaving less and less car. The roof was liberally sprinkled with holes. Driving in wet weather became an event our visitors would never forget.
"Once, an elderly, large woman squeezed into the back seat. Her high heels went right through the floor boards. I was six or seven at the time, and I remember yanking her feet out. My mother passed an umbrella to us, while opening hers. Between my mother and father on the front seat was a bucket. Raindrops plunked from the ceiling to the umbrella and into the pail, creating a staccato rhythm. Although this was an everyday occurrence for us, our visitor was amazed.
"By using my life, observing others and using my imagination, I create fiction."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, July, 1996, p. 1826; October 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of John Muir and Stickeen: An Alaskan Adventure, p. 407.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of John Muir and Stickeen, p. 1311.
Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Denise S. Stricha, review of The ABCs of Writing for Children: 114 Children's Authors and Illustrators Talk about the Art, the Business, the Craft, and the Life of Writing Children's Literature, p. 92.
School Library Journal, August, 1996, p. 125; November, 2003, Susannah Price, review of The ABCs of Writing for Children, p. 175; January, 2004, Margaret Bush, review of John Muir and Stickeen, p. 118.
Writer, June, 2004, Joan Azelrod-Contrada, review of Inspiration and Tips for Children's Writers, p. 45.
Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff Web site, http://www.hometown.aol.com/lizbooks/index.htm (March 19, 2005).