Patricia Windschill Marx (1948-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1948, in St. Paul, MN; (a CPA) and Jean (an artist; Education: College of St. Catherine, B.A., (journalism), 1970; Washington Montessori Institute, degree, 1971; University of Minnesota, M.A. (journalism and mass communication), 1990. Politics: "I try—but I am really apolitical." Religion: "Catholic but endorse all religions."
Author and editor. Condrell School, Bethesda, MD, Montessori teacher, 1972-73; Montessori Foundation of Minnesota, St. Paul, teacher, 1973-74; United Nations Montessori School, New York, NY, teacher, 1974-75; Lucas-Evans Books (book packager), New York, NY, editor, 1993-94; Simon & Schuster, Parsippany, NJ, editorial assistant, 1997-99; MacMillan Reference USA, New York, NY, copyeditor, 1998-99; Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY, project job writer, 1999. Participant in Learning Readers division of New York City School Volunteer Program; Oral History Association of Minnesota, panel member; New Media Repertory Company, board member; Birthday Club, co-founder; guest lecturer.
Author's Guild, PEN, New York Society Library.
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies designation, National Council for Social Studies/Children's Book Council, 1991, for Echoes of World War II; Bank Street College of Education Best Books designation, 2001, for One Boy from Kosovo; Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, Simmons College, 2003; Notable Children's Book in the Area of Social Studies, Association of Booksellers for Children, 2003, for Touching the Sky; Booklinks Best Books selection, 2004, and Skipping Stones Honor Book, 2005, both for Everglades Forever.
UNDER NAME TRISH MARX
Echoes of the Second World War, Maconald (England), 1989, published as Echoes of World War II, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 1991.
Hanna's Cold Winter, illustrated by Barbara Knutson, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.
(With Dorita Beh-Eger) I Heal: The Story of the Children of Chernobyl in Cuba, illustrated by Cindy Karp, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.
(With Sandra Joseph Nunez) And Justice for All: The Legal Rights of Young People, Millbrook (Brookfield, CT), 1997.
One Boy from Kosovo, illustrated by Cindy Karp, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Louise Borden) Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright, illustrated by Peter Fiore, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2003.
Reaching for the Sun: Kids in Cuba, illustrated by Cindy Karp, Millbrook (Brookfield, CT), 2003.
Everglades Forever: Restoring America's Great Wetland, illustrated by Cindy Karp, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2004.
Jeanette Rankin: First Lady of Congress, Margaret K. McElderry (New York, NY), 2006.
Work in Progress
Sharing a Homeland: Jewish and Palestine Children, for Lee & Low, 2006; Elephants and Golden Thrones: Inside China's Forbidden City, for Abrams, 2007.
Publishing under the name Trish Marx, Patricia Windschill Marx writes nonfiction books for children, often depicting how real children have acted or survived in actual situations. In Hanna's Cold Winter, for example, "a curious true incident is incorporated into a pleasant glimpse of a Budapest family during WWII," as a critic for Kirkus Reviews explained. Marx tells the story of Tibor, who lives with his family in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II. The privations suffered by people during the war take a back seat to the possibility that the hippos in the nearby zoo may starve when shipments of hay are halted during a particularly harsh winter. Tibor's father gets the idea to feed Hanna and the other hippos the family's straw mat and straw slippers, and when that succeeds, Tibor and the other children begin a campaign to collect straw hats, mats, and slippers from other concerned citizens in wartime Budapest. Marx's narrative "has a ring of authenticity," noted Five Owls contributor Kathie Krieger Cerra, who further praised Hanna's Cold Winter as "a simply told story in which something happens that really matters to children."
Marx again highlights the survival skills of children in Echoes of the Second World War, which portrays the international range of the war through the experiences of six children. In relating the stories of a girl who joined the French Resistance, a German Jewish boy who was sent to live in London, and a British boy who spent the war in a prison camp in the Philippines, Marx intertwines quotes from interviews with each of her subjects as adults with background information about the war as it was conducted in each context. "The blend of personal anecdote and factual account brings the war into immediate focus," contended Betsy Hearne in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.
Children as survivors of catastrophe are also the subject of I Heal: The Story of the Children of Chernobyl in Cuba, in which Marx and photographer Cindy Karp tell the story of the thousands of Russian children who, in the 1980s, traveled to Cuba to receive medical care for the cancers suffered as a result of exposure to radiation from the meltdown of the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl. Twelve-year-old Elena narrates the story, which only lightly touches on the realities of surgery, chemotherapy, and other forms of treatment undergone by the children in the resort town of Tarara, Cuba, during their stay there; instead, Marx emphasizes the beauty of the tropical locale and the fun the children have playing there. "Her story is heartwarming and at times poignant," remarked Elizabeth Talbot in School Library Journal. Booklist reviewer Julie Corsaro suggested that teachers introduce I Heal alongside Toshi Maruki's tale of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Hiroshima No Pika, and concluded: "It is hard to imagine any young reader not being moved by these stories."
One Boy from Kosovo talks about Edi Fejzullahu's family, ethnic Albanians who are forced to flee Kosovo to a refugee camp in Macedonia. To tell the story of Edi and others forced to flee their homeland, Marx and Karp lived with the Fejzullahu family for several days. Kay Weisman, writing in Booklist, considered the result "an excellent introduction to the political backdrop and the human side of the Kosovo conflict." However, Elizabeth Talbot, writing for School Library Journal, was concerned about incorrect information presented as facts in the book, and felt that "although the writing is clear, the narrative lacks immediacy." Roger Sutton, reviewing the volume for Horn Book, had a more positive view, writing that Marx and Karp "demonstrate the virtue of using a tight focus to illuminate a larger event."
Cuba is again the setting of a Marx/Karp collaboration in Reading for the Sun: Kids in Cuba. This time the children voyaging to Cuba are not cancer patients seeking healing; they are children from a Los Angeles theater troupe who are working to build a bridge between Cuban children and children from the United States. The story is largely told through the experiences of American Angie Espinoza, who becomes close friends with Evelin, one of the Cuban students. "The focus is on strangers getting to know one another," explained Hazel Rochman in her Booklist review. Margaret R. Tassia, writing in School Library Journal, praised Marx's work, noting that Reading for the Sun "does an excellent job of documenting the experiences of these young people."
Marx teamed up with writer Louise Borden for a picture book on an entirely different subjet: the adventures of the Wright Brothers in Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Though many stories and picture books record the very first flight the brothers made successfully in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Touching the Sky focuses on two of the brothers' rare solo flights: Wilbur was requested to fly at New York City's Hudson-Fulton Celebration, the city's 300th anniversary, while Orville set new records in Germany and flew with that nation's crown prince. "These two events, marking one of the few times the almost inseparable brothers were apart, are uniquely re-created here," praised Harriett Fargnoli in her School Library Journal review. Carolyn Phelan, in Booklist, commented that the book "offers a more personal introduction to the famous inventors," while a critic for Kirkus Reviews considered Touching the Sky a "unique recognition of two American heroes."
On the Lee & Low Web site, Marx explained how she got started writing and why she focuses her writing on nonfiction topics. "As most writers, I read constantly as a child. Books and trips to the library, long afternoons reading in a patch of sunlight, reading curled in bed, late at night … all these are powerful memories of the worlds these books opened up to me. So when it came to choosing a profession, books and writing were a natural. And because I have a background in journalism, I was most interested in learning and writing about our world today."
Marx once told Something about the Author: "I signed my first book contract on my fortieth birthday. I had sent off a manuscript to five publishers not knowing that simultaneous submissions were not the way to an editor's heart. What did I know? I was an excited 'author' with an idea that put fire in my belly. In a week, I had heard from two publishers: MacDonald Books and Macmillan. I had first answered the call from MacDonald, so I happily went with them. Boy, was this easy! And on my fortieth birthday, holding a crystal glass full of champagne in one hand and a pen in the other, I signed the contract. I was sitting on my bed, in my bedroom in Chelsea, London, looking out onto a walled garden, the view I had looked at while writing the book. I had a new career, or a career to be exact. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
"Some of the books I've written since exciting to research and easier to write. Others took years and still are not written properly—and not yet published. When people take aptitude tests and are told they are wonderful writers and that would be a great profession for them, they should step back and take another test: how good are they at accepting rejections? … because every author, even really prolific authors, gets rejections.
It is part of the package, and one that I had to learn after too many years in the business. Also, when experiencing those first moments of organizing and researching and trying for that first sentence (because once the right one comes, you are on your way), and the drops of blood are emerging on your forehead as you sit in front of the blank screen on your computer, there's often a little voice that says, 'You idiot! What makes you think you can pull this off? Who are you kidding?'
"I know, too, that writing is therapy. Whatever turmoil is going on in one's life, whatever craziness, whatever the self-inflicted or other-inflicted chaos from life in our day is occurring, taking pen to paper, or fingers to keys, is a true and glorious escape. It becomes a need, like breathing and eating. It seeps into thoughts and dreams. You find yourself waking at 3:00 in the morning and reaching for the ever-present pad (that, too, is a discipline) by your bed, and in the dark, jotting down an idea that grows into a sentence, then ends up a paragraph or two. And maybe a book, down the line. If I don't wake up enough to write that first word, I always regret it in the morning; I know that THAT would have been the Newbery winner.
"I find there is always a depression after sending a book off for me. What should be, and is for a day or two, elation that I don't have to commune any longer with that subject, turns to depression over NOT having a work-in-progress. I worry, I fret, I clean my refrigerator. Then someone sends me a clipping that I put aside, then take a glance at, then mentally gage the angle, the work, the research, the money, the possible publisher. Often, I put it aside again, to be found months later and again pondered over. But as often, whatever the stimulus—a clipping, a poem, a story told or overheard, a child asking a question—I listen to the voice that begins to speak within me—not the Idiot voice, but the voice of possibility, the voice of creativity, the voice of belief in MY idea, and I act upon it. I am, again, writing."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 1, 1996, Julie Corsaro, review of I Heal: The Story of the Children of Chernobyl in Cuba, p. 651; June 1, 2000, Kay Weisman, review of One Boy from Kosovo, p. 1888; April 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Reaching for the Sun: Kids in Cuba, p. 1468; September 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright, p. 233.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of Echoes of the Second World War, p. 295.
Five Owls, March-April, 1994, Kathie Krieger Cerra, review of Hanna's Cold Winter, p. 88.
Horn Book, July, 2000, Roger Sutton, review of One Boy from Kosovo, p. 475.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1993, review of Hanna's Cold Winter, p. 864; February 15, 1994, p. 230; August 1, 2003, review of Touching the Sky, p. 1013.
School Library Journal, Nobember, 1993, p. 86; October, 1996, Elizabeth Talbot, review of I Heal, p. 136; June, 2000, Elizabeth Talbot, review of One Boy from Kosovo, p. 169; July, 2003, Margaret R. Tassia, review of Reaching for the Sun, p. 144; October, 2003, Harriett Fargnoli, review of Touching the Sky, p. 144.
Lee & Low Books Web site, http://www.leeandlow.com/ (May 3, 2005), interview with Marx.
Trish Marx Home Page, http://www.trishmarx.net (July 21, 2005).
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