Ann (Christine) Turnbull (1943-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1943, in Hertford, England; Education: Attended Bexley Technical School, 1956-60, and Balls Park College of Education, 1971-73. Hobbies and other interests: Folklore, folk-singing, archaeology, ancient history, reading, dancing, singing, walking in the countryside.
Agent—Caroline Walsh, David Higham Associates Ltd., 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Square, London W1F 9HA, England.
Writer. Secretary in London and Reading, England, 1960-71, and Stevenage, England, 1974. Worked as a teacher.
W. H. Smith Mind-boggling Books Award shortlist, and Smarties Book Prize shortlist, both for Pigeon Summer; Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlist, and Whit-bread Children's Book Award shortlist, both for No Shame, No Fear.
The Frightened Forest, illustrated by Gillian Gaze, Kestrel (Harmondsworth, England), 1974, Seabury (New York, NY), 1975.
The Wolf King, Kestrel (Harmondsworth, England), 1975, Seabury (New York, NY), 1976.
Maroo of the Winter Caves, Clarion (New York, NY), 1984, twentieth anniversary edition, 2004.
Summer of the Cats, Metheun (London, England), 1988.
Trouble with Bats, Methuen (London, England), 1989.
Never a Witch's Cat, Paperbird (London, England), 1989.
The Queen Cat, Macdonald (London, England), 1989.
The Sand Horse, illustrated by Michael Foreman, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1989.
Rob Goes a-Hunting, illustrated by Denise Teasdale, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Make It, Break It, illustrated by David McTaggart, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.
The Lost Spaceship, Ginn (Aylesbury, England), 1990.
There's a Monster under My Bed, Aurum (London, England), 1990.
A Flying Day, Andersen (London, England), 1991.
Speedwell, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1992, published as Pigeon Summer, Walker (London, England), 1992.
The Tapestry Cats, illustrated by Carol Morley, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
No Friend of Mine, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1994.
Too Tired, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1993, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Room for a Stranger, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
Deep Water, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1996.
The Sleeping Beauty, Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1997.
A Long Way Home, Walker (London, England), 1998.
The Fairy Cow, Hodder (London, England), 1998.
House of Ghosts, Walker (London, England), 2000.
The Serpent's Cave, Hodder (London, England), 2000.
Gunner's Boy, A & C. Black (London, England), 2002.
No Shame, No Fear, Walker (London, England), 2003, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Josie under Fire, Usborne (London, England), 2004.
Pigeon Summer was adapted for television by Channel 4 School TV.
Work in Progress
Forged in the Fire, a sequel to No Shame, No Fear, for Walker, expected 2006.
Ann Turnbull worked as a secretary before returning achieving her dream of becoming a writer. "In my early teens two things happened that helped me feel like a real writer: my parents bought me my first typewriter … and I went in for a short story competition and won a place at the Writers' Summer School," Turnbull explained on her Web site. Since she began to write full time, Turnbull has created nearly thirty books for children and young people, ranging from picture books to young adult novels.
Because of Turnbull's particular interest in history, many of her novels take place in historical settings. Maroo of the Winter Caves tells the story of an Ice Age girl; No Shame, No Fear is set in 1662 just after England's Civil War; Gunner's Boy tells the story of a boy in the Royal Navy fighting the Spanish Armada in 1588; and several titles, including A Long Way Home, and Pigeon Summer are set in the 1930s.
Speedwell, No Friend of Mine, and No Room for a Stranger make up a trilogy of books about the Dyer family. Set in the late 1930s through World War II, the stories follow the Dyer siblings as they grow up. Speedwell—published in the United States as Pigeon Summer—is the story of Mary, who has to care for her father's racing pigeions whil he is away from home seeking work. Mary wants to race the birds, but pigeon racing is a man's hobby, and Mary soon finds herself in conflict with her mother. Candace Smith, writing in Booklist, noted that "Turnbull realistically portrays the frustration and desperation of poverty," and a reviewer for American Bookseller described Mary as "a strong, early adolescent female who dares to be different."
No Friend of Mine deals with Lennie, who is bullied at school and thinks he has found a friend in the wealthy Ralph, despite their class differences. When Lennie is accused of stealing, Ralph betrays him, and Lennie is forced to deal with the loss of a friendship. Hazel Rochman, reviewing the book for Booklist, wrote that Turn-bull's "fine historical novel evokes the time and place with spare detail."
In Room for a Stranger Lennie's sister Doreen has to share her room with Rhoda, who was evacuated from Liverpool during the World War II blitz. In an argument between the two girls, Doreen tells Rhoda that no one wants her, and Rhoda runs away. Doreen feels it falls upon her to bring the girl back. "The war is a huge presence, but the focus is on personal conflict," noted Hazel Rochman in her Booklist review. A Publishers Weekly critic called the title "an eminently believable character study."
Turnbull's picture books have featured such magical happenings as cats coming to life from a medieval tapestry, as well as retellings of both fairy tales and Biblical stories. In Too Tired, the two sloths supposed to accompany Noah on the ark are just too tired to get to the boat before the flood. "Turnbull's short sentences keep the story at a suspenseful pace while her humorous undertones and callous feline characters prevent the proceedings from becoming too scary," explained a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Stephanie Zvirin commented in her Booklist review that readers familiar with the original Noah tale "will feel most comfortable with this version, which does end happily."
Tapestry Cats tells the story of a princess who is very lonely until two cats spring to life out of a tapestry in her castle home. "Turnbull has a sure, deft hand with description," praised a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Turnbull's first novel for young adults, No Shame, No Fear, tells the story of Susanna and William, who fall in love shortly after the civil war in England. Their romance seems doomed, however; in 1662, the British Parliament passed what was called the Quaker Act, which made it illegal for Quakers to gather and practice their religion. Susanna is a Quaker and her faith is very important to her; William, from a wealthy Anglican family, is intrigued by her dedication, and soon finds himself drawn to her religion as well. Susanna and her family are arrested, and William defies his father and converts to the Quaker faith, ready to give up everything to marry Susanna. Cindy Welsh, writing in Booklist, called No Shame, No Fear "a well-told historical tale, engaging and informative" while Laura Reed of School Library Journal labeled it "an engaging and believable story." Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser noted, "The author makes us feel close to Susanna and William, so the unfolding other details of their beliefs and the historical persecutions are fascinating."
Turnbull once told Something about the Author: "I've been writing since I was about six years old and started writing historical novels intended for adults when I was sixteen and sending them to publishers. It was thirteen years before I got anything accepted, and that was after being introduced to modern children's novels at college and realizing that this was where my own interest really lay."
Biographical and Critical Sources
American Bookseller, August, 1992, review of Speedwell.
Booklist, December 15, 1992, Candace Smith, review of Speedwell; March 15, 1994, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Too Tired, p. 1375; August, 1995, Hazel Rochman, review of No Friend of Mine, p. 1950; May 1, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Room for a Stranger, p. 1508; October 1, 2004, Cindy Welch, review of No Shame, No Fear, p. 340.
Kliatt, November, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of No Shame, No Fear, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly, November 23, 1990, Diane Roback and Richard Donahue, review of Make It, Break It, p. 64; July 13, 1992, review of The Tapestry Cats, p. 54; April 11, 1994, review of Too Tired, p. 64; May 13, 1996, review of No Room for a Stranger, p. 77.
School Library Journal, November, 2004, Laura Reed, review of No Shame, No Fear, p. 155.
Ann Turnbull Home Page, http://www.annturnbull.com (April 28, 2005).
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