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Valerie Coulman (1969–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1969, in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada; Education: Earned two bachelors degrees and a CERTSEL certificate.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Lobster Press, 1620 Sherbrooke St. West, Ste. C-D, Montreal, Quebec H3H 1C9, Canada.


Writer. Worked variously as a bridal consultant, seamstress, small-business owner, retail fabric salesperson, homemaker, and mother.


Canadian Children's Book Centre, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Oregon Christian Writers, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers.

Honors Awards

IBBY Canada Outstanding Canadian Picture Book designation, 2000–03, Gold Medal Book of the Year, Forward magazine, 2001, and Blue Spruce Reading Program honor, 2002, all for When Pigs Fly; Writer's Digest writing competition honorable mention in children's category, 2003, for Sometimes I Have a Porcupine Mom; Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Willow Awards nomination, 2002, and Blue Spruce Reading Award nomination, 2004, both for Sink or Swim.


When Pigs Fly, Lobster Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.

Sink or Swim, Lobster Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2003.

I Am A Ballerina, Lobster Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2004.

Author's works have been translated into French.


Valerie Coulman dabbled in a diverse group of creative jobs—from working as a bridal consultant to clerking in a fabric shop—before beginning her career as a children's book author. Among her award-winning titles are When Pigs Fly, Sink or Swim, and I Am a Ballerina. Because Coulman's books have attracted a readership A little cow refuses to limit himself to typical cow behavior in Sink or Swim, a sequel to Coulman's award-winning picture book When Pigs Fly. (Illustration by Rogé Girard.)in the United States as well as the author's native Canada, both I Am a Ballerina and When Pigs Fly have been translated into French.

In When Pigs Fly a young pig fights against the odds by trying to show his father that, indeed, "pigs can fly," in the hopes that his success will result in a brand new bicycle. Reflecting the success of the piglet's efforts, Linda Berezowski commented in Resource Links that Coulman's book "could be used to stimulate discussion on problem solving and dealing with disappointment."

Sink or Swim, the sequel to When Pigs Fly, features Ralph the cow, a character introduced in Coulman's first book. Like his piglet friend, Ralph is also trying to bend the laws of evolution, in this case by proving that cows can indeed swim. With the help of a host of animal friends, Ralph sets out to conquer biology but ultimately finds that his natural buoyancy is less than satisfactory. "His cheerfulness in the face of adversity, and his refusal to listen to the naysayers and settle for conventional bovine behavior, will be an inspiration to youngsters everywhere," stated Jane Barrer in a School Library Journal review of Sink or Swim. Isobel Lang also praised Coulman's book in Resource Links, dubbing it "an excellent sequel."

I Am a Ballerina spins "a charming story of a young girl's dream to become a ballerina" according to Stacie Edgar, a reviewer for Canadian Review of Materials. In a collaborative effort between the young girl and her loving parents, the girl realizes her dream in a matter of months. "This entertaining story of a young girl's dream fulfillment is ideal for other children to see how some dreams come true," Edgar concluded.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, December 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Sink or Swim, p. 684.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of Sink or Swim, p. 1310.

Publishers Weekly, November 17, 2003, review of Sink or Swim, p. 62.

Resource Links, April, 2002, Linda Berezowski, review of When Pigs Fly, p. 3; February, 2004, Isobel Lang, review of Sink or Swim, p. 1.

School Library Journal, May, 2004, Jane Barrer, review of Sink or Swim, p. 108.


Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers Web site, http://www.canscaip.org/ (May 3, 2005), "Valerie Coulman."

Additional topics

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