Lucy Jane Bledsoe (1957–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1957, in Portland, OR; companion of Patricia E. Mullan. Education: Attended Williams College, 1975–77; University of California at Berkeley, B.A., 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Cycling, mountaineering, kayaking, skiing, hiking, literacy programs.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Holiday House, 425 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017.
Writer. Martin Luther King Junior High, Berkeley, CA, California Poets-in-the-Schools residency, 1990; Tenderloin Women Writers Workshop, San Francisco, CA, facilitator, 1990–92; George Lucas Education Foundation, Skywalker Ranch, Marin County, CA, script and story writer, 1992; Globe Book Company, Paramus, NJ, textbook and story writer, 1992–95; University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, instructor in graduate-level scriptwriting, 1997–2003. Conducts creative writing workshops for adult literacy programs in Richmond, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, CA.
PEN, Authors Guild.
Youth grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1982; PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, 1985; grant from Poets and Writers Readings/Workshop, 1989; creative writing fellowship from Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, 1989; honorable mention, Literacy Lights fiction contest, 1990; honorable mention, New Letters Literacy Awards, 1995, for essay "Above Treeline"; Parents' Choice Gold Award, 1997, for Tracks in the Snow; Puffin Foundation grant; Lambda Literary Award, for Sweat; American Library Association Award for Literature, for Working Parts; California Arts Council artist's fellowship, 2002; two National Science Foundation artist and writers in Antarctica fellowships; inclusion on many state "best of" fiction lists.
The Big Bike Race, illustrated by Sterling Brown, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1995.
Tracks in the Snow, Holiday House (New York, NY), 1997.
Cougar Canyon, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2001.
Hoop Girlz, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2002.
The Antarctic Scoop, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2003.
How to Survive in Antarctica (nonfiction), Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of "An American Family" series (reading curriculum), Fearon Education (Belmont, CA), 1989, and reading curriculum for David S. Lake Publishers. SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA, science writer for Voyages through Time curriculum, 1997–2003.
EDITOR; FOR ADULTS
Goddesses We Ain't: Tenderloin Women Writers, Freedom Voices Publications (San Francisco, CA), 1992.
Let the Spirit Flow: Writings on Communications and Freedom, Berkeley Reads (Berkeley, CA), 1994.
Heatwave: Women in Love and Lust (anthology), Alyson (Los Angeles, CA), 1995.
Leaping Fifty Stories High, (Richmond, CA), 1995.
Lesbian Travels: A Literary Companion, Whereabout Books (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
Gay Travels: A Literary Companion, Whereabouts Press (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
OTHER; FOR ADULTS
Sweat: Stories and a Novella, Seal Press (Seattle, WA), 1995.
Working Parts (novel), Seal Press (Seattle, WA), 1997.
This Wild Silence (novel), Alyson (Los Angeles, CA), 2003.
Contributor to books, including Combat Zone, Fearon Education, 1990; Fearon's Amazing Adventures, Fearon/Janus/Quercus, 1993; Growing up Gay: A Literary Anthology, edited by Bennett L. Singer, New Press of New York, 1993; Another Wilderness, edited by Susan Fox Rogers, Seal Press, 1994; Sportsdykes, edited by Rogers, St. Martins Press, 1994; Tomboys!, edited by Lynne Yamaguchi and Karen Barber, Alyson, 1995; and Women on Women 3, edited by Joan Nestle and Naomi Holoch, Plume Books, 1995. Contributor to magazines, includ-ing Newsday, Conditions, Northwest Literary Forum, California Wild, Girlfriends, Ms., Fiction International, California Bicyclist, and Frontiers. Author of CD-ROM scripts for National Geographic, 1997–98, and George Lucas Foundation.
An accomplished novelist, editor, and essayist, Lucy Jane Bledsoe has also shared her interest in the out of doors by penning fiction and nonfiction for middle-grade readers. In titles such as The Big Bike Race, The Antarctic Scoop, and Cougar Canyon Bledsoe weaves science, nature, and adventure into highly praised novels that critics have lauded for their likeable and realistic preteen protagonists. In a slight change of pace, her novel Hoop Girlz focuses on organized sports. In the novel, an eleven year old who is determined to play her favorite sport because of the love of the game sets about starting her own team with a rag-tag group of like-minded students who have been cut from her Oregon middle school's new basketball team. In Booklist Bill Ott praised Hoop Girlz as "well constructed and realistic," adding that Bledsoe's "humor is fresh" and her protagonists "believable."
In The Big Bike Race Ernest and his sister, Melissa, are being raised by their grandmother in Washington, DC. Ernest desperately wants a sleek, new racing bicycle for his tenth birthday, and his less-than-affluent grandmother manages to save enough money to buy the boy a bike: a big, clunky, yellow bike. Although embarrassed by the bike, Ernest is touched by his grandmother's generosity and is determined to win the Citywide Cup race with his new bicycle. Critics praised The Big Bike Race for its depiction of a loving African-American family that succeeds despite poverty. Booklist reviewer Lauren Peterson commented that the novel's "dignified portrayal" of a poorer family "is something not seen enough in mainstream children's literature." Noting the story's subtle lesson, Margaret A. Bush wrote in Horn Book that Bledsoe's "nice twist veers events away from a predictable outcome to a more complex and satisfying conclusion." Interestingly, The Big Bike Race is based on the author's own childhood memories of receiving a big, used, yellow bike as a gift.
Cougar Canyon finds thirteen-year-old California teen Izzie Ramirez facing summer vacation by determining to start her own yard-care business. While working for a wealthy client whose property borders one of northern California's wilderness areas, she learns that two older teens plan to hunt and kill the wild cougar that lives in the nearby woods. Izzie quickly sets about trying to save the cougar's life, drawing on her close-knit family for support and comfort when the animal is eventually killed. Calling Izzie "a winning protagonist," a Kirkus Reviews contributor added that the teen's "keen observations, occasionally awkward outspokenness, and independence" will win over middle-grade readers. Praising Cougar Canyon as a "thematically rich" novel, Janet Gillen added in School Library Journal that the story "weaves together themes of strong familial ties, friendship, self-awareness, and the importance of respecting all living creatures."
The Antarctic is a region Bledsoe has studied in detail, and she shares her knowledge in the novel The Antarctic Scoop as well as the nonfiction How to Survive in Antarctica. The Antarctic Scoop introduces twelve-year-old Victoria von Woolf, whose dream is to become an astrophysicist. Winning a trip to Antarctica, she determines to see the launch of a new interspace telescope while on her trip, but finds her efforts thwarted by a trip sponsor who is up to something sneaky and underhanded. In Booklist Louise Bruggemann predicted that young readers "will enjoy" following the adventures of Bledsoe's shy, geeky protagonist, while School Library Journal reviewer Carolyn Janssen praised The Antarctic Scoop as an "adventure story [that] moves quickly."
Discussing her writing, Bledsoe once commented; "my primary motivation for writing is to make sense of the world. Creating—stories, paintings, dance, music, art of any kind—is the only way I know how to combat forces of destruction and feelings of alienation. I read widely and am influenced by everything I read. Each month I have different favorite authors, both contemporary and classic. I teach creative writing classes in literacy— that's literacy, not literary—programs, and I sincerely believe adults who are learning to read and write for the first time are the best writing teachers I have had. They teach me about the bones of language and about the absolute necessity of a story.
"I write fiction every day and all morning. I am not an outline writer, though I usually try to write a string of scenes before beginning a first draft. (These synopses always change drastically in the course of writing a story or book.) Then I write the first draft pretty much all the way through. The real work begins after the first draft is complete. I rewrite a tremendous amount: every story or chapter goes through dozens of drafts.
"Besides writing fiction, I write curriculum. About fifty percent of the curriculum writing I do is in the sciences. I love reading about physics and earth science, both of which teach me what a blip we are in the history of the universe. We don't have time for anything but the truth. So I try to tell the truth. I do that better with fiction than with nonfiction.
"I am also inspired by courageous people and nutty people, and most of all, by people who are both."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 1, 1995, Lauren Peterson, review of The Big Bike Race, p. 313; February 1, 2002, Denise Wilms, review of Cougar Canyon, p. 938; September 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of Hoop Girlz, p. 128; January 1, 2004, Louise Bruggemann, review of The Antarctic Scoop, p. 852.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1995, p. 119.
Horn Book, January, 1996, Margaret A. Bush, review of The Big Bike Race, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1995, p. 1487; December 1, 2001, review of Cougar Canyon, p. 1681; September 1, 2002, review of Hoop Girlz, p. 1304; December 15, 2003, review of The Antarctic Scoop, p. 1446.
Library Journal, October 1, 1995, p. 122.
Publishers Weekly, August 7, 1995, p. 456.
School Library Journal, November, 1995, p. 96; February, 2002, Janet Gillen, review of Cougar Canyon, p. 129; December, 2002, Renee Steinberg, review of Hoop Girlz, p. 132; January, 2004, Carolyn Janssen, review of The Antarctic Scoop, p. 124.
LJucy Jane Bledsoe Home Page, http://lucyjanebledsoe.com (July 6, 2005).
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