John Archambault Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Born 0027;s College; University of California, B.A., 1981; graduate study at University of California, Riverside.
Office—PMB 488 20505 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92886.
Children's book author, poet, storyteller, and musician. CD recordings with David Plummer include Painting My World and Dancing on the Moon, for Youngheart Music.
Irma Simonton Black Honor Book, Bank Street College of Education, 1985, for The Ghost-Eye Tree; Children's Choice designation, International Reading Association/ Children's Book Council (CBC), 1986, for The Ghost-Eye Tree, and 1987, for Barn Dance!; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies designation, CBC/National Council on the Social Studies, 1987, for Knots on a Counting Rope; Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor Book designation, 1990, for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom ; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was chosen to be included in the Twenty-first-Century Literature Collection.
Counting Sheep, illustrated by John Rombola, Holt (New York, NY), 1989.
The Birth of a Whale, illustrated by Janet Skiles, Silver Press (Parsippany, NJ), 1996.
(With David Plummer) The Fox and the Chicken, illustrated by Marian Young, Silver Press (Parsippany, NJ), 1996.
(With David Plummer) Counting Chickens, illustrated by Lisa Chauncy Guida, Silver Press (Parsippany, NJ), 1996.
Grandmother's Garden, illustrated by Raul Colon, Silver Press (Parsippany, NJ), 1997.
(With David Plummer) I Love the Mountains: A Traditional Song, illustrated by Susan Swan, Silver Press (Parsippany, NJ), 1998.
Chicka Chicka Rock, illustrated by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.
"LITTLE SEASHORE BOOKS" SERIES; WITH BILL MARTIN, JR.
A Harvest of Oysters, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Irritable Alligator, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Loggerhead Turtle Crawls out of the Sea, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Night-hunting Lobster, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
A River of Salmon, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Seafaring Seals, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Silent Wetlands Hold Back the Sea, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Singing Whale, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
A Skyway of Geese, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
The Sooty Shearwater Flies over the Sea , Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation (Chicago, IL), 1982.
WITH BILL MARTIN, JR.
Knots on a Counting Rope (originally published by Martin as part of "Young Owl Books Social Studies" series, Holt (New York, NY), 1966), illustrated by Ted Rand, Holt (New York, NY), 1987.
The Ghost-Eye Tree, illustrated by Ted Rand, Holt (New York, NY), 1985.
Barn Dance!, illustrated by Ted Rand, Holt (New York, NY), 1986.
White Dynamite and Curly Kidd, illustrated by Ted Rand, Holt (New York, NY), 1986.
Here Are My Hands, illustrated by Ted Rand, Holt (New York, NY), 1987.
Up and down on the Merry-Go-Round, illustrated by Ted Rand, Holt (New York, NY), 1988.
Listen to the Rain, illustrated by James Endicott, Holt (New York, NY), 1988.
The Magic Pumpkin, illustrated by Robert J. Lee, Holt (New York, NY), 1989.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.
(Compilers with Peggy Brogan) Sounds of the Storyteller, DLM (Allen, TX), 1991.
Words, illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Little Simon (New York, New York), 1993.
A Beautiful Feast for a Big King Cat, illustrated by Bruce Degen, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
Chicka Chicka Sticka Sticka: An ABC Sticker Book, illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Also author of poetry and educational books.
"ROCKIN' READERS" SERIES; WITH DAVID PLUMMER
Magical, Miracle Me, with photographs by Michael Jarrett, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Anthills and Apartments, illustrated by Sally J. K. Davis, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
I'm a Can-Do Kid, with photographs by Michael Jarrett, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Grandmother's Garden, with photographs by Michael Jarrett, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
The Fox and the Children, illustrated by Karl Edwards, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
I Love the Mountains, illustrated by Pam Thomson, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Counting Kittens, illustrated by Priscilla Burris, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Rhythm, Rhythm, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Baseball Cards and Piggy Banks, illustrated by Catherine Leary, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Rickety Rock around the Clock, illustrated by Kathi Ember, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
Electric Car, illustrated by John Manders, Creative Teaching Press (Huntington Beach, CA), 2001.
CD recordings by Archambault and Plummer include Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Other Coconutty Songs, Plant a Dream, Grandmother's Garden, Wonder the Ocean, Painting My World, and Dancing on the Moon, all for Youngheart Music.
Videotapes of poems and stories have been produced by DLM Publishers.
John Archambault is a children's writer dedicated to making reading comfortable, stimulating, and above all, fun for young readers. He has enjoyed a productive and successful collaboration with Bill Martin, Jr., with whom he shares an interest in the art of storytelling and in creating books meant to be seen and heard, as well as read. Archambault and Martin have also combined their efforts in designing innovative ways to help children discover the sheer joy of reading. Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Kristiana Gregory called the two authors "a valuable duo with much to offer" young readers. Archambault is also an accomplished songwriter and has recorded several CDs of children's tunes.
Archambault was an eager reader and writer as a child. He was particularly inspired by E. B. White's classic novel Charlotte's Web after being introduced to the book by his third-grade teacher. Archambault read the book cover-to-cover and it was then, as he recalled on his Web site, that he realized what he wanted to do with his life. "I told my teacher, Mrs. Williams, that I wanted to do what E. B. White does," Archambault commented. "She said, 'John, if you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader.'"
Fortunately for Archambault, his parents valued literature and encouraged reading. His professional writing career began when, as a sophomore in high school, he took a part-time job at his local newspaper, the Pasadena, California Star. His good work was quickly rewarded with a full-time position as a reporter, a job he maintained throughout his high-school years. Archambault carried his involvement in writing and journalism into college as the editor of his campus newspaper. While a graduate student at the University of California at Riverside, he met Martin, a children's writer and educator who had been working on books and educational techniques for children for many years. In the mid-1980s, the two men began collaborating on children's picture books designed for early readers.
The Ghost-Eye Tree was the first publication written by Archambault and Martin that features Ted Rand as illustrator; the trio have since produced several popular juvenile books. The Ghost-Eye Tree is the story of a boy and his sister who are sent out by their mother for a pail of milk on a dark, windy night. In order to get to the milkman's farm, the children have to go past an old oak tree that the little boy fears is haunted. On their way back, both the boy and his sister, who has been teasing him for being afraid, see the ghost of the tree and flee home.
The Ghost-Eye Tree "emphasizes the bonds of love and friendship that develop between a brother and sister as they face their fears together," according to Washington Post Book World contributor John Cech. Critics have praised the book for its imaginatively spooky story, its rhythmic readability, and Rand's effective illustrations. The Ghost-Eye Tree is "a top-notch hair-raiser," noted a reviewer for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, the critic adding that "it's poetry, too, the kind that reaches out to grab you." Horn Book commentator Ann A. Flowers concluded that The Ghost-Eye Tree is perfect for reading aloud.
In Barn Dance! Archambault, Martin, and Rand again present a child's nighttime adventures. A little boy, lying awake in a sleeping farmhouse, hears the unmistakable pluck of a violin. Following his ears to the barn, he finds a scarecrow playing the fiddle and the farm animals dancing. He joins them and dances until dawn. Read aloud, this book sounds like a square dance. With upbeat words and rhythms—"a hummin' an' a-yeein' an' a-rockin' an' a-sockin,'" or "Let's begin! Grab yourself a partner and jump right in!" the authors mimic the lively music and dance.
The energy of Barn Dance! is more than matched by the spiritedness of the trio's White Dynamite and Curly Kidd, the story of a girl watching her rodeo-star father ride White Dynamite, "the meanest bull in the whole United States." Once again, the rhythm and tone of the poetry match the frenzied pace of the rodeo: "Oh! Dad's in the rocker now … floppin' back and forth! His head's goin' south! Bull's goin' north … twistin' like a corkscrew straight down the right-away. His middle name's Doomsday! U!S!A!" Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Kristiana Gregory summarized that the story "is rousing as a pep rally and meant to be yelled aloud so GET READY."
Knots on a Counting Rope is one of Martin and Archambault's most popular works. In the book the coauthors tell the story of a blind Indian boy who repeatedly asks his grandfather to tell him the tale of his birth and upbringing. The grandfather tells the boy of two great blue horses that looked upon him when he was a weak newborn baby, giving him strength. The elder also relates how the blind child learned to ride his horse by memorizing trails—and even took part in a horse race. Each time he tells the story, the grandfather ties another knot in his rope, assuring his grandson that when the counting rope is filled with knots, the boy will know the story of his own birth by heart.
Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Barbara Karlin noted that the aging grandfather in Knots on a Counting Rope "is telling his grandson that he will not always be there to tell the tale, even though his love for the child will last forever." The novel reflects the passing on of identity, love, and strength through the spoken word. This "dialogue between generations" observed Richard Peck in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, demonstrates the power of "the oral tradition, the link best forged by families."
With their more recent collaborations, Archambault and Martin dramatize familiar experiences in appealing ways. In her Horn Book critique of Up and down on the Merry-Go-Round, Ellen Fader found Archambault and Martin to be supremely successful in capturing the motion and joy of riding a carousel. The pair's Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, also received enthusiastic reviews. "Rap comes to alphabet books," declared School Library Journal critic John Philbrook of the book's "engaging rhyme" and "restless, exciting rhythms." Mary M. Burns, writing in Horn Book, called Chicka Chicka Boom Boom "one of the liveliest, jazziest alphabet books on record.… Tongue-tingling, visually stimulating.… Absolutely irresistible. Join in, snap your fingers, listen to the beat, let yourself go—and have fun." Chicka Chicka Boom Boom garnered a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book designation in 1990. In an even more recent work, Boom Chicka Rock, Archambault tells the story of a group of mice prepare for a late-night birthday celebration while taking care not to wake the cat sleeping nearby. "The rollicking refrain—'Boom Chicka Rock, Chicka Rock, Chicka Boom!'—will have children moving to the rhythm," noted School Library Journal contributor Robin L. Gibson.
In A Beautiful Feast for a Big King Cat a cat catches a little mouse who has been teasing him. Unable to run to his mother like he did before, the small mouse must save himself. Using his cunning, he entices the feline to dream of a delicious feast and when the cat closes his eyes to picture the food all laid out before him, the mouse runs to safety. "Archambault and Martin's rambunctious plot and lively, rhymed verse are perfectly complimented by the slapstick in Degen's detailed and faintly Victorian illustrations," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
In a solo project, The Birth of a Whale, Archambault introduces readers to a miracle of nature: the birth of a baby humpback out in deep water. While providing some whale-related facts, Archambault's verse focuses primarily on the rhythm and grandeur of the giant mammal. In her review for Booklist, Lauren Peterson noted the author's poetic slant, explaining that he is "more concerned with capturing the grace and majesty of the magnificent creature than with … presenting information."
As the author noted on his Web site, "I have a passion for bringing words to life. I stir rhythm, rhyme, and whimsy, stringing words so that a melody is created, then kids can ride along on this musical river." In addition to his literary efforts, Archambault has teamed with David Plummer to record several children's songs for Youngheart Music; he appears on the recordings Plant a Dream and Dancing on the Moon.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, July, 1994, Deborah Abbott, review of Beautiful Feast for a Big King Cat, p. 1952; March 15, 1996, Lauren Peterson, review of The Birth of a Whale, p. 1265.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1986, review of The Ghost-Eye Tree, p. 114.
Entertainment Weekly, May 1, 1992, Susan Stewart, review of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, p. 114.
Horn Book, January-February, 1986, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Ghost-Eye Tree, p. 51; July-August, 1988, Ellen Fader, review of Up and down on the Merry-Go-Round, p. 483; January-February, 1990, Mary M. Burns, review of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, p. 54.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1996, p. 906; April 15, 2004, review of Boom Chicka Rock, p. 389.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 15, 1986, Kristiana Gregory, review of White Dynamite and Curly Kidd, p. 7; December 6, 1987, Barbara Karlin, review of Knots on a Counting Rope, p. 7; March 27, 1988, Richard Peck, "Birds, Deserts, Space Insects, and a Navajo Grandfather," p. 12.
Publishers Weekly, May 30, 1994, review of A Beautiful Feast for a Big King Cat, p. 55; March 15, 2004, review of Boom Chicka Rock, p. 72.
School Library Journal, November, 1989, John Philbrook, review of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, p. 89; July, 1994, p. 73; March, 1996, p. 184; November, 1996, p. 76; May, 2004, Robin L. Gibson, review of Boom Chicka Rock, p. 100.
Washington Post Book World, November 10, 1985, John Cech, "A Palette of Picture Books," p. 19.
John Archambault Web site, http://www.johnarchambault.com(July 15, 2005).*
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