Teri Sloat (1948-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1948, in Salem, OR; Education: Oregon State University, B.A. (with honors), 1970; graduate study at Sonoma State University and Oregon College of Education.
Agent—Kendra Marcus, 67 Meadow View Dr., Orinda, CA 94563.
Elementary school teacher in rural villages in Alaska, 1970–75; developer and illustrator of bilingual materials used in classrooms, 1975–81; freelance textbook developer and illustrator in Alaska, 1981–83; teacher of sixth grade and art in Sebastopol, CA, 1984–87; freelance writer and illustrator, 1988–. Oregon College of Education, teacher's aide training instructor, 1981–83.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
New York Times best picture book of the year selection, 1989, for From Letter to Letter; Utah State Reading List includee, 1999, for Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round; Notable Science Trade Book designation, 1999, for Patty's Pumpkin Patch; Texas State Reading List includee, 2000, for Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep; Alaska Book List, 2002–03, for The Hungry Giant of the Tundra.
The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Orchard (New York, NY), 1995.
Really, Really Bad Monster Jokes, illustrated by Mike Wright, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!, illustrated by Reynold Ruffins, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.
Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 1999.
Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep: A Yarn about Wool, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2000.
This Is the House That Was Tidy and Neat, illustrated by R. W. Alley, Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
FOR CHILDREN; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
From Letter to Letter, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1989.
(Reteller) The Eye of the Needle: Based on a Yup'ik Tale Told by Betty Huffmon, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1990.
From One to One Hundred, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1991.
(Reteller; illustrated with husband, Robert Sloat) The Hungry Giant of the Tundra, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1993.
(With husband, Robert Sloat) Rib-Ticklers: A Book of Punny Animals, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1995.
(Coauthor with Betty Huffmon; illustrator with husband, Robert Sloat) Ananak's Berries, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1996.
Little Red Hen's Christmas, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
Sody Sallyratus, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Patty's Pumpkin Patch, Putnam's (New York, NY), 1999.
Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing: A Story of Christmas Mail, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2001.
Pieces of Christmas, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.
(Coauthor with Betty Huffman) Berry Magic, Alaska Northwest Books (Anchorage, AK), 2004.
I'm a Duck!, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthology The Big Book of Peace, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Jane Howard, When I'm Hungry, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Barbara Winslow, Dance on a Sealskin, Alaska Northwest Books (Anchorage, AK), 1995.
Charlotte Armajo, Desert Dance, Addison-Wesley Educational, 1995.
(With Susan Henry) Early Action: Developmental Activities for the Dynamic Early Learning Classroom, Mariswood Educational Resources, 1990.
Author and illustrator Teri Sloat credits a class taken during college with inspiring her to become a children's book author. Her early picture books, such as The Eye of the Needle and From One to One Hundred, garnered praise for the colorful, detailed, and humorous illustrations she created to enhance her texts. More recent books, such as Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing, Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round, and This Is the House That Was Tidy and Neat, have been equally admired for their energetic stories, told in a repetitive rhyme that makes them a top choice for storytime reading. While she still illustrated many of her works, Sloat has also paired with artists such as Nadine Bernard Westcott and R. W. Alley in creating some of her more recent readalouds.
A fan of writing and drawing since childhood, Sloat once recalled to SATA: "While I was growing up, my dad often watched travel adventures on television and would talk to me about how other people lived. My mom would let me talk and talk and would always say 'I never looked at it that way' or 'what makes you able to think of those things?' She made me feel that I had a special ability." Typing her earliest tales in her mother's office after school, Sloat explained that she "began drawing by copying Walt Disney characters. I was an only child and drawing also became my way of being sure that I was never bored—as did writing poems." After becoming a teachers, Sloat gained a familiarity with books by many other children's authors, and saw the reactions of her own students. Soon, "embellishing the stories that I read or spinning off into new stories became a hobby," she explained.
Like many children's book authors and illustrators, Sloat began her career with an alphabet book, and follows that with a counting book. As she once explained to SATA: "In 1991, I finished From One to One Hundred, a counting book. I made it as a companion book for From Letter to Letter. I really wanted to have fun with the idea that numbers are all around us in every imaginable setting. I also like to put things in an illustration that may not be noticed the first time. Trying to add just one more idea to an illustration is part of the reason it takes me longer to do a book than I would like."
Both From One to One Hundred and From Letter to Letter were warmly received by reviewers, who consistently praised Sloat's clever incorporation of numbers and letters in her colored-pencil illustrations. After listing several examples, Judith Gloyer concluded in her School Library Journal review of From One to One Hundred: "There are tons of other clever details worked in throughout the book." Calling From Letter to Letter "a delight," a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that the "links between the upper-and lower-case letters on each page are especially creative and amusing." In both cases, reviewers recommended Sloat's books for children somewhat older than the traditional A-B-C and counting-book readership because of the visual information contained in the illustrations. Booklist reviewer Denise Wilms called From Letter to Letter "a rich but quiet lesson for independent browsers or children sharing this with adults."
Following college, Sloat and her husband moved to the Alaskan wilderness and spent a dozen years traveling in that region. Her interest in Alaska's native heritage inspired The Eye of the Needle, a retelling of a Yupik Eskimo legend about a boy who is sent out to hunt for food by his grandmother. The boy is so hungry that instead of bringing the food back home, he eats everything in sight, from a small fish to a giant whale. Returning empty handed and ashamed to his grandmother's hut, the over-stuffed boy discovers that he cannot squeeze through the front door. Then grandmother's magic needle releases all the fish, enough to feed the entire village. "This tall tale, simply told in an oral style, should have wide appeal," predicted Karen James in School Library Journal. Betsy Hearne also praised the energy in Sloat's illustrations, concluding in her Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books review: "However true this may or may not be to the Yupik tradition, it's a jolly celebration of the oral stage."
Like The Eye of the Needle, Sloat's retelling of The Hungry Giant of the Tundra has been praised as an entertaining read-aloud. In the book a group of children playing on the Alaskan tundra remain outside later than their parents have warned them is safe. Captured by Akaguagankak the Giant and destined for dinner, they are saved with the help of two birds, as well as through their wits and a dash of good luck. In her review for School Library Journal Roz Goodman called The Hungry Giant of the Tundra "a masterful retelling that combines rich, lively language … and colorful, detailed illustrations."
Sloat collaborated with her husband, Robert Sloat, on the illustrations for The Hungry Giant of the Tundra, and the two teamed up again to write and illustrate Rib-Ticklers: A Book of Punny Animals. Reviewing the joke book, critics praised Rib-Ticklers for its superior artwork and interesting layout, which organizes the text into fifteen two-page spreads, each replete with jokes, puns, and riddles, as well as visual humor on a particular animal. Describing the illustrations as "subtly humorous rather than cartoonishly wacky," Steven Engelfried claimed in his School Library Journal review that "kids will enjoy perusing the pages." Julie Yates Walker, writing in Booklist, added: "young jokesters should pick up quite a bit of information amid giggles."
Like her retellings of traditional Yupik legends, Sloat's rendition of Sody Sallyratus, a tall tale from the Appalachian region, garnered praise for what Booklist reviewer Julie Corsaro dubbed "engaging humor, rhythm, and repetition," elements that, in the reviewer's opin ion, make this an ideal choice for reading aloud. In this story, the members of an Appalachian family with a yen for biscuits but short on sody sallyratus—baking powder—go one by one to the store to buy some. However, each family member encounters a hungry black bear who eats them before they reach the store. Luckily, a loyal pet squirrel outwits the bear, freeing the undigested family.
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Featuring engaging illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott, The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown is the one of several pictures books by Sloat that she claims are inspired by her sometimes over-industrious husband. The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown finds Farmer Brown waking up the entire farmyard while he chases a pesky mosquito, while in Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round a tornado hits the farmyard and spins all the animals into such a state that dogs start neighing, cows oink, and the dazed sheep cluck like hens. An annual sheep-shearing starts off Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, but with their fleece gone the sheep begin to shiver and the kindhearted farmer gets out the knitting needles and turns the fresh wool into new sweaters for each of his precious little lambs. School Library Journal reviewer Beth Tegart called The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown "a rousing story-hour offering that's frivolous and fun," while a Kirkus Reviews commentator noted of Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round: "The clever and expertly written story will tickle the funny bones of the nursery-school set." Noting that Westcott's "silly illustrations hint at a story that is anything but ordinary," School Library Journal reviewer Lee Bock praised Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep for its "bouncy verse," and in Booklist Hazel Rochman noted that Sloat's rhyming text "is simple and funny, great for reading aloud."
In an imaginative adaptation of the story about the old lady who swallows a fly, then a spider, bird, cat, dog, cow, and finally a horse, Sloat created the picture book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout! In Sloat's version, illustrated by Reynold Ruffins and set in the Pacific Northwest, the old lady of the title swallows a variety of ocean wildlife before consuming the entire ocean itself, only to regurgitate the whole mess and survive the ordeal—unlike the old lady of flyswallowing fame. Sloat's version was commended for its "simple but satisfying rhymes" and "cheery humor" by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.
Sloat turns to another traditional nursery rhyme—in this case the poem "This Is the House That Jack Built"—in This Is the House That Was Tidy and Neat. Taking place in Edwardian England, the book finds a boy, girl, dog, cat, and mouse causing all manner of mess in their large house when they find themselves unsupervised. Fortunately, Father arrives home first, and all the mess is put right before Mother returns. A Horn Book contributor cited Sloat for her "rolling cumulative verse" while in Kirkus a critic praised R. W. Alley's illustrations as "full of fun and mischief," adding that "listeners in laps will enjoy pointing out the messy details."
A holiday book with what a Kirkus Reviews contributor described as an "oustandingly daffy premise," Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing reveals a heretofore undisclosed North Pole tradition: In the weeks leading up to Christmas, a team of blue-coated aardvark angels leave heaven and appear on Earth, their task to help mailmen all around the world deal with the holiday mail. Written in rhyming verse that echoes the refrain in a familiar Christmas hymn, Sloat's "sublimely silly tale"is matched only by her watercolor and acrylic illustrations that "brim with droll detail," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In Booklist Shelle Rosenfeld called Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing a "charming carol adaptation," while in School Library Journal a critic dubbed it "perfect fun for Christmas reading."
In addition to illustrating her own books, Sloat has, on occasion, created artwork for other writers, her first illustration project being the picture book When I'm Hungry by Jane Howard. Sloat also provided the illustrations for Barbara Winslow's account of a young Yupik Eskimo girl's coming-of-age ritual in Dance on a Sealskin. Winslow tells of the mix of emotions felt by Annie as she prepares for her first ceremonial dance, emphasizing the involvement of her family and community. Booklist reviewer Kay Weisman praised Sloat's illustrations as "particularly effective in showing the mix of modern and traditional elements in the Yupik culture." Roz Goodman, who reviewed Dance on a Sealskin for School Library Journal, also commented favorably on the realism of Sloat's illustrations, adding: "This book … combines powerful writing and vivid illustrations to capture the joy of giving and sharing among the Yupik Eskimos."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 15, 1989, Denise Wilms, review of From Letter to Letter, p. 464; December 1, 1993, pp. 695-96; June 1-15, 1995, Julie Yates Walker, review of Rib-Ticklers, p. 1780; August, 1995, Kay Weisman, review of Dance on a Sealskin, p. 1958; December 15, 1996, Julie Corsaro, review of Sody Sallyratus, p. 730; October 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep: A Yarn about Wool, p. 447; September 1, 2001, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing, p. 122.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1991, Betsy Hearne, review of The Eye of the Needle, p. 130; September, 1991, p. 22; October, 1999, review of Patty's Pumpkin Patch, p. 68.
Horn Book, July, 1993, p. 110; March-April, 1999, p. 202; September, 2000, Martha V. Parravano, review of Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, p. 561; May-June, 2005, Kitty Flynn, review of This Is the House That Was Tidy and Neat, p. 315.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1989, review of From Letter to Letter, p. 1251; February 15, 1999, review of Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round, p. 306; August 1, 2001, review of Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing, p. 1132; November 1, 2002, review of Pieces of Christmas, p. 1626; May 1, 2004, review of Berry Magic, p. 449; April 15, 2005, review of This Is the House That Was Tidy and Neat, p. 482.
Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1991, p. 64; March 27, 1995, p. 85; October 19, 1998, review of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!, p. 79; September 27, 1999, review of Patty's Pumpkin Patch, p. 107; September 25, 2000, p. 120; June 4, 2001, review of The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown, p. 82; September 24, 2001, review of Hark! The Aardvark Angels Sing, p. 51.
School Library Journal, November, 1989, pp. 99-100; November, 1990, Karen James, review of The Eye of the Needle, p. 108; December, 1991, Judith Gloyer, review of From One to One Hundred, p. 112; January, 1994, Roz Goodman, review of The Hungry Giant of the Tundra, p. 111; March, 1995, Beth Tegart, review of The Thing That Bothered Farmer Brown, p. 187; July, 1995, Steven Engelfried, review of Rib-Ticklers, p. 75; December, 1995, Roz Goodman, review of Dance on a Sealskin, p. 110; November, 1998, Tom S. Hurlburt, review of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!, p. 96; April, 1999, Heide Piehler, review of Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round, p. 109; October, 1999, Kathy Piehl, review of Patty's Pumpkin Patch, p. 127; October, 2000, Lee Bock, review of Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, p. 137; October, 2002, Eva Mitnick, review of Pieces of Christmas, p. 63; December, 2004, Be Astengo, review of Berry Magic, p. 122.
Teri Sloat Home Page, http://www.terisloat.com (September 17, 2005).