Lawrence David (1963–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1963, in Boston, MA; Education: Bennington College, B.A., 1985; New York University, M.F.A., 1987.
Agent—Cynthia Cannell, Janklow & Nesbit, 598 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.
Teacher's assistant at a school in New York, NY, 1991–92; Bantam, Doubleday, Dell Books for Young Readers, New York, NY, assistant to the publisher, 1992–93; freelance writer, beginning 1993.
The Good Little Girl, illustrated by Clement Oubrerie, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
Beetle Boy, illustrated by Delphine Durand, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.
Peter Claus and the Naughty List, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.
The Land of the Hungry Armadillos, illustrated by Frédérique Bertrand, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2000.
Superhero Max, illustrated by Tara Calahan King, Double-day (New York, NY), 2001.
Full Moon, illustrated by Brian Wilcox, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Pickle & Penguin, illustrated by Scott Nash, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
"CUPCAKED CRUSADER" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
Horace Splattly: The Cupcaked Crusader, illustrated by Barry Gott, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
When Second Graders Attack, illustrated by Barry Gott, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
The Terror of the Pink Dodo Balloons, illustrated by Barry Gott, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
To Catch a Clownosaurus, illustrated by Barry Gott, Puffin (New York, NY), 2003.
The Most Evil, Friendly Villain Ever, illustrated by Barry Gott, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
The Invasion of the Shag Carpet Creature, illustrated by Barry Gott, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
Family Values (adult novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.
Need (adult novel), Random House (New York, NY), 1994.
After penning two novels for adults that explore the intricacies of human relationships, Lawrence David turned his attention to books for younger readers, with much success. His books The Good Little Girl and Beetle Boy, are both tales of metamorphosis in which children adapt to their distracted parents. Miranda, the young protagonist of The Good Little Girl, cheerfully puts up with the strain induced by having two working parents. She dutifully listens to her parents continually make promises of "tomorrow," but when they fail to produce the much-anticipated "Saturday Family Waffle Breakfast," enough is enough, and Miranda turns into her nasty alter ego, mean-and-green Lucretia. At first, Lucretia wrangles from Miranda everything she wants, but gets out of hand when she demands that Miranda's mother stick pencils up her nose and sing "Polly Wolly Doodle." Good-natured Miranda is ultimately able to take charge again and all seems well, until Lucretia rears her head one last time to remind the parents not to ignore Miranda. A Kirkus Reviews critic wrote that "Lucretia will appeal to every child who has ever succumbed to vague parental procrastinations," and a Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that "David … effectively depicts how disappointment upsets even the best-natured child."
David readily admits that his second book for children, Beetle Boy, was inspired by Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, which a Kirkus Reviews critic said "translates splendidly into a story for younger audiences." Like the adult character in Kafka's novel, second-grader Gregory Sampson wakes up one morning and realizes he has become an insect. Distressed that no one but his best friend, Michael, sees his hard exoskeleton and six legs, Gregory finally shouts out, "Look at me. I'm a giant beetle." After his exclamation, his father replies: "And I'm a hippo." After finding Gregory on the ceiling of his room, sobbing, the family has to admit that the boy has indeed turne into a beetle, but no matter: they love him just the same and their affirmations ultimately help return the boy to human form.
The picture book Superhero Max is the story of Max's attempts to fit in at a new school. On Halloween, he wows his classmates with his Caped Crusader costume, so he decides to wear it to school every day. This plan leads Max's classmates to think he is even stranger, however, and Max's dad finally helps the boy learn that it is okay to just be himself. School Library Journal critic Wendy Lukehart commented on the book's "realistic, yet ultimately positive, treatment of what it's like to be or have a new kid in class."
David's other picture books feature everything from a talking pickle who is also a talk-show host in Pickle and Penguin to a boy who has to rescue his sister from a strange world ruled by a large orange monster in The Land of Hungry Armadillos. More fun is dished up in his Christmas-time picture-book offering, Peter Claus and the Naughty List, which finds Santa's son Peter given responsibility for tracking the world's naughty children. Because Peter is often included on the naughty roster himself, the younger Claus is determined to get Santa to give naughty kids a second chance. Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, called Peter Claus and the Naughty List "a delightful mix of message, moral, and merry holiday fun."
Along with his picture books, David is the author of the adventures of Horace Splattly, which he sets forth in the "Cupcaked Crusader" series. In the series opener, Horace Splattly: The Cupcaked Crusader, Horace's genius-rated younger sister bakes some mysterious cupcakes, which, amazingly, give the boy super powers. Now Horace must defeat a man-eating guinea pig. Designed to entertain reluctant readers, the chapter books feature such villains as a brainwashing chef, hair-eating hairclips that threaten to turn an entire town bald, and a clownasaurus. In School Library Journal, Christina F. Renaud praised the "quick pace and silly characters" featured in each of David's stories. "Watch out, Captain Underpants, there's a new superhero on the scene," a critic for Kirkus Reviews exclaimed, comparing David's series to a similar series of superhero chapter books by Dav Pilkey. In a review of When Second Graders Attack, book two of the series, Sharon R. Pearce noted in School Library Journal that David's "text provides plenty of creative twists, danger, and excitement to keep readers turning pages."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 1994, p. 2021; September 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Peter Claus and the Naughty List, p. 236; November 1, 2002, Todd Morning, review of Superhero Max, p. 507.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1993, pp. 545-546; June 15, 1994, p. 790; January 15, 1999, review of Beetle Boy, p. 172; September 15, 1998, review of The Good Little Girl, p. 1382; April 15, 2002, review of Horace Splattly, p. 565; August 1, 2002, review of Superhero Max, p. 1125; December 1, 2002, review of The Terror of the Pink Dodo Balloons, p. 1767; October 15, 2004, review of Pickle and Penguin, p. 1003.
Library Journal, December, 1998, p. 82; March, 1999, p. 173.
Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1993, p. 55; June 4, 1994, p. 53; November 2, 1998, review of The Good Little Girl, p. 82; January 25, 1999, review of Beetle Boy, p. 95; May 8, 2000, review of The Good Little Girl, p. 223; June 12, 2000, review of The Land of Hungry Armadillos, p. 73; May 7, 2001, review of Full Moon, p. 245; September 24, 2001, review of Peter Claus and the Naughty List, p. 54; July 15, 2002, review of Superhero Max, p. 73; December 13, 2004, review of Pickle and Penguin, p. 67.
School Library Journal, March, 1999, Kimberlie Monteforte, review of Beetle Boy, p. 173; July, 2000, Steven Engelfried, review of The Land of Hungry Armadillos, p. 70; June, 2001, Margaret Bush, review of Full Moon, p. 132; October, 2001, A.C., review of Peter Claus and the Naughty List, p. 64, and Christina F. Renaud, review of Horace Splattly, p. 113; July, 2002, Sharon R. Pearce, review of When Second Graders Attack, p. 88; November, 2002, Wendy Lukehart, review of Superhero Max, p. 121; December 1, 2002, Elaine E. Knight, review of The Terror of the Pink Dodo Balloons, p. 104; January, 2004, Pat Leach, review of To Catch a Clownosaurus, p. 96; January, 2005, Debbie Stewart, review of Pickle and Penguin, p. 90.
Penguin Group Web site, http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (November 5, 2005), "Lawrence David."
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