Elizabeth Kay (1949–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1949, in London, England; Education: Nottingham Art School (now part of Nottingham Trent University), degree (fine art); Bath Spa, M.A. (creative writing). Hobbies and other interests: Traveling, watching wildlife.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, The Chicken House, 2 Palmer St., Frome, Somerset BA11 1DS, England.
Writer and illustrator. Formerly worked as an art and creative-writing teacher.
Cardiff International Poetry Competition winner; Canongate Prize; White Raven prize, Bologna Book Fair, 2004, and Stockton Children's Book of the Year, 2005, both for The Divide.
The Divide, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Back to the Divide, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
The Jinx on the Divide, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
Author's works have been translated into other languages.
The Spirit Collection (poetry), Manifold (London, England), 2000.
Also illustrator of natural history books. Author of short stories and radio plays.
In addition to her work as an illustrator, playwright, and poet, Elizabeth Kay has penned the "Divide" trilogy for younger readers. Composed of The Divide, Back to the Divide, and The Jinx on the Divide, Kay's novel series draws readers into a fantasy world wherein a modern British teen is confronted by elves, dragons, and griffins as well as other creatures of a sinister nature. Evil forces threaten to destroy the boy's real world, as well as the parallel fantasy world connected by the Divide.
The first book in the trilogy, The Divide introduces thirteen-year-old Felix, who has a very dangerous heart condition. While visiting Costa Rica on a family vacation, Felix and his parents make a day trip to the continental divide, the point on the globe where the Atlantic meets the Pacific. Standing on this exact spot, Felix suddenly loses consciousness. Upon awaking, he suddenly realizes that he is no longer in the world he knows; rather, he finds himself in a strange place ripe with magic and filled with mythical beings. Befriended by an elf named Betony, Felix learns of the power of Snakeweed, a creature called a japegrin who is learned in the healing arts. He goes in search of this creature, who he is told may have a potion that will cure the heart condition that threatens his life.
The Divide was praised by Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick as "an entertaining light read" containing "both suspense and humor," while Booklist critic Sally Estes dubbed it a "grand adventure." A Publishers Weekly reviewer had particular praise for the book's ending, commenting that Kay ends her tale "with a nicely constructed cliff-hanger, leaving those who enjoyed this odd journey hungry for the next."
While Felix safely returns to his own world in The Divide, it is clear to readers of Back to the Divide that he did not cross the portal back to modern-day Earth alone. In Kay's second "Divide" installment she once again takes readers on a magical journey into a fantasy world, as Felix now attempts to locate the evil japegrin that turned his parents to stone. In fairy-tale fashion, Felix joins with both old friends and new to launch a crusade against the evil Snakeweed in hopes of restoring his parents to life. "Kay juggles several plot threads and a wide cast of characters without losing readers," commented School Library Journal reviewer Steven Engelfried of Back to the Divide. Felix and Betony's further adventures, which involve a forgotten genie, a vengeful school bully, and yet another journey across the Divide, are set forth in The Jinx on the Divide.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Sally Estes, review of The Divide, p. 1762.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2003, Janice Del Negro, review of The Divide, p. 154.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2003, review of The Divide, p. 860; June 15, 2004, review of Back to the Divide, p. 578.
Kliatt, November, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of The Divide, p. 6.
Publishers Weekly, July 28, 2003, review of The Divide, p. 95.
School Librarian, winter, 2004, Rosemary Good, review of Back to the Divide, p. 202.
School Library Journal, September, 2003, Bruce Anne Shook, review of The Divide, p. 215; September, 2004, Steven Engelfried, review of Back to the Divide, p. 209.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 2003, review of The Divide, p. 237.
Chicken House Web site, http://www.doublecluck.com/ (October 5, 2005), "Elizabeth Kay."
Elizabeth Kay Home Page, http://www.elizabeth-kay.co.uk (October 5, 2005).
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