Lynn Plourde (1955–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1955, in Dexter, ME; (stepsons) Lucas, Seth. Education: University of Maine, B.A., 1976, M.A., 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, crocheting, collecting teddy bears and windchimes.
Agent—Susan Cohen, Writers' House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010.
Freelance writer, 1985–. Tri-County Regional Special Education, Dover-Foxcroft, ME, speech-language therapist, 1978–80; Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan, ME, parttime speech-language therapist, 1978–82; speech-language therapist, 1980–83; Conley Speech and Hearing Center, University of Maine, clinical supervisor of graduate speech-language pathology practicum students, 1983, 1985; classroom oral-language consultant and program director for state grant project, 1983–85; teacher at language-based summer preschool in Skowhegan, 1987, 1989; part-time speech-language therapist, 1989–93, 1996–99. University of Maine, Farmington, instructor of writing for children, 2000–. Has given lectures and presentations throughout the United States, including school visits.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi.
First place, Writer's Digest Book Club Personal Essay Contest, 1995, for "Playing with Words"; second place, Barbara Karlin Award, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), 1996, for Thank You and Goodbye; School Library Journal Best Book fo the Year designation, 1997, Children's Literature Choice listee, 1988, Young Hoosier Book Award nominee, 1998–99, Utah Children's Picture-Book nominee, 1999, Volunteer State Book Award nominee, 2001–02, Read with Me picture-book selection (ME), 200; New Jersey States Library Pick of the Decade inclusion, 2005, all for Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud; American Booksellers Association (ABA) Pick of the Lists selection, 1999, Michigan Reader's Choice Award nomination, and Lupine Honor Book selection, Maine Libraries Association, all 1999, all for Wild Child; Los Angeles Times Best Children's Book designation, 2002, for Snow Day; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2002, placement on ALA Amelia Bloomer List of Recommended Feminist Books for Youth, 2003, Beehive Award nomination, Utah State Children's Literature Award, and Children's Booksense List citation, ABA, both 2003–04, children's Book Award nomination, 2004, ABA Booksense List inclusion, 2003–04, and Kennebec Valley Book Award List citation, both for The First Feud: Between the Mountain and the Sea; Barbara Karlin Grant Award, SCBWI, 1996, Oppenheim Toy Port-folio Gold Award, 2003, 2004, starred picture book citation, Wisconsin State Reading Association Children's Literature Committee, 2004, and Cream of the Crop citation, Maine Library System, 2004, all for Thank You, Grandpa.
Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, illustrated by John Schoenherr, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997, second edition, Down East Books (Camden, ME), 2006.
Moose, of Course!, illustrated by Jim Sollers, Down East Books (Rockport, ME), 1999.
Wild Child, illustrated by Greg Couch, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Winter Waits, illustrated by Greg Couch, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Snow Day, illustrated by Hideko Takahashi, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Grandpappy Snippy Snappies, illustrated by Christopher Santoro, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
School Picture Day, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Spring's Sprung, illustrated by Greg Couch, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
Summer's Vacation, illustrated by Greg Couch, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003.
Teacher Appreciation Day, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.
How Absurd! But That's What They Heard, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
Thank You, Grandpa, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The First Feud: Between the Mountain and the Sea, illustrated by Jim Sollers, Down East Books (Camden, ME), 2003.
Mother, May I?, illustrated by Amy Wummer, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Pajama Day, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Dad, Aren't You Glad?, illustrated by Amy Wummer, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Book Fair Day, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.
"CLASSROOM LISTENING AND SPEAKING" SERIES; EDUCATIONAL BOOKS
Classroom Listening and Speaking K-2, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1985.
Classroom Listening and Speaking 3-4, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1988, revised edition, 1997.
More Classroom Listening and Speaking K-2, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1989.
Classroom Listening and Speaking: Preschool, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1989.
Classroom Listening and Speaking by Themes, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1990.
Classroom Listening and Speaking: Early Childhood, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1994.
Classroom Listening and Speaking: Kindergarten, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1995.
Classroom Listening and Speaking 1-2, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1995.
Classroom Listening and Speaking 5-6, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1998.
Talk t' Win, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1988.
Learning Language Dramatically, Communication Skill Builders (San Antonio, TX), 1990.
(With husband Paul Knowles) A Celebration of Maine Children's Books, University of Maine Press (Orono, ME), 1998.
Contributor of articles and stories to periodicals, including Humpty Dumpty, Turtle, and Writer's Digest, and to anthology Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul.
Picture-book author Lynn Plourde once described her career to SATA as "the most fun work I've ever done, but also the hardest work I've ever done." With such popular titles as Wild Child and Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud—"rud" being Maine-speak for "road"—to her credit, Plourde draws on her decades of experience as a speech therapist to develop rhythmic texts that appeal to young readers and listeners.
Born in Dexter, Maine, in 1955, Plourde graduated from the University of Maine in 1978 with a master's degree in speech communications. She worked for many years as a speech therapist for public-school districts in her home state, while also writing about her professional work. Plourde began writing children's books in 1984, and spent thirteen years, as she later described it to SATA, "send[ing] my manuscripts out, and they would come back rejected. Initially I received form rejection letters, then I received form letters with encouraging handwritten notes on the bottom, and then I began to receive personalized rejection letters." Although she got discouraged at times, Plourde never considered giving up her dream of publishing children's books. "I knew I was getting closer with nicer rejections (if rejections can be nice). But I also knew that even if I never had a single one of my stories published, I would still keep writing for children until the day I died. Why? Because I love the creative process. When I write a new story, I feel like I'm making something out of thin air. Where did that story come from? How did it get shaped, molded? It's creation is somehow mysterious and magical."
Plourde's first picture book, Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, had its genesis in a glance out of the author's home office window one day. "I saw eight piglets running down the middle of my road," she explained. "I didn't have any farmer neighbors and to this day I have no idea where those piglets came from or went to. But they were there and my mind said 'what if?' What if pigs were blocking a road? I wanted a repetitive chant and the words 'Oh no. Won't do. Gotta shoo. But who?' popped into my head. Grandma became the central character in the book; I'm not sure why. Maybe because my favorite person in the whole world was my Grammy who had died when I was twelve. I wanted a heroine with spunk; my Grammy had spunk."
With illustrations by John Schoenherr, Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud was praised by critics for its engaging text and imaginative plot. In a review for School Library Journal, Karen James commended the text's "satisfying rhythm" and Plourde's use of "fanciful words." Equally enthusiastic, a critic for Publishers Weekly dubbed the book "punchy and full of verve," adding that "this is one story kids will want to hear many times over."
In Moose, of Course! Plourde again writes about life in Maine, where the moose reigns supreme. In her story, a young boy determines to spot one of the large creatures and decides that the best way to attract a moose is with another moose—an attractive one. Putting his plan into action, he dons a moose hide, stilts, and bright red lipstick, but things backfire in a book that a Publishers Weekly contributor praised for its use of onomatopoeia and its "silly" rhymes. Wild Child also finds humor in the world of nature, as Mother Earth tries to put her young daughter down for the night. However, as with human children, the child finds all manner of excuses to avoid going to bed. Revealing clues as to the child's identity throughout the story, Plourde creates a tale that "transports readers with images of unusual clarity and depth," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who also praised the golden palette used by illustrator Greg Couch. "Plourde's inventive rhythm and rhyme keep step with the activity in the forests and fields," added School Library Journal critic Wendy Lukehart.
Plourde teamed up again with Couch for Winter Waits, a picture book about young Winter, who wants to play with his busy dad, Father Time. Waiting for his father to finish his work, Winter dusts the grass with frost, cuts out snowflakes, and creates ice sculptures. When Father Time is finally finished, the two play in the sky, causing snow to fall on the earth below. According to Booklist reviewer John Peters, Plourde's gentle message about the importance of time spent with fathers "is de-
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livered in a humorous, nonpreachy way, and the metaphorical nature of the cast adds an intriguing subplot." Other reviewers commended the author for her choice of words and rhyme. School Library Journal reviewer Kathleen Kelly MacMillan noted that "Plourde's rhyming text flows well," while a Kirkus Reviews critic claimed that "she also has a flair for rich vocabulary and some ingenious made up words."
Plourde has followed Winter Waits with two more tales about the seasons: Spring's Sprung and Summer's Vacation. The former title features three sisters—March, April, and May—as they are awakened by their mother. The trio are supposed to wake up the world together, but, like sisters all over the world, they end up bickering instead. "Readers who have enjoyed the previous titles will want to check out this one as well," Piper L. Nyman concluded in School Library Journal. At the end of Spring's Sprung the three girls wake up their younger sister, Summer, hinting at the sequel. In Summer's Vacation little Summer is supposed to help the green things of the earth grow, but she would rather play at the beach, pick berries, and hike through the woods than take care of her chores. Not until she notices just how dry and brown the Earth has become does she realize how serious her neglect has been. "Plourde delivers her message about responsibility gently, but firmly," Karen Hutt remarked in Booklist. Couch's work for this volume was also praised by crit-ics; together, Couch and Plourde have created "a dazzling completion to an attractive series," concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic.
Plourde is also the author of another anthropomorphic tale, The First Feud: Between the Mountain and the Sea. Set in Maine, The First Feud tells an original about the creation of the Maine landscape. According to the tale, the tall mountain Katahdin and the Atlantic Ocean argue about which is the most beautiful. A series of misunderstandings propel the argument into a full-fledged war fought with avalanches, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and floods. The story will probably be most appealing to Maine audiences, concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer, but "the message that miscommunication can breed conflict, and that communication can restore harmony, has universal application."
School Picture Day is another zany tale in the vein of Plourde's earlier books. In this title, young Josephina Caroleena Wattasheena the First does not bother to dress up for her class's school picture day like the other students. She prefers to play with her tools, taking apart everything from the gear shift on the school bus to an electric pencil sharpener in the classroom to see how they work. Josephina's curiosity causes problems for everyone around her, as her classmates' good clothes wind up covered in oil and the school's photographer cannot get Josephina to be still long enough to take the class picture. "All of this mayhem," Denise Wilms wrote in Booklist, "unfolds in a playful text that demands to be read aloud." Despite the problems that Josephina causes, however, when the photographer discovers that his camera is not working, she and her mechanical skills are there to save the day. This "zany portrait delivers a puckish message about nonconformity," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.
Drew A. Blank, the little boy at the center of Pajama Day, is always forgetting things, so it's no wonder that he forgets to wear his pajamas to school on Pajama Day. However, the quick-thinking boy uses his imagination and finds substitutes around the classroom, blowing up a balloon to serve as a pillow and borrowing the class's guinea pig to be his teddy bear. "Children will cheer Drew's unflappable attitude as well as his final triumph," thought Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan. "As with [School Picture Day], part of the humor lies in the over-the-top improbability of the situation," Grace Oliff commented in School Library Journal.
Plourde has also written realistic tales, including Thank You, Grandpa, Snow Day, Mother, May I?, and Dad, Aren't You Glad?. Thank You, Grandpa, the story of a young girl's relationship with her grandfather and her memories of him after his death, was particularly praised by critics. "Parents looking for a way to introduce this difficult topic will appreciate the sensitive story," Lisa Dennis commented in School Library Journal, and Shelle Rosenfeld concluded in Booklist that "the lyrical language is lovely."
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Mother, May I? and Dad, Aren't You Glad are upbeat tales featuring exuberant children who cause chaos when trying to be helpful around the house. In the former book, a girl asks Mom if she can be the "mother" on Mother's Day and give her mother a break by doing the cooking, cleaning, and other housework. Similarly, in Dad, Aren't You Glad? a little boy makes big messes when he tries to take out the trash, wash the dog, and paint the house on Father's Day. "This tender story would make a wonderful addition to any storytime with a father/child theme," Wendy Woodfill wrote in a School Library Journal review of Dad, Aren't You Glad?
Regarding her craft, Plourde has this advice for young writers: "When they write a story about something that really happens to them, it's okay to make the truth more interesting by sprinkling on some make-believe. I added a good dose of make-believe to my [first] story with hens, sheep, and bulls joining the chaos in the 'rud.' I even added some playful make-believe words: smatter, shmuffle, smarge. I don't know why. They were playful and fun and they just seemed to fit. Probably a third of Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud can be analyzed, and I'd discover concrete reasons why and how I wrote those parts of the story. But the remaining two-thirds is elusive. I'm not sure how those parts came to be. It's like I'm making magic with words. And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 15, 1999, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Wild Child, p. 791; December 15, 2000, John Peters, review of Winter Waits; August, 2002, Denise Wilms, review of School Picture Day, p. 1975; February 15, 2003, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Thank You, Grandpa, p. 1077; April 1, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of Teacher Appreciation Day, p. 1404; May 1, 2003, Karen Hutt, review of Summer's Vacation, p. 1606; January 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Pajama Day, p. 874.
Children's Book Review Service, September, 1999, Lynn Ploof Davis, review of Wild Child, p. 171.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1999, review of Wild Child, p. 1420; October 1, 2001, review of Snow Day, p. 1431; February 15, 2002, review of Spring's Sprung, p. 263; June 1, 2002, review of School Picture Day, p. 809; February 15, 2003, review of Thank You, Grandpa, p. 315; April 15, 2003, review of Summer's Vacation, p. 610; January 1, 2004, review of Mother, May I?, p. 40; December 15, 2004, review of Pajama Day, p. 1207; February 1, 2005, review of Dad, Aren't You Glad?, p. 180.
Publishers Weekly, December 30, 1996, review of Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, p. 66; July 5, 1999, review of Moose, of Course!, p. 71; August 16, 1999, review of Wild Child, pp. 82-83; December 3, 2001, review of Snow Day, p. 59, review of Spring's Sprung, p. 60; May 20, 2002, review of School Picture Day, p. 65; October 6, 2003, review of Wild Child, p. 87; January 5, 2004, review of The First Feud: Between the Mountain and the Sea, p. 61.
School Library Journal, March, 1997, Karen James, review of Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud, p. 163; December, 1999, Wendy Lukehart, review of Wild Child, p. 110; January, 2000, Jackie Hechtkopf, review of Moose, of Course!, p. 109; January, 2001, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Winter Waits; January, 2002, Maryann H. Owen, review of Snow Day, p. 108; March, 2002, Piper L. Nyman, review of Spring's Sprung, p. 200; July, 2002, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of School Picture Day, p. 97; April, 2003, Lisa Dennis, review of Thank You, Grandpa, p. 136; May, 2003, Wendy Woodfill, review of Summer's Vacation, p. 128; March, 2004, Kathleen Whalin, review of The First Feud, p. 180, Rosalyn Pierini, review of Mother, May I?, p. 180; February, 2005, Grace Oliff, review of Pajama Day, p. 108; March, 2005, Wendy Woodfill, review of Dad, Aren't You Glad?, p. 186.
Skipping Stones, March-April, 2004, review of The First Feud: Between the Mountain and the Sea, p. 34.
Lynn Plourde Home Page, http://www.lynnplourde.com (January 26, 2006).
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