Michelle Markel Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Education: University of Southern California, B.A. (French; cum laude); California State University, Northridge, B.A. (journalism); University of California, Los Angeles, M.A. (French literature).
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Heyday Books, P.O. Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709.
Writer, journalist, teacher, and translator. California State University, Northridge, teacher of creative writing and French; presenter to schools.
CAN!, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Children's Book Council of Southern California.
California Readers Collection selection, 2005, for Cornhusk, Silk, and Wishbones.
Gracias, Rosa, illustrated by Diane Paterson, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1995.
Cornhusk, Silk, and Wishbones: A Book of Dolls from around the World, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.
Dreamer from the Village: The Story of Marc Chagall, illustrated by Emily Lisker, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
Dream Town, illustrated by Rick Reese, Heyday Books (Berkeley, CA), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.
Although her college degrees are in French and journalism, Michelle Markel began a career as a children's book writer with Gracias, Rosa. Published in 1995, the book was inspired by Markel's experience observing the Central American women who worked as babysitters in her California neighborhood and the deep and supportive bond she witness between them. Annie Ayres, reviewing the book for Booklist commented that Gracias, Rosa "tells a contemporary story about the special friendship that develops between a young girl and her Latina babysitter, and the cultural bridge that is built through their relationship."
Other books by Markel include Cornhusk, Silk, and Wishbones: A Book of Dolls from around the World, which reflects its author's interest in folk art. An alphabet book, the work features photographs of dolls collected from around the world, some dating back a thousand years, with maps and prose descriptions discussing each image. Deeming the book an imaginative introduction to letters, School Library Journal contributor Ann Welton wrote that Markel's "text is lively and engaging and imparts … information in a painless manner."
Markel, whose maternal grandparents came from Russia's Pale of Settlement, chose the life of Russian-born artist Marc Chagall as the subject of her 2004 book, titled Dreamer from the Village: The Story of Marc Chagall. Featuring illustrations by Emily Lisker, the book was praised by a Kirkus Reviews writer as "a worthwhile introduction for younger readers." Booklist writer Gillian Engberg called the book "straightforward and whimsical," while Lolly Robinson wrote in Horn Book that Markel describes Chagall's career "in an understated but absorbing narrative."
In Markel's Dream Town a grandmother tells her grandson about the urban landscape of Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960; the years of the author's own childhood. In Bloomsbury Review, Sofia Walker wrote of the book that "poetic prose and illustrations … join together to create a paean to the wonders that exist in the overlapping worlds of our imagination and reality."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Bloomsbury Review, March-April, 2006, Sofia Walker, review of Dream Town.
Booklist, June 1, 1995, Annie Ayres, review of Gracias, Rosa, p. 1787; October 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Cornhusk, Silk, and Wishbones: A Book of Dolls from around the World, p. 333; August, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Dreamer from the Village: The Story of Marc Chagall, p. 2033.
Horn Book, September-October, 2005, Lolly Robinson, review of Dreamer from the Village, p. 604.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Dreamer from the Village, p. 738.
Publishers Weekly, September 11, 2000, review of All Dolled Up, p. 93.
School Arts, November, 2005, Ken Marantz, review of Dreamer from the Village, p. 53.
School Library Journal, May, 1995, Maria Redburn, review of Gracias, Rosa, p. 87; November, 2000, Ann Welton, review of Cornhust, Silk, and Wishbones, p. 145.
Children's Authors Network, http://www.childrens-authorsnetwork.com/ (February 24, 2006), "Michelle Markel."
Learning about Michelle Markel, http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/∼kvander/markel.html (February 24, 2006).
Michelle Markel Home Page, http://home.earthlink.net/%7Ecohen_markel/1.htm (February 24, 2006).