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Catherine Forde (1961–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1961; Hobbies and other interests: Reading, swimming, jogging, calking, skiing, music.

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Egmont, 239 Kensington High St., London W8 6SA, England.

Career

Educator and writer. Collins (publisher), former lexicographer; secondary school teacher in Scotland.

Honors Awards

Blue Peter "Book I Couldn't Put Down" designation shortlist, and British Book Trust Teenage Book Award shortlist, both 2004, and Grampian Book Award, 2005, all for Fat Boy Swim; North Lanarkshire Book Award shortlist, Calderdale Teenage Book Award shortlist, Leicestershire Book of the Year shortlist, Renfewshire Teenage Book Award shortlist, Angus Award shortlist, and Scottish Arts Council award, all 2005, all for SKARRS.

Writings

Think Me Back, House of Lochar (Colonsay, Scotland), 2001.

The Finding, House of Lochar (Conosay, Scotland), 2002.

Fat Boy Swim, Egmont (London, England), 2003, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.

SKARRS, Egmont (London, England), 2004.

I See You Baby …, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.

The Drowning Pond, Egmont (London, England), 2005.

Firestarter, Egmont (London, England), 2006.

Work in Progress

The novel Tug of War.

Sidelights

Scottish writer Catherine Forde worked as a secondary-school English teacher until making the transition to children's book author. Publishing her first book in 2001, Forde earned particular praise two years later, when her young-adult novel Fat Boy Swim was released. Also released in the United States, the novel introduces fourteen-year-old Jimmy, a Scottish boy who is sorely overweight and known around school as "Fat Boy Fat." Asthmatic and chronically bullied by classmates, Jimmy has little to feel upbeat about, and his down-in-the-dumps attitude worries his overly protective mother for posing a direct threat to the teen's health. Fortunately, his upbeat Aunt Pol is a proactive force in Jimmy's life and she helps him sustain a sense of humor. When Jimmy meets a local priest nicknamed GI Joe, he takes to heart the man's encouragement that he take up swimming and cooking. In the water, Jimmy discovers a natural talent and learns that he is capable of changing his life. Meanwhile, a love interest bubbles to the surface in his cooking class.

Fat Boy Swim was praised by several critics for its realistic portrayal of a troubled teen. While noting that Forde is "a bit heavy-handed" in defending her young protagonist, Booklist Gillian Engbert added that the novel's "messy ending is satisfyingly realistic; despite his newfound swimming talent … Jim still has complicated, unresolved questions about who he wants to be." A Kirkus Reviews critic called the novel "warm and full of vivid imagery," while Francisca Goldsmith stated in School Library Journal that "each character is developed and interesting."

Forde has continued her writing career with the young-adult novels The Drowning Pond and Firestarter, the former a mix of supernatural and frustrated adolescent angst that a Bookseller contributor dubbed "bleakly uncompromising" and full of "historical parallels." She discussed her craft in an interview posted on the Egmont Books Web site, noting: "I always promised myself I'd write a book some day, but didn't actually start writing properly until my younger son started school…. Sick of doing more housework to keep myself busy, I sat down at the computer and I haven't stopped writing since." "I enjoy putting characters in difficult situations or involving them in conflict to see how they will develop," Forde added. "Things that have happened in my own life can creep into my writing de-
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manding to be relived or explored, and people who are important to me often become characters in my story."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Fat Boy Swim, p. 110; Feburary 1, 2005, Anna Rich, review of Fat Boy Swim, p. 988.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Fat Boy Swim, p. 864.

School Library Journal, September, 2004, Joel Shoemaker, review of Fat Boy Swim, p. 204; February, 2005, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Fat Boy Swim, p. 76.

ONLINE

Catherine Forde Home Page, http://www.catherineforde.co.uk (April 11, 2006).

Egmont Web site, http://www.egmont.co.uk/ (April 11, 2006), "Catherine Forde."

Additional topics

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