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Laban Carrick Hill Biography

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

Male. Education: Bernard M. Baruch College, B.A. (English; cum laude), 1986; Latin and Greek Institute of the City University of New York, certificate (summa cum laude), 1986; Columbia University, M.F.A., 1989.


Agent—Susan Cohen, Writers House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010.


Poet, children's writer, lecturer, and educator. New Yorker, New York, NY, senior copywriter and marketing analyst, 1982–86; Sterling Publishing, senior copywriter, 1990–91; Bantam Publishing, New York, NY, senior copywriter, 1991–93; Baruch College, City University of New York, instructor in composition and English as a second language, 1993–94; Eating Well Books, New York, NY, marketing and promotion director, 1994–96; St. Michaels College, lecturer in English and writing, 1994–2000; Vermont College, mentor in M.F.A. program, 2003–05, member of adjunct faculty, 2006; University of Vermont, member of adjunct faculty, 2006. Freelance writer. Volunteer writing and poetry teacher; lecturer to U.S. Embassy in Egypt, 2006. Former co-editor, American Letters and Commentary (literary magazine). Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League, vice president of board of directors, 1997–2003; Flechter Free Library, commissioner, 2003–


PEN, Authors Guild, Author's League of America.

Honors Awards

Counterpoint Prize first prize, 2001; Parents' Choice Gold Award, and National Book Award finalist, both 2004, both for Harlem Stomp!; numerous other award for children's books.


Monster Dots, Sterling Publishing, 1993.

Clinton Street Crime Wave, Bantam (New York, NY), 1994.

Santa's Surprises, Readers Digest (Pleasantville, NY), 1996.

Bugged Out!, illustrated by Bill Schmidt, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 1997.

Stampede!: Choose Your Own Adventure, Bantam (New York, NY), 1997.

Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections ("Spark Notes"), Spark Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.

Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.

The Spy's Survival Handbook, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

Casa Azul: An Encounter with Frida Kahlo (young-adult novel), Watson-Guptill (New York, NY), 2005.

Napoleon's Sitter (young-adult novel), Watson-Guptill (New York, NY), 2005.

America Dreaming: How Youth Changed America, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor of poetry to anthology Contemporary Poetry of New England and to periodicals, including Denver Quarterly, Minetta Review, Strabotomy, Outreach, Onion River Review, Tar River Review, Central Park, and American Letters & Commentary. Contributor of articles to Scribners "American Writers" and "British Writers" series. Contributor to periodicals, including Counterpoint, Eating Well, Johnson State University Magazine, Vanderbilt, and Vermont Quarterly.


Deep Powder, Deep Trouble, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Crossed Tracks, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Rocked Out: A Summer X-Games Special, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Half Pipe Rip-off, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998. Lost Wake, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Out of Line, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Spiked Snow, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Total White Out, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.


Watch out for Room 13, illustrated by Bill Schmidt, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 1997.

The Evil Pen Pal, illustrated by Bill Schmidt, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 1998.

The Toy Shop of Terror, illustrated by Bill Schmidt, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 1998.

Welcome to Horror Hospital, illustrated by Bill Schmidt, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 1998.

Work in Progress

Slick, an adult novel set in contemporary Memphis; Achilles Dead, an adult novel focusing on the postmodern poetry scene; Every Man Jack: American Jack Tales; Tipton County, a nonfiction memoir based on the alleged murder of Hill's grandfather in Tennessee.


Laban Carrick Hill is the author of several titles for young readers and young adults, including illustrated chapter books for early readers, nonfiction and historical fiction for older readers, and novels in the "X-treme Mysteries" series. His highly praised nonfiction title Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance was a finalist for the National Book Award for young people's literature. In addition to books, Hill is a published poet. He has also contributed biographical essays to Scribners' "American Writers" and "British Writers" series, and his synopsis and analyses of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen was published as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections for the "Spark Notes" study series.

Harlem Stomp! delves into the Harlem Renaissance, the period from 1900 to 1924 when music, literature, and art surged from the African-American community in Harlem, New York. Covering such noteworthy figures as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Sgt. Henry Johnson, and Charles Spurgeon Johnson, Hill includes short biographies, analyses of cultural conflicts of the day, and background information on the factors leading up to this cultural awakening. "This compelling history will leave readers familiar or unfamiliar with this highflying period eager to discover more," wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly. A Kirkus Reviews critic considered the book "clearly a labor of love," and Joanne K. Cecere wrote in School Library Journal that "the words and images bring this extraordinary period to life." Noting that Hill includes excerpts of "great selections from literature and journalism of the period" in his book, Hazel Rochman commented in her Booklist review that, while the biographies occasionally lag, "far livelier are discussions of their works, which show how the writers changed the view of blacks." To help teachers introduce Harlem Stomp! to students, the publisher has also provided a downloadable teacher's guide.

Cover of Laban Carrick Hill's Casa Azul, featuring artwork by Frida Kahlo. (Text copyright © 2005 by Laban Carrick Hill. Published by Watson-Guptill Publications. Reproduced by permission.)

Hill's historical fiction title, Casa Azul: An Encounter with Frida Kahlo, is part of the "Art Encounters" series of historical novels that introduce young-adult readers to famous artists. Drawing on Kahlo's painting "Self Portrait (with Monkey and Hummingbird)" for inspiration, Hill's story centers around two young people—fourteen-year-old Maria Ortiz, and Victor, Maria's younger brother—who are invited to stay in Kahlo's mysterious house, where what is real and what is fantastic are often the very same thing. Other residents of Kahlo's home are Fuland the monkey and Chica the cat, both of whom are able to speak. "In the spirit of Kahlo's life and art, the magical realism is both playful and dark," noted Rochman in a Booklist review. Steev Baker, writing in School Library Journal, commented that "Hill's short art-history novel accomplishes with style what it is meant to do," while Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction contributor Charles de Lint deemed the novel "a terrific introduction to magical fantasy and the creative impulse." A Kirkus Reviews critic also noted the similarities between the novel and Kahlo's creative work, writing that "Hill's blend of realism, fantasy, and Aztec myth nicely mirrors Kahlo's surreal juxtaposition of real and unreal."

Along with his nonfiction and historical fiction titles, Hills has published several titles for young mystery lovers. The "X-treme Mysteries" center around young sleuths who enjoy such extreme sports as rock climbing, snowboarding, and skate boarding. When their respective sports are endangered by nefarious activities, the kids rise to the challenge to solve the mystery. In The Spy's Survival Handbook Hill explores codes and gives helpful hints on how to successfully shake a pursuer and create an effective disguise. "Young secret agents can hone their skills," a Publishers Weekly critic commented in a review of the title.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, February 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance, p. 1065; October 1, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Casa Azul: An Encounter with Frida Kahlo, p. 48.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2004, Elizabeth Bush, review of Harlem Stomp!, p. 330.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003, review of Harlem Stomp!, p. 1360; June 15, 2005, review of Casa Azul, p. 683.

Kliatt, May, 2005, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Casa Azul, p. 13.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August, 2005, Charles de Lint, review of Casa Azul, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, December 22, 2003, review of Harlem Stomp!, p. 63; June 7, 2004, "Spy vs. Spy," p. 53.

School Library Journal, January, 2004, Joanne K. Cecere, review of Harlem Stomp!, p. 148; October, 2004, review of Harlem Stomp!, p. S66; September, 2005, Steev Baker, review of Casa Azul, p. 204.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2004, Valerie Ott, review of Harlem Stomp!, p. 511; April, 2004, "Pure Poetry," p. 16.


Laban Carrick Hill Home Page, http://www.labanhill.com (April 4, 2006).

National Book Foundation Web site, http://www.nationalbook.org/ (April 8, 2006), "Laban Carrick Hill."

Additional topics

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