Desiree Morrison Webber (1956–) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1956, in La Mesa, CA; Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of California, San Diego, B.A., 1982; University of Oklahoma, M.L.I.S., 1990.
Librarian and writer. Moore Public Library, Moore, OK, head of children's services, 1990–97; Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma City, public library consultant, 1997–2002; Mustang Public Library, Mustang, OK, director, 2002–.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, American Library Association, Rotary International.
Storytelling World award, International Reading Association, 1999, for Travel the Globe: Multicultural Story Times; Oklahoma Book Award finalist, 2000, and Delta Kappa Gamma State Author Award, 2001, both for The Buffalo Train Ride; Oklahoma Book Award finalist, 2004, for Bone Head.
The Buffalo Train Ride, illustrated by Sandy Shropshire, Eakin Press (Austin, TX), 1999.
Bone Head: Story of the Longhorn, illustrated by Sandy Shropshire, Eakin Press (Austin, TX), 2003.
(With others) Travel the Globe: Multicultural Story Times, illustrated by Sandy Shropshire, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 1998.
The Kids' Book Club: Lively Reading and Activities for Grades 1-3, illustrated by Sandy Shropshire, Libraries Unlimited (Englewood, CO), 2001.
In addition to her work as a library administrator, Desiree Morrison Webber is the author of several storytelling guides for teachers and librarians, as well as of Bone Head: Story of the Longhorn and The Buffalo Train Ride, two titles that reflect her research skills and her knowledge of the history of the American plains. In Bone Head Webber recounts the history of the often-overlooked Texas longhorn, and the reasons why this hardy breed was eclipsed by short-horned, more-easily domesticated cattle breeds by the end of the nineteenth century. John Sigwald, writing in School Library Journal, called the volume "thoroughly engaging," and added that "Bone Head evokes empathy for the cowhands and drovers who endured the elements, outlaws, and dangerous horns of stampede-prone cattle." Focusing on the same era, The Buffalo Train Ride follows the path of American bison toward extinction when their grazing lands were fenced in by increasing human settlement. The book focuses on the efforts of zoologist William Hornaday to preserve the species by creating the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve as a home for the remaining buffalo at the turn of the twentieth century. In School Library Journal Coop Renner wrote that Webber's "unusual story is sure to interest animal lovers" as well as young ecology-minded readers.
Webber told SATA: "As a librarian and a writer, I have written books for fellow educators and also for children in middle elementary. My professional books are written to help teachers and librarians to encourage young people to enjoy books and to use the library. Books that I write for children are nonfiction and, hopefully, are something interesting from which to read and learn.
"With co-workers, I jointly wrote Travel the Globe: Multicultural Story Times, which gives a series of story-hour programs for children aged four to eight. Each chapter covers a different country and includes stories, action rhymes, finger plays, activities, and crafts. Some of the stories are retellings of folk stories and some are original tales based on a country's traditions. For example, on visiting China, I wrote an original story about a young dragon that wants to eat the sun. This is based on an ancient belief that a solar eclipse was caused by a dragon swallowing the sun. People would rush into the streets banging on pots and kettles to scare the dragon away. Apparently it was an effective method of scaring dragons because the sun always returned.
"After Travel the Globe, I wrote a children's nonfiction title about fifteen buffalo that rode a train from the Bronx Zoo to Oklahoma Territory, in 1907, to start the first federal bison preserve in the United States. The research for The Buffalo Train Ride took two years, plus one year of writing. I read diaries, letters, articles, and books plus a first-hand account of the train ride by a Bronx Zoo employee.
"While working on The Buffalo Train Ride, colleague Sandy Shropshire and I began a new program in the children's department of the Moore Public Library. We developed a young readers' book discussion group for children ages five to eight. We had conducted book discussion programs for children aged nine and older, but then considered a discussion group for emerging readers. It turned out to be a great success and we learned that young children enjoyed sharing their opinions.
"After several years, Sandy and I wrote The Kids' Book Club: Lively Reading and Activities for Grades 1-3. It was our hope that other librarians would pick up the book and start a young readers' club at their libraries. Sandy and I found that the book club inspired children to read and drew them and their families to the library on a weekly basis. In addition, the reading club attracted both boys and girls, accomplished and unaccomplished readers.
"Bone Head is a children's nonfiction book about the near demise of the long horn cattle breed. In my opinion, this animal carved out the Wild West. If not for the longhorns, there may never have been the American cowboys, chuck wagons, or trail drives. Bone Head focuses on their colorful history to the near extinction of the breed before they, too, were also located to a federal preserve.
"I became interested in writing while attending college. I wrote articles for my college paper and sought out internships with weekly newspapers and, for a year, worked for a wire service that covered the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Commissioners' meetings. I thought I wanted to be a journalist but discovered that I enjoyed writing longer pieces. It gave me an opportunity to delve into the topic more and conduct further research.
I finished my undergraduate degree in communications at the University of California, San Diego, and I later completed a master's degree in library and information sciences at the University of Oklahoma. Following graduation I became a children's librarian. This position inspired me not only to write for children but also to share ideas on getting children interested in books and in using the library. It is a pleasure to write something that you are interested in or inspired by.
"As someone with a full-time career, I had to write before and after hours. Each morning I awoke at four o'clock in the morning and worked for an hour and half to two hours before getting ready for work. In the evenings I tried to write for another hour. At first I thought I would never get anything accomplished writing only two or three hours each day, but I was like Aesop's turtle—slow and steady met the goal."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 1998, Julie Corsaro, review of Travel the Globe: Multicultural Story Times, p. 2021.
School Library Journal, February, 1999, Robin L. Gibson, It's a Small, Small World, p. 41; May, 2002, Mary Lankford, review of "The Kids' Book Club: Lively Reading and Activities for Grades 1-3," p. 183; March, 2000, Coop Renner, review of The Buffalo Train Ride, p. 262; February, 2004, John Sigwald, review of Bone Head: Story of the Longhorn, p. 171.
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