Linda Ashman (1960-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1960, in Schenectady, NY; Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1983; University of California, Los Angeles, M.S. (urban planning), 1993. Politics: Democrat. Religion: "Evolving." Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, music, reading, art, theology, nature.
Agent—c/o Author Correspondence, Dutton Children's Books, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
REIS Reports, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA, market analyst, 1984-87; TCW Realty Advisors, Los Angeles, CA, vice president and senior analyst, 1987-93; University of California, Los Angeles Center for Pollution Prevention, Los Angeles, CA, assistant director, 1993-95, writer, 1995—.
Authors' Guild, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Booklist editors' choice citation, Golden Kite honor citation, and Baltimore County Public Library best picture book citation, all 2001, all for Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs; Governor McGreevey's Book Club selection (New Jersey) and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio gold award, both 2002, both for Sailing off to Sleep; Children's Choice Award, Children's Book Council/IRA, and Chicago Public Schools Recommended Reading List, both 2003, both for Can You Make a Piggy Giggle?; Parenting magazine best book citation, Child magazine best book citation, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio platinum award, all 2003, all for Babies on the Go; Virginia Young Readers selection, 2003, for Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs; Children's Choice award, Children's Book Council, 2003, for Can You Make a Piggy Giggle?; Florida Reading Association children's book award selection, 2003, for The Tale of Wagmore Gently.
Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs, illustrated by Lauren Stringer, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Maxwell's Magic Mix-Up, illustrated by Regan Dunnick, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Sailing off to Sleep, illustrated by Susan Winter, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Can You Make a Piggy Giggle?, illustrated by Henry Cole, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Tale of Wagmore Gently, illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide, illustrated by David Small, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Babies on the Go, illustrated by Jane Dyer, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Rub-a-Dub Sub, illustrated by Jeff Mack, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2003.
How to Make a Night, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 2004.
Just Another Morning, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Starry Safari, illustrated by Jeff Mack, Harcourt Brace (Orlando, FL), 2005.
To the Beach!, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, Harcourt Brace (Orlando, FL), 2005.
Papa's Day, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Desmond and the Naughtybugs, illustrated by Anik McGrory, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
What Could Be Better Than This?, illustrated by Linda Wingerter, Dutton, in press.
Mama's Day, illustrated by Jan Ormerod, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), in press.
Alphabrats, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, Dutton (New York, NY), in press.
Before You Came, illustrated by David McPhail, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), in press.
Work in Progress
More picture books.
Linda Ashman told SATA: "It seems natural to me now that I would write children's books, but it took me a long time to realize that's what I wanted to do. As a child, I loved books, and read my way through the stacks of our public library in Flemington, New Jersey. Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, Louisa May Alcott, C. S. Lewis, E. B. White and the Brontë sisters were among my favorites, as well as biographies, fairy tales and poetry collections, particularly humorous or scary ones. I also loved to write. I was a quiet kid, prone to nervous reactions at the thought of speaking before my classmates, but I found I could express myself freely when writing.
"I also loved children's book illustrations. I studied them very carefully, as if by staring at them I might enter that world and participate in the adventure. I loved—and still love—the illustrators of the early 1900s, particularly Arthur Rackham, whose fantastic images fostered my belief that the woods behind our house were home to witches and mischievous spirits and trees with magical powers.
"But I didn't know any writers, and didn't consider writing as a career until much later—after I'd gotten a degree in economics, a graduate degree in urban planning, and spent many years in New York and Los Angeles working for investment advisors, environmental research centers and non-profit organizations, all the while feeling that I wasn't quite in the right place. At a particularly low point in 1995, I burst out in tears and said to my husband, 'All I ever wanted to do was write children's books!' My husband, kind and foolish soul that he is, said, 'Then do it!' So I quit my job and started writing. For the next two years, I amassed a huge collection of rejection letters, but eventually sold my first book and, since then, seventeen more.
"I find inspiration in the same things I loved as a child—magical worlds and the magic of this world, particularly animals, nature, and the bonds between parents and their children. My own son, Jackson, teaches and inspires me daily. Two of my books—What Could Be Better Than This? and Just Another Morning came directly out of becoming a mother and watching Jackson at play, and he's been the creative spark for many other stories.
"I believe books provide children with a sanctuary from the noise and busyness of the world, and I love the idea of creating places—magical worlds, natural settings, or humorous situations—for children to enter and explore at their own pace. I am convinced that the stories we are 'fed' as children feed our souls and imagination, giving us sustaining images of beauty to draw upon throughout our lives—just as Arthur Rackham's forests and the Brontë sisters' moors continue to nourish me. In my mind, a well-done picture book is a lasting work of art, and I am thrilled to have a part in their creation."
As a child Ashman liked to hear poems about fairies and goblins. Today Ashman writes her own whimsical poetry about creatures both fantastic and commonplace. Many of Ashman's books contain verse that is meant to be read aloud to youngsters, and the rhymes reveal useful information about animals, cultural fables, and ecology. The illustrations are carefully created to mesh with Ashman's texts in order to create compelling, imaginative worlds for children to explore. On her Web site, the author said that she likes to see her picture books as "a catalyst for discussion, a source of comfort, and a launch pad for other adventures."
Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs and Babies on the Go introduce young book-lovers to animal behavior. In Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs Ashman explores the homes certain creatures create for themselves, using rhyming text and abstract illustrations. Babies on the Go profiles animals who use fascinating strategies to protect their young. Both books earned numerous awards and citations. Jane Marino in School Library Journal called Babies on the Go "perfect for one-on-one sharing." In Booklist, Helen Rosenberg praised the same title as a "lovely picture book" that will "encourage youngsters to talk and share."
Other Ashman books venture further into the realm of imagination. In Sailing off to Sleep, a young girl extends her bedtime by describing a boat trip she plans to take through the Arctic. When her practical mother poses questions about the safety and the loneliness of the journey, the girl offers solutions based on the collection of stuffed animals on her bed. Maryann H. Owen in School Library Journal described Sailing off to Sleep as "smooth sailing to dreamland." In Rub-a-Dub Sub a boy visits a colorful undersea world in a personal submarine that turns out to be a bathtub toy. In her School Library Journal review of Rub-a-Dub Sub, Linda M. Kenton noted that Ashman's book "excels at blending story and pictures."
The Tale of Wagmore Gently is a tall tale, but one that children can readily believe. Wagmore, the beloved dog of the Gently family, has a tail that can wreak havoc. Even a twitch can upset a checkerboard, and more exuberant wagging cracks walls and causes mini-earthquakes. Only after Wagmore's tail saves the day during a dangerous hike does the family find the positive side to their dog's dilemma. On her Web site Ashman claimed that her own family pet inspired the Wag-more saga, a tale that Booklist correspondent Rosenberg called "a particularly good choice for children who know a happy dog."
Ashman examined the legends of many nations for her tongue-in-cheek The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide. Told entirely in rhyme, the story follows two intrepid children and their basset hound as they journey around the world in a balloon, deftly avoiding monsters on every continent. In addition to the poems, a small box of "facts" accompanies each monster. A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that, for children with imagination, "this clever book takes the bite out of things that go bump in the night." School Library Journal contributor Nina Lindsay concluded that the book reveals Ashman to be "an accomplished poet who will be well appreciated by young readers."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 1, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of Sailing off to Sleep, p. 862; July, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Can You Make a Piggy Giggle?, p. 1853; October 1, 2002, Helen Rosenberg, review of The Tale of Wagmore Gently, p. 330; May 1, 2003, Helen Rosenberg, review of Babies on the Go, p. 1598; June 1, 2003, John Peters, review of Rub-a-Dub Sub, p. 1782; November 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide, p. 498.
Publishers Weekly, September 23, 2002, review of The Tale of Wagmore Gently, p. 72; January 13, 2003, review of Babies on the Go, p. 58; April 7, 2003, review of Rub-a-Dub Sub, p. 64; October 13, 2003, review of The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide, p. 79.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Maryann H. Owen, review of Sailing off to Sleep, p. 89; June, 2002, Lynda S. Poling, review of Can You Make a Piggy Giggle?, p. 80; November, 2002, Elaine Lesh Morgan, review of The Tale of Wagmore Gently, p. 110; May, 2003, Jane Marino, review of Babies on the Go, p. 134; July, 2003, Linda M. Kenton, review of Rub-a-Dub Sub, p. 86; September, 2003, Nina Lindsay, review of The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide, p. 194.
Linda Ashman, http://www.lindaashman.com/ (January 5, 2004), author's home page.
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