Elaine Greenstein (1959-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1959, in New York, NY; Education: Boston University, B.F.A., 1981; Pennsylvania State University, M.F.A., 1985. Religion: Jewish.
Author and illustrator of children's books, 1992—. Has worked as a college professor, a pastry chef, and a sculptor. Presenter of workshops on book production and creative writing/illustrating in elementary schools.
Authors Guild, Authors League of America.
MacDowell fellow, 1983 and 1984; Virginia Center fellow, 1990.
Emily and the Crows, Picture Book Studio, 1992.
Mrs. Rose's Garden, Picture Book Studio, 1993.
Mattie's Hats: Won't Wear That!, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.
Dreaming: A Countdown to Sleep, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.
As Big as You, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Ice Cream Cones for Sale!, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
One Little Lamb, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 2004.
One Little Seed, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 2004.
Mark Karlins, Mendel's Ladder, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Candace Christiansen, The Mitten Tree, Fulcrum Publishing (New York, NY), 1997.
Barbara Diamond, When the Candles Burn: Eight Stories for Hanukkah, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.
Leslea Newman, Matzo Ball Moon, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.
Although Elaine Greenstein trained as a sculptor in college and graduate school, she found herself running the export division of a ceramics company and traveling around the world. Then, in a moment of truth, she realized that she wasn't the sort to carry a briefcase through life. While visiting an artists' colony, she decided to try writing and illustrating books. After more than a dozen years in the field, Greenstein has found a happy niche with her work for preschoolers and elementary readers.
Emily and the Crows, Greenstein's first book, shares an image that the artist enjoyed while living on a dairy farm: a milk cow with a black crow on its back. In Greenstein's tale, a little girl named Ivy is struck by the fact that Emily, a favorite cow, seems to prefer the company of crows to the other cows. In an initial attempt to understand this behavior, Ivy frightens away the birds. The clever girl perseveres, however, and imitates the crows so convincingly that they accept her as one of their own. Gathering with the crows around Emily, Ivy discovers that the cow is telling the crows wild and exciting tales of pigs with wings and mutant vegetables. Learning from Emily's example, Ivy delights her mother at bedtime by telling her a wild tale.
Mattie faces a unique challenge in Mattie's Hats: Won't Wear That! Mattie's hats rebel against her decorating techniques and demand simplicity instead. Only when the hats discover that they no longer give pleasure to passing strangers do they reconsider and allow Mattie to embellish them again—with their input this time. In Mrs. Rose's Garden, the title character discovers a miracle fertilizer that turns her garden into the land of giant vegetables. Certain that she will win all the prizes at the fair, Mrs. Rose has a change of heart at the last minute and distributes her giant vegetables throughout the neighborhood, so that her neighbors will also win prizes. "A blithe spirit pervades this beguiling tale," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer of Mrs. Rose's Garden. "… Start to finish, this one comes up roses."
Greenstein has written and illustrated several counting books. Dreaming: A Countdown to Sleep is a nighttime story that begins with ten silent houses and counts down the creatures and plants as they prepare for the dark hours. GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist called Dreaming "a dreamy little picture book," and A Publishers Weekly critic found it "handsomely designed and illustrated." As Big as You charts a baby's first year of growth by comparing the youngster to the pleasant products of nature, both plant and animal. School Library Journal correspondent Martha Topol pronounced the work a "sweet book," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor deemed it "a very satisfying read-aloud."
Greenstein weaves a tale of historical discovery in Ice Cream Cones For Sale! At the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, vendors begin wrapping ice cream in various types of waffles. But who was the first to do itand who can claim the patent on the idea? Greenstein offers some candidates for the honor, encouraging young readers to delve further into the matter themselves. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded of the book: "This tasty narrative treat could well prove delicious inspiration for current and future writers of history reports." In a Kirkus Reviews assessment, the critic praised Greenstein's illustrations, calling them "as delicious as the story."
Greenstein has also illustrated books written by other authors, including Matzo Ball Moon by Leslea Newman and The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen. In Matzo Ball Moon, a hungry family cadges so many matzo balls from Bubbe's soup that, when it is served, there aren't enough left to go around. A Publishers Weekly reviewer liked the way Greenstein's art work "intensifies the mood of sunny domesticity." Old Sarah, the heroine of The Mitten Tree, makes knitted treats for the neighborhood children and leaves them on a tree outside her house. In the end her generosity is rewarded in kind by the grateful kids. "Warm hands signify a warm heart in this tale of generosity," observed a Publishers Weekly critic.
Greenstein enjoys sharing her books with students during school visits. She also leads workshops on the whole process of book making, from coming up with ideas to creating the finished art work.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 15, 1992, Hazel Rochman, review of Emily and the Crows, p. 1687; April, 1998, Ellen Mandel, review of Matzo Ball Moon, p. 1332; February 1, 2000, review of Dreaming: A Countdown to Sleep, p. 1029; May 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Ice Cream Cones for Sale!, p. 1595.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of As Big as You, p. 46; June 1, 2003, Elaine Greenstein, review of Ice Cream Cones for Sale!, p. 804.
Publishers Weekly, April 27, 1992, Diane Roback and Richard Donohue, review of Emily and the Crows, p. 267; May 27, 1996, review of Mrs. Rose's Garden, p. 78; August 11, 1997, review of The Mitten Tree, p. 402; February 23, 1998, review of Matzo Ball Moon, p. 76; February 14, 2000, review of Dreaming, p. 196; December 17, 2001, review of As Big as You, p. 89; May 12, 2003, review of Ice Cream Cones for Sale!, p. 66.
School Library Journal, January, 1993, Valerie F. Patterson, review of Emily and the Crows, p. 77; March, 2002, Martha Topol, review of As Big as You, p. 187.*
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