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Ana María Machado (1941-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1941, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Education: Universidad Federal de Rio de Janeiro, M.A.; l' École Pratique des Hautes É tudes, Paris, Ph.D.; also studied modern art at Museum of Rio de Janeiro and Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.


Agent—Lucia Ryff, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 414/1108, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Journalist and author. Universidad de Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, professor of Brazilian literature and literary theory, 1969—; has taught at University of Paris, Paris, France. Has worked as an artist, columnist, and news editor in South America, and for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), London, England. Opened Malasartes, the first children's bookstore in Brazil, 1979. Former fellow, Literature Seminar, Cambridge University; former Distinguished Writer in Residence, University of California at Berkeley.


IBBY, PEN Brazil, Fundaçao Nacional do Livro Infantil, Sindicato de Escritores de Rio de Janeiro.

Honors Awards

Joan de Barro Award, 1978; best book of the year awards, 1979, 1981, 1982; Jabuto Award, 1980; Chinaglia Award, 1980; Selo de Ouro, Melhor Livro Infantil Brasileiro, 1980, 1981, 1982; Casa de las Americas prize, 1981, for De olho nas penas; Crefisul Award, 1981; Paulist Association of Art Critics awards, 1981 and 1982; IBBY honors list, 1982; Art critics of São Paulo Award, 1982; São Paulo Biennial Award, 1984; Association for the Promotion of Literature for Children award, 1988; president of judges for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal award, 1990; Best Novel of the Year, Brazilian Union of Writers, 1994; Hans Christian Andersen Medal for contributions to children's literature, and Best Novel of the Year, National Library, both 2000; Academy, Machado de Assis Medal, National Book Award for Contributions to Literature (Brazil), 2001; APPLE Prize (Switzerland), Cocori Prize (Costa Rica).


Bagaje de vivencias, Instituto Amigos del Libro (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1966.

Recade do nome: leitura de Guimarães Rosa à luz do nome de seus personagens, Imago Editora (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1976, reprinted, Martins Fontes (São Paulo, Brazil), 1991.

História meio ao contrário, illustrated by Virgílio Veloso, Editora Comunicação, 1978.

O menino Pedro e seu boi voador, Paz e Terra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1978.

Raul da ferrugem azul, Salamandra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1979.

Bem do seu tamanho, illustrated by Gerson Conforto, Editora Brasil-America (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1980.

O gato do mato e o cachorro do morro, illustrated by Janine Decot, Editora Atica (São Paulo, Brazil), 1980.

Do outro lado tem segredos, illustrated by Antonio José do Espírito Santo, Paz e Terra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1980.

De olho nas penas, illustrated by Gerson Conforto, Salamandra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1981.

Bisa Bea, Bisa Bel, illustrated by Regina Yolanda, Salamandra (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil), 1982, published as Me in the Middle, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Ana María Machado: seleção de textos, notas, estudos biográfico, histórico e crititico e exercìcios por Marisa Lajolo, Abril Educação (São Paulo, Brazil), 1982.

Alice e Ulisses (adult novel), F. Alves (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1983.

Passarinho me contou, illustrated by Ivan & Marcello, Editora Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1983.

O menino que espiava-pra dentro, Editora Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1983.

(Editor with Fanny Abramovich) O Mito da infância feliz (anthology), Summus Editorial (São Paulo, Brazil), 1983.

Alguns medos e seus segredos: histórias de Ana marìa Machado, Editora Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1984.

Del tamaño justo, Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1985.

A jararaca, a perereca e a tiririca, illustrated by Graça Lima, Editora Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1985.

Palabras, palabritas y palabrotas, Ed. Emecé (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1986.

El perro del cerro y la rana de la sabana (title means "The Dog of the Hill and the Frog of the Plains"), translated by Clarisa de la Rosa, illustrated by Peli and Irene Savino, Ekaré/Banco del Libro (Caracas, Venezuela), 1986.

O canto de praça (title means "The Song of the Marketplace"), illustrated by Regina Yolanda, Salamandra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1986.

Tropical sol da liberdade (adult novel), Editora nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1988.

Comilón, comilón, Ediciones SM (Madrid, Spain), 1989.

Surpresa na sombra, Melhoramentos (São Paulo, Brazil), 1989.

Troca-troca, second edition, Melhoramentos (São Paulo, Brazil), 1989.

Com prazer e alegria, Melhoramentos (São Paulo, Brazil), 1989.

A grande adventura de Maria Fumaça, second edition, illustrated by Gerson Conforto, Salamandra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1989.

Un montón de unicornios (title means "A Bunch of Unicorns"), illustrated by Asun Balzola, Ediciones SM (Madrid, Spain), 1989.

Canteiros de Saturno (adult novel), F. Alves (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1991.

Historia medio al revés (title means "Upside-Down Story"), illustrated by Rafael Barajas, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1992.

Aos quatro ventos (adult novel), Editora nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1993.

Exploration into Latin America, Belitha Press (London, England), 1994, New Discovery Books (New York, NY), 1995, reprinted as Latin America, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.

O mar nunca transborda (adult novel), Editora Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1995.

De fora da arca, Salamandra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1996.

Niña Bonita, translated by Elena Iribarren, illustrated by Rosana Faría, Kane/Miller Book Publishers (Brooklyn, NY), 1996, translation by Veronica Uribe published as Pretty Girl, 2001.

Esta força estranha: trajetória de uma autora, Atual Editora (São Paulo, Brazil), 1996.

Besos mágicos (title means "Magical Kisses"), illustrated by Federico Delicado, C.I.D.C.L.I. (Mexico City, Mexico), 1996.

La abuelita aventurera (title means "The Adventurous Grandmother"), translated by Manuel Barbadillo, illustrated by Pablo Nuñez, Ediciones SM (Madrid, Spain), 1996.

El domador de monstruos (title means "The Monster Tamer"), translated by Manuel Barbadillo, illustrated by María Luisa Torcida, Ediciones SM (Madrid, Spain), 1997.

Ah, pajarita si yo pudiera (title means, "Oh, Little Bird, If I Could"), translated by Juan Fernando Esquerra, illustrated by Ivar Da Coll, Grupo Editorial Norma (Bogota, Colombia), 1998.

A audácia dessa mulher (adult novel), Editora nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1999.

Fiz voar o meu chapéu, illustrated by Zeflávio Teixeira, Formato, 1999.

Mas que festa!, illustrated by Graça Lima, Editora Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1999.

Contracorrente (essays), Editora Atica (São Paulo, Brazil), 1999.

Para Sempre (adult novel; title means "Forever"), Editora Record (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 2001.

Texturas (essays), Editora nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 2001.

Contributor to magazines in Brazil and Europe, including Elle.


Ana María Machado is the 2000 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen medal for children's literature, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. While not widely known in America, the Brazilian-born Machado is wildly popular in South America and elsewhere, having written more than one hundred books for young people that have been translated into numerous languages. In World Literature Today, Glauco Ortolano wrote that her books "had sold close to eight million copies worldwide." Ortolano went on to characterize Machado as "a true master of the art of writing."

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1941, Machado was the eldest of eleven children in her family. In a World Literature Today interview, she recalled that she spent many childhood summers at her grandparents' home in a small coastal village, where oral storytelling provided a source of entertainment during the warm evenings. A precocious student and talented painter, she traveled frequently as a child, visiting Argentina, the United States, France, Italy, and England. For a time she studied painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Machado decided to become a writer in the early 1960s and earned a Ph.D. in literature from the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. In an interview with Julie Kline of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Machado said that she gravitated to writing for children during a time of dictatorship in her native Brazil (1964-1985), a time she said "when children's literature, poetry, and song lyrics were among the few forms of literature that, by using language poetically and symbolically, managed to say something, insisting on the joy of living, individual freedom, and respect for all persons' rights." In 1979 she helped to open the first bookstore dedicated completely to children's books in Brazil.

El perro del cerro y la rana de la sabana is the Spanish-language translation of Machado's book for children that in English means "The Dog of the Hill and the Frog of the Plains." The story is about a dog and a frog who compete to see who is bravest. When they meet a lion, they decide that there is more strength in numbers. School Library Journal contributor Louise Yarlan Zwick said that "the rhyming, rich language is music to the ear and very funny." O canto de praça ("Song of the Marketplace") is about the journey of Harlequin, Pierrot, and Colombine as they seek peace on earth. Booklist reviewer Jeffrey Garrett called the tale "charming."

Other children's books include Un montón de unicornios ("A Bunch of Unicorns") in which children living in an apartment building are deprived of their pets by the president of the community. When unicorns begin appearing in and around the building, the president thinks he is going mad and leaves, as do the unicorns when they are no longer needed. Historia medio al revés ("Upside-Down Story") begins with "and they lived happily ever after" and goes in reverse to tell the story of a king and his family. School Library Journal reviewer Rose Zertuch Trevino called the Spanish translation "humorous."

A Junior Bookshelf contributor praised the excellence of the material and illustrations in Machado's Exploration

In a South American coastal town, an inquisitive white rabbit learns the secret of a black girl's beauty in Ana Mariía Machado's tale extolling mixed-race families. (From Niña Bonita, written by Machado and illustrated by Rosana Faría.)

into Latin America, an English-language history that spans 8,500 years and covers European influence on Latin America, conquests and failures, the power of wealth, and archaeological finds. Included are a time-line, glossary, and index. The reviewer deemed the volume "an attractive and stimulating introduction."

In Besos mágicos ("Magical Kisses"), Nanda decides that her new stepmother, Elena, is a witch who has cast a spell on her father. Nanda wants nothing to do with the woman until she is hurt and Elena soothes her with her "magical kisses." Mildred Rivera Said wrote in School Library Journal that the Spanish-language story "blends realism and fantasy in an appealing and lighthearted manner." La abuelita aventurera ("The Adventurous Grandmother") is about an elderly woman who sews a hot-air balloon and invites her animal friends along for her trip, as long as they behave. The dog, cat, mouse, horse, and cow keep that promise until an annoying fly joins the group, upsetting the fragile calm. When the damaged balloon makes a crash landing, the woman threatens to sell the animals, but they make amends by building her a new balloon. School Library Journal critic Marisa Parish called the Spanish-language book "a charming story, comically illustrated."

Sergio is desperate to find a solution to the monsters plaguing him in El domador de monstruos ("The Monster Tamer"). Every night, the trees outside Sergio's bedroom cast eerie shadows on his wall. Only when Sergio begins to "tame" his monsters with eyes, happy mouths, and other engaging features does he feel comfortable again. In School Library Journal, Judith Rodriguez lauded El domador de monstruos as being "bright and amusing." Ah, pajarita si yo pudiera ("Oh, Little Bird, If I Could") concerns a bird who challenges anyone who attempts to cut the trees in which she builds her nests. Booklist reviewer Isobel Schon felt that the story is "written with the charm of a cumulative tale."

Niña Bonita is one of Machado's stories that has been translated into English, as Pretty Girl. The story is about a young girl whose dark skin is admired by a white rabbit. When the rabbit learns that the girl is dark like her grandmother, it mates with a black rabbit, which results in a litter of multi-hued bunnies. "This gentle and entertaining exploration of mixed-race families is appealing," noted Tana Elias in School Library Journal. Lucia M. Gonzalez in Library Journal called the book an "enchanting story of diversity."

In her interview with Julie Kline, Machado recalled that, growing up, she read and enjoyed many of the classics of American children's literature. Expressing some disappointment that so few of her works have been translated into English, she said: "Why can't contemporary U.S. children be treated like intelligent readers, fully capable of getting in touch with other cultures and literatures? … Some markets are powerful and behave as if they could be self-sufficient, but cultural self-sufficiency may be another name for cultural impoverishment…. Everywhere in the world, every body learns English, tries to read English, translates books written in English. But seldom things happen the other way."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Bookbird, number 3, 2000, Maria Nikolajeva, "Ana María Machado: The Power of Language."

Booklist, February 1, 1988, Isobel Schon, review of El perro del cerro y la rana de la sabana, p. 941; July, 1988, Jeffrey Garrett, review of O canto de praça, p. 1845; October 15, 1999, Isobel Schon, review of Ah, pajarita si yo pudiera, p. 466.

Children's Bookwatch, June, 1996, review of Niña Bonita, p. 3.

Hispania, May, 1988, Myrian Met, review of El perro del cerro y la rana de la sabana, pp. 420-421.

Horn Book, fall, 1996, Jannifer M. Brabander, review of Niña Bonita, p. 266.

Junior Bookshelf, June, 1995, review of Exploration into Latin America, p. 101.

Library Journal, August, 2001, Lucia M. Gonzalez, review of Pretty Girl, p. S27.

School Library Journal, February, 1989, Louise Yarlan Zwick and Mark Zwick, review of Un montón de unicornios, p. 102; and review of El perro del cerro y la rana de la sabana, p. 109; November, 1993, Rose Zertuch Trevino, review of Historia medio al revés, p. 139; November, 1995, Rose Zertuch Trevino, review of Niña Bonita, p. 137; December, 1996, Tana Elias, review of Niña Bonita, p. 100; August, 1997, Marisa Parish, review of La abuelita aventurera, p. 181; November, 1997, Mildred Rivera Said, review of Besos mágicos, p. 137; February, 1998, Judith Rodriguez, review of El domador de monstruos, p. 130.

World Literature Today, summer, 1989, Bobby J. Chamberlain, review of Tropical sol da liberdade, pp. 462-463; spring, 2002, Glauco Ortolano, "An Interview with Ana María Machado," p. 109.


University of Wisconsin, http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/ (March 24, 2001), Julie Kline, "An Interview with Ana María Machado."*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Al Loving Biography - Loved Painting from Early Age to Alice McGill Biography - Personal