Michael (Joseph) (Rod Alexander Pellowski Charles Bracken Melanie Martin Liz Matthews Morgan Matthews Ski Michaels Michael Morgan Pellowski Bart Rockwell Richard Smithsen Anthony Ventura Dick Walker) Biography (1949-)
As a children's writer, Michael Pellowski pens works that appeal to a diverse set of audiences. He has written numerous children's picture books, several joke books, a series of novels for teenagers, and a number of informational books. This variety, and Pellowski's devotion to "humor, children, and sports," is not surprising given his exciting career history. After graduating from Rutgers College, Pellowski spent the early 1970s working as a professional football player affiliated with the New England Patriots and then serving as an art, philosophy, and physical education teacher at a small private school. Later, he worked as a comedian and produced and hosted a children's television show.
Pellowski first began to work as a freelance writer in 1975; his first published book for children, The Great Sports Question and Answer Book, appeared in 1979. From there, Pellowski penned picture books for younger children, including Clara Joins the Circus and Felix, the Funny Fox. For Troll, he wrote several books in the "What It's Like to Be a …" series, including titles on forest rangers, fire fighters, and police officers, and under the pseudonym Morgan Matthews, books on farmers, postal workers, and railroad workers. By the early 1990s, Pellowski had published several books in the popular Hyperion "Riverdale High" series, including Bad News Boyfriend and The Trouble with Candy. In addition, Pellowski continues to write joke and riddle books like Joke & Riddle Bonanza, Wackiest Jokes in the World, and 102 Cat & Dog Jokes.
Turning his hand toward subjects more suited to an older readership, Pellowski has written several entries in the "Headline Court Case" series. These books cover a range of famous legal cases, from the Chicago "Black Sox" baseball scandal in 1919 to the more recent trials of former football player O. J. Simpson and the individuals behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Many reviewers commended the way that Pellowski makes the often complex facts behind the cases clear for his readers. For example, in The Terrorist Trial of the 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center, Pellowski provides a list of "People with Key Roles" for easy reference when reading the book. In The Chicago "Black Sox" Baseball Scandal, Pellowski "does a fine job of explaining some possibly unclear legal and athletic terms in context," Andrew Medlar noted in School Library Journal. And also in School Library Journal, reviewer Vicki Reutter praised Pellowski's objective handling of the controversial O. J. Simpson trial, declaring the book "well done and worthy of shelf space."
Pellowski's experience in the entertainment business often informs his work for children. He occasionally performs as a stand-up comedian and writes scripts for other comedians. Cable television viewers may remember Fun Stop, a weekly children's show that Pellowski wrote, hosted, and produced under the stage name "Ski Michaels." Fun Stop was distinguished with an Ace Award nomination from the Academy for Cable Excellence in 1982. Pellowski once explained that he closed his television show "with the words, 'Don't grow up too fast, because it's great to be a kid.'" According to Pellowski, that sentence sums up his cause in life.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 15, 1982, p. 965.
Children's Book Watch, June, 1991, p. 6.
Library Journal, February 1, 1997, Morey Berger and Paul Kaplan, review of Baseball's Funniest People, p. 83.
School Library Journal, April, 1989, pp. 95-96; January, 1996, p. 122 December, 2001, Vicki Reutter, review of The O. J. Simpson Murder Trial, pp. 169-170; September, 2003, Andrew Medlar, review of The Chicago "Black Sox" Baseball Scandal, pp. 234-235; November, 2003, G. Alyssa Sadler, review of The Terrorist Trial of the 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center, p. 165.*
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyMichael (Joseph) (Rod Alexander Pellowski Charles Bracken Melanie Martin Liz Matthews Morgan Matthews Ski Michaels Michael Morgan Pellowski Bart Rockwell Richard Smithsen Anthony Ventura Dick Walker) (1949-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member