Natale Ghent Biography (1962-)
Children's author Natale Ghent grew up among horses, chickens, dogs, and an assortment of other animals. Born in Illinois, Ghent moved to the Canadian countryside when she was seven. This rural upbringing shows itself in Piper, Ghent's first novel for middle readers, according to Canadian Materials critic Kristin Butcher. Writing about "a subject with which she is very familiar," observed Butcher, Ghent's "knowledge of all aspects of farm life, and particularly dogs, . . . makes this story come alive."
Piper follows the story of eleven-year-old Wesley, whose father dies, forcing Wesley and her mother to move in with her Aunt Cindy who lives on a farm, raising sheep. When one of her sheep dogs gives birth, Wesley begs her aunt to try to revive the runt of the litter, who is not breathing. Her aunt successfully brings it back to life, beginning a relationship between Wesley and the dog, Piper. Wesley begins to train Piper to be a herd dog and to eventually enter her in competition. When Wesley is attacked by a pack of coyotes and Piper comes to her aid, their part in the competition must be put on hold. However, the bond between the two only grows stronger. Booklist's Denise Wilms predicted that children "will respond to the drama near the story's end," finding Ghent's "interwoven information on training herd dogs . . . a plus." A Resource Links reviewer remarked that "This book portrays beautifully the relationship of a young girl and her dog."
In No Small Thing, the author's second work for children, an ad in the local newspaper changes the life of twelve-year-old Nathaniel and his family. Nathaniel is trying to cope with a younger sister who is a bit odd, an older sister with whom he is always fighting, and the loss of his father, who left the family. After reading an ad for a free pony, Nathaniel convinces his mother to let him take it. Subsequently, Nathaniel—and his family—embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Books in Canada reviewer Pat Barclay wrote that this experience "brings the whole family a measure of the security for which they yearn and a better understanding of each other." Gwyneth Evans, in a Quill & Quire review, credited Ghent for creating a "loveable young hero" who faces adversity with a positive attitude and judged the work as an "absorbing story."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 1, 2001, Denise Wilms, review of Piper, p. 1278.
Books in Canada, summer, 2003, Pat Barclay, review of No Small Thing.
Canadian Materials, March 30, 2001, Kristin Butcher, review of Piper.
Quill & Quire, January, 2001, Lian Goodall, review of Piper, p. 36; April, 2003, Gwyneth Evans, review of No Small Thing.
Resource Links, December, 2000, review of Piper, p. 11.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) March 29, 2003, review of No Small Thing.
Toronto Star, September, 11, 2003, Rachel Charney, review of No Small Thing.
Natale Ghent Home Page, http://www.nataleghent.com/ (September 16, 2003).
Brief BiographiesBiographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) BiographyNatale Ghent (1962-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights