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Michelle Edwards (1955-) Biography

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

Born 1955, in Bridgeport, CT; Education: State University of New York at Albany, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1976; University of Iowa, M.A., 1981, M.F.A., 1983; advanced study at Bazalel Academy, Jerusalem. Religion: Jewish.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harcourt St., Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101.


Illustrator and author of children's books. Freelance artist in New York, Iowa, and Minnesota, beginning 1983; worked variously as medical clerk, waitress, tour guide, Hebrew school teacher, and printmaker.


Society of Children's Book Writers, Authors Guild, Children's Literature Network, Hadassah, Phi Beta Kappa.

Honors Awards

National Jewish Book Awards Marcia and Louis Posner Award for children's picture book, 1992, for Chicken Man.



Misha the Minstrel, Holy Cow! Press (Duluth, MN), 1984.

Dora's Book, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 1990.

Michelle Edwards

Chicken Man, Lothrop, Lee & Shepherd (New York, NY), 1991.

A Baker's Portrait, Lothrop, Lee & Shepherd (New York, NY), 1991.

Alef-bet: A Hebrew Alphabet Book, Lothrop, Lee & Shepherd (New York, NY), 1992.

Blessed Are You: Everyday Hebrew Prayers, Lothrop, Lee & Shephard (New York, NY), 1993.

Eve and Smithy: An Iowa Tale, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1994.

Pa Lia's First Day, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Zero Grandparents, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.

The Talent Show, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.


(Illustrator) Robert Baden, And Sunday Makes Seven, Albert Whitman (Niles, IL), 1990.

Papa's Latkes, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

(With Phyllis Root) What's That Noise?, illustrated by Paul Meisel, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Contributor of illustrations to Cricket.


Michelle Edwards has worked hard to accomplish her goal of becoming an author and illustrator. Growing up in New York state, she enjoyed writing and drawing; after high school graduation, while living on a kibbutz in Israel, Edwards decided to make writing and illustrating children's books her life's work. Returning to the United States, she developed a portfolio of her minimalist illustrations, while additionally working as both a waitress and a Hebrew school teacher in order to be able to support herself and her aspirations to write. Fortunately, her hard work paid off, as Edwards has several books to her credit, among them Eve and Smithy, published by Lothrop in 1994, 1999's Pa Lia's First Day, and The Talent Show, the last two published as part of the "Jackson Friends" beginning readers series. In addition, she has joined with author Phyllis Root and illustrator Paul Meisel to produce What's That Noise?, a book about nighttime fears that a Publishers Weekly contributor dubbed a "cheery tale" that "proves that there's safety in numbers, at least in the dead of night."

In Eve and Smithy Edwards tells a story about friendship that young readers can relate to, despite the elderly status of the book's main characters. Smithy is a successful gardener who annually shares his skills with his neighbor and friend Eve. While Eve is just learning about gardening, she is a knowledgeable artist. As a thank you to Smithy each year, Eve paints him a picture to celebrate yet another successful harvest. As the years have passed, Smithy has built up quite a collection of paintings, each reminding him of a beautiful moment, and he decides to repay Eve's gesture with a special gift. The richly colored illustrations in Edwards' sensitive story combine natural hues like leafy greens and deep browns that accurately capture the story's expansive Midwestern setting. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that, "While action is limited" in Eve and Smithy, "children will likely take a shine to these kindly, quirky Iowans and their simple way of life." Stephanie Zvirin, writing in Booklist, also complimented Edwards' picture book, noting that "The story is simple and sweet, and Edwards' cheerful, homey artwork doesn't prettify the generous, good-natured old folk."

Expressive pen-and-ink illustrations decorate the pages of The Talent Show as Edwards recounts in an easy-to-read text the story of a young Africa-American girl and her dreams of stardom. Howardina Geraldina Paulina Maxina Gardenia Smith has finally reached the day of her school talent show. After numerous rehearsals, and day dreams of what the final performance will be like, she is finally about to really become a star. In class that day she can hardly concentrate on her math test, and she even begins to get a little nervous. As the day turns into night and the big moment approaches, Howardina finds herself with an extreme case of stage fright; she is so nervous in fact that she loses her voice! Luckily her grandma and close friends sense what is happening, and rush to Howardina's aid, helping the girl overcome her fears. Karen Land praised The Talent Show in her School Library Journal review, complimenting in particular Edwards' black-and-white illustrations which "capture the emotions" of all the characters. Ilene Cooper criticized the book's lack of color, but went on to say that overall the "artwork is very imaginative."

In addition to her own picture-book projects, Edwards has contributed her talents to worthy causes, including designing a set of note cards for the Knitting Project fundraiser. She currently resides with her husband and two children in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she pursues her writing and illustration full time.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 1993, Ilene Cooper, review of Blessed Are You, p. 1232; June 1, 1994, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Eve and Smithy, p. 1837; November 15, 1999, Ellen Mandel, review of Pa Lia's First Day, p. 626; April 1, 2001, Ellen Mandel, review of Zero Grandparents, p. 1468; August, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of The Talent Show, p. 1958.

Horn Book, May-June, 1992, Hanna B. Zeiger, review of Alef-bet, p. 360.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of What's That Noise?, p. 953; July 15, 2002, review of The Talent Show, p. 1030.

Language Arts, September, 2003, review of What's That Noise?, p. 78.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1985, p. 68; May 25, 1992, p. 54; January 11, 1993, p. 62; May 9, 1994, review of Eve and Smithy, p. 72; September 6, 1999, p. 103; June 17, 2002, review of What's That Noise?, p. 64.

School Library Journal, February, 1986, p. 84; June, 1990, p. 111; October, 1991, p. 94; August, 1992, p. 151; September, 1993, p. 223; July, 1994, p. 76; November, 1999, Linda Binder, review of Pa Lia's First Day, p. 114; July, 2002, Pat Leach, review of Zero Grandparents, p. 74; October, 2002, Karen Land, review of The Talent Show, p. 104; December, 2002, Susan Marie Pitard, review of What's That Noise?, p. 94; October, 2003, review of The Talent Show, p. 37.


Children's Literature Network Web site, http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/ (February 6, 2004), "Michelle Edwards."

Michelle Edwards Home Page, http://www.michelledwards.com/ (February 6, 2004).*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Craig David Biography - Became Teenage MC to Herman Edwards Biography