Jacqueline Davies (1962-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1962, in Cleveland, OH; Education: Brown University, B.A., 1984.
office—c/o Author Mail, Dial Books for Young Readers/Dell Publishing, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
Children's book author.
Where the Ground Meets the Sky, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2002.
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
The Night Is Singing Lullabies, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.
Jacqueline Davies' 2002 middle-grade novel Where the Ground Meets the Sky is set in the 1940s, and in it twelve-year-old Hazel has recently moved with her family from New Jersey to a place in New Mexico known as the "Hill." The "Hill" is actually a remote military base on which her father works. While Hazel wonders what her father is working on in such secrecy, readers gradually realize that he is among the group of scientists creating the atomic bomb. The secrecy of such a job ultimately takes its toll on the family; Hazel's mother grows increasingly despondent due to her husband's secretive occupation, calling it "bad for the soul." Janet Gillen commented in a review for School Library Journal that Davies' "suspenseful story successfully captures the tensions of a volatile period in American history as the atomic bomb was being developed," and leaves young readers with "plenty to think about and no simple answers."
Davies' first picture book, The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon, tells the story of the French-born naturalist who, newly arrived in the United States when a young man, befriends a pair of nesting phoebe birds. When the birds leave in the fall, the young artist wonders if they will return the following spring. In Kirkus Reviews a contributor praised the work as "winsomely imagined" and added that Davies' story sustains reader interest in the "bird-obsessed" artist "whose perfectionism led him to burn his artwork every year."
Davies told Something about the Author: "The first book I ever wrote is called The Sad Shape. I wrote it when I was in kindergarten and I have it still. It's a modest opus, no more than 100 words long, but I like to show The Sad Shape to students when I visit school because it proves two points: 1) anyone in the room can write a story as good as my early stuff, and 2) all stories have a shape (even if it is a sad one).
"I've been writing stories since I was five, but I turned to writing books for kids when I was thirty. Previously, I'd written nonfiction and short stories for adults, but honestly I couldn't quite figure out what the point was. Most of the adults I knew were pretty set in their ways. They'd figured out a lot of what makes the world tick, and they didn't get particularly worked up over the books they read. But kids, kids are full of juice. They do get excited about the books they read—the ones that make them laugh, the ones that make them check under
the bed before going to sleep, the ones that make them think and cry and think some more. Kids really get INTO a story, and that was the kind of audience I wanted for my books.
"When I talk to kids who've read my books, they often tell me their reactions. 'I was so sad when the cat died, I wished I could change that part.' 'Reading about John James Audubon made me go outside and start drawing birds myself. It's hard!' 'The character of Eleanor reminded me of my sister. I wish I was more like them because they're brave and have adventures.' I love these comments. They help me see inside the story that I wrote to the story that is actually experienced by the reader. I feel extraordinarily lucky to have such a collaborative experience with my readers."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Where the Ground Meets the Sky, p. 112.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon.
School Library Journal, April, 2002, Janet Gillen, review of Where the Ground Meets the Sky, p. 146.
Jacqueline Davies Web site, http://www.jacquelinedavies.net/ (October 21, 2004).
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