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JENNIFER ARMSTRONG

BIOGRAPHY I BOOKS I PRESENTATIONS I BOOK ORDERING

Born in 1961 in Waltham, MA, Jennifer Armstrong moved to New York when she was two. Except for a year in Switzerland, she spent most of her time growing up in South Salem, NY (about 50 miles north of New York City).

 

It was in first grade that she decided to become an author. Her identity as a writer was well-established by high school (even though she briefly toyed with the idea of a career in archaeology while in 6th grade). She earned a BA in English and American literature from Smith College, and then worked in New York in publishing. She left New York City to begin writing when she was 24, and was soon a ghost-writer for the popular Sweet Valley High series.

 

'That was an excellent apprenticeship,' Armstrong says. 'And it proved that writing for young people was what I really enjoyed and was good at.' She soon established a name for herself with critically acclaimed historical novels, such as Steal Away, for which she won a Golden Kite Honor Award, and picture books, such as Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat. With Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, her first nonfiction book, Armstrong won the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award and a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Award for nonfiction. It was this book, and a growing interest in Antarctica, that led her to apply for a National Science Foundation grant to do research on the frozen continent. She spent New Year's Eve of 2003/2004 at the South Pole.

 

Since 1987, Jennifer Armstrong has made her permanent home in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she met writer and landscape painter, James Howard Kunstler (www.kunstler.com). They were married in 1996. Together, they have done a lot of traveling. 'Traveling keeps my creative wheels turning inside my imagination,' Armstrong says. They also have a cabin on Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks of upstate New York.

 

HERE'S A LIST OF SOME OF JENNIFER ARMSTRONG'S AWARDS

 

1992 Golden Kite Honor for Fiction awarded by SCBWI for Steal Away.

1995 IRA/CBC Children's Choice for That Terrible Baby.

1997 Hungry Mind Review Children's Book of Distinction/Young Adult Fiction for The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan.

1998 Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction/Young Adult Fiction for Mary Mehan Awake.

1999 Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction/Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World.

1999 Orbis Pictus Award from NCTE/Outstanding Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World.

1999 Boston Globe Horn Book Honor/Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World.

1999 Cuffies Award (Children's Booksellers) Best Biography for In My Hands.

2000 Assoc. of Booksellers for Children ABC Children's Booksellers Choice Award/Nonfiction for In My Hands and for The Century for Young People.

2000 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for In My Hands.

2000 Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction/Nonfiction for In My Hands.

2000 Horn Book Fanfare for In My Hands.

2000 ALA Best Book for Young Adults for In My Hands.

2001 Best Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street College for Spirit of Endurance.

2002 ALA Best Book for Young Adults for Shattered.

2002 NCSS/CBC Notable Book in Social Studies for Shattered.

2002 Booklinks Lasting Connections for The Kindling.

2003 Knickerbocker Award for her body of work.

2005 School Library Journal Best Book for Photo by Brady.

2007 Notable Children's Book for Once Upon a Banana.

2007 Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts list includes Once Upon a Banana.

An in-depth interview with Jennifer Armstrong can be found on pages 35-38 in Volume 2, Number 3, Winter 2004 of Children & Libraries, an ALSC publication published by the American Library Association.