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Joanna Ryder is an award-

winning author whose books

offer a unique blend of poetry

and science. Her innovative Just

for a Day series invites children

into the world of wild animals,

ranging from a sea otter to

Tyrannosaurus rex. Ms. Ryder

says, "Children know that my

books often ask them to imagine

being a different creature. So

they always ask me which

animal I would choose to be.

I'd be a flying one, I tell them.

Or if I could, I'd wish for wings.

And I've discovered children

would love wings, too. But

which ones to choose? I

wrote Rainbow Wings to help

us decide." Ms. Ryder lives in

Pacific Grove, California.

In Her Own Words...

"When I was small, my father would find tiny treasures in our garden and bring them to me cupped gently in his hands. 'I've got something fabulous to show you,' he'd say, carefully opening his fingers. I might see a cicada watching me with ruby eyes or a snail gliding across his palm. Then my father would slip the animal into my hands so I could watch it and feel it move for a moment until we returned it to its home. (In case you haven't held a snail, it feels like cool Jell-O sliding over warm skin!)

"My father helped me find the magic in the natural world and appreciate what it might be like to be another creature, someone wonderfully different. In my books, I try to share with my readers the experience of being "shape changers." We imagine together how it would feel to be someone new--a huge, furry polar bear running on an ice-covered sea, a lean lizard changing colors in the hot sun, a humpback whale singing its winter song, a sea otter floating on a seaweed bed, a Jaguar prowling in a lush tropical rain forest, and a great white shark gliding toward its prey.

"I liked reading when I was young, especially adventures about dogs and cats, and I began writing my own animal stories. My family and teachers encouraged my writing and made me want to continue. So I studied journalism at Marquette University, and I learned how to research and discover facts. Sometimes a book idea comes from an amazing animal fact I've found. A curious person, I start thinking of questions about where the animal lives and how it spends its days and nights. I may hunt for the answers for months before I write a word of my book.

"For several years I was an editor of children's books in New York. Now I write full-time and live in California. I enjoy hiking through woods and parks and by the sea. There, it is still easy for me to imagine what it might be like to be a tiny insect hidden in the leaves above or perhaps a whale swimming deep below the pounding waves. So my language is poetic, full of images, sounds, and sensations to help readers slip into a new skin, a new shape.

"My father helped me discover the wonders hidden all around me, and in my books I try to share my own discoveries with children. And I hope when they explore the natural world on their own, they will also find it a most inviting place--as I did and still do."


These are Joanne's favorite awards:

American Nature Study Society’s Eva L. Gordon Award for Excellence in Writing for Children in l995. This is for the body of a writer’s work.

The Gold Medal in Children’s Literature from the New York Academy of Science for The Snail’s Spell.

ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Award for Children’s Poetry—Gold Medal 2000 for Each Living Thing.

Parents Magazine’s 2004 Best Book List—Won’t You Be My Kissaroo?

Her books have also been on the ABA Pick of the Lists; NSTA, NCTE, IRA, Children’s Choice and Parent’s Magazine Book Awards.