Friday, June 6, 2008

Author Spotlight: Jerdine Nolen

Jerdine Nolen infuses her strong Southern roots, sense of humor and big imagination into the stories she writes for children. 

She has had a love of words as far back as she can remember, always writing and collecting them, which was encouraged by her mother. She even kept a list of favorite words (cucumber, she recalls, was one of her most preferred). Ms Nolen sees writing as "fun work," emphasizing the importance of patience when trying to get the story right.

She was born in 1953 in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, where her mother was caring for her own mother, who was ill. Upon her grandmother's death four months later, her family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where the author grew up alongside her 5 sisters and two brothers. She received BA in special education from Northeastern Illinois University, and went on to earn her MEd in interdisciplinary arts education from Loyola University in Chicago. She has been a classroom teacher, curriculum writer, staff developer, family involvement specialist, and administrator.

While teaching a unit on money one year, she and her fellow teachers designed a culminating activity wherein each each classroom in their group was transformed into a store. One of those stores was a balloon farm. Then, that summer, as she scrubbed her shower, this line popped into her head: "Harvey Potter was a very strange fellow indeed." The idea grew and morphed. The result: Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm, her award-winning first book. Since then, she has continued to delight young readers with 10 more books, in addition to stories and readings contributed to other books. 

Jerdine Nolen enjoys presenting lectures on topics related to books and the writing process. She lives near Columbia, Maryland with her husband, two children, two cats, and "the occasional giant pumpkins that grow in the yard."

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