TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Elizabeth Winthrop

Elizabeth Winthrop

Elizabeth Winthrop grew up in Washington, D.C., the only girl in a family of six children. Her father was Stewart Alsop, the political journalist. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied with Grace Paley and Jane Cooper. Ms. Winthrop worked for a number of years as an editor in the children's book department of a major publisher. In 1972 she published her first book, Bunk Beds.

Winthrop has written more than forty books for children of all ages. Her children's novel, The Castle In The Attic, has been nominated for twenty-three state book awards and won the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award in Vermont and the Young Readers Award in California. Movie rights for this book have been sold. The Battle For The Castle, a sequel, was published in 1994. Her young adult novel, A Little Demonstration of Affection, was included in the School Library Journal's list of the best children's books published between 1960 and 1975. Knock, Knock, Who's There?, a novel about the problems of growing up with an alcoholic, was selected by the American Library association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1978. Belinda's Hurricane, was nominated for the prestigious Texas Bluebonnet Award in 1986. Her books have been translated into many languages and five of her books have been selections of the Junior Literary Guild. Her new book, The Little Humpbacked Horse, an adaptation of a Russian Folk Tale, was published by Clarion in March, 1997 to glowing reviews. Ms. Winthrop is also the author of In My Mother's House, a highly acclaimed novel for adults as well as other adult works.

Elizabeth Winthrop believes that young readers want to see their own feelings reflected in the mirror of a book. "Remember, mirrors don't tell you what to do or think, they just show you what is there. The more honest the mirror, the better the book," she says. This kind of straightforward approach to children and their world has caused her to write books on sensitive subjects as living with an alcoholic parent (Knock, Knock, Who's There?), and a child's guilt over walking away from the death of a grandfather (Walking Away).

"But the mirror shows the funny parts of life too," she says. "I have written books about pigs that kiss (Sloppy Kisses), and a dog named Fishface (Belinda's Hurricane), and a marathon runner who's stuck with a nutty brother (Marathon Miranda, and Miranda in the Middle,)."

"When people ask me where I get my ideas, my answer is always from inside myself. even when I'm writing about ducks and dolls and miniature knights in armor, I'm writing about myself because a writer takes all her loves and fears and worries and angers and puts them inside her characters. In each fictional situation, the writer can bring some of her own expense to bear on the action of the story and thereby "know" it well enough to write truthfully about it. How alert her imagination is determined by how successful the fiction is. Hopefully, the reader who takes the journey with me will hear a familiar tune echoing out of the pages of my books."

Ms Winthrop lectures in schools and libraries around the country. She lives in New York with her two children.