Photograph supplied by Random House
" Born in 1947 and grew up on Old Greenwich, Connecticut.
" By 10th grade, played piano, directed choir and had a job as a church organist.
" Studied music, art and English in college.
" Went to nursing school in Boston, MA.
" Started writing in college.
Bibliographic listing of works contains those that are holdings at E. B. Comstock M. S. - placed in order by copyright dates.
Cooney, Caroline B. 1986. Don't blame the music. New York, NY: Pacer Books. ISBN: 0-448-47778-5.
__________. 1989. Family reunion. New York, NY: Bantam Books. ISBN: 0-553-05836-3.
__________. 1990. The face on the milk carton. New York, NY: Laurel-Leaf Books. ISBN: 0-440-22065-3.
__________. 1991. Twenty pageants later. New York, NY: Laurel-Leaf Books. ISBN: 0-440-21962-0.
__________. 1991. The party's over. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-590-42552-8.
__________. 1992. Flight #116 is down. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-590-44465-4.
__________. 1993. Whatever happened to janie? New York, NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-31035-8.
__________. 1994. Driver's ed. New York, NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-32087-6.
__________. 1994. Emergency room. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-590-45740-3.
__________. 1995. Flash fire. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-590-48496-6.
__________. 1995. Both sides of time. New York, NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-32174-0.
__________. 1997. What child is this? a Christmas story. New York, NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-32317-4.
__________. 1997. The terrorist. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-590-22854-4.
__________. 2000. What Janie found. New York, NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-32611-4.
__________. 2001. The ransom of mercy carter. New York, NY: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-32615-7.
*Upon preparing this listing, I found the series concerning Janie had one book missing: The Voice On the Radio. This is obviously going to have to be added to the collection for those who want to read the entire series.
As I prepared for this study, I selected three books from the selections listed in the bibliography: Don't Blame the Music, Flash Fire, and What Child is This, a Christmas Story. In selecting these three titles, I hoped to have a variety that showed a contrast in the writing styles and themes by Caroline through the years. Thus, I selected the first or oldest book in our holdings, one from 8 years later, and one totally divorced from the others by being based on a Christmas theme. I couldn't have been more wrong in my assumptions. Each of the three books tackles a situation that deals with dramatic and realistic issues of teenagers throughout the world. In all three the characters are realistic and come alive through Caroline's excellent descriptions as well as her ability to be in tune with their feelings and thoughts. The stories themselves are captivating and easily take the reader into a situation that they may or may not be familiar with. By the end of the book, the reader is uplifted with the romantic resolution of the situation and walks away with a sense of good pervading new thoughts and experiences brought in by the book. While all three are quick reads, they delve in to the depths of a young adult's mind and carry one away with the conflict and confusion the main character goes through while growing and maturing toward adulthood.
In Don't Blame the Music, Publisher's Weekly states that this is "a shattering novel about the power of one person to control and tear apart a family." Susan is the observer, victim and strength in this family as Ashley returns home in rags with so much anger inside that the family is almost destroyed. Susan and her dreams of senior year are shattered one by one until she meets Whit, a sullen outcast rock musician, who helps the entire family become aware and then take steps to heal the family. Flash Fire takes on an entirely different group of teenagers, the bored and wealthy, as depicted in the character of Danna Press who even wishes for the fire to come to their canyon to add a little excitement. As we read, the realistic depiction as the School Library Journal states "of how fires jump and spread, techniques used to fight them, and the thrill seekers and looters who prevent firefighters from doing their job are all skillfully integrated. This aspect of Cooney's writing demonstrates the research she does in preparing her novels. Again the characters and their thoughts are realistic as they struggle to help each other survive. What Child Is This? A Christmas Story takes the reader into the lives of two foster children too old to be adopted, or are they? Matt, a high school senior, has lost all hope of adoption but has found a comfortable foster home and a job to sustain him. When Katie, an eight-year-old, is added to the foster home, Matt fights again with hope but finally gives Katie hope of being adopted. This seems to turn sour until Matt sets off a chain of events when he tries to get Katie to accept the reality that her Christmas wish will not happen. The School Library Journal recommends this as "Cooney allows the characters to speak for themselves, eventually weaving their lives together in a fitting climax."
Cooney's following is still going in the middle school student. I was asked just this last week by an 8th grade student to get hold of a copy of The Fire and The Snow for her. She was elated that she could get these books to read in her own school rather than having to go to the public library. This student got The Snow and read it in one evening, further evidence of the quick read for young adults. I also located two web interviews of Caroline B. Cooney and biographical information at the following related web sites:
The interviews on these sites give a great deal of information and insight into this outstanding author who in her own words states: "Luckily, I love writing and it comes easily. I don't worry about what kids are wearing right now, or what the slang is. It dates the story. Everything that really matters in a story (or in life) is just the same: do I honor my parents, am I popular, what will I do with my life, am I doing the right thing?" Writing three novels each year, Caroline Cooney continues to captivate readers from the fifth grade and on.