Katherine Paterson 1932–
American young adult novelist. Paterson writes both historical and contemporary young adult fiction. She has also written several books for children, and has assembled a multi-media workshop on religious study which was distributed to Sunday Schools across the United States. Born and raised in China during the Japanese occupation, she later studied and served as a missionary in Japan. Her knowledge of Japanese culture and history has provided the background for three of her novels, which are set in feudal Japan. Paterson's most recent books have been set in present-day America; Bridge to Terabithia is based in part on the experience of her younger son. Whether set in East or West, her novels are characterized by their concern with moral decisions and the process of self-realization. In 1977 she won the National Book Award for The Master Puppeteer and the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 21-24, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 13.)
Suspended in delicate imagery and among the many layered feuds between the Samurai clans of the Genji and Heike is the subdued quest of the nameless orphan Muna [in The Sign of the Chrysanthemum], who flees the burial of his peasant mother to search for a warrior father identifiable only by a small chrysanthemum tattoo. This introspective adventure, in which Muna learns to find his fortune within himself, will attract those readers who can be sustained by the carefully evoked setting and a realistic, stoical resolution which leaves some questions, philosophic and factual, open-ended. (pp. 1272-73)
Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1973 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), November 15, 1973.
Twelfth-century Japan may seem a long way off but if you can accustom yourself to the fierce life of samurai you may enjoy [The Sign of the Chrysanthemum]…. The tale is simply told. There is plenty of action. It is a boy's book, and is at least a change from war stories of our own time. (pp. 335-36)
The Junior Bookshelf, October, 1975.
The deep bond between Jiro and the puppet-master's son Kinshi, both apparently unloved by their demanding fathers, forms [The Master Puppeteer's] stable core, but Paterson's ability to exploit the tension between violence in the street and dreamlike confrontations of masked puppet operators is what makes this more lively and immediate than her other, equally exacting, historical fictions. (p. 71)
Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1976 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), January 15, 1976.