Kathryn Lasky

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Kathryn Lasky was born on June 24, 1944 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the second daughter of Marven Lasky, a bottler, and his wife Hortense, a social worker. In Indianapolis, she attended a girl's school that encouraged writing but not necessarily imagination. Her earliest attempts at fiction she kept strictly to herself; it was not until reaching adulthood that Lasky accepted writing as a legitimate occupation for herself. She left home to attend college at the University of Michigan, earning her bachelor's degree in 1966. Marriage to photographer and filmmaker Christopher Knight followed in 1971.

While pursuing a master's degree at Wheelock College, and with the encouragement of her parents and her husband, Lasky produced her first book, Agatha's Alphabet, a book for children which was published in 1975. Her next three books, also for children, were collaborations with her husband, who provided photographs for her texts: I Have Four Names for My Grandfather (1976), Tugboats Never Sleep (1977), and Tall Ships (1978). Lasky completed her master's degree in 1977, freeing up time for a family and more ambitious writing projects. She published her fifth book, My Island Grandma, in 1979, the year she had her first child, a son, Maxwell.

The 1980s saw Lasky's first honors and first novels. The Night Journey (1981), her first novel for children and a departure into more serious subjects, won the National Jewish Book Award for Children and made the American Library Association's list of Notable Books. Night Journey is the story of thirteen- year-old Rachel, a girl living a typically American girlhood until she is assigned the task of spending afternoons with her great-grandmother. What could have been merely an adventure in tedium becomes an opportunity to hear an exciting and poignant story of the family's flight from persecution in the old country nearly a century ago, introducing the history of the Russian pogroms to a generation of youngsters who have never known such danger.

Dollmaker: The Eyelight and the Shadow, which appeared in 1981, was another joint venture between Lasky and her husband. It was followed by Jem's Island (1982) and Sugaring Time (1983), which was named a Newbery Honor Book and made the American Library Association's List of Notable Books. The story of the New England tradition of gathering sap from maple trees to make sweet syrup was also made into a filmstrip and a video.

The year 1983 was a banner year for Lasky for two additional reasons: the birth of a daughter, Meribah, and the publication of a new novel set in the Old West. Beyond the Divide is a gritty but absorbing adventure story; it received a New York Times Notable Book Citation and made the American Library Association Best Book List for Young Adults. A Baby For Max ,...

(The entire section is 679 words.)