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Friday, March 15, 2013

Diane Stanley: A Closer Look


By Jan Pease

Part of my job is to read book reviews written by library professionals.  Occasionally I receive a book review from a friend of mine, Raechel, who is now 17.  I have a few other young friends who will write a book review, mostly in the summer.  The reviews and the reviewers are all delightful.

Raechel reviewed “Bella at Midnight,” by Diane Stanley.  Here are Raechel’s words:
“This is one of my (many) favorite books, though it is simple.  “Bella at Midnight” is a twist between the fairytale Cinderella, and the life account of Joan of Arc, in a very clever and well-written way.  It is fiction, written in first-person, told “by” many of the different characters in the book.  Each character is well built up by the author, making the book all the easier to get into.  I love this book, and have read it numerous times, enjoying it each reading!” 

Diane Stanley both writes and illustrates children’s books.  She is famous for her picture book biographies, but she also tells her own versions of classic fairy tales.  It isn’t surprising that she includes a Joan of Arc theme because one of her beautifully illustrated biographies is that of Joan of Arc, published in 2002.  Litchfield library owns 10 books by Diane Stanley, and many more are available through Pioneerland Library System.  Ms. Stanley has won many awards, including the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction from the National Council for Teachers of English, and she is the recipient of the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for the body of her work.  Her books routinely receive starred reviews in professional journals, and are nominated for, and receive, awards in many of the U.S. state book awards, from Maine to California.
Ms. Stanley is an example of a wonderful, hard-working artist and author who hasn’t won the “big” awards, but is recognized for the excellence of her work.   I can’t understand why she hasn’t won the Newbery for one of her novels, or the Caldecott for illustrations in a picture book. 

Visit her website, dianestanley.com.   Her website shows what an artistic author can do with animation and information.  Her story is interesting.  She began her professional life as a medical illustrator, illustrated many children’s books, and now writes novels for children and young adults. She says of writing, “It’s as if I entered the field of children’s books through the art door but ended up in the writing room.  I’m very comfortable there.”  

I’m glad that Raechel re-introduced me to Diane Stanley’s works.  My goal now is to make her a household name.  See you at the library!