Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Author Spotlight: Eva Ibbotson

Today I'm introducing a new series here on Top Shelf Text, and I think it's going to become a favorite of mine. I'm the type of reader who follows not just series, but also authors. Though I love being able to follow characters as they develop and face new challenges, I also love reading individual works by an author. As part of my Author Spotlight, I'll be highlighting some favorite authors- both children's and adult- and the works that I've enjoyed from them so far. 

Eva Ibbotson was one of my favorite authors when I was younger. I loved her writing, and when I first decided to start collecting children's literature in anticipation of becoming a teacher, she was one of the first authors that I put on my list. Since then, I've been keeping an eye out for books by her at library sales and secondhand bookstores. Ibbotson's stories are exactly what I want my future students to read; she had this incredible talent to write tales that are whimsical but that concern serious themes, so in a discussion about one of her books you might jump from describing your favorite character- a witch, a ghost, a mermaid- to issues that occur in family relationships. She was able to get ideas across that are easy for her readers to understand and then connect to real-world contexts.

A little about Eva Ibbotson, from her Goodreads author profile:

"Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner, 1925, Vienna, Austria) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy. Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, Ibbotson's family moved to England. She attended Bedford College, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946-47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in education in 1965. Ibbotson had intended to be a physiologist, but was put off by the amount of animal testing that she would have to do. Instead, she married and raised a family, returning to school to become a teacher in the 1960's. Ibbotson was widowed with three sons and a daughter.
She won the NestlĂ© Smarties Book Prize for Journey to the River Sea, and has been a runner up for many of major awards for British children's literature. The books are imaginative and humorous, and most of them feature magical creatures and places, despite the fact that she disliked thinking about the supernatural, and created the characters because she wanted to decrease her readers' fear of such things. Some of the books, particularly Journey to the River Sea, also reflect Ibbotson's love of nature. Ibbotson wrote this book in honor of her husband (who had died just before she wrote it), a former naturalist. The book had been in her head for years before she actually wrote it. Ibbotson said she dislikes "financial greed and a lust for power" and often creates antagonists in her books who have these characteristics." 
I'm definitely biased, but I love when children's authors have experience with teaching. Here are a few books of hers that are recommended for readers in the 8-12 age range:

Which Witch?
The Secret of Platform 13
Island of the Aunts
The Great Ghost Rescue
The Beasts of Clawstone Castle
These six are ones that I've read and enjoyed. Visit her author profile to find even more books for this age range!

And, a bonus! If you're interested in young adult literature or have a teenager at home, Eva Ibbotson is a talented writer for more than just young readers:

A Song for Summer
This is one that I loved and have kept in storage with my favorite books from childhood. I haven't read any of her other YA books, but I'm sure they're in keeping with her excellent writing and worth checking out. 

P.S. Have a favorite author that you think other readers would love? Send me an email at!

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