- Katherine Paterson
name = Katherine Paterson
imagesize = 250
caption = Katherine Paterson wrote the young adult novel Bridge to Terabithiapuic
log=2008 March 25
birthdate = 31 October 1932
occupation = novelist
nationality = U.S.
period = 1973 -
genre = children's and young adult fiction
website = http://www.terabithia.com/index.html
Katherine Paterson (born
October 31, 1932) is an award-winning American author of books for children.
Paterson was born in Qing Jiang, China to Christian missionaries George and Mary Womeldorf. Her father was a principal at Sutton 690, a school for girls, and traveled throughout China as part of his missionary duties. The Womeldorf family lived in a Chinese neighborhood and immersed themselves in Chinese culture. When Katherine was five years old, the family was forced to leave China during the Japanese invasion in 1937. The family moved to
Richmond, Virginiafor a short while, before returning to China to live in Shanghai. In 1940, the family was forced to flee again, this time to North Carolina.
George Womeldorf's missionary work, as well as the war in China, caused the Womeldorf family to move 13 times between 1937 and 1950. She was always the newcomer and never fit in very well. Students were weirded-out by her British accent and her hand-me-down clothes. One of her classmates, Eugene, was also a social outcast and the two became friends. Still, Katherine was lonely during this time and turned to writing to deal with her loneliness. While in school, she wrote many plays in which her peers acted.Her first language was Chinese, and she initially experienced difficulties with writing and reading English. She overcame these difficulties and, in 1954, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English from
King Collegein Bristol, Tennessee. She then spent a year teaching at a rural elementary school in Virginia before going to graduate school. She received a Master's degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education(Richmond, VA), where she studied Bible and Christian education. Katherine had hoped to be a missionary in China, but its borders were closed to western citizens. A Japanese friend pushed Katherine to go to Japaninstead, where she worked as a missionary and Christian education assistant. While in Japan, Katherine studied both Japanese and Chinese culture, an influence on much of her subsequent writing.
After four years in Japan, Katherine traveled back to
New Yorkto pursue her second master’s degree in religious education. It was there that she met Presbyterian minister Reverend John Paterson whom she married on July 14, 1962. The Patersons moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, where they had four children: John Barstow Jr., David Lord, Elizabeth Po Lin, and Mary Katherine. Paterson's daughters Elizabeth Po Lin and Mary Katherine were both adopted.
Paterson began her professional career in the
PresbyterianChurch by teaching Sunday school curriculum for fifth and sixth grade parochial students. In 1966, she wrote the novel "Who Am I?". While continuing to write, she was unable to get any of her novels published. After being persuaded, Paterson took an adult education course in creative writing during which her first novel was published. Her first children's novel, "The Sign of the Chrysanthemum", was published in 1973. A Japanese fairy tale, it is based on Paterson's studies in Japan. "Bridge to Terabithia", her most widely recognized book, was published in 1977. "Terabithia" was highly controversial due to some of the difficult themes.
Some of her other books also feature difficult themes such as the
deathof a loved one.
Her awards include the
National Book Award("Master Puppeteer", 1976; "The Great Gilly Hopkins", 1979), the Newbery Medal("Bridge to Terabithia", 1977; " Jacob Have I Loved", 1981), the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction("Jip, His Story", 1996), the Hans Christian Andersen Medal(1998), and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award(2006).
Katherine Paterson is currently vice-president of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries. [ [http://www.thecbla.org National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance website] ] The Patersons continue to live in Barre, Vermont, and Dr. Paterson has retired as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. The Patersons' children are adults, and they have seven grandchildren.
April 28, 2005, Paterson dedicated a tree in memory of Lisa Hill (David's childhood friend who became the inspiration for 'Bridge to Teribithia') to Takoma Park Elementary School. Paterson still does school visits but chooses to stick to schools that are close to her Vermont home. She is currently promoting her work and just put out a new book entitled [http://terabithia.com/books/breadandrosestoo.html "Bread and Roses Too"] . She was inspired to write this book after seeing a photograph of 35 children taken on the steps of the Old Socialist Labor Hall in Barre, Vermont captioned, “Children of Lawrence Massachusettes, Bread and Roses Strike come to Barre,” Paterson's home town.
"Bridge to Terabithia" has been adapted into film twice, the 1985 PBS version and the 2007 Disney/Walden Media co-production. One of the producers and screenwriters for the 2007 version is Paterson's son
David L. Paterson, whose name appears on the dedication page of the novel "The Bridge to Terabithia".
Another of her novels, "The Great Gilly Hopkins," was optioned by
Christine Vachon's Killer Films in April 2008, and is expected to be released as a major motion picture in early 2009.Fact|date=August 2008
In Paterson's novels, her youthful protagonists face crises by which they learn to triumph through self-sacrifice. Paterson, unlike many other authors of young adult novels, tackles topics such as death and jealousy. Although her characters face dire situations, Paterson writes with compassion and empathy. Amidst her writing of misery and strife, Paterson interlaces her writing with wry wit and understated humor. After facing tumultuous events, her characters prevail in triumph and redeem themselves and their ambitions. Paterson's protagonists are usually orphaned or estranged children with only a few friends who must face difficult situations largely on their own. Her plots reflect Paterson's own childhood in which she felt estranged and lonely. Paterson herself had few friends and was often an outcast from her peers.
Juvenile and young adult novels
Sign of the Chrysanthemum", 1973.
Of Nightingales That Weep", 1974.
The Master Puppeteer", 1975.
*"Bridge to Terabithia", 1977.
The Great Gilly Hopkins", 1978.
Jacob Have I Loved", 1980.
Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom", 1983.
Come Sing, Jimmy Jo", 1985.
Park's Quest", 1988.
*"The Underground RailRoad",1992.
Flip-Flop Girl", 1994.
Jip, His Story", 1996.
Preacher’s Boy", 1999.
The Same Stuff as Stars", 2002
Bread and Roses, Too", 2006
*"The Angel and the Donkey", 1996.
*"The King's Equal", 1996
*"Celia and the Sweet, Sweet Water", 1998.
*"Tale of the Mandarin Ducks", 1990.
*"The Wide-Awake Princess", 2000.
*"Blueberries for the Queen", 2004.
*"The Crane Wife" by Sumiko Yagawa, 1981.
*"The Tongue-Cut Sparrow" by Momoko Ishii,1987.Russian
*"The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Lur'e, 1982.
*"Jacob have I loved" by Natalia Trauberg, 2001.
*"Bridge to Terabithia" by Natalia Trauberg, 2003.
*"The Field of the Dogs", 2001.
*"Marvin One Too Many", 2001.
*"Marvin’s Best Christmas Present Ever", 1997.
*"The Smallest Cow in the World", 1991. (originally done for migriant farm kids)
*"Parzival: The Quest of the Grail Knight", 1998.
*"Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children", 1981.
*"Consider the Lilies: Plants of the Bible", 1986.
*"The Spying Heart: More Thoughts on Reading and Writing Books for Children", 1989.
*"Who Am I?", 1992.
*"A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children", 1995 (combined text of Gates of Excellence and The Spying Heart)
*"The Invisible Child: On Reading and Writing Books for Children", 2001
Christmas short story collections
*"Angels & Other Strangers: Family Christmas Stories", 1979.
*"A Midnight Clear: Twelve Family Stories for the Christmas Season", 1995.
*"Star of Night: Stories for Christmas", 1980.
Awards for body of work
*NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature 2007
*Astrid Lindgren Award for Lifetime Achievement 2006
*Literary Light, Boston Public Library 2000
*Living Legend Library of Congress 2000
*Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Writing 1998
*Lion of the New York Public Library 1998
*Who's Who in American Women 1995 to present
*King College, Outstanding Alumnus 1993-1994
*Education Press Friend of Education Award 1993
*Anne V. Zarrow Award, Tulsa Public Library 1993
*New England Book Award 1992
*US Nominee Hans Christian Andersen Award 1989
*Regina Medal, Catholic Library Association 1988
*Children's Literature Award, Keene State College 1987
*Kerlan Award, University of Minnesota 1983
*University of Southern Mississippi Medallion 1983
*Scott O'Dell Award for Children's Literature 1982
*US Nominee Hans Christian Andersen Medal 1979
*Who's Who in America 1978 to present
*The Union Medal, Union Theological Seminary New York
Protestant missions in China 1807-1953
* [http://www.terabithia.com/index.html Katherine Paterson's Home Page]
* [http://www.alma.se The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award]
* [http://www.thencbla.org/biopages/biopaterson.html NCBLA Katherine Paterson bio]
* [http://thencbla.org/boardinterviews/patersoninterview.html NCBLA Katherine Paterson interview]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.