Born: July 28, 1932
Ohio connection: Birth
Although mainly known as a writer for children, Natalie Zane Moore Babbitt is also appreciated by older readers as a gifted storyteller. Planning to become an artist, Babbitt was inspired by Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations in Alice in Wonderland to work with pen and ink, which became her specialty. In a fashion-illustration course at the Cleveland School of Art, Babbitt realized she enjoyed creative drawing more than sketching handbags. While taking art classes at Smith College, she met Samuel Babbitt; they married in 1954 and have three children. The Forty-Ninth Magician, written by Babbitt’s husband, was published with her illustrations in 1966. In addition to illustrating many volumes of Valerie Worth’s poetry, Babbitt has also illustrated most of her own fiction. Babbitt’s entertaining narratives, sense of humor, and courage in focusing on challenging themes has firmly established her as an important and respected children’s author. Her award-winning titles include Kneeknock Rise (1970); Tuck Everlasting (1975), also made into a motion picture in 2001; and Ouch!: A Tale from Grimm (l998). Babbitt continues to write books that are enjoyed by readers of all ages.
Best Book for children ages nine to twelve, New York Times, 1969, for The Search for Delicious; Notable Book, American Library Association (ALA), 1970, Newbery Honor Book designation, ALA, 1971, and Honor Book citation, Horn Book, all for Kneeknock Rise; Children's Spring Book Festival Honor Book designation, Book World, 1971, Children's Book Showcase, Children's Book Council, Best Books designation, School Library Journal, and Edgar Allan Poe award runner-up, Mystery Writers of America, all 1972, all for Goody Hall; Notable Book designation, ALA, Best Books designation, School Library Journal, Honor Book citation, Horn Book, and National Book Award finalist, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, all 1975, and Parents' Choice Award (story book category), Parent's Choice Foundation, 1987, all for The Devil's Storybook; Best Books designation, New York Times, 1975, Notable Book designation, ALA, Honor Book citation, Horn Book, Christopher Award for juvenile fiction, the Christophers, all 1976, Children's Choice selection, International Reading Association, U.S. Honor Book citation, Congress of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) citation, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, all 1978, all for Tuck Everlasting; Notable Book designation, ALA, 1977, for The Eyes of the Amaryllis; Recognition of Merit Award, George C. Stone Center for Children's Books, 1979, for body of work; Hans Christian Andersen Medal nomination, IBBY, 1981; Best Books designation, New York Times, 1982, for Herbert Rowbarge; Children's Literature Festival Award, Keene State College, 1993, for body of work; Blue Ribbon Book, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 1998, Notable Book designation, ALA, 1999, and Audie Award, 2001, all for Ouch! A Tale from Grimm.