Born: July 8, 1933
Ohio connection: Birth
Born on July 8th, 1933, Cleveland native James Cross Giblin grew up in Painesville. After receiving his B.A. in 1954 from Case Western Reserve University, he settled in New York City, earning his M. A. at Columbia. Initially pursuing a livelihood in directing and playwriting, Giblin changed career paths in 1959, becoming associate editor with the firm of Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Toward the end of the 1960's, he joined the Seabury Press, bringing to fruition Clarion, the company's children's division. Appointed its editor- in-chief, Giblin collaborated with such authors as Eve Bunting and Marion Dane Bauer. Throughout his fruitful association with Clarion, he worked on a variety of projects: picture books for children (George Washington: A Picture Book Biography); informational books for middle school readers (Chimney Sweeps: Yesterday and Today); and young adult novels (Greatest Picnic in the World). Besides editing, he contributed articles to leading publications, and went on lecture tours throughout the country to address receptive crowds of writers and librarians. Wanting to further his own career as a writer, Giblin retired in 1989 as Clarion's chief editor. While remaining an assistant editor for a few authors, he began writing non-fiction for children and young adults. Critically acclaimed for his ability to make historical figures accessible through engrossing, informative and diverting prose, Giblin breathed new life into such personages as King Arthur, Thomas Jefferson, Edith Wilson, and Charles Lindbergh. Unafraid to tackle challenges, he has chosen both controversial and lesser-known historical figures. On January 27th, 2003, the American Library Association bestowed the prestigious Robert F. Sibert award upon Giblin's Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. A gripping, mesmerizing book, it strove to provide a straightforward, non-sensational biography of a personification of evil--his childhood, his frustrated years as an artist and agitator, his meteoric rise to dictator of Germany; and his final days below the streets of Berlin. Published by Clarion in 2005, Giblin’s Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth was a Boston Globe-Horn Honor Book. Included among the nominations for YALSA’s Best Book for Young Adults (2006), the biography draws upon primary sources, such as letters, diaries, and interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues, to create vivid images of John Wilkes Booth, and his internationally renowned elder brother, Edwin. Touring at seminars and conventions throughout the country, James Cross Giblin offers guidance to prospective writers, advocating the avoidance of mundane family and school stories, mysteries without something of value at risk, first person narratives in an overly familiar style, and morality tales with ungrounded and unconvincing characters. An exponent of children’s nonfiction, he extols the virtue of perseverance.
American Library Association notable children's book citations, 1980, for The Scarecrow Book, 1981, for The Skyscraper Book, 1982, for Chimney Sweeps: Yesterday and Today, 1985, for The Truth about Santa Claus, 1986, for Milk: The Fight for Purity, 1987, for From Hand to Mouth, 1988, for Let There Be Light: A Book about Windows, 1990, for The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone: Key to Ancient Egypt, 1991, for The Truth about Unicorns, 1993, for Be Seated: A Book about Chairs, 1995, for When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, and AIDS, 1997, for Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero, and 2000, for The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin; Golden Kite Award for nonfiction, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), 1982, and American Book Award for children's nonfiction, 1983, both for Chimney Sweeps: Yesterday and Today; Golden Kite Award for nonfiction, SCBWI, 1984, for Walls: Defenses throughout History, and 1989, for Let There Be Light: A Book about Windows; Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book, 1986, for The Truth about Santa Claus; Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction, 1996, for body of work; Honor Book, National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Award for nonfiction, 1998, for Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero, and 2001, for The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin; Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, American Library Association, for The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, 2003; several of Giblin's books have been Junior Literary Guild selections. Ohioana Alice Louise Wood Award for Children's Literature, 2007.