Pam Conrad was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947, and grew up in an apartment near her grandparents, even attending the same school that her mother had years earlier. She formed strong bonds with both her grandmother and grandfather. After learning to read with the Dick and Jane series, she became a voracious reader who often tried to write. Influenced by A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, as a child she wrote poetry about honey and tea parties to amuse herself. Her parents collected her poems in a book and presented it to her upon her graduation from elementary school in 1959.
Continuing to compose poems after entering junior high school, Conrad decided to audition for admission to the High School of Performing Arts in eighth grade. She had been dancing from an early age, and her hard work was rewarded by admission to the school.
Conrad began taking her career as a children's author seriously after her husband left her and their two children. Intent on supporting her family, she used the joys and tragedies she experienced to inspire her fiction. This realism helped her surface as a leading author for young people with Prairie Songs (1985). Conrad's skillful prose and sensitive characters heighten the impact of otherwise ordinary situations, creating touchingly tragic tales. She has also created humorous picture books with lighter themes for younger readers, such as The Tub People, and its sequel, The Tub Grandfather.
Her critically acclaimed books include Stonewords, winner of the 1991 Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery, Prairie Songs, winner of the IRA Children's Book Award, My Daniel, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Zoe Rising, the sequel to Stonewords. Our House: Stories of Levittown was a Newbery Medal finalist.
Conrad has explained that her books "are each about my life in one disguise or another." "I believe that all we write comes through us," added Conrad, "not from us, that we're channels of sorts for hundreds of stories that are floating around in the universe. And the greatest happiness for me is when all of a sudden little parts of my life begin to take on a strange, new significance. Something slowly opens up inside me like a dam on a Nebraska river, and a story begins to unfold."
She died of breast cancer in 1996.
Did you find this review helpful?