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Laura Krauss MelmedI grew up in New York City, in a leafy green neighborhood teeming with baby boom kids. Despite being an only child, I had plenty of playmates. But at night behind our apartment door, there was only one rather quiet little girl to distract my father from the book he'd burrowed into after supper. He taught me to love reading by example. My mother walked me to the Forest Hills Branch of the New York Public Library each week. Every night she read me a bedtime story. I can still recite most of Madeleine by heart. I remember poring over Garth Williams' lush illustrations in a book called The Golden Treasury of Elves and Fairies, longing for an adorable wee Brownie just like his to take up residence in our kitchen in Queens.

When Mrs. McLoin taught me to read in the first grade at P.S. 101 she handed me a golden key - the key to the school library in a tower at the top of a winding stair. There, I found many riches, including the fairy tales and fantasies that intrigued me, such as the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, Andrew Lang's Rainbow Fairy Books, and The Princess and the Goblins. Once I was allowed to go to the public library on my own, I would stagger home balancing wobbly armloads of books. Often, I wistfully chose adventures of large families like the Melendys in The Four Story Mistake and the sisters of All of a Kind Family.

Throughout elementary school, I wrote poems and stories, as well as plays that my friends and I performed on the roof of our apartment house. One summer after scaring myself silly reading the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, I made up tales of horror that gave my summer camp bunkmates and me goose bumps after lights out. I loved drawing and painting, often inspired by museum visits with my mom.

Fast forward to college, where I majored in sociology and met my husband, Allan. In graduate school in New Orleans I studied early childhood education, then taught Head Start and kindergarten. Next, I moved to Washington, DC, where I worked in a different field although it involved writing. After our three children, Stephanie, Jonathan and Michael came along in the space of five years, our household grew so lively that we nicknamed it Villa Villakulla after Pippi Longstocking's wild and woolly abode.

I wrote my first manuscript to answer Jonathan when, at bedtime, he asked me, "What was the first song ever sung?" From his question came the title and the refrain of my first book. Since then I've published many others, illustrated by some amazingly gifted artists. Along the way, I came to consider myself a "real" author. I can't think of anything I'd rather be.

Learn more about Laura Melmed at her website www.laurakraussmelmed.com

Some of My Books

New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z
Illustrated by Frané Lessac
HarperCollins, 2005
Top Five Books for Summer Reading for Kids – New York Magazine
Society of Illustrators Original Art Show in New York

From A to Z, the enticing Big Apple has something to offer everyone. This alphabetic tour includes lively verse, intriguing details about New York's many neighborhoods and historic places, and radiant folk-art paintings. Together they capture the essence of this most vibrant of American cities.

“Melmed brilliantly touches on all the major sights of NYC…The book include an abundance of brightly colored, folk-art-style illustrations, and an excellent map locates each place mentioned.”
--School Library Journal

“…a wonderbar book of the constantly active city.”
-BookLoons

“This paean to ‘the city that never sleeps’ begs for repeat readings.”
-Washington Parent

Family and school Activity Guide for New York, New York!

Capital! Washington DC from A to Z
Illustrated by Frané Lessac
HarperCollins, 2003
A Capitol Choices selection

Tour the city that belongs to all Americans. Catchy, informative verses and fascinating facts about the history and workings of our nation's capital join with accessible, detailed folk art paintings to convey the unique brilliance of Washington, DC.

"This exuberant guided tour of the nation's capital is filled with nuggets of information."
-New York Times

Fright Night Flight
Illustrated by Henry Cole
HarperCollins, 2002, ages 4-9

"The moon sails high, the wind moans low, the fright night flight is set to go." It's the spookiest night of the year, so hop aboard for a rollicking, rhyming ride on the wacky witch's jet-fueled broom.

A Hug Goes Around
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
HarperCollins 2002, ages 3-8
Parents' Choice Award, 2002

From rosy sun rising to moonlight on the mountain, hugs carry a big, loving family through the mishaps and adventures of an ordinary day.

"This is a world where bad things are easily fixed by a hug and the love of family -- a nice, warm sentiment."
~School Library Journal

This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story
Oppenheimer Gold Award
Illustrated by Mark Buehner
HarperCollins, 2001, ages 3-8

Count the Pilgrim and Wampanoag children getting ready for the big feast, together with lots of bunnies and other little animals. And don't forget to look for that clever turkey!

"Lots of smiles and counting practice result in a super read-aloud."
-School Library Journal

Moishe's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story
National Jewish Book Award
New York Times Top Ten Picture Books of the Year
Gold Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio
Illustrated by David Slonim
HarperCollins, 2000, ages 4-9
Paperback Chronicle, 2005

Moishe, a poor but generous milkman, receives a magic Hanukkah gift that serves up both delight and trouble.

"A MOO-raculous book. It will put you in the MOO-d for the holidays."
-New York Times Book Review

NPR’s Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz read Moishe’s Miracle on the air in December 2004. Listen at NPR website: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4195423

Bob Saget will read Moishe’s Miracle in a PBS animated holiday special “A Hanukkah Story” in December 2005

Jumbo's Lullaby Jumbo's Lullaby
Illustrated by Henri Sorensen
Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1999, ages 3-8

Under an African moon a mother elephant soothes her restless baby to sleep by imagining the other animals' dreams.

"An appealing goodnight book for young children and their weary parents."
-Kirkus Reviews

Little Oh
An ALA Notable Book
American Bookseller's Pick of the Lists
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1997, ages 4-9

Little Oh, an origami girl, is cherished by her human mother. When the two are accidentally separated, Little Oh rolls off in a teacup to greater adventures and surprises than either of them could have imagined.

"This new work belongs in the company of such standards as The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Pinocchio, The Peach Boy, and Thumbelina…. A flawless work…."
-Kirkus Reviews

I Love You as Much
Illustrated by Henri Sorensen
HarperFestival, 2001, ages 1-4

Each mother animal expresses her love to her child in a special way in this rhyming lullaby for the very young.

"A tender lullaby that may come in for wear and tear from the hugs of grateful young readers."
-Publisher's Weekly(starred review)

The Rainbabies
Graphics Prize for Children, Bologna International Book Fair
Association of Booksellers for Children Award
A Pbs Storytime Book
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Lothrop Lee and Shepard, 1992, ages 4-9

A childless woman and her husband find a dozen magical "rainbabies" each no larger than a big toe. With tender care and courage they keep the babies safe from harm. But what will happen when the babies' real mother arrives to claim them?

"Extraordinarily beautiful.... It just plain delights children."
-New York Times Book Review

Also Look For:
Prince Nautilus; The Marvelous Market on Mermaid and The First Song Ever Sung.

My Books Have Also Won:
American Bookseller Pick of the Lists; Parent's Choice Award; Best Book of the Year, Denver Post; Best Book of the Year, Child Magazine; IRA-CBC Children's Choice Selection; Common Reader Book of the Year; ABBY Award

For signed copies of my books please visit the Children's Literature website.

For more information on author visits, see my Speakers Bureau page.

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