Cynthia Rylant (born June 6, 1954) is an American author and librarian. She has written more than 100 children's books, including works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Several of her books have won awards, including her novel Missing May, which won the 1993 Newbery Medal, and A Fine White Dust which was a 1987 Newbery Honor book. Two of her books are Caldecott Honor Books.
Many of Rylant's books are about her childhood in Appalachia, her pets, the joys and hardships of family life, and the feelings of loners. Many of her books are written in series.
 Life and career
Rylant was born in Hopewell, West Virginia. Her parents divorced when she was four years old, and she was sent to live with her grandparents in Cool Ridge, West Virginia, while her mother attended nursing school. Four years later, she moved back with her mother, who had relocated to Beaver, West Virginia. She had little contact with her father, and he died when she was thirteen years old.
Growing up in the Appalachian region of the U.S. during the 1960s, Rylant lived in a very depressed economic environment. Her grandparents lived a rustic life with no electricity, running water or automobile. As a result, she never saw children's books as a child, reading mainly comic books, enjoying the outdoors and falling in love with Paul McCartney and Robert Kennedy, whom she met during his presidential campaign. She was not introduced to the genre of children's books until she was 23 years old, working in a library. However her childhood was the major influence on her works, and most of them deal with life in the Appalachian region.
Rylant earned a B.A. degree from Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston) in 1975 and a M.A. degree from Marshall University in 1976. Unable to find a job in her field after completing college, she first worked as a waitress and later as a librarian at the Akron Public Library, where she became acquainted with children's books. She wrote her first book, When I Was Young in the Mountains, in 1982, based on her experiences as a young child living in the country with her grandparents. The picture book, which Rylant later said took her an hour to complete, earned an American Book Award in 1982 and was a Caldecott Honor Book. She earned a Masters in Library Science degree from Kent State University in 1981 and lived in Kent, Ohio for many years.
Rylant followed her inaugural effort with six more picture books. Her 1983 book, Miss Maggie, deals with themes of aging. Her 1986 book, The Relatives Came, describes how she slept on the floor when company visited. After these, in 1987, she published the first of her popular Henry and Mudge series books, Henry and Mudge: The First Book of Their Adventures. Since then, she has published additional picture books, 34 Henry and Mudge books (about Henry, a little boy, who has no one to play with until he gets a dog. Mudge grows from a tiny puppy into a 180-pound companion), books for older readers, including young adult novels and story collections, and collections of poetry. Her critically praised 2004 picture book, Long Night Moon, describes the different moons that Native American cultures use to mark the changing seasons. 1995's The Van Gogh Cafe is one of the author's favorites.
Her books often deal with the joys and hardships of family life, with animals and the outdoors, especially in the Appalachian region, and her characters are often loners or people facing hardships. Her 1991 non-fiction book, Appalachia; The Voices of Sleeping Birds, is a vivid picture of life in Appalachia. Rylant became interested in writing poetry when she read some poetry in college by David Huddle. She said of his Paper Boy, that the strong characters were "People whose lives are hard but are proud of who and what they are."
In 1993, Rylant relocated to Eugene, Oregon, where she has resided with her partner since 1989, Dav Pilkey, an author/illustrator. She has a son, Nathaniel, from her first marriage.
Rylant has received a number of awards and honors for her work. A Fine White Dust (1987) won a Newbery Honor, and Missing May (1993) won a Newbery Medal. When I Was Young in the Mountains (1982) and The Relatives Came (1985) received Caldecott Honors. The Relatives Came and Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds (1991) are each Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Books, as is Missing May, which deals with the loss of a loved one. A Kindness (1988), Soda Jerk (1990), and A Couple of Kooks and Other Stories about Love (1990) have each been named a "Best Book of the Year for Young Adults" by the American Library Association.
 Children's book series
 See also
- "Cynthia Rylant", Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College, accessed February 11, 2013
- Antonucci, Ron. "A Talk with 1993 Newbery Medallist Cynthia Rylant", School Library Journal, May 1993
- "Cynthia Rylant", Greater Dayton Public Television, 2004, accessed February 11, 2013
- "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". American Library Association.
- "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". American Library Association.
 References and further reading
- Biography of Rylant and extensive list of her works.
- Cooper, Irene. "The Booklist Interview: Cynthia Rylant". Booklist. June 1, 1993. p. 1840.
- "Cynthia Rylant: A Quiet Craft". Publishers' Weekly, July 21, 1997. p. 178.
- "Cynthia Rylant", Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 45, Gale Group, 2002.
- Meet the Author: "Cynthia Rylant". Instructor. April 1994. p. 60.
- Rylant, Cynthia. Best Wishes, Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen, 1992.
- Rylant, Cynthia. But I'll Be Back Again: An Album. New York, NY: Beech Tree Books/Orchard Books, 1993.
- Silvey, Anita, ed. Children's Books and Their Creators, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
- Silvey, Anita. "An Interview with Cynthia Rylant". Horn Book Magazine. Nov–Dec 1987. p. 694.
- Ward, Diane. "Cynthia Rylant". Horn Book Magazine. July 1993. p. 420.
- Official website
- Rylant's books at Simon and Schuster
- Harcourt interview with Rylant
- Description of materials in Rylant's collection at Kent State University
- Rylant profile at Scholastic Books
- Profile of Rylant and description of some of her books