Laurie Halse Anderson

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For the musician, see Laurie Anderson.
Laurie Halse Anderson
Born Laurie Beth Halse
(1961-10-23) October 23, 1961 (age 53)
Potsdam, New York, USA
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Period 1992–present
Genre Young-adult fiction, historical fiction, picture books for young readers
Notable works
Notable awards Margaret Edwards Award
Children 4

Laurie Halse Anderson (born October 23, 1961)[1] is an American writer best known for children's and young-adult novels. She received the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 2009 for her contribution to young adult literature.[2]

First recognized for her novel Speak, published in 1999.

Early Life[edit]

Laurie Beth Halse was born to Rev. Frank A. Halse Jr. and Joyce Holcomb Halse in Northern New York State in Potsdam. She and younger sister Lisa grew up there, near the Canadian border.[1][3] As a student she showed early interest in writing, specifically during the second grade. Anderson loved reading, especially science fiction and fantasy as a teenager, yet she never envisioned herself becoming a writer.[4]

During Anderson’s senior year, at the age of sixteen, she moved out of her parent’s house and lived as an exchange student for thirteen months on a pig farm in Denmark. After her experience in Denmark, Anderson moved back home to begin working at a clothing store, making minimum wage. This pushed Laurie to decide to attend college.[4]

After attending Onondaga Community College, she transferred to Georgetown University in 1981 and graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor’s degree in Languages and Linguistics.[4]


Laurie Halse Anderson married Greg Anderson, and in 1985, they had their first child, Stephanie Holcomb. Two years later, they had their second child, Meredith Lauren. The couple later divorced.

Years later, Anderson moved back to Mexico, New York, and rekindled feelings with her childhood sweetheart, Scot Larrabee. Anderson eventually married, and is still married to Larrabee. Together, they combined their families - Anderson’s two daughters and Larrabee’s two children, Jessica and Christian.[3]


Anderson began her career as a freelance journalist and worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer in the early years of her career.[5] During this time, Anderson also began to write children’s and young adult novels. Despite receiving stacks of rejection letters, in 1996 Anderson released her first children’s novel Ndito Runs,[6] based on Kenyan Olympic marathon runners who ran to and from school each day.[4] Later that same year, she had her story "Turkey Pox "published. This story was inspired by her daughter Meredith who on Thanksgiving broke out with chicken pox. In 1998 she published "No Time For Mother’s Day," featuring the same characters .[4]

During her early career, she wrote a few pieces of non-fiction. The first was a book featuring Saudi Arabia written for children. She also co-authored a book about parenting shy children with Dr. Ward Swallow. [4]

Young adult novels[edit]

In 1999, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published her best known novel to date, Speak. It was a New York Times best seller, [7] and ' was adapted into film in 2004, starring Kristen Stewart as Melinda Sordino.[8] The novel, ' became a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award. The 1999 novel won Anderson an array of honors for its searing portrayal of a thirteen-year-old girl who becomes mute after a sexual assault.[which?] The paperback version was published in 2001 by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing. Speak has been translated into 16 languages.

In 2002, after the publication of Fever, 1793, Catalyst was published by Penguin under the Viking imprint.[9] The action takes place in the same high school as Speak and features cameo appearances by some of its characters. The book became a Barnes & Noble Best Teen Book of 2002, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.[10]

In 2005, Anderson published Prom, which appeared on The New York Times best seller list during early 2005.[7] The book received three starred reviews, was nominated for several state awards, and received national recognition from the American Library Association and the International Reading Association.[11]

Anderson's fourth YA novel, Twisted, was released in the spring of 2007 by Viking. It has awards, such as the ALA Best Book for Young Adults 2008, ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults 2008, International Reading Association Top Ten of 2007, and New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age, and became a The New York Times best seller.[12]

Anderson's most recent young adult novel, Wintergirls, was released in March 2009. The novel tells the story of two girls, one of whom is dead at the beginning, suffering from (bulimia and anorexia). Wintergirls received five-star reviews and many nominations for state awards, was named an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults, was a Junior Library Guild Selection,[13] and debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list .[14] Wintergirls has been published in over 15 different countries.

Historical novels[edit]

In 2000, Anderson's Fever, 1793, a historical fiction novel set in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever epidemic, was published by Simon and Schuster. Fever, 1793 received two starred reviews, many state and national awards,[which?] and was a Publishers Weekly Bestseller.[15]

Her historical fiction picture book, Thank You, Sarah! The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving was published in 2002. The book received two starred reviews, and was named in the ALA Amelia Bloomer List and the Junior Library Guild Selection.[16]

In 2008, she published another historical fiction novel, Chains, a narrative about a teenage Revolutionary War-era slave. The novel, the first in a trilogy dubbed Seeds of America, was awarded the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.[17]

The second novel in the Seeds of America trilogy, Forge, was released in October 2010, by Simon and Schuster. The book has received three-starred reviews and has become a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Kirkus Best Book for Teens: Historical Novels 2010, The Horn Book Fanfare List Best Book of 2010 and a YALSA 2011 Best Books for Young Adults.[18]

Awards and honors[edit]

The ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work "for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". Anderson won the annual award in 2009 citing three novels published from 1999 to 2002: Speak, Fever, 1793, and Catalyst. The ALA called the novels "gripping and exceptionally well-written" and the panel chair observed that "Laurie Halse Anderson masterfully gives voice to teen characters undergoing transformations in their lives through their honesty and perseverance while finding the courage to be true to themselves."[2]

Several of Anderson's early children's picture books were placed on recommended reading lists and some won awards. For the novel Speak, Anderson won the Golden Kite award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and she was a runner-up for the Michael L. Printz Award and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Fever 1793 was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults selection and a Junior Library Guild selection. Chains was a National Book Award finalist in 2008 and it won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2009.[19]


Young adult novels[edit]

Historical novels[edit]

  • Fever, 1793 (2000)
  • Seeds of America series, also referred to as "Chains: Seeds of America" series or simply "Chains" series.
  1. Chains (2008)
  2. Forge (2010)
  3. Ashes (Expected Publication: January 6, 2016)

Children's books[edit]

  • Ndito Runs (1996)
  • Turkey Pox (1996)
  • No Time for Mother's Day (2001)
  • The Big Cheese of Third Street (2002)
  • Thank You, Sarah! The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving (2002)
  • Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution (2008)
  • The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School (2009)
  • Vet Volunteers series (Previously published by Pleasant Company under the title Wild at Heart)[20]
  1. Fight for Life: Maggie (2000)
  2. Homeless: Sunita (2000)
  3. Trickster: David (2000)
  4. Manatee Blues: Brenna (2000)
  5. Say Good-Bye: Zoe (2001)
  6. Storm Rescue: Sunita (2001)
  7. Teacher's Pet: Maggie (2001)
  8. Trapped: Brenna (2001)
  9. Fear of Falling: David (2001)
  10. Time to Fly (2002)
  11. Masks (2002)
  12. End of the Race (2003)
  13. New Beginnings (2012)
  14. Acting Out (2012)
  15. Helping Hands (2013)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Me". Laurie Halse Anderson.
  2. ^ a b "2009 Winner: Laurie Halse Anderson". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association (ALA). With acceptance speech by Anderson.
      "Edwards Award". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  3. ^ a b Glenn, Wendy (2010). Laurie Halse Anderson: Speaking in Tongues. Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 12–13. ISBN 9780810872813. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Laurie Halse Anderson". Scholastic. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Laurie Halse Anderson". Macmillan Books. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  6. ^ Patricia Newman (March 2005). "Who Wrote That? Featuring Laurie Halse Anderson". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  7. ^ a b "Children's Books". The New York Times. April 17, 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  8. ^ "imdb". 
  9. ^ "catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson". 
  10. ^ "catalyst". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  11. ^ "Prom". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  12. ^ "NY times booklist". 
  13. ^ "Wintergirls". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  14. ^ "Children's Books". The New York Times. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  15. ^ "Fever I793". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  16. ^ "Thank You, Sarah! The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  17. ^ "Scott O'Dell Award". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  18. ^ "Forge". Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  19. ^ Criswell, Mandy (Summer 2002). "Pennsylvania Author: Anderson, Laurie Halse". Pennsylvania Center for the Book ( Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  20. ^ Books by Laurie Halse Anderson on Retrieved 2012-03-05.

External links[edit]