Joyce Dunbar

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Joyce Dunbar
Born1944 (age 74–75)
Scunthorpe, England
GenreChildren's books

Joyce Dunbar (born 1944)[1] is an English writer. She primarily writes books for children, and has published over seventy books.[2] Dunbar is perhaps best known for Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep, This Is The Star, and the Mouse And Mole series.[2] She is the mother of the children's writer-illustrator Polly Dunbar.


Dunbar was born in 1944 in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire,[1] and is one of four children.[3] Her father was a steel-worker and her mother was a fishing net maker.[3] She grew up in Lincolnshire.[4]

Dunbar attended Goldsmiths College in London, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English.[1] After that, she did several jobs, working as a nanny, a waitress, a barmaid, and a salesperson.[1][3] In 1968, she started working as a teacher in a college drama department of Stratford-on-Avon, England.[1] However, due to her gradual loss of hearing,[1] Dunbar had to stop her teaching career and in 1989, she became a full-time writer.[2]

Dunbar has two grown up children: Ben, a fashion photographer and Polly, an author illustrator.[2][5] Dunbar currently lives in Norwich.[4]



Dunbar published her first children's book at age 35.[4] In 1985, Dunbar published Mundo and the Weather-Child – a novel about the imaginary friend of a deaf child, which helped her become a runner up for the Guardian Fiction Award.[1] In 1990, her book A Bun for Barney was made into an interactive video game by BBC Multimedia Corporation.[1]

In 1998, she wrote Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep, which is recommended as a book to help children feel secure. In 2002 Dunbar did a book tour in the United States to promote this book.[2] Her 2005 picture book Shoe Baby, illustrated by her daughter Polly, was made into a puppet show and is part of the 2006 Brighton Festival.[2]

Dunbar most well-known series, Mouse and Mole(illustrated by James Mayhew), has been adapted into a 26-part television animation series by Grasshopper Productions, with voices lent by Alan Bennett and Richard Briers.[2][6]

Other projects[edit]

Being a person with a hearing impairment,[7][8] Dunbar has participated in a number of campaigns on behalf of deaf people. In 1998, Dunbar cycled across Cuba in order to raise funds for the National Deaf Children's Society.[3][6] Her journal Cycle Cuba, a record of this event, was published in 1999.[2] That same year, she had a trip to the Himalayas in support of the founding of a new ashram.[3] Dunbar has also taught English writing for children from Greek island Skyros.[6]

Dunbar is on the steering group for the in the Picture project run by SCOPE, which is about the representation of children with disability in picture books.[9]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Children's fiction

  • Pat-a-cake Baby (Candlewick Press 2015) - "It’s good fun but definitely not quiet bedtime reading, especially since it concludes with multicolored capital letters spelling out “IT’S EATING TIME!”"[10]
  • Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde (Frances Lincoln Children's Books 2012) - "This slim British import, which combines beautiful artwork and brief, poetic text, seems more likely to appeal to adult cat lovers than to young listeners, but the dichotomy at its heart may be intriguing to some children, and the lush language pleases the ear and offers plenty to discuss."[11]
  • Moonbird (Random House 2006)
  • Where's My Sock (Chicken House 2006)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwalfs (Retelling) (Scholastic 2005)
  • Shoe Baby (Candlewick Press 2005) - "Polly Dunbar’s delightful mixed-media collage illustrations of eccentric creatures great and small burst forth with as much glee as the text in this contagiously exuberant mother-daughter collaboration. "[12]
  • Boo to the Who in the Dark (Scholastic 2004)
  • The Love-Me Bird (Scholastic 2003)
  • Magic Lemonade (Egmont 2003)
  • Tell Me What It's Like To Be Big (Transworld 2001)
  • The Very Small (Transworld 2000)
  • Eggday (Holiday House 1999) - "Every page bristles with color; brush strokes, dots, blots, and thumbprints create multi-layered scenes that fairly sing."[13]
  • The Glass Garden (Frances Lincoln 1999)
  • Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep (Transworld 1998)
  • Baby Bird (Walker 1998)
  • If You Want To Be A Cat (Macdonald 1997)
  • This Is The Star (Transworld 1996)
  • Freddie The Frog (Ginn 1996)
  • Oops-A-Daisy (Walker 1995)
  • Little Eight John (Retelling) (Ginn 1994)
  • The Spring Rabbit (Anderson Press 1994)
  • Seven Sillies (Anderson Press 1993)
  • Can Do (Simon & Schuster 1992)
  • Why Is The Sky Up? (Dent 1991)
  • Ten Little Mice (Methuen 1990)
  • Joanna and the Bean-Bag Beastie (Ginn 1989)
  • Mouse Mad Madeline (Hamish Hamilton 1988)
  • The Raggy Taggy Toys (Orchard 1987)
  • Mundo and the Weather-Child (Heinemann 1985)
  • The Magic Rose Bough (Hodder & Stoughton 1984)
  • Jugg (Scolar Press 1980)
Panda & Gander Series
  • Panda's New Toy (Walker Books 1999)
  • Gander's Pond (Walker Books 1999)
  • The Secret Friend (Walker Books 1999) - "Dunbar is especially astute at picking up on the emotional nuances of how children interact."[14]
Mouse and Mole Series (illustrated by James Mayhew)
  • Mouse And Mole (Transworld 1993)
  • Mouse And Mole Have A Party (Transworld 1993)
  • Happy Days For Mouse & Mole (Transworld 1996)
  • A Very Special Mouse & Mole (Transworld 1996)
  • Hip-Dip-Dip With Mouse And Mole (Transworld 2000)
  • The Ups And Downs of Mouse And Mole (Transworld 2001)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Joyce Dunbar biography from
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Joyce Dunbar author profile Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine from
  3. ^ a b c d e Author biography from
  4. ^ a b c Joyce Dunbar interview Archived 22 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine from Double luck.
  5. ^ The best new picture book illustrators from The Times
  6. ^ a b c The Glass Garden at Google Books
  7. ^ Joyce Dunbar from Random House
  8. ^ In the picture Archived 30 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine from Disability now
  9. ^ Steering Group Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine from Children in the Picture.
  10. ^ "Pat-a-cake Baby". Kirkus Media LLC. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde". Kirkus Media LLC. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Shoe Baby". Kirkus Media LLC. 1 July 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Eggday". Kirkus Media LLC. 1 March 1999. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  14. ^ "The Secret Friend". Kirkus Media LLC. 1 March 1999. Retrieved 7 October 2015.

External links[edit]