Zilpha Keatley Snyder is a wonderfully imaginative woman who has written around forty books in her long life, most of them for children ages 9 to 13. She also has four picture books for younger children and two novels for older children, but she most favors writing for children around age 11. She says in her autobiography* that she writes for children because she personally shares their optimism, curiosity, and imagination.

She was born on May 11, 1927, in Lemoore, California. From a very young age she learned storytelling from her mother, who while encouraging her daughter not to embellish the truth told her many stories of her own childhood in California. Dessa Jepson came from a Quaker family, and her father, Isaiah Clarkson Jepson, made a point of discouraging her early suitors. She met Zilpha's father, William Solon Keatley, when she was teaching in a small place in California called Yorba Linda. William came from a family of English immmigrants and had grown up on a cattle ranch. He was in his forties and had just relocated to California from owning his own ranch in Wyoming when he met Dessa as a thirty-five-year-old schoolteacher. He started working for Shell Oil as a temporary job until he could go back to ranching, but by this point the Depression was in full swing and Zilpha and her older sister Elizabeth had been born.

From age 8, Zilpha had decided she wanted to be a writer, although she did not actually begin publishing her work until much later. As a child she was very good at reading and writing and did very well in school up to seventh grade, when she went to a much larger school in Ventura. There, she had trouble relating to the other girls, who did not share her interest in the world of books rather than the world of society. It wasn't until she attended Whittier College in Southern California that she learned how to relate to other people. Also there she met her future husband, Larry Snyder, a music major, who was playing piano when she first saw him. They were married in June 1950.

She has had three children with him. Their first son died two days after he was born in 1952. Then, in 1954, Susan Melissa was born in Rome, New York. Two years after that, Douglas was born in Alaska. In 1966 they adopted a Chinese child born in Kowloon, China, called Ben. He was eleven when he came to live with them and he spoke no English then, but by the time he graduated from eighth grade three years later, he was at the top of his class.

Along with writing, traveling is one of her favorite things to do. With her husband, she has traveled to many different countries over the years. In 1970 they took a month-long trip to France. The year of 1977-8 was Larry's sabbatical year, which they spent entirely in Europe since their children were all grown and away from home by then. Larry, who is fluent in Russian, spent some time doing more research to add to his graduate work on Russian music, so they traveled for seven weeks in the Russia-Poland area. Four months of the year they spent in an Italian villa, in which Zilpha enjoyed writing very much. Even in just the last ten years they have gone to a number of countries in Asia, the Middle East, and South America, including Japan, China, Israel, and India. She has actually visited every continent except Antarctica.

Awards

American Library Association (ALA) Best Books for Young Adults of 1990: Libby on Wednesday
American Library Association (ALA) Notable Books: Season of Ponies, The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid, The Witches of Worm, A Fabulous Creature
California Library Associations' Beatty Award (Best Book of 1994 with a California setting): Cat Running
Christopher Medals: The Changeling and The Headless Cupid
First Prize in the New York Herald Tribune Spring Book Festival: The Egypt Game
George C. Stone Recognition of Merit of 1973: The Egypt Game
International Hans Christian Andersen Honors List: The Headless Cupid (only United States entry)
Kansas' William Allen White Award: The Headless Cupid
Lewis Carroll Shelf Award: The Egypt Game
Newbery Honor Book: The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid, and The Witches of Worm
Parents' Choice Award: The Birds of Summer
PEN Literary Award: The Birds of Summer

Finalist for the Mythopoetic Society Award: Song of the Gargoyle
Finalist for the Spur Award by Western Writers of America: Gib Rides Home

Nominated for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award of 1988: And Condors Danced
Nominated for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award of 1994: Cat Running
Nominated for the California Young Readers' Medal of 1994-95: Fool's Gold
Nominated for the National Book Award: The Witches of Worm

Publications

Castle Court(1995): Ghost Invasion, Secret Weapons, The Box and the Bone, The Diamond War

Green Sky: Below the Root(1975), And All Between(1976), Until the Celebration(1977) (also a computer game "Below the Root" based on these books made in 1985 by Spinnaker Software)

Stanley Family: The Headless Cupid(1971) (Newbery Honor Book) (also German, Afrikaans, Japanese, British, Polish, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic editions), The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case(1979) (also Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic editions), Blair's Nightmare(1984) (also Norwegian and Swedish editions), Janie's Private Eyes(1989) (also a Norwegian edition)

Season of Ponies(1964) (also a German edition)
Velvet Room(1965) (also a Japanese edition)
Black and Blue Magic(1966)
The Egypt Game(1967)
Eyes in the Fishbowl(1968) (also a German edition)
Today Is Saturday(1969) (poetry and photography collection)
The Changeling(1970) (also German and British editions)
The Witches of Worm(1972) (also Japanese and Dutch editions)
The Princess and the Giants(1973) (picture book) (illustrated by Beatrice Darwin)
The Truth About Stone Hollow(1974) (also British and Dutch editions)
Witch in the Family(1977)
Heirs of Darkness(1978) (adult novel) (also British edition published in 1980)
Ghosts of Stone Hollow(1978)
A Fabulous Creature(1981)
Come on Patsy(1982) (picture book) (illustrations by Margot Zemach)
The Birds of Summer(1983) (young adult novel)
The Changing Maze(1983) (picture book) (illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak)
The Three Men(1986) (short story published in Dragons and Dreams anthology, reprinted in Where Coyotes Howl and the Wind Blows Free anthology)
And Condors Danced(1987) (also British edition published in 1989)
Squeak Saves the Day And Other Tooley Tales(1988) (illustrated by Leslie Morrill)
Song of the Gargoyle(1990)
Libby on Wednesday(1991)
Monty's Business(1992) (short story published in Funny You Should Ask anthology
Fool's Gold(1993) (also Taiwanese edition published in 1995)
Cat Running(1994) (also Italian edition published in 1996)
The Trespassers(1995)
The Gypsy Game(1997)
Gib Rides Home(1998)
The Runaways(1999)
Gib and the Gray Ghost(2000)
Spyhole Secrets(2001)
The Ghosts of Rathburn Park(2002)
The Unseen(2004)
The Magic Nation Thing(2005)

"To Be a 'Storyteller'" (article in The Writer magazine, July 1993)**

Also, her short autobiography was published in 1985 in Gale Research's "Something About the Author" series.*

Sources:
http://www.zksnyder.com - Official Site
http://www.zksnyder.com/Publications.html - Contains an almost complete list of her publications to date
http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/authors/snyd.html
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/authors/Zilpha_Keatley_Snyder.htm

*Her autobiography article is available online at http://www.zksnyder.com/Autobiography.html
**This article on writing is available online at http://www.zksnyder.com/TheWriter.html

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