George Ella Lyon is best known as an author of children's picture books. Although she writes poems and essays, her interest is in children's books. She can be found at many elementary schools entertaining the children with her poems and warm-hearted picture books. George Ella Lyon has a certain appeal in her children's books because she relates most of them to real-life experiences. That is why her books provide so much meaning in that they deal with real issues.
George Ella Lyon is a native of Harlan, County, Kentucky. She went to Loyall Elementary School in Harlan County. Her parents are Robert Hoskins, Jr. and Gladys Fowler Hoskins. They have two children, Robert Hoskins, III, born in 1942, and George Ella, born in 1949.
While at Harlan High, George Ella Lyon was interested both in writing and in folk music (Brosi, 4). In 1967, she enrolled at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She became immersed in all aspects of the experience, singing at a rally against the Vietnam War, making public presentations on early Kentucky music, publishing poems each year, and becoming involved in campus reform (Brosi, 4). George Ella graduated from Centre College in 1971. When her boyfriend Steve Lyon, a versatile and innovative musician, graduated from Centre the next Spring, they were married (Brosi, 5). She received her Ph.D. from Indiana University. She has two boys, Benjamin and Joey.
Lyon's first children's book was Father Time and the Day Boxes, (1985). Father Time, who wears a white linen suit and a blue tie, but has a traditional white beard, sits in his time vault somewhere in the heavens and each day tosses earthward a time box, which as it falls, billows out, covering the earth. Interesting philosophical observations about time give children something to think about.
The following year she published, A Regular Rolling Noah, (1986), the story of a Kentucky mountain boy who has been hired to take care of the animals of a family moving from their mountain farm to Canada. She has made a number of picture books. A B Cedar: An Alphabet of Trees, (1989), is a simple book that teaches children the alphabet, yet enables them to identify trees at the same time. Cecil's Story, (1991), is a story which deals with a boy whose daddy goes to war and leaves him and his mama to carry on. This book came out during the Persian Gulf War, which helped children to see that books are written about life experiences, such as war. Come A Tide, (1990), is another picture book that is humorous with wonderful illustrations. She has other picture books: Together, Basket, The Outside Inn, Who Came Down That Road, and Dreamplace. Catalpa, (1993), a collection of poems, is sophisticated and of an adult nature. This is not to say that older teenage readers might not find it interesting.
My favorite book by George Ella Lyon is her novel, Borrowed Children, (1988). The characters are twelve-year-old Amanda Perritt and her family. Amanda Perritt is a strong willed, vibrant young girl, who has big dreams. The setting takes place in two distinct places, Goose Rock, Kentucky and Memphis, Tennessee. George Ella Lyon portrays Kentucky as a mountainous country, full of coal dust, with rugged characters, who do not have the luxuries that the Memphis characters are accustomed to. She represents Memphis as beautiful flat land, without the awkwardness of mountain trails, and with bright city lights, forever burning, illuminating the entire city.
The plot of the novel unfolds in Memphis, when Amanda goes to visit her grandparents and Aunt Laura. After leaving Goose Rock, where she took care of her sisters and new baby brother, William, Amanda feels like she can finally do something for herself. While in Memphis, Amanda goes on an outing with Aunt Laura. Aunt Laura takes her to a luxurious restaurant on Beale Street. Amanda cannot believe how different things are from life back at Goose Rock. She gets to know Aunt Laura better and realizes something is missing, happiness. Her grandmother explains that when Laura was little she loved her sister Rena, who is Amanda's mama. Rena took care of Laura and treated her like she was the most special person in the world. When Rena married Jim, Amanda's papa, Laura resented her for this. For the first time Amanda sees how much she and her mama are alike, and why mama sent her to Memphis. Amanda feels as if she has seen her mama in a completely different way. Amanda wants to go home and tell her mama how she feels, and that she understands the circumstances much better now.
George Ella Lyon has written many essays, all of which have been favorably received. She is one of Kentucky's brightest and best children's authors. Her work shines through in the books that she creates. She has three new books out this fall and one novel. Today, she goes to schools all across Kentucky, teaching children how important writing skills are. She also explains the process of how a book gets published. Most children would never have this knowledge if it weren't for George Ella Lyon. She enhances children's lives every day through her work.
* Taken from: http://www.english.eku.edu/services/kylit/lyon.htm
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