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Donna Jo Napoli

Biography

Donna Jo Napoli

Donna Jo Napoli was introduced to Dutton by fellow Philadelphia area resident Lloyd Alexander. Dutton promptly published her first middle grade novel, Soccer Shock, in 1991 to critical and popular acclaim.

In 1993, Napoli's versatility became evident with the publication of THE PRINCE OF THE POND (1992) which won the New Jersey Reading Association's M. Jerry Weiss Book Award in 1997 and THE MAGIC CIRCLE (1993). The former, a light fantasy that revisits the frog prince motif, highlights her talent for humor. The latter, a young adult novel, also revisits a fairy tale ("Hansel and Gretel," in this case), but there the similarities to her humorous books end. In this dark tale told from the point of view of the witch, Napoli tells a tale of outward corruption and inner purity, filled with spellbinding imagery. School Library Journal said, "The strength of Napoli's writing and the clarity of her vision make this story fresh and absorbing. A brilliantly executed novel that is sure to be appreciated by thoughtful readers."

Perhaps Napoli's versatility can be explained in part by her background in linguistics and poetry. She is currently a professor of linguistics and chair of the linguistics program at Swarthmore College, where she also teaches courses in writing fiction for children. In addition to writing for children, she is a published poet and coeditor of four poetry volumes.

Donna Jo Napoli is the author of many books, including SOCCER SCHOCK (1991), THE PRINCE OF THE POND (1992), THE MAGIC CIRCLE (1993), WHEN WATER CLOSES OVER MY HEAD (1994), SHARK SHOCK (1994), JIMMY, THE PICKPOCKET OF THE PALACE -- the highspirited sequel to THE PRINCE OF THE POND, THE BRAVEST THING (1997), ON GUARD (1997), CHANGING TUNES (1998), and also the award-winning novel ZEL (1996), a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Choice of the Years Best books. Donna Jo Napoli's STONES IN WATER (1997), is the wrenching novel of a boy caught in a war he hates. It won the Golden Kite Award in 1997.

Donna Jo Napoli lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, with her husband Barry and their five children. She has received three degrees from Harvard University: a B.A. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Italian Literature, and a Ph.D. in General and Romance Linguistics. She has taught on the university level since 1970, is widely published in scholarly journals and has received numerous grants and fellowships in the area of linguistics.

Donna Jo Napoli

Books by Donna Jo Napoli

by Donna Jo Napoli - Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Youth Fiction

Set in medieval Venice, this captivating fairy tale retelling by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli explores belonging, beauty, and the transformative power of love through the eyes of a teenage girl. Dolce has a fascination for making mirrors without realizing that quicksilver endangers her . . . and so evil begins in innocence.

by Donna Jo Napoli - Historical Fiction, Young Adult 12+

When 14-year-old Alix and her friend Samir go to the beach of Hayling Island, an island off the coast of England, and pull a drowning man out of the water, her world changes. Mohammed, an illegal immigrant and student, has been tortured by rebels in Iraq for helping the allied forces and has spent all his money to escape. Desperate not to be deported, Mohammed’s destiny now lies in Alix’s hands.

by Donna Jo Napoli - Fiction, Young Adult 13+
The rain starts suddenly, and Sebah and Aban take shelter in a tree, then build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. Themes of family, loss, and ultimately, survival and love make for a timeless story. As rain batters the earth, Noah, his family, and hordes of animals wait out the storm, ready to carry out their duty of repopulating the earth. Hidden below deck…is Sebah.
by Donna Jo Napoli - Historical Fiction

Talullah, Louisiana. 1899. To 14-year-old Calogero, newly arrived from Sicily, Tallulah is a lush world full of contradictions, hidden rules, and tension between the Negro and white communities. Calogero’s family is caught in the middle: the whites don’t see them as equal, but befriending Negroes is dangerous. Every day brings Calogero and his family closer to a a terrifying, violent confrontation.

by Donna Jo Napoli - Historical Fiction, Young Adult 12+

A silent girl.

An awesome power.

Melkorka is an Irish princess, the first daughter of a magnificent kingdom --- but this all changes the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Trapped in a world both unfamiliar and cruel, Melkorka finds that her powerlessness gives her clarity. That she is the master of what she says. Choosing to take a vow of silence, Melkorka becomes an object of fascination to her captors. And then she realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.

by Donna Jo Napoli - Historical Fiction

Elisabetta longs for romance, though she thinks she is too plain. Then, on a fateful visit to glittering Florence, she catches the eye of the great Leonardo da Vinci, and falls for a boy named Giuliano de’ Medici. It is a dangerous time to be—or be involved with—a Medici. As tragedy and chaos threaten their happiness, Elisabetta faces the bittersweet truth of love.

by Donna Jo Napoli - Historical Fiction

Melkorka, an Irish princess, has her life turned upside down the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Choosing to take a vow of silence, Melkorka becomes an object of fascination to her captors. And then she realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.