Katherine Paterson

As the daughter of two missionaries, Katherine Paterson spent the first five years of her life in China. When the Japanese invaded during World War II, her family returned to the United States. By the age of 18, Paterson had moved over 18 times with her family. After studying English literature in Tennessee and Bible and Christian education in Virginia, Paterson moved to Japan as a missionary herself. She fell in love with Japan and stayed for four years.

After returning to the United States in 1961, Katherine met and married John Paterson, a Presbyterian pastor in Buffalo, New York. By 1966, the Patersons had four children, two of whom they adopted. When she wasn't busy raising a family, she spent her time writing, though it was a long nine years before her first novel was published. Paterson credits her husband for having faith in her abilities "during all those years that no one wanted to publish anything I had written."

By the early 1980s, Katherine Paterson had solidified her prestigious place in children's literature. In 1978, she won the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia. The following year, The Great Gilly Hopkins won a Newbery Honor, and just two years after that, Jacob Have I Loved won the 1981 Newbery Medal. In addition to middle grade novels, Paterson has written picture books and stories for younger children, including the popular Marvin series.

Books by This Author

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Age Level: 9-12
Gilly is not a very likable girl, but then again, she doesn't really like herself very much. She's being placed in yet another foster home, with a fat and ugly foster mother. Gilly knows that her "real" mother is beautiful and that everything would be all right if she'd just come for her. Quirky characters, humor, and a poignant exploration of family are the hallmarks of this book that received many awards, including a Newbery Honor.

The Master Puppeteer

Illustrated by: Haru Wells
Age Level: 9-12
Jiro becomes an apprentice puppeteer during a difficult time in Osaka, Japan. Though clumsy for a puppeteer, Jiro has other qualities that help him overcome grave situations and solve a dangerous mystery.

The Same Stuff as Stars

Age Level: 9-12
Eleven-year-old Angel and her seven-year-old brother are taken to live with their great-grandmother on her dilapidated Vermont farm. While the old woman is ill equipped to handle children, she's better prepared to commit to them than either of their parents. A "star man" and the town librarian end up helping the children in this poignant exploration of family.

The Smallest Cow in the World

Illustrated by: Jane Clark Brown
Age Level: 6-9
Only Marvin loves Rosie, Mr. Brock’s bad-tempered cow. When Mr. Brock sells Rosie and the entire farm where Marvin’s dad works, Marvin must learn to cope with missing Rosie and with moving. He experiences difficult emotions that will resonate with readers of all ages in this first book about Marvin.

The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks

Illustrated by: Diane Dillon
Age Level: 3-6
A mandarin duck is held captive for its beautiful feathers. The duck pines for its mate until a kind kitchen servant recognizes the bird's misery and releases it, infuriating the cruel lord. Later the duck returns with its mate and saves the servant from death. Rich, detailed illustrations capture the drama of this traditional Japanese story that won the Boston Globe/Horn Book award for illustration.