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Katharine Holabird - Author

About the Author

Katharine Holabird grew up in Chicago at a time when “TV hadn’t become a fixture in every home, and we created our own imaginative world”. The second of four daughters, she loved to dress up and dance with her sisters, pretending to be beautiful ballerinas. Annual invitations to the ballet with her grandmother made a deep impression. “It was thrilling to see real performances of Cinderella, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.” Katherine remembers, “I was absolutely spellbound.” Katharine was also an avid reader with a particular liking for tales of heroic animals and equally courageous children. “I loved the secret world of books,” says Katharine, “and was delighted to discover I could create characters and worlds of my own.”
While studying literature at Bennington College in Vermont, Katharine was encouraged by her professor, “Write,” they said, “Just keep writing and don’t give up.” After graduating, she worked as a literary editor for a year. Then she traveled to Italy on a holiday, and made an impulsive decision to stay in Rome and learn Italian. In Rome she began working for the movie industry magazine Variety. “The pay was awful,” Katharine remembers, “but it was a great apprenticeship. I visited movie locations, interviewed actors like Dirk Bogarde and Marcello Mastroanni, and wrote at length. What a shock when my glorious text was edited down to nothing and I had to rewrite every word. I’ve never forgotten what I learned at Variety – always be prepared to rewrite.”
In 1974, Katharine married and moved to London, where she found work as a nursery school teacher. The young schoolchildren gave Katharine “a wonderful introduction to London”, along with classic English children’s books such as Alfie and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Teaching boisterous children in London was the perfect prelude to the birth of Katharine’s first daughter in 1976.
Katharine was the mother of two young daughters when, with artist Helen Craig, she created Angelina Ballerina in 1982. “My little girls and their friends reminded me of my childhood enthusiasm for dance. They were completely mad about ballet, and I was struck by the daily drama of their lives, both in and out of ballet classes. The courage and determination it takes to be a small performer impressed me, as did all the emotional upheavals that take place behind the scenes. Whispered secrets, disappointment and jealousy, stage fright and tears while yearning to be a little star, are all part and parcel of a theatrical child’s everyday life. I wanted to write something especially for all the passionate little dancers and performers in the world, and decided to explore the impulsive, highly emotional character of a small but determined ballerina.”
When she first wrote about Angelina, Katherine envisaged her character as a little girl, but when artist Helen Craig showed her the first drawings of Angelina as a mouse, it worked perfectly. “The impulsive character of Angelina came alive,” says Katharine, “and seemed to pirouette off the page with enthusiasm and energy, while her plump and ebullient body expressed drama and attitude in every twitch of her tail.
The award-winning Angelina Ballerina books are a great way for children to explore important issues such as friendship, rivalry, loyalty and dedication. “Angelina’s experiences are pretty universal,” Katharine says, “and I think children like to read about someone who can lose her temper and then struggles to get over it and apologize. They certainly know how Angelina feels! After all, most children don’t find growing up particularly easy, and there’s not much point in a pretty picture book that doesn’t reflect the emotional issues they’re dealing with everyday.”
Katharine writes from a room in her London home, with a view of trees, birds and sky. “When my children were young, writing time was precious, so I mostly wrote during school hours and after their bedtime (although I remember constant interruptions and hot little fists rapping on the door).” Now that Katharine’s three children are grown up, she has more leisure to write. Nevertheless, it’s important to her to remain in close touch with young people. “There’s an awful lot going on when children play together, and I guess it’s the mixture of comedy and tragedy on the mini-stage of childhood that still fascinates me.”
The Angelina Ballerina books have been translated into 6 languages.
Autumn 2001 will see the eagerly anticipated TV debut of Angelina Ballerina, in an animated 26-part series, created by HIT Entertainment. Dame Judi Dench provides the voice for ballet teacher Miss Lilly, while her daughter Finty Williams plays Angelina herself.

 

Featured books by Katharine Holabird

Other books by Katharine Holabird

Angelina at the Palace

Angelina at the Palace

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Angelina teaches the princesses of Mouseland to dance in this classic bestselling picture book back in a beautiful, refreshed hardcover edition with foil on the cover! Angelina can't believe her luck! Miss Lilly has invited her to the Royal Palace of Mouseland to help teach the three princesses a special dance. But on the very first morning, Miss Lilly comes down with the flu and asks Angelina to teach the princesses on her own! Angelina is nervous. Will she be able to fill Miss Lilly's shoes?

Angelina and Alice

Angelina and Alice

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/11/2021

The classic bestselling picture book Angelina and Alice is back in a beautiful, refreshed hardcover edition, making it a perfect gift for fans both new and old! Angelina and Alice love doing gymnastics together. The only difference is Alice can do perfect handstands, while Angelina can't. When Angelina falls down, all the older children laugh-and Alice giggles, too. In the end, Angelina and Alice learn the importance of teamwork and become the best of friends all over again. (c)2021 Helen Craig Ltd. and Katharine Holabird. The Angelina Ballerina name and character and the dancing Angelina logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited, Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig.

Family Fun Day

Family Fun Day

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Angelina loves being a big sister in this 8x8 storybook featuring foil on the cover! It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Angelina's dad announces it's too nice out to stay indoors, so they take a family trip to the park! At first, Angelina and her sister, Polly, have a great time riding the carousel, flying a kite, and playing on the swings. But then Polly starts to feel sad that her big sister does everything better. If Angelina can convince her that someday soon she'll be able to do everything Angelina does, this can still be the best family fun day ever! (c)2021 Helen Craig Ltd. and Katharine Holabird. The Angelina Ballerina name and character and the dancing Angelina logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited, Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig.

Angelina Ballerina at Ballet School

Angelina Ballerina at Ballet School

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Angelina twirls her way back to ballet school and learns to overcome her stumbles in this 8x8 storybook featuring foil on the cover! Angelina can't wait to go to Miss Lilly's Ballet School again after summer break. But then Angelina accidentally embarrasses herself in front of the whole class, and suddenly, she isn't so enthusiastic about returning to ballet school anymore. With the encouragement of her family and friends, Angelina learns that everyone makes mistakes, but that shouldn't stop her from doing what she loves most: dancing! (c) 2021 Helen Craig Ltd and Katharine Holabird. The Angelina Ballerina name and character and the dancing Angelina logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited, Katharine Holabird, and Helen Craig.

Angelina's Baby Sister

Angelina's Baby Sister

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/06/2021

The classic bestselling picture book, Angelina's Baby Sister, is back in a beautiful, refreshed hardcover edition perfect for Angelina fans new and old! Can Angelina sashay her way through all the changes a baby brings? Angelina Ballerina thinks she's the luckiest mouse in the world-she's going to be a big sister! But being a big sister means change, and sometimes change can be hard. When her baby sister arrives, Angelina feels like no one has time for her anymore. They only want to fuss over Polly. Suddenly, Angelina doesn't feel so lucky anymore. But with time-and a lot of love from her family-Angelina realizes that being a big sister is the role she was born to play.

Angelina Loves

Angelina Loves

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Board book Release Date: 01/04/2021

Discover all the things Angelina Ballerina loves in this super chubby board book that's perfect for sharing with someone you love! Angelina Ballerina loves lots of things! There's her family and dancing of course-with her ballet class at Miss Lilly's ballet school. And cartwheeling around the playground with her BFF, Alice. Fans of Angelina will love reading about everything Angelina loves (and probably things they love, too!) (c) 2019 Helen Craig Ltd and Katharine Holabird. The Angelina Ballerina name and character and the dancing Angelina logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited, Katharine Holabird, and Helen Craig.

Dancing Day

Dancing Day

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Board book Release Date: 01/04/2021

Pirouette into Angelina Ballerina's enchanting world with this adorable board book about Angelina's wonderful day-a day full of dancing! Today is a dancing day for Angelina! She brushes her teeth while practicing her plies, she points her toes while she eats breakfast, and she leaps across the schoolyard. Soon it's her favorite time of day-ballet class! But the dancing doesn't stop there...Angelina's family takes her to a real ballet performance with many more special treats to follow. It is a cozy end to a very happy day because the only thing better than dancing is being with family! (c) 2020 Helen Craig Ltd and Katharine Holabird. The Angelina Ballerina name and character and the dancing Angelina logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited, Katharine Holabird, and Helen Craig.

Angelina Ballerina Loves Ice-Skating!

Angelina Ballerina Loves Ice-Skating!

Author: Katharine Holabird Illustrator: Helen Craig Format: Board book Release Date: 10/12/2020

Angelina Ballerina trades ballet slippers for ice skates in this sweet original board book featuring a sparkly foil cover-a perfect winter gift for young dancers and skaters alike! It is the first day of winter, which means one thing for Angelina: ice-skating at Miller's Pond! Then she finds out that the rink is closed because of snow. Has Angelina missed her chance to twirl across the ice? (c) 2020 Helen Craig Ltd and Katharine Holabird. The Angelina Ballerina name and character and the dancing Angelina logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited, Katharine Holabird, and Helen Craig.

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