Katharine Holabird grew up in a family of architects and artists in Chicago. As a child, she lived in an imaginary world of fairy tales, princesses, and ballerinas, and loved to perform and dance with her sisters. She wrote the first Angelina Ballerina at the kitchen table with her daughters twirling around her. Katharine has three grown children and three grandchildren, and now lives in New York City with her husband.
On this page you’ll find:
Photograph © Katharine Holabird
Q&A with Katharine Holabird
Q: When you wrote the first Angelina Ballerina picture book back in the 1980s, did you ever expect that the character would still be a comfort and a friend to children so many years later? Angelina has been on so many adventures over the years. If you had to choose, which would be your favorite one?
I was thrilled when Angelina Ballerina was published in 1983, but I never imagined she'd become such a favorite with young book lovers around the world! Much credit goes to Helen Craig's magical illustrations that so beautifully capture Angelina and all the charms of Mouseland and Chipping Cheddar. Angelina is a wonderful character to write about, she's passionate and determined, loyal and lovable, she's full of flaws but always bounces back. As for favorite stories, I have many, but Angelina Ballerina was my very first book, and the story that started Angelina's journey, so it has a special place in my heart.
Q: You have transitioned the Angelina Ballerina stories from picture books into Ready-to-Read early readers. How do you go about writing for this older age range and choosing which vocabulary you should use in these books?
Angelina and Twinkle are great characters for early readers, and it's been fun creating new stories for young fans who are ready to read by themselves. I work closely with the talented team at Simon & Schuster, so all the vocabulary is spot on for young readers, with lots of fun illustrations. Ready to Read titles like Twinkle and the Fairy Cake Mess and Angelina Ballerina and the Tea Party, are colorful and lively, with lots of friendship and humor, and the vocabulary is bright and lively too!
Q: Twinkle the Fairy is quickly becoming another fan favorite character and appears in both picture books and Ready-to-Read leveled readers. Where did your inspiration for Twinkle the Fairy and her world come from?
As a child I loved fairies, and was always watching out for them, and it's been my dream to create a secret fairy world in storybooks. The Sparkle Tree Forest is just such a magical place, inhabited by elves, wild creatures, and mischievous fairies. Twinkle and her friends are very young and have childlike adventures, but with all the fun and excitement of magic thrown in. The Sparkle Tree Forest and the Fairy School of Magic and Music are wonderful settings for all sorts of great escapades!
Q: What would you say to teachers and librarians who are looking for new ways to introduce Angelina Ballerina and Twinkle in their classrooms and libraries?
Angelina and Twinkle are fun, adventurous characters, and readers will love exploring their special worlds and meeting all the other characters. Young readers will enjoy sharing Angelina's passion for dance and performing, and her adventures and mishaps along the way. Angelina is determined and enthusiastic, and whenever she trips and falls she jumps up and dances on!
Twinkle is a delightful little fairy, loving and kind, and devoted to her fairy friends and Fairy Godmother. Twinkle is very creative and imaginative, and often mixes up the words in her magic spells with hilarious results. Luckily, Twinkle can count on her best friends Pippa and Lulu to help her out, and her wacky spells come out fine in the end. “Fairies never give up!” says Twinkle!
Spotlight on Angelina's Baby Sister
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.
Download the Angelina Ballerina Storytime Kit to Share with Your Classroom or Library!
Make storytime magical with Angelina Ballerina! Use this kit to help plan your storytime event for your classroom or library. After reading the book, participate in these fun activities: color a picture of Angelina and the Princess of Mouseland, help Angelina get through the maze to find her tutu, join Angelina for a tea party, and complete Angelina’s word search.
Download the Kit!
Help your readers learn more about Katharine Holabird with these interviews and writing advice!
Meet Katharine Holabird
Writing advice from Katharine
Resources for Katharine’s books on TeachingBooks.net
Katharine on the Enduring Legacy of Angelica Ballerina
Angelina Ballerina Read-Aloud with Author Katharine Holabird