Copyright © 2008 Karen Magnuson Beil. All rights reserved.

 

Karen Beil (rhymes with orange peel) was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Connecticut, and had to learn to spell difficult state names right at the start. So it was with great relief that she moved to New York (easier to spell and still close to New England).


Over the years her home has been home or home-away-from-home to various dogs, hamsters, fishes, turtles, frogs, and a cat. Last winter bluebirds moved into the house outside her studio window. The “for-rent” sign went back up in the spring when they finished the holly berries and moved out. Days later, a pair of wrens moved in to raise their chicks.


“I’ve been writing all my life, except a couple years in the beginning when I thought crayons were a food group (proteins, carbohydrates, and crayola).” Mid-way through elementary school after considerable struggle, she caught her love of reading—and puppets—from her mother, a school librarian. Her parents were introduced by two children’s book illustrators—their sisters! Her father, at 96, recited poetry and had a ready supply of jokes, stories, and witticisms.


By the time she went to college, she wanted to read all the time. So she majored in English literature and magazine journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism. After graduating, Karen wrote articles about fires, murders, and robberies, and interviewed judges, firefighters, police officers, and even a notorious con man as a reporter for Chicago’s legendary City News Bureau. This was a wire service, a one-city version of the Associated Press, where many writers including Kurt Vonnegut got their hard-knocks start as cub reporters (they were called the “City News kids”). It’s where she learned to read upside down, ask tough questions, and meet deadlines.


Since then, Karen has been an editor, science writer, magazine freelancer, publications director, and now writes for her most favorite audience—children. Karen loves to create books that bring kids and their families together talking, playing, laughing, and learning and, of course, reading.


 

The Children’s Literature Connection is an organization in upstate New York that works to strengthen the connections between the creators of children’s books and the people who put them into the hands of children.


Started in 1998 by Jennifer Armstrong, Lynn Blankman, and Karen Beil, it continues to gather an enthusiastic, talented, and hard-working group of children’s book lovers: teachers, librarians, writers, and illustrators. (Poster design Sylvie Wickstrom)