Zilpha Keatley Snyder's picture

Zilpha Keatley Snyder

USA flag (1927 - 2014)

Raised in California, in the country--with no television and few movies to watch--three-time Newbery Honor winner Zilpha Keatley Snyder filled her childhood with animals, games, and books. Among her earliest acquaintances were cows, goats, ducks, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, and horses. In fact, her family's animals were her closest friends, and a nearby library was a constant source of magic, adventure, and excitement for her. And when she wasn't reading or playing with animals, Snyder made up games and stories to entertain herself.

While Zilpha Keatley Snyder was growing up, interesting stories filled her household. Both of her parents spent a lot of time relating accounts of past events in their lives, so Snyder came by her storytelling instincts early. But unlike her parents, when Zilpha had something to tell, she had, as she says, "an irresistible urge to make it worth telling. And without the rich and rather lengthy past that my parents had to draw on, I was forced to rely on the one commodity of which I had an adequate supply--imagination." Consequently, at the age of eight, Zilpha Keatley Snyder decided to become a writer.

As a student, Snyder was very proficient in reading and writing, and experienced few problems in the small country schools she attended until the end of sixth grade. But upon entering the seventh grade in the city of Ventura, she was, as she recalls, "suddenly a terrible misfit." Snyder retreated further into books and daydreams, and admits: "Book were the window from which I looked out of a rather meager and decidedly narrow room, onto a rich and wonderful universe. I loved the look and feel of them, even the smell. . . . Libraries were treasure houses. I always entered them with a slight thrill of disbelief that all their endless riches were mine for the borrowing."

Snyder attended Whittier College in Southern California, where she says she "grew physically and socially as well as intellectually." There she also met her future husband, Larry Snyder. While ultimately planning to be a writer, after graduation Snyder decided to teach school temporarily. But she found teaching to be an extremely rewarding experience and taught in the upper elementary grades for a total of nine years, three of them as a master teacher for the University of California at Berkeley. Zilpha and Larry were married in June of 1950, and went on to have three children, Melissa, Douglas, and Ben.

In the early sixties, when all of her children were finally in school, Snyder began to think about writing again. "Writing for children hadn't occurred to me when I was younger, but nine years of teaching in the upper elementary grades had given me a deep appreciation of the gifts and graces that are specific to individuals with ten or eleven years of experience as human begins. Remembering a dream I'd had when I was twelve years old, about some strange and wonderful horses, I sat down and began to write."

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
   1. The Egypt Game (1967)
   2. The Gypsy Game (1997)
Green Sky
   1. Below the Root (1975)
   2. And All Between (1976)
   3. Until the Celebration (1977)
Castle Court
   1. The Diamond War (1995)
   The Box and the Bone (1995)
   Ghost Invasion (1995)
   Secret Weapons (1995)
   1. Gib Rides Home (1998)
   2. Gib and the Gray Ghost (2000)
   Season of Ponies (1964)
   The Velvet Room (1965)
   Black and Blue Magic (1966)
   Eyes in the Fishbowl (1968)
   Today Is Saturday (1969)
   The Changeling (1970)
   The Witches of Worm (1972)
   The Truth About Stone Hollow (1974)
   Witch in the Family (1977)
   The Ghosts of Stone Hollow (1978)
   Heirs of Darkness (1978)
   A Fabulous Creature (1981)
   The Changing Maze (1983)
   The Birds of Summer (1983)
   And Condors Danced (1987)
   Libby on Wednesday (1990)
   Song of the Gargoyle (1991)
   Fool's Gold (1993)
   Cat Running (1994)
   The Trespassers (1995)
   The Gypsy Game Teacher's Guide (1998)
   The Runaways (1999)
   Spyhole Secrets (2001)
   The Ghosts of Rathburn Park (2002)
   The Unseen (2004)
   The Magic Nation Thing (2005)
   The Treasures of Weatherby (2006)
   The Bronze Pen (2008)
   William S. and the Great Escape (2009)
   William's Midsummer Dreams (2011)
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