Eric A. Kimmel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1946. He attended PS 193. Public schools at that time didn’t have names. Today the school is known as the Gil Hodges School after a famous baseball player who lived in the neighborhood. (Those were the days when famous baseball players might actually live next door to you.)
Eric’s junior high school, Andries Hudde Junior High, was named after a pirate. (That’s what they told us!) The school’s official website presents him as an unsuccessful real estate dealer. (Wouldn’t you rather to to a school named after a pirate than one named after a real estate agent?)
Eric’s high school, Midwood High, was across the street from Brooklyn College. He didn’t want to go there. That would be like going to high school all over again. Instead, he headed west, to Easton, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Lafayette College in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Eric worked as an elementary school teacher at P.S. 68 in Manhattan while working on his masters degree at New York University. From there he went to the US. Virgin Islands where he worked as a teacher and librarian. He spent a lot of time lying on St. Thomas’ beautiful beaches.
Returning from Margaritaville, he finished his Ph.D. degree in Education at the University of Illinois in 1973. He taught courses in language arts, children’s literature, and storytelling at Indiana University at South Bend in South Bend, Indiana from 1973 to 1978, and from 1978 to 1993 at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Eric retired from college teaching in 1993 to become a full-time writer. He still holds the rank of Professor Emeritus of Education at Portland State.
Eric has wanted to be an author since he first discovered back in kindergarten that people called authors make books. His first book came out in 1974. Since then he has published over fifty titles, many of which have won numerous state awards, appeared on school and library recommended lists, and won prestigious awards such as the Caldecott Honor Medal (Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins) and the Sydney Taylor Picture Book Award (The Chanukkah Guest and Gershon’s Monster). He is the only author to win the National Jewish Book Award for picture books twice. The first time was for The Chanukkah Guest. The second time was for The Mysterious Guests. His The Lady In The Blue Cloak, a collection of stories from the Texas missions, was given the Naylor Award by the Daughters of the Texas Revolution. It is a featured book at the bookstore in the Alamo.
That was a thrill for Eric because the first book he ever bought with his own money was John Myers Myers The Alamo. He also had a complete set of Davy Crockett trading cards. Eric loved Texas history decades before he ever set foot in Texas.
Eric travels throughout the United States and the world visiting schools, talking about his books, and telling stories. His first love is sharing stories from different countries and cultures. Last year he and his wife Doris visited Mali and Burkina Faso in West Africa. He is always looking out for ideas for new books.
Eric and Doris live in Portland, Oregon. Eric has a cat named Doug, a snake named Pirate, and a tank full of tropical fish. He has several hobbies. He loves bluegrass music. He keeps his banjo next to his desk so he can practice whenever he takes a break from writing. He loves horses and is a fairly good rider. In other words, he has only fallen off once. He hopes to have a horse of his own one day, except that horses require a lot more care than snakes, cats, or fish. In the meantime, he enjoys going for long rides on his bicycle.