Barbara O'Connor was born and raised in South Carolina. She graduated from the University of South Carolina, then headed to Los Angeles, where she spent the next eleven years. After taking a children's writing class at UCLA, she decided to turn a lifelong love of writing into a career. She began by writing biographies for children in grades three through six. Her subjects include Maria Montessori, Isadora Duncan, Louis Braille, Ernie Pyle, Katherine Dunham, and Leonardo da Vinci.
In addition to biographies, Barbara writes middle grade fiction. Her novels have been recognized with many awards, including including two Parents Choice Gold Awards, an ALA Notable, and a School Library Journal Best Books of the Year. Her novel, Moonpie and Ivy, won the Massachusetts Book Award in 2002.
Barbara is a popular visiting author at schools throughout New England and conducts writing workshops for elementary grades. She is also a frequent speaker at conferences around the country.
She has one son, Grady, who is studying photography at Parsons School of Design in New York. She currently lives with her husband near Boston, Massachusetts.
|On the Road to Mr. Mineo's
Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2012
ages 8 and up, ISBN 978-0374380021
Summer days drift by slowly in Meadville, South Carolina--that is, until Sherman the one-legged pigeon flies into town and causes a ruckus. First Stella, who's been begging for a dog, spots him on top of a garage roof and decides she wants him for a pet. Then there's Ethel and Amos, an old couple who sees the pigeon in their barn keeping company with a little brown dog that barks all night. The pigeon lands smack in the middle of Mutt Raynard's head, but he's the town liar, so no one believes him. And when Stella's brother Levi and his scabby-kneed, germ-infested friends notice the pigeon, they join the chase, too. Meanwhile, across town, Mr. Mineo has one less homing pigeon than he used to...
|The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester
Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2010
ages 8 to 12, ISBN 978-0374368500
An amazing secret has tumbled off a freight train into Carter, Georgia, and Owen Jester is the only person who knows about it. If he can simply manage to evade his grandfather’s snappish housekeeper, organize his two best friends, and keep his nosy neighbor, Viola, at bay, he just might be in for the summer of a lifetime.
The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
Nothing ever happens in Fayette, South Carolina. That's what Popeye thinks,
anyway. His whole life, everything has just been boring, boring, boring. But
things start to look up when the Jewells' Holiday Rambler makes a wrong turn
and gets stuck in the mud, trapping Elvis and his five rowdy siblings in
Fayette for who knows how long. Popeye has never met anyone like Elvis
Jewell. He's so good at swearing he makes Uncle Dooley look like a
Greetings from Nowhere
Awards and Recognition
|How to Steal a Dog
Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2007
ages 9 and up,ISBN 978-0-915793-50-1
Half of me was thinking, Georgina, don’t do this. Stealing a dog is just plain wrong. The other half of me was thinking, Georgina, you’re in a bad fix and you got to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of it.
Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set on improving their situation. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is “borrow” the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected.
With unmistakable sympathy, Barbara O’Connor tells the story of a young girl struggling to see what’s right when everything else seems wrong.
|Taking Care of Moses
Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2004
Who left the baby at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church?
Randall Mackey has a secret. He knows who left the baby on the steps of the Rock of Ages Baptist Church. But he can't tell anyone, not even his best friend, Jaybird. And he certainly can't let Jaybird's little sister, Althea, find out because she'd be sure to shout it from the rooftops. Randall can't tell because Queenie Avery was also there, and he wants to protect her. Poor old Queenie seems to be getting more and more forgetful these days. And now that she's begun to wander, folks in town want to send her away, which would break Mr. Avery's heart. While Randall's busy worrying about doing the right thing, everyone in town is discussing who should take care of baby Moses, and it isn't long before a feud breaks out. Randall has to come up with a plan that won't hurt those he most wants to help. And he's got to do it quickly before the situation gets completely out of control.
|Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia
Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2003
All her life, all Bird has ever wanted is to be noticed in her small town and to get to Disney World. As it turns out, Bird just might have a chance to realize at least one of her goals because of a state spelling bee, and she might get to make a friend along the waya boy named Harlem Tate who has just moved to Freedom. Harlem seems like a kindred spiritsomeone like Bird, whom people don’t usually take the time to find the good in. (Unless it’s someone like Miss Delphine, who always makes Bird feel special.) But as much as Bird tries to get his attention, Harlem is not easily won over. Then Harlem agrees to be her partner in the spelling bee, and if they study hard enough, the two might just win everything Bird’s always wanted.
In Barbara O’Connor’s funny new novel, a spunky young girl discovers that sometimes all it takes to feel famous is a little recognition from true friends.
|Moonpie and Ivy
Frances Foster/Farrar,Straus &Giroux, 2001
Pearl's mother, Ruby, just up and left her with Aunt Ivy, who's a complete stranger to Pearl. "Your mama's done gone off the deep end," Ivy says, and Pearl wonders if she'll ever come backRuby has always been wild and irresponsible. So Pearl is stuck with Aunt Ivy, and Moonpie, the neighbor boy whose mother doesn't want him, either, and John Dee, Aunt Ivy's Beau. But these three people seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, in a way that Pearl can't comprehend, and she feels left out. As she starts to understand what connects them, and how much she wants to be a part of it, Ruby appears.
With a vividly depicted setting, emotional truth, and a distinctly Southern voice, Barbara O'Connor shows how Pearl develops a whole new notion of what she wants, and what she deserves.
|Me and Rupert Goody
Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 1999
Things at Jennalee's house are just plain crazy, which is why she loves her predictable days helping Uncle Beau (who isn't really her uncle) at his general store. But then Rupert Goody shows up, claiming to be Uncle Beau's son. Jennalee can't believe it, because Rupert is black and Uncle Beau is white. But Uncle Beau tells her it is true and incorporates Rupert into his life, ruining Jennalee's routine.
Although Rupert is slow, he is kind-hearted and tries hard to please. When more unforeseen eventsthis time frightening onesfurther interrupt life at the store, Jennalee comes to see that Rupert Goody, odd though he may be, is certainly not the worst unexpected thing that could come along, and that he belongs with Uncle Beau as much as she does. With a vividly depicted setting, emotional truth, and a distinctly Southern voice, Barbara O'Connor shows that there is love enough to go around.
|Beethoven in Paradise
Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 1997
"You're just wasting your God-given talents if you don't get yourself something besides a little ole harmonica to play." Wylene made it sound so easy. Martin had always like musicliked to listen to it, liked to make up tunes in his head. But all he had to do was say the word "piano" to his father and all hell would break loose. His father thought music was for sissies, and was always mad at Martin for not being good at baseball. But with a lot of help from his friends Wylene and Sybil and his grandmother, Hazeline, Martin learns that, although he can't change his father, he can learn to stick up for himself. With humor, pathos, and a colorful cast of offbeat characters, Barbara O'Connor shows that there's room for genius wherever there's a place for compassioneven in Paradise.