Gail Jarrow is the author of nonfiction books and novels for ages 8-18.
Her nonfiction books have earned the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, YALSA Award Nomination for Excellence in Nonfiction, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, Outstanding Science Trade Book, a NSTA Best STEM book, the Jefferson Cup Award, the Eureka! Gold Award, an Orbis Pictus Recommendation, SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book, as well as Bank Street, Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal Best Books and VOYA Honor Book distinctions.
I spent my childhood in a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania. From an early age, I had a strong imagination. As soon as I learned how to write and spell--by about age seven--I wrote down my first story, complete with illustrations. The tale was about a king who was so ticklish that he couldn’t swallow food because it felt itchy going down his throat. Once I started writing, I never stopped.
Growing up, I cared for many beloved animals—cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, and even a donkey. My pets have appeared in my novels, and several of my nonfiction books are about animals.
My interest in animals led me to study zoology at Duke University and to teach science in grades 4-8. Eventually, I combined my passion for writing with my background in science and education. My publishing career began when I sold my first science article to a children’s magazine.
Later, my writing branched into history and biography. I love learning about fascinating subjects and intriguing people. Years ago, in graduate school, I wrote a research paper about the effect of food additives on children. Still curious about the subject, I returned to it in THE POISON EATERS: Fighting Danger and Fraud in Our Food and Drugs. After I noticed how easily people accepted as truth whatever they saw on social media, I decided to research a news hoax from eighty years ago. In SPOOKED!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America, I explored how a radio play fooled the public. When deadly diseases grabbed my attention, I wrote BUBONIC PANIC: When Plague Invaded America; FATAL FEVER: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary; and RED MADNESS: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. For THE AMAZING HARRY KELLAR, GREAT AMERICAN MAGICIAN, I discovered some of the secrets behind magic and illusions. Even as a child, I enjoyed historic sites and museums, and I still do. For LINCOLN’S FLYING SPIES: THADDEUS LOWE AND THE CIVIL WAR BALLOON CORPS, I did research at Civil War battlefields and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. When I worked on ROBERT H. JACKSON: NEW DEAL LAWYER, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, NUREMBERG PROSECUTOR, I spent time at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York, and at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. One of my books, THE PRINTER’S TRIAL, was inspired by a visit to Federal Hall in New York City.
Inspiration for my fictional work comes from childhood memories, my teaching experiences, my travels, and everyday life. My three children gave me ideas for several of my novels. For example, BEYOND THE MAGIC SPHERE is based on a fantasy game that they invented.
My articles and stories have appeared in major children’s magazines such as Highlights for Children, Cricket, Muse, Spider, Cobblestone and Faces. I was awarded both the “Science Feature of the Year” and “Biography Feature of the Year” by Highlights for Children magazine.
I received my B.A. in zoology from Duke University and my M.A. from Dartmouth College. For several years, I taught science, math, and writing in elementary and middle schools. Currently, I live in Ithaca, New York, with my husband.